A Convenient Redefinition of Racism


During recent debates with social justice types, I’ve run across something I hadn’t heard before. Apparently, the definition of racism I always accepted is wrong.

I thought racism was “a belief in the inherent superiority or inferiority of a race”. Merriam-Webster defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race; racial prejudice or discrimination”. Oxford’s definition is “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior; the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races”.

So according to me, Merriam-Webster and Oxford, racism is an individual trait. Anyone can be racist if they believe their race is superior to others. This would seem true, since people of every race have committed horrible crimes based on racial hatred. I’ve personally had the misfortune to meet whites who hate blacks and Hispanics, Hispanics who hate blacks, and blacks who hate whites and Christians. I know an Asian raised by hillbillies who told me Asians consider pretty much everyone else inferior. I know a Hispanic man who refuses to have anything to do with his own grandchild because she’s half black. I met a Hispanic college professor who asked “what kind of a f**king Mexican marries a white woman?” Once I walked past a white child in a grocery store who suddenly blurted “You’re colored!”, then got really nervous when I stopped to talk to him about it. In Kosovo I had a very depressing conversation with someone who advocated killing every last member of an opposing ethnic group: “The adults committed crimes against us, the old ones used to commit crimes against us, and the young ones will commit crimes against us. So they should all be killed, from one until the end.” And I knew a lot of people from the other ethnic group felt the exact same way.

Racism, to me, seemed to be an individual trait that could be held by anyone. However, SJWs (social justice warriors) tell me I’m wrong about racism. Racism has been “redefined”, and now must include “systemic”.

A few days ago a comedian and CNN commentator explained to Stephen Colbert that blacks are literally incapable of being racist:

“We can be prejudiced, but racism implies power and institutions behind it. I can be prejudiced, I can be like, ‘I don’t like white people,’ but I can’t, like, not hire them or not give them their voting rights — you know what I’m saying? So it’s a very different thing.”


This isn’t racist. And you’re racist if you think it is! P.S., the guy’s shirt says “Unlearn white skin as the default”.

When I started researching the new definition, I ran across this 2009 Daily Kos article:

“Therefore, according to this institutional power definition, it is not possible in this country for black people to be ‘racist’.  Yes we have a black president, and a few second/third generation black leaders in majority black areas, but African Americans and people of color do not have institutionalized power, established over centuries, to impose their prejudices and preferences on the majority culture.” [emphasis in original]

Even before that, the University of Delaware was teaching students that whites are automatically racist, while minorities are incapable of racism:

“A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists, because as peoples within the U.S. system, they do not have the power to back up their prejudices, hostilities, or acts of discrimination. (This does not deny the existence of such prejudices, hostilities, acts of rage or discrimination.)”

So minorities hold no institutional power, which means they cannot be racist no matter what they personally believe, because racism is systemic. If it’s not systemic it’s prejudice, or discrimination, but not racism. Clear enough?

The new “systemic” definition of racism seems to be taught as unquestionable truth on some college campuses. And a LOT of white people are not just accepting it, but embracing it. Just in my personal experience, quite a few whites have told me that since I’m Hispanic I can’t be racist no matter what, but they can be since they’re white, and they probably are racist but just don’t know it, and they’re sorry for their white privilege, and if they don’t fight white privilege they’re just as guilty of racism as any white supremacist. On the extreme edge of that white guilt are people like these, in a video made by a flamboyantly annoying black racial activist.

(If you think that video is too insane to be real, think again. As near as I can tell, the “Uhuru Solidarity Movement” is a thing. If you’re white and want to “join and pay reparations,” please visit their site.)

The backstory on the following video is a little murky, but it pretty clearly seems to be two minority college students challenging white college students to explain why their lives matter. “Our argument is that white life is wrong. Our argument is that we should never affirm white life.” Remember, telling a white person their life doesn’t matter, because they’re white, isn’t racist.

