While there are many who believe that America has become too sensitive, or that America is becoming too politically correct, there are those, like Paris, who believe that sensitivity, be it about race, religion, sexuality, or other concerns come from a place that is real. The 12, 346 members and growing daily, of the HelloRacist Facebook community not only agree, but continue to expose racism on a daily basis and to share as much encouragement as possible.
Being able to interview the anonymous founder of HelloRacist, was an opportunity to understand why a platform like HelloRacist continues to be necessary today.
The tagline of Hello Racist is Expose a Racist, why do you feel this is necessary in today's time?
In today's society, as a country, in the past 50-100 years, we have obviously come pretty far in terms of giving all races and people equal rights and respect. However, in reality, there are still so many people and segments of society who are still stuck in a place where, for whatever reason, be it hate, ignorance, how they were raised, where they live, etc., racism is still acceptable behavior. It's still systematically a part of some people's cultures, lives, and mindset. And when we are dealing with a problem where people are still engaging in racist behavior in a very open way that is widely understood and known to be wrong. The solution is that to change this behavior people need to be confronted with their actions, the reality of what they are doing and behavior they are engaging in, to make them fully understand and appreciate that what they are doing is wrong, and to make them stop. The confrontation is the lynch-pin to facilitate change when it can be achieved.
Exposing racists is so important in today's time though not just to try and change people. But because there are still a surprising number of people who are racist who really shouldn't be because of who they are and what they do professionally. Who, if they are racist, they have the potential to ruin people's lives when they let their racial biases and prejudices creep in and affect their professional decisions and judgments in ways that are completely incomprehensible and illegal. And that really shouldn't happen in today's society. I'm speaking about people who serve society in roles as police officers, teachers, public officials, doctors, bankers, realtors, judges, CEO's, and others. It's very critical information to understand if people filling important roles in society are racist and are making decisions and judgments that affect people of all races. The site operates as a public service announcement in that regard. These types of people need to be outed and fired/removed.
Some people say that we live in a time where there seems to be too much sensitivity, anything can be misinterpreted, do you believe that your site can help to propel this cultural sensitivity?
I don't know. Maybe. I think there is some truth to people's complaints that society can be a bit too sensitive about certain issues or too politically correct. Truth be told some people are overly sensitive to issues that have very little relevance to the majority society. However, in most cases, I feel like sensitivity, be it about race, religion, sexuality, or other concerns comes from a place that is real. I.e., people are truthfully offended and feel disrespected. It's just difficult to put yourself in someone else's shoes to really feel and understand where that is coming from.
I think what makes things worse though is that most people when faced with sensitivity or criticism from others, they get defensive and/or "double down" and attempt to minimize or trivialize others concerns or their own conduct. When what they really should do is acknowledge the issue, try and understand the other person's perspective, and if it's appropriate just apologize or move on. We all have the prerogative to say and do things that can be construed as being insensitive and offensive if that is how we really feel. And we also have an equal right to be offended. However, my hope is that if and when are put in these situations we can be more "real" about these situations. I would hope that HelloRacist.com does that more so than just propel sensitivity.
Through your website and facebook page, you have exposed a lot of direct racism, has there been a problem with some of these people challenging your platform?
Not really. Most of the legal threats I get are hilarious.
How does a platform like Hello Racist truly make a difference rather than just being a place for people to vent?
I think when some people are confronted and called out about their racism, it actually does change them. They become ashamed and embarrassed. But they learn not to do it again. People learn to be racist. And I like to believe that most people at heart don't really believe in racism or subscribe to it. They just are because that's what they learned to do and were never told not to or confronted by anyone to tell them that it's wrong.
I think it also makes a difference because what we've also seen is that there are people who are truly racist to the core and will never change. And often they joined gangs and subscribe to very violent groups who I think are real threats to commit violent acts. So people learn and are warned about truly dangerous and racist individuals and can hopefully avoid them
Why do you choose to remain anonymous?
Running a site like Helloracist.com, you are inevitably going to receive threats. Legal threats. Threats of violence. Some are laughable. Some are very real and concerning. To the extent possible, I'd like to keep these threats out of other aspects of my life. Being anonymous allows me do that.