Another senseless atrocity transpired on American soil this week, and the national conversation has turned once again to the complicated issues of racism, gun policy, and troubled young men. In all the hot takes and punditry surrounding such events, one group is frequently overlooked: Casual Racists. It’s time we as a nation let their voices be heard.
“I don’t consider myself a racist,” notes a C.R. we interviewed. “Sure I might clasp my purse a little tighter as I’m passing a minority on the sidewalk. But that’s just how I was raised. I can’t take responsibility for that. Or won’t? Either way. Not my fault.”
As many social norms and attitudes feel ingrained to these individuals, Casual Racists view the subtlety of such beliefs and actions as harmless, isolated incidents.
“I wouldn’t want to hurt anybody,” said another C.R. “I just want the right to quietly hate people who are different than I am, from the privacy of my own home—a practice my family has upheld for generations.” For many, these racist beliefs are simply a matter of tradition, and not seen as a condemnation of the inherent qualities of another human being.
Recent events have also drawn attention to the state-sanctioned display of the Confederate flag in South Carolina. Says one C.R. supporter, “Confederate flag? Come on. That’s not racist. The stars and bars represent my southern heritage. It’s unfortunate that there are literally no other symbols of the South to be found and celebrated in popular culture, art, literature, music, food, architecture, history, or folklore. This is the card I’ve been dealt. Guess I’m stuck with this one-and-only way to showcase pride and tradition.”
He went on to point out how it’s unfair to discriminate against some Confederate flags, just because other flags are offensive to an entire segment of the population.
Some Casual Racists have attempted to reach out and offer support in the aftermath of this week’s events. One noted, “I think I must know how they’re feeling. This was an attack on religion, and it’s another example of how we as Christians need to take our country back! …Granted, I’ve never been to a black church, or for that matter occupied any space in which I wasn’t the racial majority. But I imagine I can understand what their exact experience is. I go to my church all the time!”
At press time, it remains unclear whether Casual Racists will continue to feel marginalized by media attention shown toward extremists, with whom they do not wish to affiliate. One C.R. had this to say: “It’s just a shame that people judge us by the jokes we tell, or our secret fears and misconceptions, our vulnerabilities when faced with Otherness in all its many forms. That’s just a part of who I am. If you got to know me, I think you’d come to discover that I’m a person just like you, and that I deserve the same basic level of respect “