Trapped in 1963

Touré Neblett

Touré Neblett:

Inside the Racist Mind
The fact that you may honestly believe you are not biased does not free you from unconscious racism

After a recent event where I spoke about racial identity, a white woman sidled up to me, leaned in close so no one near us could hear, and said, “I’m racist.” Many people would be repelled. I was entranced. Here was someone who could tell me first hand how the racist mind worked. Social scientists have done studies on Klansmen and Neo-Nazis but those sorts of people are outliers, socially and mentally, while this woman was the sort of person you might encounter on a normal day. She seemed indicative of the sort of racist mind we’d be mostly likely to meet. She seemed normal. So I decided to talk to her and find out how her mind worked.

Studies show most people have some sort of prejudice or bias. “Decades of cognitive bias research demonstrates that both unconscious and conscious biases lead to discriminatory actions even when an individual does not want to discriminate,” write Michelle Alexander in her book The New Jim Crow. “The fact that you may honestly believe that you are not biased against African Americans, and that you may have black friends and relatives, does not mean that you are free from unconscious bias. Implicit bias tests may still show that you hold negative attitudes and stereotypes about blacks even though you do not believe you do and do not want to.” Part of the problem is the monsoon of negative messages about blacks coming at Americans which makes being non-racist almost like mentally swimming upstream.

Still, most people today are ashamed to be racist and know to do their best to never reveal it. So after this woman at the event told me she was racist, I said, “Really?!” in a way that indicated I wasn’t offended and that she could feel comfortable to speak freely. She did.

“I just have these thoughts,” she said, almost whispering into my ear. I felt like she was confessing as if I were her priest. “My mind just goes places. I can’t control it. I know it’s wrong but I can’t help myself. I say, Don’t think like that! But it’s what people told me when I was younger.” Then she leaned back and someone else said hello and our moment of penance concluded.

I wanted to hear more but I had heard enough to understand. She had mental habits based on ideas implanted long ago that had taken root in her subconscious. She’s got various stereotypes and biases firmly lodged in her long-term memory where she stores things like how to ride a bike. That’s why the thoughts feel like they come at her automatically and beyond her control—“My mind just goes places.” At this point, unlearning those perceptions would be as hard as unlearning bike-riding—if there were near-constant media messages and social reinforcements about how to ride a bike. And yet society has also taught her that she should be ashamed to judge people in this way. It’s sad that she knows she should not think racist thoughts but cannot stop herself because the lessons were learned and reinforced so well.


Some people suggest that the multiracial embrace of Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Will Smith and others portends the end of racism. But this, as the writer Arundati Roy says, is like the President pardoning one turkey before Thanksgiving and then eating another—and America eats thousands. The human mind is complex enough to integrate hypocrisy and contradictions. There have long been extraordinary blacks who succeeded far more than the vast majority and were accepted as special. The racist mind need not hate every black person it encounters, and indeed not hating all may serve as a valuable safety valve, releasing pressure and proving to the mind itself that it is not racist. Few people want to think of themselves as bad or evil.

Ever get involved with someone who is still carrying baggage from one or more previous relationships? I’m talking about someone with more issues than National Geographic.

Her ex(es) cheated on her so you will forever pay the price. It doesn’t matter that you never cheated or that you bend over backwards to demonstrate your innocence and fidelity.  She knows you are guilty and she’ll keep digging until she finds the proof.

Slavery and Jim Crow segregation are two of the ugliest chapters in our nation’s history. The only thing worse was the genocide we committed upon the Native Americans.

But please excuse me if my feelings of shame for those historic events is limited. I didn’t do it. I wasn’t even born until 1960. All the relatives I have been able to trace came to this country after the Civil War and none of them lived in Jim Crow states. I feel no guilt over things that were committed by other people before I was born.

I wasn’t taught racism as a child. I cannot recall ever hearing my mother, grandmother or step-father ever using racial epithets or suggesting that blacks and other people of color were not equal to us. The school system in my hometown was fully desegregated by 1967. Everyone attended the same high school.

The last time I had thoughts I couldn’t control I was in puberty and the thoughts were sexual in nature rather than racist. The guilt I felt associated with those thoughts had a lot to do with why I quit going to church.

