I just discovered the blog, “I’m Not a Racist, but...” It’s great and a valuable effort toward an anit-racist society. The blog is based on a simple idea that easily and elegantly demonstrates the continuing rampant racism in United States, among other places. The blog simply collects screen shots of Facebook updates that include the phrase, “I’m not a racist, but.” This phrase is necessarily followed by a racist statement. This kind of talk is sometimes termed “elite racist discourse” because the speakers are attempting to distance themselves from a negative social identity--a racist--but at the same time engaging in racist speech (I discussed “covert” racist and sexist speech in this post). While I love, the site, I am saddened that it finds material and that it is needed.
In class, my students always chuckle when I mention elite racist discourse because they’ve all heard it before in casual conversations. However, I always get the impression that none think it’s that bad or that big of a deal. I’m betting some of this is simply because it’s part of their ambient linguistic environment and they have trouble pinning down many specific instances. I think this site helps to illustrate that such talk is bad and a big deal. When you scroll through post after post of clearly racist sentiments, you realize exactly how racism is still very common in the US. It stops being, “that’s just how people talk,” or “it’s just a joke,” to “wow, that’s awful.”
The blog brings to light a nasty underbelly of American/World culture that should be seen, examined, mocked, and finally deconstructed. I applaud those who run the site.