“I’m really surprised…you’re soooo articulate!”
“What she’s saying, Lucille is….”
“We require proof that you have a degree before you can work here.”
“I have Black friends, so I can use that expression.”
“Oh, come on, you’re too sensitive”.
These are the verbal expressions of covert racism. In the first example, expressing shock and surprise that a Black person speaks intelligently is an old racist code that allows the speaker to hide behind some form of twisted compliment. It is now treated as an overt form of racism and is often confronted accordingly.
The second expression is for when a third party steps in and tries to use “translating for the Black person”, to cover up and defend a racist comment or behavior. When a foreigner with English as a second language does this, the act is even more disgusting. The implication is that the insult was “misheard by the inarticulate Black person.”
The third expression is an example of corporate institutional racism. The expression “before you can work here” implies that the woman or black person will be prohibited from working at a firm unless they prove their claim of having a degree. There is an implication that the new hire is lying, or that it is unbelievable that a woman or Black person has a degree. After working at the firm for a while, it appears that White males are allowed to work there without degrees and that they are never told to produce proof with the same level of implied threat contained in the words, “before you can work here”.
Covert racism comes in as many forms as corporate and private America can make up. Lying and denying even when confronted with obvious evidence of racism, such as racist fliers or the material that went into racist pranks can push someone to start a lawsuit, which eventually settles with the corporation claiming no wrongdoing. Trying to make the obvious over into a “joke”, or to play the “political correctness” card is another corporate protection for the racist elements who work there.
When a racist approaches a person of color or a woman and begins to rant about “political correctness” the act itself is covert racism and sexism. The person is saying that he or she would prefer to use offensive sexist and racist speech but cannot because “political correctness” is ruining America. As a result, the person gets his or her point across: “I would make racist comments if I could.”
Many racists approach a Black person and loudly start blabbing out details about how that person would be treated “back in the day”, the racist is really sending a message that the corporation never really dealt with it’s racist culture, and that the same individuals are still there, hiding behind covert methods. One major airline has a well documented history of overt and covert racism. Another major company recently agreed to the largest settlement ever for overt racism. The racism is still there and it is still both overt and covert.
Subjective racism. The most prevalent form of this type of racism is in the schools, where “subjective” evaluations result in obvious patterns of negative evaluations that are aimed primarily at Black and Hispanic students. This is the perfect covert method, because the racist patterns can be backed up by others who pile on with their “subjective” evaluations and allow this to go on for years.
Attacking the “personality” is a method where a racist immediately lashes out by blurting out “I don’t like your personality!” The personality replaces the skin color or race. What the person is really saying is “I don’t like Black people.” or “I don’t like Asians.” Even in a documentary about neonates in a neonatal ward, a nurse picks a Black infant out and gripes about the way that the child is crying…in a room full of crying babies! The telling thing is that this was not excised from the documentary.
Using the mixed race grandchildren, interracial romance or marriage, or non-existent “friends” to excuse racist attitudes or expressions has not ever worked. Marrying one person of color grants no license to get racist with another person of color. No one else married the racist! And there is no way that any of those “friends” are normal people, when they put up with racial slurs from someone who they consider a “friend”. The bottom line is that normal people of color do not maintain close relationships with racists.
Covert and overt racism is alive and well in America. Just listen to talk radio or cable news. Confronting it each and every time is not even possible, or a person of color would spend the entire day confronting people. Battles are simply chosen wisely and engaged until the enemy capitulates to a position of behaving themself.