individual racism

5 Ways Not to Be a Racist

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is known for his infamous “you might be a redneck” jokes. His point is to get audience members, primarily those who live in the south, to identify with the humor of being classified as rednecks. At risk of stirring up a hornet’s nest (thank you, All Pro Dad, for letting me go here), I want to channel my inner-Jeff Foxworthy by looking at five ways to determine whether you participate in individual racism and how to avoid being mislabeled as a racist if you don’t.

So, you might be a racist if…

1. You might be a racist if you let fears or insecurities shape your views of other ethnic groups.

Fear and insecurity rear their ugly heads whenever we think another race is going to take what we have or when we have to feel superior to another race in order to feel better about ourselves. Remedy: Know that no one is better than you, but you’re no better than anyone. The only time to look down on people is when you’re leaning over to lift them up.

2. You might be a racist if you let your anger at someone shape your view of all people of that person’s race.

Have you ever been mistreated by a person of a particular race? Has that experience impacted what you think of strangers of the same race? Whenever we choose to judge an entire race by the actions of a few, then we’ve crossed the line into individual racism—that is, an individual’s beliefs that support racism. Remedy: Never allow the actions of a few people in a race to determine your feelings and treatment toward the whole.

3. You might be a racist if you judge the color of someone’s skin before you weigh the content of their character.

It’s not about not seeing skin color. It’s about not judging a man based on it.

Yes, Dr. Martin Luther King said this more than 50 years ago, but it still applies today. It’s not about not seeing skin color. It’s about not judging a man based on it. Remedy: Ask yourself what you think of a person’s character instead of what you think of his or her race.

4. You might be a racist if you let what you see on TV, in movies, or on social media shape your view of a race.

The media always has an agenda, whether good or bad. We cross the line into individual racism when we allow media stereotypes about a race to shape our opinions, void of personal interaction and understanding. Remedy: Talk, interact, and engage with people from races other than your own, instead of just watching or hearing about them.

5. You might be a racist if you let what your peers think about a race shape your views of it.

Even if you’re not a racist, going along just to “get along” with others who are racists doesn’t free you from being labeled by the company you keep. Remedy: Speak up for races who don’t have a voice, even if your voice is criticized, unpopular, or the only one that’s being heard.

Sound off: What do you think is the biggest struggle in race relations today?

Have you found yourself wanting to talk to your kids about race relations, but you’re not sure what to say or where to start? It can be a confusing and challenging topic, so we created a resource to help you written by Clyde Christensen and Tony Dungy. Click here to sign up for our Race Conversations For Families resource.

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How do you feel when you see or talk to someone who looks different from you?”