So this whole redefinition of racism got me thinking. If only whites can be racist, what do you call a black person who actually calls for genocide of white people?

I find it sorta difficult to understand how someone can say white people should be killed, and even specifically talk about killing white infants, yet not be considered racist.

This man, a member of the New Black Panther Party named “King Samir Shabazz”, also said, “We gonna need preachers going into the cracker churches throwing hand grenades on early Sunday morning when the cracker got his hands up, ‘please white Jesus!’ Well we gonna throw a bomb in that God damn church, burn up the cracker, burn up the cracker Jesus, and burn up some cracker white supremacy…drag some of these god damn rusty dusty ass crackers out of their homes, skin their asses alive, hang their asses up by some damn rope in some trees, drag them up and down the streets by God damn trucks, sick the pit bulls on them, pour acid on their asses, dump them in a God damn river, bring them back up, bust them in the head with a rock.”

But remember, that’s not racist. According to our friendly SJWs, even if King Samir Shabazz al-Qaddafi X (or whatever name he gave himself) actually did throw hand grenades into a white church while busting a white infant’s head with a rock and yelling “Kill all white people!” it wouldn’t be racist.

But Shabazz was just speaking hypothetically. So let’s look at a real case of racially-motivated murder that wasn’t racist (honest!).

In San Francisco in 1973 and 1974, a group of black radicals murdered at least fifteen people, almost all whites, and tried to murder eight more. One of these white victims was kidnapped, bound, and dismembered while still conscious. Two more victims, a husband and wife, were kidnapped and hacked with a machete after the kidnappers fondled the wife. The group responsible was “a splinter group of the Nation of Islam, called the Death Angels, [which] required the murder of several ‘blue-eyed white devils’ for membership.”

Wrap your mind around this: according to the modern redefinition of racism, the black radicals who kidnapped, bound, and chopped a conscious man’s limbs off because he was white weren’t racist.

Since racism must be systemic or it isn’t racism, I’m curious about something. If a KKK Grand Dragon is kidnapped, put on a plane and dropped into downtown Tokyo, is he no longer racist? After all, there is no systemic racism again the Japanese in Tokyo. Presto, Mr. Grand Dragon is no longer racist. Right?

I’m Hispanic, a minority which automatically “has no power”, and can’t be racist. So I could change my name to Chris Herndriotti, claim I’m Italian, join the Klan, burn crosses and lynch black people, but I still wouldn’t be racist. Right?

If a black man named John Smith and an otherwise-identical white man named John Smith joined forces to beat an Asian man to death while yelling “We hate Asians!”, did the white John Smith commit a racist murder but the black John Smith didn’t?

What about biracial people? Is President Obama automatically racist because he’s half white, or automatically never racist because he’s half black?

I’m so confused!

What I love (and by that I mean hate) about the SJW movement is its desperate quest to define people by racial, ethnic or religious identity. The very same people who say they oppose treating people a certain way because of their race treat people differently because of their race. Non-white SJWs have defined away their own racism, while white SJWs have embraced their own irrational white guilt and labeled themselves practitioners and beneficiaries of racism even if they personally have done nothing wrong. Individual actions and beliefs mean nothing to these people.

Perhaps these SJWs have a valid point hidden somewhere in the stupidity; maybe they’re reasonably pointing out that blacks have suffered worse than others, and that many whites don’t recognize advantages most of them have. Those things are true. But SJWs, like activists everywhere, dilute their own message with hysterical overreach and hyperbole, and create conflict where none is needed.

I’m not educated. I’m just a community college non-graduate who spent almost 27 years in the military and is still a cop after over twenty years. I’ve lived with, worked with, and served in combat shoulder to shoulder with people of different ethnicities, religions and races, in several countries. And here’s what I’ve learned:

Racism is an individual belief. Redefining racism so that “no minority can be racist” is a transparent, convenient, self-serving way for minorities to be racist without having to admit it. Minorities who hold all whites accountable for past wrongs are just as racist as a hillbilly Klansman with a swastika tattooed on his neck. Yes, systemic racism exists, and blacks have historically borne the brunt of it in America. Yes there are white racist douchebags. Real racism, especially systemic racism, needs to be exposed and defeated.

