hanging chads to jury jokes. It’s easy for outsiders to look on
Floridians with disdain. Many have never walked in our shoes. Many
have never had to sit in judgment over a Casey Anthony or a George
That notwithstanding, it does raise the issue of racists versus
racism. I believe we are all racists to some degree. It doesn’t mean
we’re practicing racism, but the fact is every human being is entitled
to his or her own beliefs. If that’s contrary to yours or to the
so-called norm, then you are labeled “racists.”
People who marry within their own race could be called racists. People
who marry the opposite sex could be called racists. Does it mean they
are practicing racism? Hardly. Much like beauty, it is indeed in the
eye of the beholder.
Wikipedia says racism is usually defined as views, practices and
actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct
biological groups called races and that members of a certain race
share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less
desirable, more desirable, inferior, or superior.
I don’t know what all that means but I suspect that I could be called
a racist because my wife is of the opposite sex and is Caucasian.
Could this mean I do not tolerate other races or religions or sexual
beliefs because I have chosen a traditional relationship?
“Racists believe that race accounts for differences in human character
or ability and that a particular race is superior to others,” so says
Wikipedia. It goes on to suggest that discrimination is based on race.
That definition suggests that every human being is racist.
One could make the case that Paula Deen is a racist because of
comments she has made over the years. She and her brother are being
sued for a plethora of racist offenses in the restaurant they own.
Further, Deen openly talked about wanting a slavery-themed wedding.
After Black Twitter served her on a platter, she went on the Today
Show and cried crocodile tears. The Food Network decided not to renew
Deen’s contract. Takeaway lesson? Don’t be a racist.
Paula Deen under a strict definition of the word could be convicted of
being racist in most courts of law. Is she guilty of racism or just
poor judgment? Ask her accountants, because the price she has paid
already is in the millions and is subject to climb higher when the
cases hit the courtroom.
It’s been said if you want to penalize wealthy people, hit them in the
wallet. As expensive as this will be to Deen and her brother, the cost
to her reputation is irreparable and incalculable.
When golf’s Sergio Garcia told “fried chicken” jokes about Tiger
Woods, he did so with malice in his heart. That, to me, is racism.
He’s a competing golfer, not a humorous speaker. He crossed a line.
Because juror B37 spoke out at the George Zimmerman trial and used
certain terms, the demagogues have emerged calling her racist. They
note how she referred to Zimmerman as “George” and how she
characterized Trayvon Martin’s actions.
The rest of the facts of the case notwithstanding, her predisposed
thoughts have come under fire. By the narrow definitions described
herein she could be labeled as a racist.
What then should we call Rev. Jessie Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton? If
they’re not racists by definition, surely they are at least demagogues
by action. What good can come of their Monday morning quarterbacking?
One could argue that it was, in fact, their efforts that brought
Zimmerman into a courtroom in the first place. On the flip side, since
“George” was exonerated, did their efforts just cost the state of
Florida and Zimmerman millions of unnecessary dollars fighting a case
that arresting police officers said should never have been filed?
In the end, we’re all racists to some degree because we believe in
things that differ from what others believe. Does that mean we’re
practicing racism? I don’t believe so.
It makes us human, not racist.
Michael Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column for
this newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at