Is “no black people in my town,” a good excuse?

Just say you’re lazy, racist, or don’t care

Sam McKenzie Jr.


“Several mailboxes on a post surrounded by trees” by Mathyas Kurmann on Unsplash

People say these words as a justification for racism and ignorance:

“My dad was a racist because there were no Black people in my town.”

“I don’t know about these issues because there are no Black people in my town.”

“I didn’t grow up with Black people so I’m not comfortable in Black environments.”

And let’s be clear, people these days say the same things about immigrants and other groups. Well, I want to say the absence of Black people is no excuse for racism, prejudice, and ignorance.

Of course, relationships can be invaluable for connection. But Black people aren’t required for anyone to get their minds together.

Because, proximity doesn’t automate empathy or equity. There are racists right next door to people of color. And watch this — there are Black people raised by Black people who have internalized oppression to work out of themselves.

So, it’s the mind that matters. Our minds limit or expand us. Our minds can take us places and connect us to people.

If someone cares enough, they’ll search out the information. They’ll find books, they’ll read essays online, they’ll watch documentaries, they’ll bone up on facts, and they’ll learn about individuals and issues.

There are many ways people can reduce prejudice and bias by themselves with no aids, props, or people. These include self-talk strategies like stereotype replacement and perspective-taking.

And, get this — studies have shown how imagining an interaction with someone can reduce bias and anxiety.

Yeah, it sounds mad crazy, but it’s true, just imagining a positive interaction with someone could make a difference.

In one experiment, younger participants imagined talking with an elderly person and later showed lower levels of implicit and explicit bias toward elderly people.