But plenty of “oppressed minorities” are also racist, and the endless search for a white racist under every rock only perpetuates racial tension we don’t need. Dammit, can’t we admit things have gotten better? Can’t we at least acknowledge that we’ve come miles from the systemic racism of the Jim Crow era, light years from slavery, and that all whites aren’t the eternal enemy of all of us with darker skin? The experience my parents had in the 60’s in north Texas, when they were kicked out of a restaurant – while my father was serving in the Air Force – because “we don’t serve Mexicans here”, hasn’t and won’t happen to me. And if it did, the public backlash would be so intense the restaurant would shut down. This country is better now than it was then.

I’m grateful that my country is better. I’m grateful to all the people, even the whites, who fought and sacrificed to make it better. I won’t poison my children’s minds with the lies that the system is rigged against them, or that all whites are their enemies. And I damn sure won’t tell them that if they become racist, they’re somehow better than white racists.

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Chris Hernandez is a 22 year police officer, former Marine and recently retired National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

23 Responses to “A Convenient Redefinition of Racism”

  1. 1 joel

    It’s funny how no one wants to credit the men and women who were the FIRST nation on Earth to fight a civil war to end slavery. We started the worldwide racial equality issue, and that theology is STILL in its infancy. They also conveniently forget how recently Empire building nations were the norm. Any member of American society who hates how bad the racism is here are certainly encouraged to move elsewhere. Those same people also are not aware that slavery is STILL LEGAL in nearly half the countries on the African Continent. Yeah, want to really fight racism? Move over there and fight to abolish modern day slavery, which is tribe vs tribe for the most part. I’m sure the enslaved people over there would really appreciate the help. For the record; I have NEVER been a racial person. I hate EVERYONE equally automatically. My friends are so diverse! Never been a hater of anyone for their race an will always be that way. I agree people need to chill out with calling everything they disagree with ‘racist’. It’s happening in this election cycle, but they can’t find one thing Trump has EVER done to be a racist, yet the BS continues. Hate me for having absolutely no choice in what color I was born, but I will NOT do the same to you! Good column CH.

    • I’m working on a piece about slavery right now. I’m down with your general sentiment, but with one correction: slavery is illegal in all of Africa. Mauritania was the last African country to abolish slavery. In 1981 it was banned by presidential decree, although it wasn’t actually criminalized until 2007. Even today, 10-20% of the population is still estimated to be slaves, and only one slave owner has been successfully prosecuted (as of 2012, the most recent information I found). Slavery is still practiced in Africa, but not legally.

      • 3 joel

        I heard otherwise, but glad for the correction. Also had heard it was unenforceable due to most remote locations too. Pretty sad that people with grocery and convenience stores on nearly every corner want to bitch about how bad the USA is for racism. I see people of every persuasion here in Seattle and they somehow make it work well. Look, we will all be better off when we become the same shade of brown. It’s probably going to take a few thousand years folks, so just chill until that happens. Okay?

      • 4 Nathalie Leclercq

        Same thing in Asia. Slavery is illegal, but exploitation isn’t. So you get the kind of salary that isn’t enough to send your children to school or save some money for retirement or pay the doctor when you get ill, but at least you get to make the clothes that are meant to empower women (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/15/beyonc-clothing-range-is-made-by-sweat-shop-labourers-on-430-a-d/). Another example of non-official slavery is prostitution in Germany, where pimping is actually legal. Our government has made several attempts to empower prostitutes by passing new laws, but unsurprisingly this isn’t working. I think that the way young girls form Eastern Europe are forced into prostitution is a good example of slavery/exploitation that’s totally non-racist…

