Over time, the dots accumulate, and you start to see a pattern. You draw a curve that connects the dots and you develop a keen sense of things that happen to you because of your race. The pattern allows you to notice correlations, to make predictions. You are learning from evidence, in part for your self-preservation.
Now imagine someone plotting a graph who encounters such episodes from a more privileged or isolated perspective. Maybe this person hears about them only if they are sensational enough to make the news. He sees evidence of racism only from time to time, and when he does, it tends to be stark and unambiguous — the use of racial slurs, an explicit avowal of hate.
This person’s graph has many fewer dots, with larger spaces between them. There is no curve he is able to draw. No pattern presents itself. Racism seems to him to be a rarity, maybe even invented.
How do I talk with this person and convince him of the pattern I see?
Well. Perhaps now my most embarrassing post of all time (complete with editorialized title), but I feel an obligation to link to it:
I wholeheartedly sympathize with Glanville in this 'Times piece. A lifetime of ambiguous microaggressions is something I have the privilege of not enduring, and I would only wish it upon the people who need more than a lifetime to understand that they're still responsible for perpetuating it themselves. And if you're consciously perpetuating racism by flashing any signal or symbol with the intent that it denigrates or insults any ethnic or racial group, fuck you in the most unambiguous way.
...But are we speaking this thing to power?? I just watched a re-broadcast video of the incident, and they're pixelating an upside down 3-point-basketball-shot symbol or the ASL symbol for the letter "F". Do you wanna make something hip and cool for all of the angsty dumbfucks out there? Because that's what you're doing, WGN News. In the eyes of the dumbfucks, it's similar to the appeal of flipping birdies or dropping F-bombs. Because people take offense. Of course, you and I understand that this is quite different, as lewdness alone isn't hate speech or racism.
Question is, how do we keep racists/"pRaNkStErS" from appropriating an increasing number of once-innocent symbols as symbols of white supremacy? This whole episode will only serve to encourage them. Of course, there's an upper limit to the effective amount of re-appropriation any group of people can achieve, but the question stands.
There's at least one thing nice about growing up in a relatively sensitive, politically correct era; Less room to claim ignorance on things like this, and thus the ambiguity of malicious intent is lessened. Oh, hah, nevermind, I was just assuming that America still shares a common reality.
Edit: I think the best possible scenario would have been if Glanville would have been alerted to or was somehow aware of the dude behind him, turned around, made the sign below the belt himself to the guy, said "HA! made ya look!", then wound up his arm whilst making a fist and the guy wet his pants and had to go home. And the guy ate nothing but asparagus for the 24 hours prior leading up to it. And had to take public transport after being refused by 3 separate Ubers and 2 Lyfts. #muhPersonalReality