If people having to say they’re not racist bothers you but you can’t quite figure out why, try this.
Racism is systemic. It’s built into our country. Even if you aren’t explicitly racist, you’re probably still somewhat implicitly racist. That means that you have unconscious biases against people who are different than you. (We’re also implicitly sexist, we have ideas about what men and women look like and what they’re capable of doing.)
This doesn’t necessarily mean someone is a bad person. We’re given messages all the time and that impacts how our brain categories information automatically. What’s important is recognizing that we live in a country that really perpetuates this systemic racism.
We feed into this idea that black men and women are hyper-sexual, or angry, or violent. When someone says “I’m not racist” they’re saying that they don’t truly understand what racism is or what their part in this system is. There are some people who are explicitly racist (see: nazis) and there are some people who are implicitly racist. I can’t think of a single person who is untouched by the biases of our world.
If you’re not explicitly racist please don’t waste your time trying to prove it to people by saying things like “I’m not racist.”
Go out of your way to make a difference. Go out of your way to change your implicit biases. Make friends who are different than you. Shut down people who say things that are offensive or hurtful to you or others. Read the news. Participate in rectifying the injustices of our country and our world.