Can a Black Person Be Racist?
Trump’s ad hominem attack on Fani Willis dredges up an old question.
(N.B. — Do yourself a favor and don’t be one of those who succumb to their own bigotry and refuse to read beyond the headline. Read the whole article and consider the very important issues it discusses.)
“They say there’s a young woman, a young racist in Atlanta. She’s a racist.” That’s what Donald Trump said about Fani Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia. He made the same ad hominem attack on NY attorney general Letitia James.
Now, if I said that Trump was corrupt and childish and should be prosecuted, he’d insult me too (c’mon, hit me, big boy). It’s his self-serving way of lashing out, which is significant in itself. But the larger philosophical issue is with his ad hominem attack on these people as “racist.” What is a racist, and who can properly be called one?
Trump is hardly a reliable judge of human character. Nor can we place much weight on the angry comments made by a criminal defendant against his prosecutor. But let’s consider the idea that a Black person can be a racist.
Philosophy of Race — A Primer
Second book in the Philosophy Primer series.
First, there are two issues here
There is bigotry, and there is social power to act. The distinction is crucial.
Bigotry is a weakness. Bigotry is a symptom of giving in to the fear of those who are different and choosing to hide behind false views of other people rather than face the reality of how others actually are.
We all have a natural fear of the Other. How we deal with that fear is the difference between maturity and immaturity. A person has bigoted thoughts and feelings because they’ve given in to that fear of the Other. It takes a certain degree of courage to accept people for who they are and how they are. It’s easier to deal with and accept people who are similar to oneself. Differences cause tensions, and not everyone has the wherewithal to deal maturely with those tensions. Bigoted…