Austin Channing Brown
BornThe United States
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“When you believe niceness disproves the presence of racism, it’s easy to start believing bigotry is rare, and that the label racist should be applied only to mean-spirited, intentional acts of discrimination. The problem with this framework—besides being a gross misunderstanding of how racism operates in systems and structures enabled by nice people—is that it obligates me to be nice in return, rather than truthful. I am expected to come closer to the racists. Be nicer to them. Coddle them.”
“White people desperately want to believe that only the lonely, isolated “whites only” club members are racist. This is why the word racist offends “nice white people” so deeply. It challenges their self-identification as good people. Sadly, most white people are more worried about being called racist than about whether or not their actions are in fact racist or harmful.”
“But I am not impressed with America’s progress. I am not impressed that slavery was abolished or that Jim Crow ended. I feel no need to pat America on its back for these “achievements.” This is how it always should have been. Many call it progress, but I do not consider it praiseworthy that only within the last generation did America reach the baseline for human decency. As comedian Chris Rock says, I suppose these things were progress for white people, but damn. I hope there is progress I can sincerely applaud on the horizon. Because the extrajudicial killing of Black people is still too familiar. Because the racist rhetoric that Black people are lazier, more criminal, more undeserving than white people is still too familiar. Because the locking up of a disproportionate number of Black bodies is still too familiar. Because the beating of Black people in the streets is still too familiar. History is collapsing on itself once again.”
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