On arriving at one of the news sites that I frequent, a headline under “Entertainment” caught my eye. Having just seen the movie “Avatar”, I was surprised to read a headline posing a singular question; “Is Cameron’s Avatar Racist?” The tag accomplished its goal by catching my eye and provoking an intense emotional response. Perhaps the headline to this post did something similar for you. There are few methods in “journalism” that provoke a faster or more emotional response than charges of racism.
The rational middle has covered this topic before, and the position is the same; we are tired of both ends of the polarized debate, and eager to commit time and thought to those willing to have meaningful discussion. If it is an “ism”, then its definition changes with the person. Racism is used by various individuals to mean everything from cross-burning rednecks to white teachers who don’t realize that asking an African-American couple how their “boy” is doing can be offensive. Perspective is everything, and humans are very sensitive about issues of personal identity. All of us may want to be valued as individuals, yet none of us want to be treated differently from another.