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Black History Month: America ain’t racist (reprised)

Black History Month: America ain’t racist (reprised)

As is my tradition, I close off my Black History Month series with my unending belief that America cannot be properly characterized as a racist nation – or the people as racists. 

Racism does exist in a FEW places – institutional and personal –, but it cannot be said to fairly describe the vast majority of the American people.  We are actually one of the most tolerant nations on earth.  While the small elements of racism – and the constant accusations of race baiters — dominate the news, they are not reflective of we the people.

So, here it is.

HORIST: America ain’t racist

Posted on Friday, the 8th of September 2017, by Larry Horist

Upon reading the headline on my commentary today, the political left and no small portion of the minority community will be expressing an emphatic, “WHAT?”  It runs counter to much conventional wisdom.  Conventional wisdom is not always correct, however.  Racism may have been more ingrained in the American culture in days of yore, but it has virtually vanished in terms of any day-to-day impact for the vast majority of Americans of all backgrounds.

But wait!  I did not say that the residual of centuries of racism does not exist.  It is not totally eradicated, for sure.  The remnants of institutional racism do exist, and it is a serious problem.    We might look at racism like we see bank robbery.  Bank robbery occurs in America, but it does not make us a nation of bank robbers.

Of course, just the belief in pandemic racism impacts us politically, socially, and culturally.  Widely held misconceptions have the same influence on our actions as do actual facts.  But, to complete our journey to the post-racial society dreamt of by Martin Luther King, we must understand the true nature and scope of racism.  Yes, we do need that much called for “dialogue on race.”  But, it must be more than “White people are racists and what can we do about it?”  I see three forms of racism in America – personal racism, counter racism racism and institutional racism.

Personal racism is the feeling a person holds in their heart.  This can range from a virulent belief in white superiority to a more apathetic discomfort about people who are different.  Personal racism is not the most serious form unless it manifests itself in racist actions – from violence in the streets to not hiring a minority person.  Today, we have laws to address that.  Personal racism has ebbed and will continue to ebb through education, assimilation, the rise of new generations AND the defeat of the remnants of institutional racism.

Despite the political rhetoric, personal racism is very rare.  To make the point, allow me to lift a passage from my hopefully soon-to-be-published book on racism in America.

“If we take a fresh look at America, we might just discover that we are not a nation of racists after all, but rather the victims of racial baiting by politicians and the mainstream media.  We should keep in mind that billions of times every day … yes, billions … black and white Americans smile and nod to each other as we pass on the streets.  We serve each other in restaurants and stores.  We work side-by-side in factories and offices.  We do favors for each other.  We come to each other’s aid. We cheer alongside each other on both sides of every sports arena.  We play on the same teams.  We chat on social media.  We die alongside each other in battle.   We become lifelong friends. We adopt each other.  We fall in love and marry each other. We laugh together at the same movies, and we weep together at shared tragedies.”

Again, that is billions of time every day, and we see this every day all around us.  There was that news report about a black police officer who was killed coming to the aid of a white comrade who was also killed.  There was a recent report of an emotional reunion between a white citizen who saved the life of a black mother and her twin daughters during Hurricane Katrina.  Such reports are not rare or exceptional.  They are ubiquitous.  For every act of racial violence or hostility, there are innumerable acts of kindness and assistance – every day.

My life was impacted by such a simple kindness.  I again draw upon my manuscript.

“One of my early after school jobs was to retrieve shopping carts from the parking lot of the local Jewel Food Store.  One dark snowy winter evening, I noticed a woman on the far end of the parking lot struggling with three large brown paper bags of groceries.  I assumed she was carrying them because of the difficulty of pushing the shopping cart through the deepening snow.  I then observed a middle age black woman rushing toward her.  I expected the worst.  Was she going to attack the white woman?  Was she going to steal the groceries?  Was she a purse snatcher?  Instead, the black woman helped hold two of the stuffed grocery bags as the white woman dug around in her purse for the trunk key.  After depositing the bags in the trunk and slamming down the lid, I could see how thankful and appreciate the white woman was and how dismissive was the black woman of what appeared to be thankful compliments.

Suddenly my belief in the permanent hostility between whites and blacks was seriously challenged.  The black woman’s kindness had opened a new gateway of thinking about race relations.  I have often thought about that black woman and how she would never know how she guided my thinking and the course of my life.  Almost 60 years later, the image of that good deed remains vivid in my mind. “

In times of tragedy, and Hurricane Harvey is just the latest example, we hear the press and politicians talking about how people come together, “putting aside their differences.”  They express this as some sort of exception from what they infer to be more normal times.  These interracial acts of cooperation, however, are not the exception.  They are inherent in the diverse American culture.  It is there all the time.  We supposedly “come together” because we are never that far apart.   Yes, we come from different backgrounds and have different opinions, but we largely embrace the American culture of e pluribus unum.  We are by far good people.

The second form of racism is reactive.  It is fashionable among the academic community to proffer the argument that minority individuals cannot be racist.  Calling out black racism is often described as racist. This is a one-sided absurdity that defies all logic, common sense and fairness.  Of course, there are racist black people on the fringe of the greater community.  When I hear any black person say that all whites are racist, I hear the voice of racism.  It is as ignorant a statement as saying that all black people are lazy, all Italians are Mafia and all Scotts are parsimonious.  Once you cast an entire group with a common negative trait, you are speaking from an “ism” of one form or another.  Such stereotyping is the currency of race baiters from David Duke to Al Sharpton.

Like personal white racism, personal black racism needs to be addressed by education, assimilation, the rise of new generations AND the defeat of institutional racism.  And like white racism, it is only virulent if it generates violence or prejudicial actions.

The last and most serious form of racism is institutional racism.  In the first 175 years of our republic, during the eras of slavery and southern Democrat segregation, de jure racism was codified in our culture by national and local laws.  Alongside the de jure racism of the south, however, America saw the development of de facto racism in our major cities – and it is found there to this day.  Because it was not based on the law, it was able to survive every measure of civil rights progress since the Civil War – including constitutional amendments, laws, court orders and popular movements.  It did not endure on its own merits or even due to a foundation of grassroots racism.  It endured because it was and is beneficial to both black and white politicians who draw their power, prestige and profit from it.  In many ways, urban racism is the last vestige of America’s emergence from the pandemic institutional racism of our national inception.

It also brings us face-to-face with the real source of racism in America today.  The false narrative of pandemic cultural racism is really a political smoke screen to conceal the people who protect and carry out institutional racism.  As was de jure racism in the past, de facto racism — waning as it may be — is the operational characteristic of the Democratic Party.  Because of the power of these city political machines, urban de facto racism is tolerated at all levels of the Party structure in the same way that the national Democratic Party tolerated southern segregation for so many years.

It is the reason that virtually all the anger and frustration that boils over in minority communities in the form of demonstrations and riots is experienced in cities long controlled by the Democratic Party.  In fact, it is almost impossible to find minority uprisings in communities governed by Republicans.

These iconic urban segregated communities have many of the same features of slavery and southern segregation.  They are segregated pockets of impoverishment were citizens are denied their basic constitutional rights of education, equal justice under the law, access to career level jobs (and too often no jobs at all), social mobility, decent housing, personal safety and a well maintained infrastructure.  

This de facto racism permeates every department of city government.  It is seen in failure to enforce building and safety codes against crony slumlords who illegally subdivide unsafe tenements.  It is seen in the crumbling parks and infrastructure.  It is seen in the unending depression level unemployment.   It is seen on the bloody streets of the inner city.  It is seen in the segregated school systems which provide separate and unequal education that is the foundation of the inner city’s racially imposed poverty.   In a very real sense, the inalienable and constitutional civil rights articulated above have been supplanted by the singular faux civil right of generational welfare dependency. 

Urban institutional racism is not just the product of an all-white power structure.  It can be found among black public officials who are cronies or benefactors of the system – also drawing from it their own power, prestige and profit.  That is why cities such as Baltimore, with a long history of black leadership, suffer the same racial and economic segregation and oppression as the ghettoes of Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.  It is not a far stretch to compare many of the black leaders to the house slaves or the black slave owners of the early 1800s – gaming the racist system for personal advantage.  

It is difficult to imagine more widely held and pernicious false narratives as the assertion of pandemic American racism and Democratic Party civil rights advocacy.   If we are to have a serious and meaningful dialogue on race – and we most certainly should — it is essential that we understand what it is, where it comes from AND who is responsible.  To do that, we must look outside the box of false narratives for a much broader dialogue of discovery.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Wes kussmaul

    In making this point that America is not racist, why does it seem that every writer avoids the most obvious piece of evidence: WE ELECTED, AND RE-ELECTED, A BLACK PRESIDENT!

  2. frank stetson

    If it wasn’t for Will Smith, Obama wouldn’t be President :>)

    Does Larry get paid again for this?

    He says: “It is seen in the segregated school systems which provide separate and unequal education that is the foundation of the inner city’s racially imposed poverty” and he blames Democrats.

    Except he’s wrong, it’s Democrats and Republicans.

