Racism or Insensitivity

Today I read an opinion column by a moderate conservative who insisted that Trump isn’t racist. He’s just insensitive. The columnist also stated that they agree there is ‘systemic inequality,’ which is ‘unfair,’ and needs to be addressed, but it’s not ‘racist.’ I believe this is the first time I have seen the phrase ‘systemic inequality’ used instead of ‘systemic racism.’ But I am sure the columnist understood the absurdity of claiming that ‘systemic racism isn’t racist.’

I accept that ‘racism’ is a word that is loaded with negative connotations. I feel it should be, but that’s neither here nor there. I wonder how the columnist, and those who agree with them, would react if it was said that Trump has prejudices, acts on those prejudices more frequently than desirable in our society, and doesn’t exhibit signs of being self-aware of his prejudices or any attempts to fight them. Perhaps this is their definition of ‘insensitivity.’ It’s my definition of ‘racism.’ 

I can definitely agree that racism isn’t binary, and there is a progression. It’s certainly comforting to assert that those who are a little further on that progression than you are merely ‘insensitive.’ This probably helps minimize thinking about one’s own insensitivities, and I certainly know it’s uncomfortable thinking about that.