Stop Talking About The 'Race Card'
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Stop Talking About The 'Race Card'

Why this phrase and associated attitudes are the biggest obstacles to progress on racial issues

Stop Talking About The 'Race Card'

Racial discussions have dominated public sphere in the news and on social media recently. Personally, I think they should have been more prominent sooner, but that's beside the point. One major statement I keep seeing from, mostly white, individuals is that bringing up racial issues or calling out instances of racism is "playing the race card." This is perhaps one of the least helpful and least productive responses that can be made when a group claims racism or oppression, and in fact it's this devaluing and denying of problems that leads to consequences such as riots and resentment.

Let's unpack the phrase, "playing the race card." First, it positions race as some sort of "token," something that can be used to gain an upper hand. This hasn't been true for minorities since the beginning, that they can use their race as some sort of valuable hand in the poker game of life. They have been enslaved, legally and then socially oppressed, and they experience racism every day in a world where they are "other." Though the law has removed a way to be upfront with discrimination and racism, and we have Affirmative Action (which is simply aiming to level the playing field, not give minorities an advantage as some people like to think), there is what is often called "subtle racism" today. That can be much harder to single out, but is very present and real to those groups which confront it in their daily interactions. I have already addressed some statistics associated with institutional racism and how it shows itself still in this society, but stats are only half of the story.

When we talk about racism, it is a very social and cultural concept. It involves people relating to the "other," or what they construct as "other." Therefore, to fully understand and recognize the presence of racism today, one would need to interact with affected groups, actively seek out information, listen to/ read about experiences or have encountered it themselves. For many white individuals, their privilege prevents them from seeing such issues, and therefore they are able to doubt their existence, significance in a larger context, and to lash out instead at the person pointing it out, telling them they are overreacting or looking for attention. Privilege does not mean people are given everything and don't work hard and have it easy, instead it means here that these people have the blessing of not having to consider how their skin color will affect how people see and treat them on a daily basis. White privilege varies when intersected with class and gender, as well as other identities, but a status as poor, for example, does not negate white privilege. Just as being wealthy and having rich privilege does not negate being a minority (Colin Kaepernick). Everyone's aspects of identity are at play at the same time, and they affect how one goes about life. It's unlikely that they can be separated out from experience. It's a privilege of those who do not experience the effects of generations of targeted racial, institutional mistreatment and abuse to say that a certain occurrence or incidence does not have anything to do with race. It is a privilege to see things as "color blind" and "not involving race." When there's people involved, particularly people of color, race is involved by virtue of them just being present. That is an effect of our still-segregated society today.

Because white individuals in general have this privilege, this leads to another part of the phrase, "race card." One concept I have encountered which explains why "race card" is almost always directed toward a minority as an accusation and not a white person is white purity. This is the notion that "white" is not a race. That it is somehow above race. That white people do not have a "race card" to play, mainly because this phrase was created by whites as backlash to racial social/ activist movements. One simple presentation of this concept in daily life, in our very language, are the phrases "white" and "non-white." People use these phrases to delineate between what is white and what is not white. The implication is that any drop of "color" contaminates whiteness and shoves a person into the "non-white" group. This might explain some of the reason why biracial individuals experience criticism from both races, particularly when they are partially white, and why individuals between cultures in the United States also experience conflict, tension and mistreatment.

Finally, the employment of this phrase has almost one essential purpose: to silence. This phrase is to minimize, deflect and redirect conversation about racial issues. It takes the attention away from the situation itself and points it instead toward the speaker themselves, trying to discredit them as over-dramatic, attention-seeking whiners. It is a personal attack of sorts that not only denies the issue, it denies the credibility and the grounds on which someone can call out racism. This is counterproductive, as it once again silences minorities as they have been for centuries, further incites resentment and anger toward the oppressing group, and upholds long-standing systematic racism. Not to mention that it is simply a shameful action to dictate to groups, who have issues you know absolutely nothing about and can't imagine being in their position, what is and is not problematic. Not only is it not something you have the ability and experience to decide, it may perhaps be extremely assumptive and arrogant to believe your experience is universal. To believe that because you don't see something as a racial issue and you don't see or experience racism, or that no one has "proven" it to you, that it somehow then doesn't exist. Or, even more absurd, that pointing out racism somehow makes the speaker racist against whites. This is essentially saying any labeling of something as "racist," is an attack on all whites, which basically admits whites are the main ones, and have been the main ones, exhibiting this racism.

Maybe, just maybe, "stop playing the race card" is a phrase that should be phased out of this discourse on race, racial issues and racism. It seems not to generate discussion or solutions in the least, but instead it serves as a verbal roadblock which further frustrates and oppresses the groups trying to call attention to important issues within this country and society. It ends discussion and pushes the problem aside. Though the United States has come a long way, there is still much work to be done. It will be much easier if everyone works together.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Where To Find The Best Coffee Drinks In America, According To A Survey

Here's the coffee shop where you should get your morning brew.


Coffee, for billions of people, is one of the only things that can get us out of bed (after hitting snooze a time or two), especially in 2020. Because, if we're being honest, is there anything that beats a quality cup of coffee on those mornings when all we wanted to do is roll over and go back to sleep? The answer is no. And if you're headed to a coffee shop to pick up your caffeinated beverage, you don't want to sleep on the best coffee drinks in America.

