For years I have been listening to people, both black and white, defend their use of the word nigger or spic or dago or chink or white trash with statements like "Well, you know there are niggers and then there are black people. I'm not talking about honest, respectful, hard-working black people. I'm talking about those ignorant, disrespectful, criminals and welfare recipients." I have often nodded along in agreement with this rationalization. Chris Rock even used it during one of his standup routines but I was wrong and so was he. Let me just say for any of you who have ever used this argument that this is bullshit and it makes you a racist 100% if you believe it.
There are ignorant, disrespectful, criminals and welfare recipients of all races. Singling out a specific race for this type of behavior and identifying them with a racial slur is fundamentally racist. What is the point of separating assholes by their race? Why have a different name for a black asshole, a white asshole, an Asian asshole, a Middle Eastern asshole etc.? There is already a name for the Asian guy who cuts in front of you in traffic. Asshole. There is already a name for the black guy wearing his pants down around his ankles who drives down the block blasting music loaded with profanities at earsplitting window rattling volume. Asshole. There is already a name for the white guy wearing the Nascar hat and wife beater t-shirt drinking beer at 12pm on a weekday and driving. Asshole. There's a name for the Mexican guy blatantly ogling every woman who walks past. Asshole. What is the point of identifying the race of the asshole accept to perpetuate a stereotype or reaffirm your own prejudgement of that race? An asshole is an asshole regardless of race.
Every asinine behavior I described above could have been done by a member of any race. It could be a white guy openly leering at women or wearing his pants down by his thighs and blasting his music. It could be a black guy cutting you off in traffic or drinking and driving during rush hour. It's just that we have ascribed certain negative behaviors to certain races and then given them derogatory names to identify people of that race who engage in those types of behaviors. That is called stereotyping and that, my friends, is deeply and fundamentally racist.
The same goes for criminals. A black criminal is a criminal. A Latino criminal is a criminal. A white criminal is a criminal. They are not niggers, spics, and white trash. They are just criminals. To call them by derogative racial epithets makes you a racist. Period.
Now, don't beat yourself up over this or get defensive. Stereotyping people is normal human behavior. It is a natural consequence of the way we reason. Inductive reasoning is just a more refined form of stereotyping. The difference is that in proper inductive reasoning one exception kills the rule. In racial stereotyping it doesn't matter how many exceptions you see to that stereotype you still maintain that belief. It doesn't matter how many non-criminal blacks or Mexicans you meet you still believe that most most blacks or Mexicans are criminals and so you feel justified in calling them by racial epithets that denote them as black or Mexican criminals. Don't get defensive about this. Don't beat yourself over it. Just stop. Stop it right now. It is really as simple as that. If you don't want to be a racist then just stop. The next time an Asian guy cuts you off in traffic just call him an asshole. Trust me. It feels just as good.