When James Byrd, Jr. was murdered by three white supremacists down in Texas, I felt sickened and outraged. But I had not one single thought nor tiniest feeling of sympathy for or connection to the animals that did it.

Let’s assume for a moment that Mr. Neblett is correct and most white people are unconsciously racist. What can we do about it?

We fought a war to end slavery. A lot of political capital was spent to end segregation. We passed new laws and constitutional amendments to make everyone equal under the law. We made racism socially unacceptable. As even Mr. Neblett admits, racial bigotry is considered a thing to be ashamed of nowadays. So what else do we still need to do?

I’m serious – is there some law we still need to pass? Are there reparations we still need to make? What will it take to end our national penance for the past?

Because I am sick and tired of being blamed for the words and actions of other people. And I am sick and tired of being judged by the color of my skin by people like Touré Neblett.

Breaking news:

George Zimmerman released on bond in Trayvon Martin killing

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot an unarmed teenager, was released from jail about midnight Sunday, two days after a Florida judge set his bond at $150,000.

This entry was posted in Playing the Race Card, Racism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

70 Responses to Trapped in 1963

    • gram cracker says:

      For you myiq… and note the reference at about 2:00 minutes… he didn’t mind when she took his Cadillac, but she shouldn’t have taken his Bluetick hound.

  1. Karma says:

    This link came in handy for the 2008 elections. And none of those race card hurling Obots would ever report their results. 😉

    It’s a series of tests from Harvard which are designed to test for racial bias among others, such as weight, age, etc. And they’ve recently added one for Presidential bias with Obama included.

    • myiq2xu says:

      Your results are reported below:

      Your data suggest little to no difference in implicit preference between White People and Black People.
      Your data suggest a moderate implicit preference for Herman Cain compared to Mitt Romney.

  2. Lulu says:

    There is going to be a lot more over the top crazy in the next few days. Yesterday I saw three pieces that advocated that Zimmerman should accept a plea deal, go to prison for a little while (not specified how long that is), and take one for the team so to speak so the rioters won’t have to riot, the Martin parents feelings won’t be hurt, and the special proscecutors office won’t look like liars and dickheads. Apparently the legal genius Geraldo Riveria suggested also this after O’Mara handed Crump his own liver (I have not watched that video). I think we are seeing the bargaining stage of the five stages of grief.

    I think the proscecution knew they were going to loose when Zimmerman got out of jail and they could not coerce a plea bargain. Now they have to produce all of their proof of why they charged him and most of it is from Crump. O’Mara reminds me of Atticus Finch.

    • myiq2xu says:

      If they wanted a plea bargain they should have charged involuntary manslaughter and then made a deal for a lesser included offense with a 3 year sentence or with a partially suspended sentence.

      It’s a weak case at best. Most DA’s would rather tag the defendant for something minor than risk letting them get off scot-free.

      • myiq2xu says:

        The Klown Theory of Plea bargaining:

        1) Determine the prosecution’s best case scenario

        2) Make an objective assessment of the most likely trial outcome.

        3) Set plea at #2 minus the percentage difference between #1 and #2 with a minimum 10% discount.

        If there is little or no difference between #1 and #2, give the defendant a small discount to avoid going thru trial. If there is a large difference between #1 and #2, give them a big discount to avoid losing completely. If #2 is an acquittal, offer a wrist slap.

        As a defense attorney I would recommend trial if my assessment of #2 was the same as or worse than the offer. When you have nothing to lose, roll the dice. Maybe the horse will learn to sing.

        Pleading guilty when you are factually innocent is never a “good offer” but it is sometimes the smart move.

      • Lulu says:

        But you are being sane and far too professional which is not allowed in this media circus. Part of overcharging Zimmerman was to appease the mob. The media induced mob wants his life literally. So they had to charge with something that could potentially result in a sentence that was the equivalent in this charade AND allow civil suits for Crump. They lost round one and were furious on Friday when Zimmerman was bailed. They needed a plea deal from a gross overcharge so they could cover their ass and say that is the best we could do in our corrupt legal system. They have probably lost round two already which is discovery which they had no need of providing (or only very scantily and selectively) if a plea could be scared out of Zimmerman. Someone needs to teach this bunch how to play poker because their bluff has been called.