        • 5 Ken

          I disgusted by people like you, Nathalie, who see people have two choices in front of them: 1) live and die in grinding poverty and misery or 2) work hard to escape that grinding poverty, then are upset people make choice 2), going so far as to hate the people that provide 2) as even an option. Most of human existence was defined by grinding poverty (all of humantiy live on $3 per day till 1800, that’s 150,000 years of living in poverty). Only in recent history do we see anything thing like the miraculous abundance the typical human has now, but you think it’s a tragedy that it takes work to create that wealth. Sadly, you think there’s dignity in living and dying in great poverty and misery and hate the fact that people want to work to escape that poverty and misery as soon as the opportunity arises.

    • Whatever economic profit cane from early American slavery it was likely completely eaten up in the enormous cost of the Civil War. And if slavery brought so much profit why was the South always poorer than the North?

  2. While I suppose you could consider me a “social justice warrior” in the sense that I believe we should work for a just society, I agree with you that anyone of any ethnicity can be racist by any reasonable definition of the word.

    I think you’re conflating a couple of ideas that may seem to feed your feeling that all SJWs hold the same set of beliefs about racism and that it includes the idea that no black can be racist or, as I heard a white college professor say years ago, all whites are racist by definition.

    Obviously, if one’s prejudice is supported by the prevailing power structure, if it’s upheld by law enforcement and social institutions and ratified by government, overcoming it will be far more difficult than if it is not. But I think that’s only one facet of what the words “systemic racism” mean.

    Systemic racism is real and obviously so, but it has nothing to do with blacks or Hispanics or Asians not being capable of prejudice as clearly they are. Systemic racism simply means that ideas about certain races—be they the ones in power or not—are built into the systems by which we live our lives.

    If the banking system is set up with the assumption that Hispanics and blacks are likely to default on loans, or that Asians and “whites” (whatever the heck whites are) are industrious and trustworthy, then that system will operate on that assumption and treat members of those groups differently. If the medical establishment operates on the assumption that blacks can tolerate pain better than whites, doctors within that system will medicate blacks differently than they do whites (and they do).

    You can argue that these prejudices are still held by individuals, and that’s true. But when the individuals at the foundation or core of our institutions act on racist assumptions, then the systems themselves perform on a set of racist assumptions. Hence, the term “systemic racism”.

    When I worked at an electronics company years ago in the HR department, I noticed a number of things that had become departmental policy that made no sense, were a waste of time, and actually had a negative effect on the operation of the department. I asked the HR manager why we did these things and she said, “I don’t know. That’s just the way it’s done.” The errors had become systemic.

    That’s the way human systems work, whether they’re relatively benign or destructive. It’s why men wear ties and my dad wore a silly and completely impractical hat when he was in the Air Force. And until someone stops and asks, ‘Why are we doing this?” and questions if it’s the best way we can do things, there will be no change.

    So, I’d ask that you not dump all social justice “warriors” into the same basket or imagine that they all hold the same ideas about race as valid.Or that they all define systemic racism the way you did in your article.

    • 9 Joe in PNG

      Problem is, this sort of insulting, racist* nonsense is a good majority of what we hear out of Academia. Which leads one to wonder, if that isn’t the view of the Progressives, why is it not being shouted down, dismissed, and rallied against?

      *The assumption that a person of a particular skin color automatically posses certain cultural attributes is pretty much racism. E.g, all Asians are good at math but lousy drivers, all blacks have great rhythm but tend to be criminals, ect and so on.

  3. 10 Jesse Evans

    Thank you, Mr. Hernandez, for this amazing article. So few people are willing to point out the faulty rhetoric that so many social justice warriors tout these days. The sad fact of our world is that racism exists at every level of our society. It is a battle that has been fought for centuries, and one that needs to continue to be fought. There is no quick fix. But I believe that it is a fight worth fighting. Advocating for the death of any individual based solely upon their race is inherently racist. I applaud you for being willing to speak an uncomfortable truth at a time where that act must be considered bravery, when it should be considered the norm. Thank you sir, for all that you have done, and continue to do, for our nation.

