The supply and demand of racism.
Now I know what you may be thinking, what does a quarter Latino cis-gender male from rural Indiana know about racism? Actually, I experienced it while traveling through a foreign country! I was involved in a car accident, and because I was from the United States, the accident was automatically my fault. Never mind the fact that the other driver rear ended me while most likely texting on her phone. None of that mattered. The woman told the witness that they needed to side with her because they were both of the same race. The police officer said I was obviously making up a story to make it look like it was her fault.
I get that ‘American racism’ is slightly different– it can be something that people might deal with on a daily basis. In my situation, I could just go back to my home country secretly cussing in my mind about those people and how they treated me. Some people never get away from it. I don’t want to discount that. I am sure if I were stuck with it, I would die inside just a little bit. It is actually something I think about quite a bit, especially in the names that some people call others. The word I would like to focus in on is the dreaded N-word.
Why it has been so resilient in the face of the fact that using is can literally kill your business or political career? Could it be that ignorance is pushing it from both sides of the aisle? I have heard of this word being used by whites and blacks alike.
Why do people still use it? Face it – It is getting harder to be a racist in the 21st century. It is impossible for me because there are plenty of people of different races and genders that are smarter than me and way more successful. Nowadays, we are being bombarded with information about who can do what. Social media relentlessly shows us the accomplishments of others.
What someone does with all this information, however, makes all of the difference. I choose to give people the respect that their accomplishments and accolades deserve. But what if I did not? What if I was angry and bitter and just chose to call them names? I can think of a certain word that someone might use in that situation, especially if a person of color was more successful or smarter than they were. Recently, even an act of racism like this happened in small town Winona Lake, Indiana. For more on that, stay tuned to my interview with Martin Schiele on Saturday on my YouTube channel.
I am proposing that the N word is a useless relic of our past that in our modern world is nothing more than something that underachieving people say to make them feel better about their own uncultivated skills.
Useless relics from our past
When you hear the N-word used in a derogatory manor, it says way more about the person saying it than the person it is said to. It says things like, “I underachieved in life”, or “I think I deserve to be better than you, even though I am not.”
The truth is there is nothing as painful as not living up to your true potential. What is considered a complement in youth becomes a sharp critique in middle age and a judgment in old age. “You have so much potential.” With each passing year those words echo with less and less hope and eventually, judgment (You had so much potential).
That is a very painful place to be in, especially when someone sees other people blowing past them. Especially if they are of a different gender or race. The seed of bitterness can blossom into a tree of resentment, which will be acted out in extreme ways, like calling someone the N-word.
Removing a word from our vernacular
One of the surest ways to decrease the demand for something is to increase its price. When we are talking about speech, it is incredibly important to allow people to bring their words into the open market and let them see the results of the use of those words. This is another form of the marketplace of ideas.
As painful as it can be to hear those types of words, bringing them out into the open is the most effective way to let the users experience the cost involved with their use. This is why freedom of speech is the most effective mechanism for eliminating racist ideologies.
How can we help the process along?
Stop subsidizing bad behavior by saying nothing when we see a friend using these types of words. It is time to get serious about imposing high costs on this type of speech and behavior. If you have a friend or family member and they are doing this, it is time to have a talk with them. Maybe there are friendships that you have that it is time to cut off because of this. I can tell you that this is the most effective way to stop this. The change starts with each of us. Ultimately though, to maintain a change, I believe that we need to give our lives over to the Lord Jesus Christ.