• June 18, 2018


In the Great White Northland of Minnesota Nice, few of us regularly see overtly racist — that is anti-black — behavior. On the other hand, a great many of us (but unfortunately not all of us) are aware of subtler, thinly veiled, and pervasive anti-black attitudes and racism in Minnesota, perhaps more than many other parts of the United States with more racially diverse populations.

Take, for example, restaurant dress codes that seem tailored to exclude black people by barring clothing trends that are disproportionately worn by black people.

For another example, take Faribault’s “Crime Free Housing Program,” which appears to be subtly crafted to exclude Somali residents to remedy Faribault’s non-existent “crime problem.”

The horrible thing about these forms of racism is their subterfuge, their plausible deniability. Racist restauranteurs and Faribault politicians can feign outrage with straight faces, arguing that they are simply concerned about public safety. They can pretend their rules apply equally to all, no matter their race or nationality. They can dismiss the claims of racism as “deficient and unfounded.” What if they are not?

Subtle deniable racism takes a serious toll on its victims. It literally messes with one’s ability to think. (linked is to an article about scientific research on subtle racism’s corrosiveness on cognition). In other words, the insidiousness of indetectable (and therefore deniable) deep-rooted racism literally boggles the mind.

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