  4. 11 Wicked Duke

    Solidly good article, and I thank you for it.

    I really used to care. I vocally & financially supported LGBQT causes. I campaigned for political candidates who seemed to be trying to do the right thing for the most people. I supported and volunteered with community-building, anti-racist programs. I voted with my feet and my dollars to help people who were being treated unfairly, or who were being discriminated against. I’ve always worked hard at being fair to everyone, regardless of their plumbing, their preferences, and which paint-chip they happen to match.

    Now thanks to academia, and – mostly – the SJWs and their behaviors, I just *don’t* any more.

    The absolutely huge number of interactions I’ve had with people claiming to be SJW’s across multiple social media platforms, have shown me that there’s absolutely no need for me to bother being even vaguely concerned about the things I used to care about and actually worked to improve.

    They have been *perfectly* clear that they hate me for my skin tone, my gender, my sexual orientation, and my ‘beliefs’ (without even knowing what my actual beliefs are.) So hey, if they insist on a free pass for the atrocious behaviors/beliefs they actually hold, and vile, disgusting acts that they committ, while demonizing/criticizing/demeaning me for acts I don’t commit and beliefs that *I* don’t hold?

    Yeah… Fuck ’em.
    In the neck, with a screwdriver.

    Now? Well, when the real pushback comes (and I’m already starting to see signs of it), and it gets nasty – and I’m anticipating fairly bloody on both coasts, if nowhere else – I’m literally just going to sit back with a frosty adult beverage, eat popcorn, and watch.

    I’ll be actively supporting pretty much anyone on the opposite side from the SJWs and their utter bullshit.

    • 12 Priscilla

      Here’s an idea: no taxpayer dollars to educational institutions that promote this toxic ideology. We wouldn’t tolerate public funding for universities allowing “Black/Brown People Are a Plague” campaigns, would we? Freedom of speech goes in only one direction on campus.

  5. “drag some of these god damn rusty dusty ass crackers out of their homes”

    There is a movement in America that is attempting to start a race war. We’ve been seeing bits and pieces of it for years. I certainly hope they never succeed.

    I have come to embrace my “Horribly Racist” ideals in which I believe that human beings are human beings, and that Melanin is not, in any way, a psychoactive chemical so skin tone is a completely unreliable indicator of the character of a person (and an incredibly stupid thing to start a war over).

    • 14 Priscilla

      Divide and conquer benefits the powers that be. They’re workin’ hard (insert Hillary cackle). Pushers on the left, push back on the right-at least the alt right- Big Daddy Gov to sort things out. Never let a crisis go to waste. Isn’t this new era of racial healing grand?

  6. 15 bill lommey

    If an individual joins an organization that advocates for nationalist policies based on race, (whatever race) does that make them a racist? I believe that it does and it seems you would agree. Correct?

    chrishernandezauthor wrote: > a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: none; color: #0088cc; } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff; } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: #11729E !important; color: #fff !important; } /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } */ WordPress.com chrishernandezauthor posted: “During recent debates with social justice types, I’ve run across something I hadn’t heard before. Apparently, the definition of racism I always accepted is wrong. I thought racism was “a belief in the inherent superiority or inferiority of a race”. Merri”

    • I’m not sure that’s always true. Can a party be created to represent the interests of a persecuted minority, yet not advocate anything other than equal treatment? That’s at least possible.

  7. 17 Michelle

    I keep saying this on forums and nobody ever, ever in a million years seems to get it. African-Americans, whose ancestors were brought here as slaves, are descended, in part, from ( 5% to about 50% as in the case of Henry Louis Gates) white slave owners. Way more than the fake Native-American blood they always claim, which turns out to be 1% and less. Black Americans’ ancestors owned slaves. They should pay themselves reparations. They should accuse themselves of racism. You cannot separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to most African-Americans. Their white relatives lynched, raped and tortured people. If anyone has a cosmic bill to pay, they do. They are the absolute direct descendants of brutal white slave owners and perhaps the generally poor state that they are in involves Karma. Not that I believe that really.