  3. driguana says:

    great post myiq….Personally, I think it’s the most important topic of the upcoming election, along with the economic situation.
    “So what else do we still need to do?”
    We need to open up ways to have a national dialogue on the subject…a real dialogue, not yelling back and forth at each other. It comes down to “stereotypes”…what exactly are they? Why do we stereotype? What does it mean? Is it helpful in any way? What do Hispanic/Latinos really think of Blacks? What do Anglos really think of Hispanics? How do Asians feel about other ethnic groups? Do Korean and Chinese American like each other? So on and so forth….we are afraid of talking like this….we shouldn’t be. Who will step up to the plate to lead these kind of discussions? Certainly not the race baiters as they thrive on this.

    • Pips says:

      Great point, that the conversation needs to be spread out and cover people of ‘all colours’ and how each one of us perceive ‘the others’.

      • driguana says:

        yep…we had a mayor of Santa Fe once who said that Hispanics could not be racist!!! Because they are Hispanic….well, talk to some Hispanics about Mexicans, or blacks….go to East LA….talk to some Hispanics about Native Americans…and as I said earlier….that’s where the dialogue needs to take place…if we can better understand some of these prejudices, or stereotypes if you will, then we may be able to overcome some of our feelings about them. When I was in the Peace Corps in West Africa within three months I learned that White people are: lazy and can’t work very hard; can’t walk in the dark; don’t know anything about nature around them; can’t dance; don’t have a sense of humor…so on and so forth…that was pretty revealing…

        • myiq2xu says:

          Talk to some Mexicans about Puerto Ricans.

          Or just ask them what “Mayate” means. Or “Gabacho” Or “Pocho.”

        • WMCB says:

          Yes. It’s not a white thing, it’s part of human nature to be somewhat tribal. That is a separate issue from actual racism, and needs to be approached and dealt with separately.

          The older Hispanic families here in San Antonio, who descended from Canary Islands Spaniards who founded the city, get pissed if you assume they are Mexican. They don’t hate Mexicans, they just don’t want to be lumped all in together.

        • DandyTiger says:

          I was talking to a latino person who said you anglos can’t tell us latinos apart, we’re not all from Mexico. To which I of course said, I’m not anglo.

        • DandyTiger says:

          To which he replied, not joking and with no sense of irony, same thing.

        • myiq2xu says:

          I recall a Chris Rock performance from back in the 80’s where he talked about the violence in Northern Ireland. He said it was an example of what happens when you have a country where there are no minorities to hate.

    • jeffhas says:

      I think it’s mighty high for Neblett to think that ONLY White people can be ‘subconsciously racist’… and it’s NOT subconsciously racist – it’s maybe biased based on Stereotypes or bigotry, and in general, I’d think just about everyone has some kind of bias against someone; Black, White, Korean, Latino, Crazies, Klowns, Crawdad’s, etc.

      So what?

      Cut the world some slack already – it does not mean we cannot be honest with ourselves about these biases and still get along/work with/respect/admire/love those we may have or had some bias about at some other time – or even currently. People do walk and chew gum at the same time.

      Call out racism and bigotry wherever you can – work to fight your own inner demons of bias and stereotyping, but for God’s sake STOP JUDGING PEOPLE when you yourself CANNOT be perfect.

      • WMCB says:

        Politicizing race issues does more harm than good these days. It was necessary in the beginning – some wrongs weren’t going to be righted except by force of govt involvement. But now it seems to just stand in the way of true social integration.

  4. Pips says:

    Having gone back to reading TL, I highly appreciate Jeralyn’s non-emotional, factual accounts on how a defense lawyer works and rationalizes. At the same time I get the notion that the majority of her readers don’t really appreciate her laying out a defense for someone who killed a black person.

    What happened to the ‘Conversation on race’ that Obama promised? And even if he doesn’t initiate one, can’t someone else? Having (s)elected the first black POTUS haven’t made this conversation neither unnecessary nor less important.

    And he certainly didn’t help that conversation with his stupid remark about “If I had a son …” – even taking Hillary Clinton hostage by stating this with her at his side, while simultaneously taking the spotlight away from Jim Yong Kim, at what was supposed to be his day to shine at the announcement of him as the new head of the World Bank.

