If the overall racist makeup of an area can be determined by a simple calculation of how much time it takes after entering a cafe till the first racial slur is overheard, than I am getting the notion that I live in a frighteningly racist area. My notion, based on completely unscientific perceptions, is that the frequency at which I hear racial slurs is much increased in these latter days. I attribute this to the prevalence of the fanners of the flames of base human behavior. We are, of course, all racist in the sense that we see race. When I see a stranger on the street, my first categorisation is whether they are male, female or indeterminable. The very next categorisation is what race they are. There is a black man, that guy is Asian, that guy looks like a cross between a hippopotamus and a manatee. I like the diversity myself. Thank you very much. I do not want to be color blind. God forbid I lived in a pure white culture. That would be like eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast. We all judge each other in the first instant of encounter, or observance. It happens so fast and automatically we don't even know we are doing it. That guy is a slob. That lady looks like a ---, Those kids are trouble. That kid looks sharp. That lady has a sugar daddy.... We can't avoid this initial judgement. So there is a sense in which we are all racist. But there is a huge difference between a racist and normal awareness of race. That difference is too easily dismissed as ignorance. Sorry, but we are not so ignorant any more. Even the dregs of society seem able to purchase cable. If you are a racist today, in the age of saturated media culture, I am sorry, but you are consciously choosing to be one. That is a component you are maintaining in the makeup of your identity. The ignorance part comes in at the point where self examination of the validity, or wisdom, or morality of your choice takes place. At that point, I do not expect much in the way of a capacity for reasoning out such things from someone who has decided racism is justifiable. At times, when I am in a situation with someone who I have had to suffer numerous racial slurs from, (usually people just blurt it out as if they assume I share their attitudes because I happen to eating at a cafe that has a rebel flag in the window) [I am kidding about that. If there is a rebel flag somewhere, it is usually in inside the establishment and not so prominent, or I would probably avoid that place], I will engage. This, of course, depends on a number of factors, one being the likelihood of my getting away with it without getting killed. On occasion it is possible. I always hear the argument that begin this way "just look at what is going on in black culture" (they don't use the term black culture) as if they need say no more. Ok, so I am willing to look at what is going on in black culture. "You mean people like Oprah, and Bill Cosby, and Tiger Woods, and...." No that is not what they mean. They mean black welfare culture. black crime culture. Oh, yea, I see that too. There is a lot of brokenness in areas of town that are predominantly black and poor. Hum, go figure that. Then they can go on with a litany of reasons why black culture is jacked up. Again, go figure. I call this the bottom up approach to blame for the ills of the world. I like to turn this around and ask, why do you look at it from the bottom up? Are you so happy with what is happening from the top down? That is a trick question, because I know, being racist inclined, they are probably not lovers of government. Then I like to open the issue of where the real power lies in America. Is the black kid in the hood with a stolen gun in his pants the real power broker in America, or do the corporate giants really pull the strings? This is a no brainier, unless they are just flipped out completely, at which point I just go into my own litany of absurdities to mess with them. Generally, the obvious answer is that there are powerful people pulling the levers of control that don't live in blighted neighborhoods, or get welfare (except of course that they may well benefit hugely from corporate welfare programs) But that is different. The point I like to drive home is that it makes no sense to blame the ills of the world on those who have the least power and control. If they want to be angry at someone, why not turn that anger toward those who actually control things. There are lots of points to make. I am dubious about whether it is ever worth the breath to try to make them. People what to think what they want to think. As for me, I don't like hearing racial slurs any more than I like to see pollution the air, or toxic spills at chemical plants. But is goes on all the time. My personal antidote is to use the offense and a reminder to check my own unconscious intolerance and generalizations, and remind my self that even raciest jerks were made by god.