As used by the average American, particularly as a pejorative, this is entirely the wrong word. Racism means the belief that an individual’s abilities are defined and limited by the racial group. This is usually accompanied by an assumption that one’s own racial group is unlimited and therefore superior in some way. When a statement starts “Well, you know all these people…” That would usually stem from a racist perspective.
Most of the people in the world are vaguely uncomfortable with groups different from their own and congregate with people like themselves. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. Where the problem comes is from carrying this to the extreme. This engenders hatred and bigotry. Now comes the fun part. This is a spiraling relationship. It is easy to see this in American black/white society. The blacks were slaves. They were freed. There was distaste and dislike and discrimination on the part of the white, which became part of law and custom. This lasted well into the 1950s, when it began to be redressed/addressed. Any official and 95% of intended discrimination is over. There is still considerable resentment and hurt feelings in the black community. There is more racial bigotry on the black side than the white now. This is not going to go away until the black community starts judging individuals on their own merits, whether black or white. And accepts personal responsibility for their own actions.
If someone cuts you off in traffic and you curse under your breath “You bastard”, that is not bigoted. If you mutter “You black bastard” then you have a problem. We all do this. Not necessarily racial, but the petty putting down of any group that one dislikes as a group calls for some self examination. This is not to say that individuals of that group may not be like or disliked on their own merits.
Back in the early 1970s I worked for a company that had the repair facility and the warehouse/shipping facility in the same building. There were two repair technicians, of which I was one. The warehouse supervisor was a young black man who liked to come into the repair facility when we were working and start talking and joshing. We never said anything ugly to him, but one day he stopped and looked rather thoughtful. He then said “You don’t like me because I am black.” I said “No, black has nothing to do with it. We don’t like you because you’re an asshole.” I don’t think he ever understood that.
It is easier to blame one’s failures and limitations on something outside oneself and beyond one’s control. It is easier for an unsuccessful black man to claim to be the victim of white racism. Never mind that he has rejected a decent education and mocked those who made good grades as “Oreos.” Never mind that he does not think that corporations should look at decent English, civilized manners, and ability in hiring. It is easier to blame whitey. But unless and until that perception changes there will be no change in his life.
When a young black man comes in with his pants halfway down to his knees and his underwear halfway up to his chest, over his shirt, I don’t know what he is thinking. Certainly he will never get a job with any company I am associated with. This has nothing to do with his race, it has to do with his presentation of self. Likewise any kid who is looking for a job with me had better be neat, clean, appropriately dressed, and speak good English. No, I will not hire someone who speaks ghetto Ebonics. Nor will I hire someone who speaks country redneck. I am not talking about a small accent here, after all, I have a fair Southern accent. I am talking about appalling grammar and enunciation.
Now, does this mean that there are no more stupid racial bigots out there. By no means. Stupidity is rampant. Bigotry is alive and healthy. Check some of the stuff posted on the internet. I find it interesting that bigotry and bad grammar seem to go together.
Many years ago there was a wonderful cartoon call “Bloom County”. I don’t remember when it was, but one of the themes that got a week or two worth of gigging was the being offended by this that or the other. The cartoon went on and on about things that offended various people. The final strip in that series concluded that what bothered people the most was “offensensitivity.” And of course, liberals suffer from it terribly. Offensensitivity is the rabid fear of saying or doing anything that anyone would find offensive. I submit that if someone is determined to be offended then you have no power to prevent it. I was in one of these horrible seminars that major corporations put their employees through to make sure that they are “sensitive” and politically correct. Anyway, as part of this we had to tell a story. In the telling I commented that a fellow who was 6’4″ and weighed above 300 lbs. was a huge gorilla. Now the people in this seminar were all professional and middle level management. One of the black women really got on a tear about how all the black people in the place were offended because I’d said that the fellow resembled a gorilla and everybody used to call black people monkeys. Now I must say that she realized that no disparagement or harm was meant. Yet can I, or anyone else live in constant worry that someone will be offended when no harm is meant? I insist that if wrong is meant, the punishment is deserved. Otherwise – people, grow up, get over it. Do not see evil where no evil is meant.
The correct word is bigotry. It means to be intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from one’s own. And all people suffer from it.