    As for Neblitt, this ‘white woman whispering in his ear’ reminds me of Obama’s recollection of his grandmother’s racism. I don’t believe either story. And neither story, in my view, helps this needed conversation along.

    • myiq2xu says:

      Obama and any other POTUS should avoid taking any kind of position on cases like this. They should just say “It’s not appropriate for me to speak on this until the case is resolved.”

    • jeffhas says:

      I too have been thoroughly impressed with JM’s take at TL. Those early threads were devolving quickly, and she immediately smacked everyone into ‘innocent before proven guilty’ mode – and maybe a little overzealous defense attorney syndrome… (I still don’t trust her politics).

      … and yes, you can absolutely detect the thick air of ‘How Dare You defend a racist child killer’

      it is fascinating – and has done a lot to make me rethink how I approach any person who is charged with a crime; Casey Anthony comes to my mind – I mean, I thought she should not have been able to get off – but now I’m rethinking the whole ‘how a prosecution goes whole hog’. Learn somethin’ new everyday.

      • myiq2xu says:

        During the early part of a case the police and prosecution have a virtual monopoly on information. They are the source of most of what the media reports.

        • Pips says:

          Which among other things explains the media’s use of a picture of Zimmerman looking like a mug shot with him wearing, of all colours … orange. That ‘coincidence’, that the only picture of him available was him wearing orange, really had me schratching my head – untill I learned that it wasn’t just a (lucky for whoever wanted to paint Z as a criminal ahead of time) coincident, but actually a picture provided by the police/ DA. From a prior case that was dismissed.

      • WMCB says:

        If I were Zimmerman, I would not plea bargain. He’s dead if he goes to prison – regardless of the length of sentence.

  5. yttik says:

    One of the worst things is how people internalize racism. So people like Toure don’t even need to have racists around, he’s apparently got these messages imbedded in his head. I mean “pardoning a turkey?” Is that really what he thinks about the success of people like Oprah, Jordan, Obama, Will Smith? They’re just turkeys who got a pardon, not people with talent who achieved something great?

  6. WMCB says:

    If you’d like to read one of the best analyses of what has happened in this country re: race relations, I suggest two Of Stanford Fellow Shelby Steele’s books:

    The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America, and White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era

    He delves a great deal into how guilt has become a political currency of sorts, and how living in a world where assigning innocence/guilt along racial lines harms not only race relations, but the black community itself. He’s a black man born in 1946, so he has seen the whole progression from the civil rights movement to today.

    I don’t wholeheartedly adopt his every conclusion, but he makes a compelling case for how we somewhere got off track and we’re doing it wrong, to the detriment of all.

  7. WMCB says:

    Ever get involved with someone who is still carrying baggage from one or more previous relationships? I’m talking about someone with more issues than National Geographic.
    Her ex(es) cheated on her so you will forever pay the price. It doesn’t matter that you never cheated or that you bend over backwards to demonstrate your innocence and fidelity. She knows you are guilty and she’ll keep digging until she finds the proof.

    The danger inherent in taking this course is that eventually, the non-cheating spouse withdraws entirely from the relationship, and says, “Fuck you, I don’t care if your feelings are hurt.” The spouse that in the beginning was very solicitous, and willing to “bend over backwards” to make sure not to act in ways that triggered painful memories just doesn’t care anymore.

    For anyone who thinks it is not possible for victimhood to be weaponized and used as a tool for control, think again. I’ve seen it happen. And eventually, the person trying to prove “I’m not like that” gets wise, and walks away.

    Because of the calculated use of white guilt as a tool for power by those of Neblett’s ilk, that is where a large swathe of the white community is today. Saying: I don’t care anymore. Prosper or be impoverished. Kill yourselves in ceaseless gang wars, or make your own way out of the glaring problems in your communities. Rot in your inner city communities, or find a way out for yourself. I. DON’T. CARE. I’m done. And when the same guilt-mongering that drove them away is then employed to try to make them come back and get bashed some more for not being part of helping all the ills of the black community, they are going to laugh.

    I’m not saying that’s right. I’m saying that is what happens when you spend several decades telling people they are eternally guilty of the uncleanseable stain and original sin of racism. And using that guilt for political, not nation-healing, ends. Eventually they tire of doing endless pointless penance and say “Fuck it. You’re on your own, dudes.”

