Are We Becoming More Racist, or Less? We Asked, You Answered

Are We Becoming More Racist, or Less? We Asked, You Answered

Why you should care

Because we need more inclusive debate on sensitive issues.

Welcome to Third Rail With OZY, a new TV show presented by OZY and WGBH, where we debate provocative hot topics with experts and celebrities every Friday night. The subject of last week’s show was “Is America Becoming More, or Less, Racist?” You answered, and here are your thoughts, edited for clarity. Check back tomorrow for the question we’ll be debating this Friday on PBS at 8:30 p.m. EST.

Missed last week’s episode? Catch up here!

Jeremy Keeler, Toledo, Ohio

Looking at posts on both Republican and Democrat Facebook pages, you would think we’re on the brink of a race war. If you watch the news, you’d think the Nazis have returned and are taking over the world. If you all go out in the real world, you’ll see people who are no different from yourselves, and everyone is just fine with the exception of a few bad apples.

Elizabeth Marino

More. And we are getting more comfortable with casual racism, and with being ignorant about what racism is. Few are confident talking about race in racial terms. The vocabulary becomes a marker for racism. The victims get turned into oppressors.

Lela Markham, Fairbanks, Alaska

As someone who is a person of color, I don’t think there is more racism generally. I think Black people feel more comfortable espousing their racist views toward white people, while you’re hearing more open frustration from white people who, having helped put a Black man in the presidency twice, really feel the accusations of white privilege. Closet racism is continuing to judge people on the color of their skin rather than the content of their character.

John Groby

At some point America needs to deal with racism. With the election of Trump, white people have suddenly discovered we are racist. We have always been racist because we are all racist, though somehow no one [on] the alt right will admit to it. If you see race before you see a face, you are racist. The question is, what do you do next? Do you act on a vile impulse or act like a Christian?

Douglas D. Patterson, Yakima, Washington

I don’t think that racism is getting worse. [People of color] are simply getting less afraid of standing up against white bullies … In general, in the midst of occasional spats, we have progressed a long way from Jim Crow.

Paul James, London

I think the boil has been lanced … and with Trump’s lead, all the puss is coming out.

Jenny Hawkins, Dallas

I agree with the thought that America is becoming more racially divided, but you left out a large group being discriminated against … white Americans. I shouldn’t have to defend myself all the time, saying I’m not racist or “color blind” because I’m white. Treating someone differently because of the color of their skin is racism; the skin doesn’t have to have additional melanin to be the victim of racism.

Laurel Watkins, Knoxville, Tennessee

Racism has always been around, but it’s been hiding in the backwoods. Particularly in my neck of the woods, a small town in the South. When all the Republican leaders decided to outright disrespect the first Black president on many different occasions, that just emboldened all the white supremacists to come out of the woodwork. They feel more comfortable and feel they won’t be persecuted like they would have 10 or 20 years ago. Trump has just thrown gas on the fire and invited them to come out of the woods.

Ronald Payne, Wichita, Kansas

We are definitely becoming more divided at a time we should be coming together. As to if this is more racist or just carries the appearance of racism, I don’t know.

PBS Audience

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