Not a racist bone: American values, traditions

Crazy Faith Ministries

I am always bothered when I hear a White person say, of him/herself or of someone else, “He doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.”

I am even more concerned when I hear a Black person say that about a White person, as Herman Cain did about Donald Trump in February 2018.

Cain’s endorsement of the president as being pure as the driven snow when it comes to matters of race, fit well alongside people like the Rev. Franklin Graham, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr., all of whom gushed out the same sentiment on PBS’s NewsHour.

The president himself has said he is the “least racist person” one would ever want to know. His statement was documented in a New York Times opinion piece.

What is baffling is not so much that people say this, but that many actually believe they truly are not racist.

To listen to them, any mention of racism is disingenuous as well as untrue – a tool used to evoke sympathy and grab attention.

What, in their estimation, is racism? What does it look like?

The United States was born in racism and in sexism.

Wealthy, White males intended for this country to be formed by White people – men, specifically – for White people. There was always the problem of, “What do we do with the slaves?”

James Madison, the lead drafter of the U.S. Constitution, is the one who came up with the “three-fifths clause” that was used to define Black people as not fully human. He recognized the economic value of enslaving people of African descent and did not believe Black people were on an equal plane with Whites. This from the lead drafter of this nation’s Constitution.

The inferiority of Black people was a central belief of many to most White people. As Black people were overworked, torn from their families, beaten and/or killed at will and denied basic human rights, the racist beliefs and attitudes of their perpetrators continued to grow.

Racism, as an American value, was passed down from generation to generation.

White politicians argued over one’s right to own enslaved Black people, and they took strong, public stands to voice their positions on the matter.

As late as 1948, South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond said, “… There’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.”

Thurmond, of whom it was revealed late in his life that he had a Black daughter, staunchly and boldly declared that he was not a racist. Neither he, nor many of his Senate colleagues from the North and the South, believed in the justice of civil rights.

Thurmond said that the quest of Black people for civil rights was “a Red plot against the free world,” and that only the “States Rights Democrats” had “… the moral courage to stand up to the Communists and tell them this foreign doctrine will not work in free America” – from Jon Meacham’s The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels.

Throughout history, the American subset of wealthy, White men has worked intently to keep the power in their hands. White supremacy includes not only their racism, but their sexism as well.

These wealthy, White men got used to manipulating the democratic system in this country to their advantage. Complaints of injustice by Black, Brown and poor people have been effectively ignored; the rights of women have been violated as well.

White women sitting before a panel of all White men seeking justice is no different from an accused Black or Brown person sitting before an all-White jury. The system was set up to support and to protect not “the least of these,” but rather “the most powerful, the most wealthy of these.”

The lawmakers and politicians have practiced their racism – at one time, openly, but in recent times, more clandestinely, using coded language. Racist beliefs are in their souls, put there by beloved relatives and pastors, and reinforced by their inability, or perhaps lack of desire, to test what they have been taught as to its veracity.

One doesn’t have to wear a white sheet or say the N-word out loud to be racist.

To the contrary, racists belie their deeply-rooted beliefs by being OK with the narrative that Black people are bad, that Black people are less intelligent and more dangerous than White people, and that if a Black person is shot and killed by a police officer, then he or she deserved it.

The racism shows in how White parents have reacted, and perhaps still do, if they think their children’s schools are going to be integrated. They show it by bullying people who are not White and wealthy; in some cases, all one has to do to become the brunt of their narrow thinking is be a non-White person period.

So the “not a racist bone” cry does not ring true. White people of all economic levels are comfortable in their Whiteness.

They are glad they are not of African descent. They live in fear of the people whom they despise, walk over and take advantage of.

They think their denial of being racist makes it true.

It does not.

Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. Contact her at


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