    • jjmtacoma says:


      It doesn’t help that they are gleefully slamming other races and women while whining about how we all are racist and owe them.

      I think they mistake ethnocentrism with racism. Understanding each others culture and interpreting it based on the belief system of your own culture is different from racism. difference explained – a little

      Ethnically, obama and Neblett have more in common with middle to upper class American families – of any race.

      They have chosen to identify themselves with their race but culturally they do not share a common ethnic identity. They have adopted it through exposure to black ethnicity in college or by “community organizing”. But really, did my friends from China or India prepare me to understand the Chinese or Indian culture? I would still struggle with understanding because my ethnic background would color my interpretation.

      • Oswald says:

        There is also a little thing called xenophobia. Humans have a natural tendency to be leery of strangers and people that are different.

        The elitist left is guilty of xenophobia too – look at what they say about rednecks.

  8. DeniseVB says:

    No MSM love for Mia Love ?

    Mia B. Love won a historic nomination at the Utah Republican convention on Saturday to run for Congress in the newly-created 4th Congressional District.

    Love was the first black woman elected mayor in Utah’s history, is the first black woman nominated for Congress in Utah, and if elected to Congress, would be the first black Republican congresswoman. I’m almost positive that she would be the first person of Haitian descent elected to Congress. I’m sure if I looked hard enough, I could find some other firsts.

    None of this is a reason to vote for Love — she deserved the nomination and deserves to win based on the merits. She has an inspirational life story, a solid record of public service, and is a political rock star.

    But given the mainstream media obsession with ethnic/racial/gender firsts, I figured I’d search the leading national newspapers and wire services, which surely would be touting this black Republican conservative female first… results at link….

    • WMCB says:

      The media and the Democratic Party have no interest in the advancement of minorities in the Republican party. Indeed, they have a vested interest in making sure it doesn’t happen. . They both want and need the R party to exclude minorities. So much so that the group that exerts the most pressure to make sure that no advances are made in the R party by minorities is not republicans. It is Democrats. They fight tooth and nail to keep minorities away from any political water fountains but the designated colored ones.

      They will lie, accuse, attack, sneer, ridicule, and hurl blatant racist or sexist epithets in the effort to make sure that black people or gay people or women stay where they belong.

      It’s not about empowerment and equality anymore for the Dems, and hasn’t been for a long, long time. It’s about control of voting blocks. And they will morph before your eyes into the the biggest fucking racists on the planet if that control is threatened.

      THAT is why they do not celebrate “firsts” and achievements of minorities or women anywhere outside their own party. They could give a shit about achievements that don’t reinforce THEIR power.

  9. WMCB says:

    Also, I find the timing of Neblett’s article interesting. Because he knows that the dynamic I described above is indeed happening.
    And he’s getting rather desperate. Because the tool that has always worked, always been the source of his power isn’t working anymore.

    Hes spent a lot of his life pointing out how so many words and actions of white people are racist. Now that those people have taken to taking a cold hard look at their actions and words, and saying “No, I don’t think so.”, he needs a new hook to maintain his power.

    That article is Neblett crying out in panic and grasping for a new hook for his power: Wait! Okay, okay, so maybe your words and actions aren’t racist, but your heart is…..

    Give it up, Neblett. When you are ready to have serious discussions of how as equals, and not just outward equals but moral equals, we can solve some race problems in this country, then we’ll talk.

    But I refuse to have discussions anymore with people who start from the unshakeable belief that my entire race are their moral inferiors. Fuck you.

    • WMCB says:

      May I add that I will willingly have conversations about how to solve problems with any person who does NOT start from the assumption that white people are irredeemably racist. But Neblett and his pals can fuck right off.

  10. yttik says:

    Guilt is a powerful tool. Toure’s piece is so full of guilt he puts the Catholic church to shame. This woman is “confessing” her “shame” to him and they’re having a “moment of penance.” He genuinely seems to think he’s her priest.

    I’ve gotten exasperated with some of my friends on the Left who no longer go to church, but seem to have taken all the bad with them and left behind the good. No music, no fellowship with others, but all that guilt and shame have come with them. So now they seem driven to make sure everybody feels guilty and ashamed about racism, global warming, poverty, and they’re more judgmental about it than a fire and brimstone preacher. Seriously, I’ve got these alleged atheists threatening me with hell and demanding I confess my racial and environmental sins.

