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Letter: When should we call something racist?

Currently, the governor of Virginia is embroiled in a total mess because of a picture from a 1985 Halloween party, with the governor potentially in a picture with man in black face and a klansman.

Because the governor allegedly painted his face black, he’s now a racist.

That was in 1985 — 34 years ago. Where were you 34 years ago? Regardless, does anyone know anything about that Halloween party? Thanks to the governor’s pathetic attempts at an explanation, we’ve learned nothing. I might have a theory.

It’s a Halloween party in 1985. A black man and a klansman enter the party together. The irony and absurdity of that makes it unlikely to actually happen in real life. And therein lies the humor, the ridiculousness of it all. Does this make the governor a racist? No.

It might make him guilty of a bad joke, but that’s it. By the way, does anybody know who dressed as that klansman?

The Oxford American College Dictionary defines racism as “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities of that race, so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race on such a belief.”

None of this happened here. If you’re denied a job, housing, the right to vote and/or legal representation you’re talking racism. Poking fun, being satirical, commenting on certain traits or even disagreeing does not make one a racist. My wife and I disagree from time to time, but that doesn’t make me a misogynist.

Racism is a loaded word and being a racist is illegal. We best be careful and stop saying these words in such a cavalier fashion. If we don’t, we’ll soften their true meaning.

If that happens, no one will benefit.

— Allan Gilmour




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