Can Blacks Be Racist? | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Can Blacks Be Racist?

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To the editors,

While taking a Reader critic to task [Letters, March 11] LeRoy Bach emitted some balderdash I simply cannot allow to go unpunished.

Following a rather tacky fashion of recent vogue, Mr. Bach gerrymanders his definitions of "racism" and "oppression" to maintain that blacks cannot be racist or oppressive! Since (he arbitrarily asserts) racism and oppression can only characterize powerful groups and institutions, blacks, presumably powerless, can be neither. Q.E.D., no?

No! Racism is a way of thinking (or not thinking); a crude way of sorting out humanity according to superficial characteristics and a certain archaic folklore. As such it is either pseudo-science or superstition. Blacks are as capable of this as anyone else.

(By the bye, Mr. Bach's position, taken seriously, would compel us to deny that racism exists any longer in the U.S. since these days all responsible and irresponsible spokespersons disavow it with more or less sincerity.)

As for oppression: that takes place wherever someone is being oppressed, whether by the president or one's parents. As a matter of fact more people are oppressed by petty tyrants than by great ones because petty tyrants are more numerous.

That many African Americans have assimilated our traditional racism is borne out by--among other things--homicide statistics that make the depredations of the Klan look insignificant. Surely the innumerable victims of all that killing must be counted among the oppressed.

I tell you, Brother LeRoy, our certain and sullen enemies are not Jews, the whites, the blacks, Arabs, queers, or Koreans; but ignorance, stupidity, greed, and malice; hook-worm, humbug, and hooliganism. Shall we overcome?

Rex Johnson

W. Jarvis

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