    • WMCB says:

      yttik, you are exactly right. I’ve made that same observation myself from time to time – that some on the Left have turned their ideologies and causes into substitute religions, complete with original sin, penances, and scathing moral judgements.

      • votermom says:

        I seriously believe the tendency to do this comes from a lack of familiarity with religion as a kid. That’s why I’m glad I am making my kids learn Catholic catechism now even though I am a lapsed one myself. I’m ok if they reject religion as adults, but at least I can hope they won’t be reinventing it.

  11. DandyTiger says:

    What an ass. I think it’s a good thing many “whites” are getting past their white guilt. That, as we have seen in the Dem party, leads to patronizing behavior, which doesn’t help either. In fact, that’s bigotry as well. Being pushed to the point of getting past that is good. Unfortunately this effort has pushed many into not caring at all and saying you’re on your own, as WMCB has explained. That’s not good. We should be a village looking out for each other. That’s pretty hard when tribes have formed and are at war. And what’s sad is those tribal wars are artificially created to make people think there’s a difference and they have a choice. Classic.

    • WMCB says:

      I personally am seeing more and more everyday black people who want to have real conversations about how we help and solve things. Unfortunately, they threaten the whole power structure of the guilt-pimping industry, so get shouted down.

      I don’t think any of this is going to be solved by “leaders” or politicians. It’s going to be us in our everyday lives and interactions and conversations with one another.

      • yttik says:

        I hope so. People like Toure offer black folks the chance to become a “pardoned turkey,” rather then successful people who have the power and the opportunity to achieve great things.

  12. Oswald says:

    I don’t think any of this is going to be solved by “leaders” or politicians.

    Not the current crop anyway.

  13. WMCB says:

    OT- Great video of the inside of the Republican war room. It’s impressive – they are not playing around like 2008. They have all of Obama’s speeches/comments in a searchable database. If he says something about oil, in two minutes they have everything he ever said about oil in their hands.

  14. WMCB says:

    So it’s all about advancement of black people, not about control of voting blocks for the Dems?

    NAACP kicks out Rep. Allen West for his controversial statements. Because no NAACP member has EVER said anything outside the mainstream or controversial before! Can’t have that!

  15. myiq2xu says:

    Poll: John Edwards 3% favorable rating

    That’s still higher than it oughta be.

  16. WMCB says:

    OT – this is a very smart “War On Women” move by the GOP. Women are a huge chunk of small business owners in this country.

    Via @thehill: GOP women lead the charge for #smallbiz tax cut #4jobs

  17. People like Neblett, Sharpton et al make me sick. What, EXACTLY, have they done to solve any problems? Race baiters the lot of them.
    I have never ever been able to figure these people out.

  18. WMCB says:


  19. Underwhelmed says:

    Thank you. This is one of the best op eds on the subject that I’ve ever encountered, and the commentary is also brilliant. WCMB, especially, you inspire me. The race baiters don’t want racial peace in the US. The racial divide is too important to them. But at long last I’m starting to believe the scales are finally falling from people’s eyes. Now I pray they fall faster, so that people like this race baiting charlatan and his ilk lose their wicked power — and I do believe it’s wicked — asap. The damage they do is heartbreaking.

    I tell you, this little haven in cyberspace keeps me sane. You are some of the most thoughtful, reasoned, reasonable, informed, curious and balanced people I’ve ever ‘met’. And if the fish rots from the head, so too must the rose bloom from the blossom — or something like that! *g* So here’s a virtual bouquet to you, Crawdaddy. It’s a fine thing you do here.

    • driguana says:

      ditto that…many different points of view expressed here…that’s the way it should be…refreshing…and most importantly, intelligent!

  20. foxyladi14 says:

    absolutly wonderful thanks great post myiq 🙂

  21. Constance says:

    Here is what bothers me about the whole slavery guilt issue. Yeah I am white, but my ancestors were transported Scots prisoners of war, brought here against their will, who were sold into labor. No one in my family ever owned a slave, we were the slaves. So just from having light skin I am guilty? That’s a crock.

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