First off, since I am white, I can’t know how you feel. I can’t give you an off-the-cuff reply like “I understand”, because all whites have white privilege, and none of us can know what it’s like to *not* have WP. However, I do know what it’s like to be racist, for that’s how I was raised in the MS Delta.

Second, you are absolutely right in your statement that “less white people does not spell less racism”. I’ll address that at the end of this reply.

At first glance, you might wonder how my too-long diatribe below has anything to do with your response. Please accept my apology for having written such a long reply, have patience and read on, and bear in mind that my goal is to understand the *why*.

By your response, I suspect that while your language doesn’t point out any particular race or ethnicity, you might be referring mainly to Asians (due to their overall success in America), and not without reason. That’s the assumption on which I’m basing the rest of this response, and if I made the wrong assumption, then the fault is mine alone, and I would deserve whatever scorn comes my way as a result.

I’ve traveled quite a bit in Asia, and in late July, I’ll be going to the Philippines for some time, perhaps for several months. We have a small house there in a suburb of Metro Manila (pop. 15M), and I’m usually the only white for miles around at any one time. I speak some of the language.

The Philippines is a true third-world nation, and while there are some areas that are as modern as anything here in America, much more of the nation is poor, and much of that in a deeper level of poverty than anything here in America. If one gets to know the locals, one gets to learn quite a bit, not only about the life they lead, but about what life is like for the majority of people in the world.

In my experience, Asia is generally more racist than America is today. Thing is, their racism is not enforced by their government as America’s was (and to some extent still is e.g. our drug laws). Asia’s racism (against other races *ethnicities*) is deeply rooted in their social structure. In the Philippines, the dominant ethnicity are the Tagalog (who are the majority in and around Manila), and there are dozens of other ethnicities, and every ethnicity in the nation has its own personality e.g. those from Pampanga are hot-headed but good cooks, Ilocanos are terrible cooks but good (even tight-fisted) with money, Tagalog are good with business but can be a bit snotty, etc. You get the idea.

The same thing goes with China, where the Han majority are very racist towards Tibetans and especially (Muslim) Uighurs, up to a million of whom are in ‘reeducation camps’ today to get them to give up their religion. Then there’s Japan, where the majority Japanese have long persecuted the indigenous Ainu on their northern island of Hokkaido…and Japan is famously racist towards anyone who is not, well, Japanese.

Then there’s Thailand, where during a port visit to Pattaya, on a door to a bar I saw a handwritten sign that said, “no blacks or Arabs allowed”. What should get your attention is not what the sign itself said, but the fact that such a sign did not seem offensive to the other Thais there. That reminds me so much of Shaw, MS, where in 1984, twenty years after the Civil Rights Act, the only doctor’s office in town still had two entrances: above one entrance was “white”, and above the other entrance was “colored”. The signs were painted over with a Kelly green, but paint doesn’t hide inch-deep chisels so well. The people in Shaw obeyed those signs. No one (including myself) said anything because that’s the way it had always been.

Anyway, what I’m getting to with all these examples is that in Asia, as far as I’ve seen, the racism is often seen and accepted as normal, as if to say, “of course those people are different from us! Do you really expect me not to treat them differently?” Furthermore, they are raised to expect such racism in return.

IMO this is why many see racism in the attitudes of many Asian immigrants here in America, for many carry with them the racism (and *expectation* of racism from others) with which they were raised. As far as I can tell, it is only in America and in the UK and the nations of the former British Commonwealth where there is even social opposition against racism, much less enforced laws against racist conduct on the books.

Now, there’s one more factor, and I hope this will help you see them in a different light. In my experience, most racists do not recognize their own racism for what it is. So it was with me and my family in MS: we would have been greatly offended if anyone called us racist, for every year we happily gave food from our garden, clothing, and even money to our Black neighbors, all of whom were poor, and most of whom lived in what we called “shotgun shacks”. But we were quite racist nonetheless, for as soon as the Blacks were out of earshot, we’d start talking about them, usually something along the line of “they’re okay, but they can’t help it, because you know how Blacks are”…but of course we’d normally use the n-word instead.

Thing is, the reason why we didn’t think we were racist is because we held no malice towards Blacks — we thought the real racists were those malicious idiots who wore white robes. We didn’t realize that racism doesn’t require malice — it only requires untoward assumptions about another race or ethnicity.

So it goes with most Asians you meet — they don’t recognize their own racism for what it is, for the majority of them hold no malice towards Blacks.

Will any of this lessen the racism that you see? Will any of this ease the frustration and anger you must feel when you see such racism? Will any of this change the fact that out of all humanity’s races, Blacks face the most racism today? Of course not. All I’m doing here is looking to understand the *why*.

Lastly, concerning “less white people does not spell less racism”, again, that is a 100% true statement. But here’s the thing that seems to be true in every nation on the planet: in any given nation, there is one and only one one demographic that is socioeconomically dominant, and the most (and the most egregious) racism will be committed by that demographic. In China, that demographic is the Han (as opposed to the scores of “lesser” ethnicities there). In Mexico, it’s the Hispanics (as opposed to the indigenous peoples). In Saudi Arabia, it’s the Sunni Arabs (as opposed to the minority Shi’a). In Rwanda, it’s the Tutsi (as opposed to the majority Hutu). And in America, it’s the protestant whites of European descent (WASPs).

Here, then, is the key of my article to which you responded: unlike all the other nations of the world, in America, along with the shift in our nation’s demographic makeup, the socioeconomic power is shifting as well, if ever so slowly. As the decades pass (beyond my lifetime and perhaps even your own), due to the one-person, one-vote of our democracy, the power will eventually shift away from the WASPs, especially given that the power base of the Right is relying increasingly upon those whites without higher education. I expect that the racism by less-educated whites will increase over the next decade, but as time goes on, their socioeconomic influence will lessen, and their children continue to become more accepting of a true multiracial, multicultural society. It’s already happening now.

Again, my apologies for being so long-winded here. I sincerely hope you did not take offense in what I have written, for certainly no offense was intended.

Written by

Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

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