One of the themes that I keep seeing as I peruse the rather lengthy list of racist incidents at college and university campuses is the idea of “real racism.” Comment after comment are posted on how nooses and blackface are not “real racism” and that dialogues about these events should not take place as they might dilute conversations about “real racism.” It should be noted that the majority of “real racism” commenters are usually anonymous white folks who have decided to say when “real racism” has occurred and when it is just “crying wolf.”
The concept of “real racism” is highly dubious at it constructs racism as something overt, malicious, and with intent. The majority of racist acts in 2007 at colleges and universities are not overt, malicious, or with intent.
“Real racism” conveniently erases most acts of racism by limiting conversations on racism to a white-majority defined dialogue that encompasses only what white folks “see” as racism. By labeling the majority of racist events as not valid or “real”, the majority culture at most universities can simply ignore acts of racism because of their own defining of what is and what is not racist.
It makes me wonder then where so-called “real racism” comes from if photos of blackfaces and hanging nooses are not racist?
Does “real racism” sprout forth from a context-less, history-free abyss? A seemingly random event?
Or perhaps it comes from all of the cumulative acts of racism that are covert, lacking in historical awareness, and without malicious intent? The events that are defined as “real racism” by the dominant paradigm have to come from somewhere. Racism begets racism, in all its forms.