  8. 18 Ken

    By the definitions provided, it’s possible to hate a race without being racist. Hating another race, without believing it’s inherently inferior or superior, by your definition, isn’t racism. If the basis of your definition of racism is the inferior/superior belief, then most people labelled racists aren’t, since many people hate other races for the simple human trait if dislike “the other”. I’m fine with this definition, but you apparently are not and conflate “hate” with feelings of “superiority” or “inferiority”.

    Just be aware that your complaint in your next paragraph, where you whine about “people of every race have committed horrible crimes based on racial hatred. I’ve personally had the misfortune to meet whites who hate blacks and Hispanics, Hispanics who hate blacks, and blacks who hate whites and Christians…. I know a Hispanic man who refuses to have anything to do with his own grandchild because she’s half black. I met a Hispanic college professor who asked “what kind of a f**king Mexican marries a white woman?” Once I walked past a white child in a grocery store who suddenly blurted “You’re colored!”, then got really nervous when I stopped to talk to him about it. In Kosovo I had a very depressing conversation with someone who advocated killing every last member of an opposing ethnic group: “The adults committed crimes against us, the old ones used to commit crimes against us, and the young ones will commit crimes against us. So they should all be killed, from one until the end.” And I knew a lot of people from the other ethnic group felt the exact same way.” contains no racism in the context of the definitions you supplied. Hate doesn’t imply a feelings of superiority or inferiority. Additionally, merely noting that people are of a different race, as the child did, isn’t racist in any meaningful sense at all.

    If you’re going to harp on the misuse of words, you shouldn’t misuse words.

    The reality is that “racist” is an insult used to denote “you hold opinions on race that I don’t like”, without any regard for the actual definition, which requires feelings of superiority and inferiority (not hate). Most real racists I meet don’t hate the races they feel superior to, merely accepting the obvious flaws in the other races as to be expected in such inferior stock, the way you accept the inferiority of your pets.

  9. 19 just another wordpress author

    From the Daily Kos quote:

    “African Americans and people of color do not have institutionalized power,…”

    But in fact blacks do have much institutional power in many of our failed cities run by Democrats often for decades or longer. They work for the city, they are the mayor and the politicians, they are preachers and many are the police. Think of Detroit.

    These SJWs talk of “white privilege.” For the most part the real privilege is not living in a failing city run by Democrats for decades. But they are doing their best to rectify that. The real privilege for many Americans is having a family with both a mom and a dad. But again they are doing their best to fix that too!

    I think black author Thomas Sowell had some good insights into the problem in his book “Black Rednecks and White Liberals.” The real kernel of the problem is a culture, specifically a black culture that instills a toxic world view that has hatred at its core. The real white privilege is not being part of that culture.

  10. 20 DaveWolfy

    I have always considered that racism involved having a different attitude towards someone because of their “race” . As it happens , I find some black , oriental and hispanic ladies profoundly attractive because of their appearance – in my book that makes me racist.
    Here in the UK we have just voted to leave the EU ( thank heavens ) , it would appear that the influx of foreign people taking jobs in deprived areas was a significant issue. The Polish people have been identifed as a significant element , many of the voters have been branded as racists – the last time I looked the Poles look very much like I do.
    The way racism is categorised by these people devalues/degrades/distorts the definition of what racism really is and , therefore , makes it much more difficult to identify and deal with.

  11. 21 Bernard

    If I believe, based on my observation, that blacks are the best basketball players, jazz musicians, or rappers, even if I acknowledge that I may be wrong my in belief, that makes me a racist.
    So much for definitions.

  1. 1 Hypersensitivity | Not A Victim
  2. 2 The Redefinition of Racism | RECOIL

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