According to LiveShopper Sassie's Coffee Project survey, when it comes to chain coffee shops, there are definitely preferred spots you'll want to hit up for your go-to order — whether you order the classic, frozen, or flavored coffee, an espresso, tea, or other. To figure out the hot spots, 1,000 coffee drinkers across the United States took to LiveShopper's mobile app, PrestoShopper, to answer various questions about their coffee drinking habits and preferences. In return, these survey respondents got money back for their coffee — something any user who downloads the app can do as well (yes, even you).

Keep Reading... Show less

The Best Bagel Recipes For Every Personality Type, In Case You Need Another Excuse To Eat Carbs

I'll approve of pasta for breakfast any day, but this is more socially acceptable.


I've had times in my life at which I've told myself I need to cut out carbs. Those moments last about a minute or two before I start daydreaming about rice and pasta.

Bagels hold a special place in my heart — for many of my college friends and me, a bagel sandwich was the go-to breakfast after a long night of drinking. Years later, I still love to indulge in the occasional carb-filled breakfast. As much as I love putting in an UberEats order from bed, nothing beats the feeling of pulling some fresh-baked bread or pastries out of the oven.

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Survey: Which Issues Are The Most Important To You In The 2020 Election

If you're a first-time voter or voting by mail for the first time, we want to hear your story.


The general election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, will decide not only the next president of the United States but also which political party controls the House of Representatives and the Senate. Young and first-time voters will play a crucial part in determining the result.

Keep Reading... Show less

Articles To Write If You're All About Saving More Money, And Waking Up A Little Bit Earlier

Get your day started right — and keep that budget tight.


For all the young professionals, parents, and students out there who've been working, learning, or even teaching remote — 2020 has likely been the longest year of your life. If you didn't know (sorry), we've been locked down for over 200 days now, and chances are, you are ready for it to be OVER.

Keep Reading... Show less

Scrolling through Instagram can get stale after a while, especially if you're constantly refreshing in the hopes of finding something new and exciting. Should you be looking to add some inspiration to your timeline in the form of self-love tips, relationship advice, or love secrets, here are 11 relationship coaches you'll LOVE following.

Keep Reading... Show less

How Much Of A Coffee Snob You Are, Based On Where You Live

Your state may determine how picky you are about your coffee.


When it comes to coffee, everyone has different criteria for what goes into their "perfect cup." Some caffeine lovers, though, are extra particular when it comes to their beloved beverage. One survey found that the state you're from (or the one you live in now) may play a part in determining how much of a coffee snob you actually are.

LiveShopper Sassie, the company behind this Coffee Project survey, received input from 1,000 coffee drinkers via their mobile app, PrestoShopper, to ask various questions about their coffee drinking habits and preferences. In return, these survey respondents got money back for their coffee — something any user who downloads the app can do as well (yes, even you).

Keep Reading... Show less

If you are a college freshman, or new to college, this is for you. If you are in a new time in life where you don't know where this change is going to take you, where you might not have your community yet, this is for you. Or even if you are stuck in a rut of everyday life where the new normal is quarantine and isolation, this is also for you.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

As Illinois Reaches Its Highest Death Toll Since June, I Urge You To Stay Home And Wear Your Mask

69 COVID-19 deaths were recorded in a twenty-four-hour period, the highest amount since June of this year.

Photo by Noah on Unsplash

As we are approaching colder weather, we are also approaching a spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the state of Illinois. On October 21, 2020, Illinois recorded its largest daily COVID-19 death toll since June of this year. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 69 deaths of people who contracted COVID-19 were recorded within a twenty-four-hour period, raising the state's death toll to 9,345 since the start of the pandemic.

Keep Reading... Show less

When "Mean Girls" said "In girl world, Halloween is the one time of the year where you can dress up like a total slut and no one can do or say anything about it," they were damn right. Halloween is the perfect excuse to buy that raunchy costume and show your partner that you're that B. Coming from a very single (yes, very single) 20 something-year-old, I have already got my Halloween costume on lock, and now you will too.

Not only are these 10 Halloween costumes dangerously sexy, but you can wear them in the bedroom whenever you want to give your boo a surprise, yes, year-round. Whoever said you can only dress up on Halloween is seriously disturbed.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ariana Grande released her first single called "positions" since "boyfriend" with Social House and it is a BANGER. This song is absolutely incredible and I am SURE you will agree with me once you listen.

I'm a sucker for a single with a video and that's exactly what we got. Ariana's been pretty quiet during the pandemic, and we all assumed she was working on some new music, and we were right.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

Rejection Of Black Lives Matter Mural By Phoenix City Council Doesn’t Stop Gizette Knight

The Phoenix City Council rejected a proposal for a Black Lives Matter Mural in downtown Phoenix. But Gizette Knight says this is not the end.

Photo by Josh Olalde on Unsplash

Community organizer Gizette Knight, CEO of Reality Dreams LLC, is not giving up on the Phoenix City Council's rejection of the Black Lives Matter mural.

Keep Reading... Show less

For me, chai isn't just what I drink — it's a core part of who I am. Sure, I'll switch it up every now and then with a cup of English Breakfast, Earl Grey, rose, or Darjeeling, but I always come back to chai.

Nearly every tea lover has one tea they repeatedly drink and go back to, whether it's a daily morning ritual or an afternoon pick-me-up. One of my good friends has almost eight cups of jasmine tea every single day — she drinks more tea than water, actually.

Keep Reading... Show less

In a world where physical contact is a liability, the ease of slipping into despair and isolation has never been so tempting. Perhaps the greatest kindness we can lend to one another is reaching out to the people that meant something to us before everything changed. Here's why you should message your friend today.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments