This is one of the few things that really stuck with me from my grad-school days. A simple mathematical analysis of racism in America. It was in a class with Professor Orlando Patterson.
I think of this math when people say we should be post-racial. Or say that we need to condemn anti-white racists as strongly as we do anti-black racists. To be clear, we should condemn all racism. But no, anti-white racism isn't the same problem as anti-black racism. It's not just about the hate. It's also about the demographics and the math and the very essence of what it means to be a minority.
Here's the math. There are roughly 320 million Americans. Of those, roughly 41.7 million are black. About 280 million Americans are not black.
Now ask yourself: what percent of Americans are racist? Of course it depends on how you define racism. But can we use 15 percent as a working figure? Maybe that's too high; maybe that's too low. I don't know. You can pick whatever percent you want. But let's do the math for 15 percent.
If 15 percent of all Americans are racists, that means about 6 million blacks who hate whites (or Asians, or whomever). Since there are 280 million Americans who are white or another non-black race, the odds that you, a non-black, would come across somebody who hates you because of your skin color are pretty slim. If you're not black, and you come across 100 Americans at random in a given week, maybe 2 of those 100 people will be blacks who hate you for the color of your skin. Also, and this matters, there are 46 of you for every one of them. So if there were some gigantic street brawl between all 6 million black racists and all 280 million targets of their racism, the racists would get crushed. When you are part of the majority, there is safety in numbers.
Now let's flip it around. If 15 percent of all Americans are racist, that means there are about 42 million anti-black racists walking around. There are more racist Americans than black Americans. Blacks are outnumbered by racists. Think about that. If you're black and come across 100 Americans at random in a given week, 13 of those 100 people will hate you for the color of your skin. When you are part of the minority, there is danger in the numbers.
Every time a black person leaves the house, there's one racist sonofabitch out there potentially waiting for him or her. If there was a big street brawl between racists and blacks, the racists would probably win. That's why we -- our society, any society -- need to be more concerned about minority rights. An attack on a minority group, any minority, is more dangerous because the group is a minority.
So even if you and your white friends aren't racist, that's nice. But it doesn't really matter. And it certainly doesn't mean that racism doesn't happen simply because you don't see it. It's like pointing out to police that a lot of people in their post aren't criminals. That's nice... but the good people are not the ones you need to focus on. It's the people out to cause harm that get your attention. And if there are more of them than there are you, then you've got a real problem.