Why do the most racist people always think they’re the least racist people?
Jon Gruden stepped down from his job as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders Football team after reports that he used vulgar, sexist and racist language in his emails, including using racist terms to describe Black people, and saying that a Black NFL official had “lips the size of michellin [sic] tires.”
Before he was forced out, Gruden told reporters “I know I don’t have an ounce of racism in me.”
In a story about his resignation, the New York Times quoted Gruden as saying “I never had a blade of racism in me.”
The Washington Post quoted Gruden as saying “All I can say is I’m not a racist.”
Donald Trump is always talking about how he’s not at all a racist even though, by the evidence, he completely is.
“I am the least racist person in this room,” Trump said at an October 2020 presidential debate, with a straight face, to moderator Kristen Welker, a Black woman. And Trump told reporters in 2019: “I’m the least racist person you’ll find anywhere in the world.”
Everybody has flaws–I certainly do. People who think they’re flawless are the ones who are most susceptible to becoming bigots–because they’re the ones who have stopped critically examining their words, actions and feelings.
Socrates once famously said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” People with unexamined lives can also be pretty racist. Not being a racist isn’t something you just are, it’s something you have to do, and keep doing. It has to be a verb, not a noun.
The musical “Avenue Q” had it right with its song “Everybody’s a Little Bit Racist,” with its immortal lines:
Everyone’s a little bit racist
Doesn’t mean we go
Around committing hate crimes.
Look around and you will find
No one’s really color blind.
Maybe it’s a fact
We all should face
Everyone makes judgments
Based on race.