It’s not that anyone denies that institutional racism once existed. But the belief now is that systemic racism is a national cancer that was excised long ago, in an operation so successful it didn’t even leave lasting effects. All that remains is individual hatred in the souls of the most monstrous among us — or else, depending on whom you ask, in vengeful minorities who want to nurse grievances and see whites suffer for the sins of past generations. Through the willful perversion of shared history, whites have been able to appropriate the victimhood of minorities and, in an audacious reversal, insist that an obvious thing isn’t real — otherwise known as gaslighting. And as in any case of sustained abuse, gaslighting is integral to institutional racism.
“Everybody’s walking on eggshells,” Clint Eastwood said, in a recent interview with Esquire. “We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren’t called racist.”
Even delivered by an 86-year-old Hollywood tough guy, the absurdity of these words astounds. Here is a white man telling minorities what real racism looks like. He’s not alone, either: It’s common for white Americans to position themselves as the neutral arbiters of what is or is not racist and what other Americans are allowed to be angered by. Lo and behold, the answer is always the same — real institutional racism always ends up being something from the past, something dealt with, not an ongoing system of policy that afflicts minorities and profits white people to this day. Offer any objections, any other experience of the world, and the response you’ll get is the same one Eastwood offered in Esquire:
“Just [expletive] get over it.”
Greg Howard, “Bias Charge”, The New York Times Magazine (21 August 2016), 13.