This was the first result in an image search for “racist site:gov” …

Folks who are really bothered by a particular issue, and focus on it to the exclusion of everything else, are really hard to talk to. Try talking to a Marxist about anything without them attributing it to economic class.

OK, so: racism.

Not to be controversial here, but I’m gonna just go ahead and say that racism is bad. Sometimes it’s just a small bad, but sometimes it can get really, really bad. It’s not really possible for something to be both racist and not bad.

I doubt that’s a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention at all.

But …

It genuinely is possible that something can be bad without being racist, even something that involves an interaction between people of different races; even something that involves a negative interaction between people of different races.

Because to be racist, something must be motivated by race.

And, shocker I know, it is possible for people of different races to interact without race being a big motivator. (It had better be, otherwise racism is literally impossible to get past.)

But this distinction often seems to be invisible to people for whom racism is the driving force of their politics; sometimes, it seems, anything that involves race and is bad must therefore be racist.

(There’s a whole can of worms about which races are involved in this, and how, that I’m gonna blow right past at this point. In fact, you didn’t even see this note about it. Nope.)

But motivations do matter.

And in the question of whether some action is or is not racist, motivations are everything.

And to have a society with free thought and free expression, you’re gonna have to actually consider people’s motivations if you want to throw around words like ‘racist’ without looking like an idiot.

(Yes, I’m aware of things like ‘unconscious bias’ and such that make this even more complicated; freedom is complicated.)

So stop calling things ‘racist’ just because they’re bad and racism is bad too.

You’re making anti-racism look bad.

Something else I’m not gonna mention: apparently white women wanting to touch black women’s hair is a thing? Nope; I do not want to get into that.

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