The Tea Party and Aversive Racism

Is it racism?

Probably not the kind we’re used to.

There’s a clear difference between overt racism – the type the KKK display – and aversive racism – the kind in grand display whenever we see Tea Party people say Obama is a foreigner they cannot trust.

Aversive racism is the kind of racism that generally egalitarian people still practice whenever they see a black person and treat them with some level of suspicion.

Averse racism is subconscious. You don’t recognize yourself as being racist, but you still display low level prejudicial treatment to “others.”

See a young black man in a hoodie walking down the street and try to avoid him and feel compelled to walk toward the white guy walking on the other side of the road?

That’s aversive racism.

If you see two families in a grocery line, one black with little kids wearing hand-me-down clothes in front of a white family with kids wearing hand-me-down clothes and you assume the black family is on food stamps but don’t even consider that the white family is?

That’s aversive racism.

So when you see Tea Party Republicans say that they feel Obama is a foreigner to them and cannot be trusted – and they don’t consider Bill Clinton, someone whose presidency is arguably to the left of Obama’s presidency, to be as untrustworthy, you’ve just witnessed a boatload of aversive racism.


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