(Proto)Typical White Denial: Reflections on Racism and Uncomfortable Realities | The LA Progressive by Tim Wise Not long ago, after I had written an article in which I discussed white denialthe tendency for most white folks to reject the notion that racism is still a significant obstacle for people of color in the U.S.I received an e-mail from a white man who insisted that my argument was itself racist. His reason? According to his message, simply by stating that most white folks remain in denial about the extent of racism and discrimination against people of color, I had engaged in anti-white bigotry, since I had made a generalization about a racial group: in this case, the one that both he and I share. He went on to offer an analogy that he felt proved my argument to be racist. What if I were to write an article where I said most black people are criminals? he asked. Wouldnt that be racist against blacks? In other words, he argued, to make any comments about racial groups is inherently racist, and so my saying that most whites were in denial was every bit as bad as saying that most blacks are criminals. Of course, and as I explained to him at the time, such an argument makes no sense at all. The reason it is racist to say that most blacks are criminals, is because such a position is based on racial stereotypes rather than factual information: it casts aspersions upon an entire group of people, based not on truth, but on the basis of ignorant prejudice. Most blacks are not criminals; indeed, the vast majority are not. There are about 28 million African Americans over the age of 12 in the U.S. (and thus eligible for inclusion in crime data), and only a small number of these (fewer than five percent) will commit a crime in a given year. So while it would not be racist to note that black folks have a higher official crime rate than whitesthis is a fact borne out by evidence, and which doesnt necessarily cast a characterological judgment upon those it mentionssaying that most blacks are criminals is simply a lie, and to the extent it casts aspersions upon a racial group that can lead to their continued stereotyping, a racist lie at that. To say that most white folks are in denial is not racist, because such a belief is not based on stereotypes about whites; rather, the claim is supported by what white folks actually say when asked if we believe racism to be a significant problem: the vast majority, in poll after poll answer that it is not, irrespective of the evidence to the contrary. And we have long believed that, so even in the early 1960s, at a time when in retrospect all would agree the nation was profoundly unequal in its treatment of people of color, whites told pollsters in overwhelming numbers (anywhere from sixty-five to nearly ninety percent) that blacks had equal opportunities in employment and education. White denial has been a hallmark of the nations racial history. Saying that is not racist, it is an incontrovertible fact.