The difference between first-degree racism and third-degree racism

The difference between first-degree racism and third-degree racism

[Ed. – No doubt the Atlantic’s editors salivated at the thought of elevating the perceived offenses this writer enumerates to actual crimes.]

The most well-understood dimension involves taking actions that people of color view as overtly prejudiced — policing black citizens much differently than whites, calling the police on a black bird-watcher in Central Park who is asking you to obey the law, calling somebody the N-word to show them who is boss. This is racism in the first degree. …

Then there is opposing or turning one’s back on anti-racism efforts, often justified by the demonization of the people courageously tackling racist behavior. I call this racism in the second degree, akin to aiding and abetting. George Floyd’s death under yet another police officer’s knee exposed the NFL’s four-year effort to avoid confronting racist policing by way of demonizing Colin Kaepernick. When the NFL’s sponsors could no longer stay silent and its star players (both black and white) spoke out, the costs were so high that the commissioner felt compelled to apologize. …

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