Over my nearly 60 years of traveling across America and the world, I have noted that there are belief-systems spawned by the superiority-inferiority syndrome held by some persons about others unlike themselves that we loop under the general rubric of Misanthropy – hatred or distrust of human beings. Racism is a specific form of misanthropy and it is on a continuum which moves from beliefs to actions.
Racism against Black people in America is a unique kind misanthropy because it has prevailed directly for more than 400 years, from slavery to its multifaceted, race-based aftermath. America’s Slavery Institution was fostered and sustained by Enslavers, Facilitators (esp. southern white clergy), Toleraters, Enactors (Lawmakers), and Exacerbators. A major element of the uniqueness is also that slave-labor was a principal, critical instrument in the rapid development of this new nation into a world power.
Racist reality in America is a particularly loathsome kind of misanthropy because the early leaders, nearly all hypocrites, expressed opposition to oppression and wrote into America’s defining, founding documents the most glorious words describing how human beings should and would be treated.
Clarity among the four configurations of America’s special misanthropy is essential if human beings in exploited, demeaned and deprived sub-categories are going to advance against their crippling effects.
1. Classical American Racism in its purest form has two components – Attitude, e.g., “My group is superior to your group in fundamental, unalterable, usually genetic bases, as ordained by God.” And Behavior: overt, direct, aggressive, deliberate and continuous actions that harm the despised persons and thwart them in their pursuit of freedom. Classical racists seek out opportunities to harm the targets of their vitriol and associate openly with and support groups whose stated intentions are to injure members of the hated group. Harm in this regard includes physical violence and malicious verbal harassment intended to demoralize the targets.
The “smarter” ones in the “Classical” group today know that the most certain means of achieving the desired effects of racism — lower progress for the hated groups; to have the effects last over a long period; and to increase the likelihood that debilitating conditions will be passed to the children — is find means, such as Miseducation, to have the targets of racism retard their own trajectory toward safe, successful and comfortable lives and to retard the trajectory of each other within their own groups. A true racist does not care what causes despised people to fail.
2. The second category is Passive-Aggressive Racism. Individuals in this group hate and know they hate entire, specific human groupings. They do not act on that hatred in open and direct ways because such behavior would negatively affect their own higher interests. However, when the opportunities arise, these individuals will respond from a basis of racism, thus harming members of the despised group. Many in this group are politicians or occupy other leadership positions. Passive-Aggressive racists, accomplished hypocrites, in decision-making positions often make policies that on-face favor the despised groups but in effect harm them.
3. The Unconscious Racists are unaware that deeply buried in their decision-making, moral judgment centers are remnants of their early upbringing that have stamped them with racist attitudes that become manifest in actions that harm in disproportionate ways the poorest and least well-educated. They resist mightily acknowledging their unconscious biases. Often, the evil they do stems from studied ignorance or denial, e.g., I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, and is likely to be couched in terms that imply good intentions. Nonetheless, their actions often do more harm than the intentionally malevolent, classical racists, because they are more trusted than the acknowledged evil-doers.
4. The last category includes Miscellaneous Racists – the stupid, the ignorant, the psychotic, the incompetent, the lazy, and the socially and culturally illiterate. Miscellaneous racists harm lots of people, and, as usual, those at the bottom of America suffer the greatest harm. Their actions are given a label depending on the specific group that suffers. Black Americans, for example, contend that the title Racism is appropriate for a stupid policy enacted if it harms Black people, in particular, even when others in the larger group impacted outnumber Black people. Decisions that increase poverty provide cases in point. In 2013, the number of white families earning below $15,000 annually was twice as high as the number of Black families. In addition, there are 26 million K-12 school children who are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced lunch. There are only 8 million Black students in K-12 schools and not all of them qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Each of the categories requires different countervailing strategies, or racism as we now see will continue.