"The concentrating [of powers] in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one." Thomas Jefferson
I believe that we, as Americans, are desensitized to the question of what racism really is.
Prejudice is an adverse opinion or leaning formed before sufficient knowledge is acquired. Everyone from the new born in the hospital to the old man in the rest home is prejudiced against something. It is a personal belief caused by the lack of hard data that is experienced.
I am prejudiced against chitterlings (chittlins'). I am prejudiced against women who eat chitterlings because kissing a woman who cooks and eats pig intestines turns my stomach (besides the smell of them being prepared too!). Maybe, one day, I will actually try chitterlings and like them. At that point I will no longer have that prejudice.
Prejudice need not be based upon any racial motivation at all. People can be prejudiced against economic (like the poor), social (like skate boarders), or chronological (like the elderly) classes, also.
It is a natural safety instinct to mistrust things that we do not understand. Judging things on purely shallow criteria has kept humanity alive for millennia.
Unfortunately, our society has evolved in such a way that we allow our leaders to start defining our own prejudices. Instead of waiting to see if anyone is offended by a remark or action, I often see leaders (media and political alike) telling people what to be offended about, with individuals blindly agreeing. Is this not an attempt to spread bigoted beliefs and furthering the machine that makes money and power by the use of the keywords like "racism", "prejudice", and "bigotry"?
Which brings up another word: Bigot.
A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, without regard to what the facts really are. These types of people will try to change or manipulate the facts to justify their position. It is the bigoted people who take words and thoughts out of context, snippets and sound bites, and present them in a fashion to further the prejudices of others.
Ultimately, they want to manipulate you into becoming bigoted yourself through the use of misinformation and manipulation. That is why it is important to find the facts out for yourself, not through hearsay, and I include most media coverage in this category.
Please remember that the people we put into power are not saints, or perfect, they are just people with opinions we agree with, and not fully sometimes. These public people become popularized and idolized in the public view at the cost of their personal privacy and lives.
Dr. Martin Luther King was a great speaker, a great human rights activist (not just black rights), but also a liar and a philanderer. Walter White was a powerful Caucasian "Black" civil rights leader. He caused scandal by not only admitting that he had 5/32's African blood in his lineage, but also infidelity in his first marriage. Even Caesar Chavez had a political legacy of personal scandal. Some of his family disowned him because of his stance on the hiring of illegal immigrants and wanting to limit immigration.
I am a man of color, I am Caucasian of Russian Decent, and I am Navajo (Dineh'). What I see is a bunch of people using the accusations of racism to justify being bigoted themselves!
What ever happened to free speech? In America, we are allowed to pursue life, liberty (including free speech) and the pursuit of happiness as long as it does not hurt someone else.
Everyone is prejudiced against something. When your prejudices supersedes truth is when you become a bigot.
Everyone is allowed an opinion. When your opinion hurts others, by not being based on personal experience, and breaks the Golden Rule is when you draw the line, and you need not be a Christian to agree with that.
"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression." Thomas Jefferson