    First, show me a Republican educational system that provides equal education in the inner city or other impoverished area and what policies they use to do that?

    It starts with funding, which is pretty much the same across the land: relies on property taxes, the state mandates a baseline budget for each school district, and the “extra” tax dollars are used by the locale that paid them. Thus the rich get richer educations, the poor, poorer.

    This happens in all fifty states, in all cities, with some deviations, but always the same theme.

    It’s Democrats AND Republicans.


    That’s the equality of funding issue. If you don’t fund equally, then the next best solution is busing and I don’t see many Republicans lining up for that one. Afterall, they were in the vanguard to kill it last time around.

    So, I am not sure how voting Republican offers a solution, or even a change. Somehow, the DeSantis Florida experiment does not seem to be the cure. Unless you don’t like Black studies……

    • larry Horist

      Frank Stetson … You platitudes are simply ignorant and too often based on YOUR interpretation of what i say. Sometime more than interpretation, you just make up crap and attribute it to me. I see no sourcing in this latest piece of garbage — actually in most of your dribble. BROKEN BEYOND REPAIR

      • Frank stetson

        Getting emotional? You are so defensive.

        Platitudes? Really?

        I find it funny when you claim your quotes are my interpretations of you.

        Everything was sourced in the previous tome. Who cares, you certainly don’t care bout no stinking facts.

        Why would I source anything here? You don’t.

        Why answer your comment? You don’t.

        What did I make up?

    • Tom

      In several of these posts, you and I have tried our best to show that racism in the USA is owned by both parties. In the Part 2 piece, I even looked at Illinois voting results and Chicago voting results. It is obvious as the nose on my face that both parties have failed to eliminate institutional racism. I pointed out that many of the institutions are state level organizations that have offices in cities. You and I both pointed out the truth about Congressman Dawson.

      I have no other recourse but to believe that Larry walks in GOP darkness on the issue of racism ownership. Larry’s inelastic opinion of “Dems owning racism” crumble under scholarly inspection using actual data. The actual data shows joint ownership. Therefor I am saddened to say that I believe Larry to be an inelasticist, and practices inelastic-ism – the practice of deliberately ignoring sound doctrine, statistics, and knowledge so as to maintain an erroneous personal opinion for personal, financial, and social gain.

      • Frank stetson

        Can’t wait until the book reviewers catch his act.

        I still go back to your comments about his stint in politics. Think you hit a chord. It’s personal with him maybe. But who knows, certainly does not like pushback. So defensive.

      • larry Horist

        Tom … The overwhelming existence — and the most dangerous and harmful examples — are based on MUNICIPAL policies and practices. You looking at voting results is irrelevant to the fact that the it is the Democratic Party that is exclusively in power in Chicago –and have been for decades. Just because there are Republican voters in Chicago, does not mitigate the culpability of those in power. Show me where Republican are in control of anything in Chicago … or Cook County … or Illinois. I rate you as having an excessive desire to always split the difference … and Frank to an obsessive desire to by my antagonist. I am sure you can find anecdotal examples of Republican racism, but you are equating the pickpocket with a killer.

  3. MikefromTexas

    Am glad the months over. I hate placating.

  4. Tom

    Larry, I can agree that institutional racism has and still exists, but it is less. What I struggle with is your assertion that the Dem party owns it all. I hope we can agree that most “institutions” are run at the state level. And these state run institutions can heavily impact the economics at the local level such as cities like Chicago.

    Using your home state of IL as the laboratory exercise, based on voting statistics and results by party, here is what I find (Independent Court – Judge Tom presiding) for party responsibility to correct the institutional racism over the past 100 years in IL/Chicago Institutions:

    From 2023 back to 2002, 80-90% D and 10-20% R because D held Gov and State Senate
    Note: voting turnout low thus general population is also 50% responsible. 2022 registered turnout of all voters only 49%

    From 2001 back to 1992, 80-90% R and 10% D because the R held Gov and State Senate.

    From 1991 back to 1972, 60% R and 40% D because R held Gov, and State House seems fairly even

    From 1971 back to 1940, 50% D and 50% R because both of ebb and flows of power.

    From 1939 back to 1900, 70% R and 30% D primarily because during this period GOP policies kept AA’s in poverty, leads to mass migration of AA’s from R to D party.

    So rather than say “Democratic Party Owns Racism in America” since you used IL/Chicago as much of your discussion, and I used it as the lab exercise, both GOP and Dem party have historically owned the responsibility to eliminate institutional level racism in IL/Chicago, neither has done a very good job. And that is the opinion of the Independent Court, Judge Tom presiding.