Todd VanDerWerff, writing about a communication gap between progressive urbanites and conservative ruralites:
I say “racism” and mean “a system, built up over centuries of American history, that privileges white people over everybody else.” Many rural whites hear “racism” and think it means, “You’re a bad person who hates black people,” when they believe they’re not actively discriminating against anyone because of race.That single sentence jumped out: it’s the perfect characterization of a mindset that prevails in my immediate environs. “I treat everyone the same,” &c.
VanDerWeff is not apologizing for or excusing oppression or bigotry. But he is suggesting that people need to do a better job listening and speaking to one another across a political and cultural divide.
[In today’s local paper, a letter calls “liberals” “fat, lazy, slobs” who will now have to “get their fat little butts off the couch and get a job.”]