It is almost impossible today to pick up a newspaper or TV remote and not see something pertaining to the racial tension rising in America: Black Lives Matter, The New Black Panthers (who threaten to show up armed at the Republican National Convention) and the continuing ever-soaring rhetoric of Rev. Al Sharpton, et al.

With all due respect, and at the risk of offending many, the overwhelming majority of people playing the race card today have no idea what genuine, hard-core, bonafide racism is. Others, who may know have ulterior motives (See With all the rhetoric we read and hear about today regarding race, I was reminded of a column I had written several years ago on this subject.

When I see or hear the media-enhanced hyperbole regarding the so-called “racism” in America today, I am reminded of what it was like “back in the day.” The overwhelming majority of young people today, black or white, have no clue what real racism looks like.

With all the liberal media attention being regurgitated on the race issue today, I cannot help but be reminded of the real racism in “the thrilling days of yesteryear.” (Oh yes, just FYI: Back in the day in the South, most service stations had transgender restrooms. There were three restrooms: white men, white women and colored. Bblack men and women used the same restroom.) Nothing new here.

If I were a Trump-type billionaire, I would offer a $10,000 reward to anyone who could show me a legal, court-ordered, police-enforced example of discrimination specifically against blacks today. Today, as a black American, I have stayed in the finest hotels, eaten at gourmet restaurants and been served dinner at the White House (presently occupied by a black man) in the company of several U.S. presidents.

One particular episode, in my youth, of real racism stands out vividly in my memory. It was a Saturday afternoon after I got off from work. I came home, parked my bike carefully (you took care of stuff back then; it was hard to come by) and ran into the kitchen. “Hi, Mama!” I made a sandwich, sat down (“Ben, say grace”), prayed over it and took a bite. Between bites, I asked Mama a question: “Mama, what’s a ‘nigger’?” (This was the first time I had been called that.) She looked over at me with no change of attitude and said, “Don’t talk with your mouth full, Ben. Why?” “Somebody called me that on the way home,” I replied. (Unlike today, especially among rap and hip-hop artists, we didn’t use that terminology among ourselves.)

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Now, Mama had several options:

1) She could have dropped everything, broke down, began to weep and moan, “Oh, they called my baby a nigger!” Then, for the future I would have known how to respond; I should immediately begin to feel sorry for myself. Poor me! Black folks are objects of pity.

2) She could have slammed stuff down, grabbed me by the hand, screaming, “What?! Who said that?! Come on, we’re going to see about THIS!” Then I would have known, “Call me that and you have a fight on your hands!”

But Mama chose a third option: “Do you know what that means, Ben?” “No, Ma’am,” I dutifully replied. “Well,” she said, “What do we do when we don’t know the meaning of a word?” I gave the correct answer, “Go look it up in the dictionary?” Now there were two things we never did in our house, and both of them were argue with Mama. Mama, who taught school, was a teacher in the truest sense of the word. (She also kept a dictionary, and encyclopedias, in the house.)

So, I took another bite of sandwich and went to look it up. “Nigger: a person of any race or origin regarded as contemptible, inferior, ignorant, stingy, miserly, tight, grudging; a victim; a person who is economically, politically, or socially disenfranchised.” I read it a couple of times (I had to look up some of the adjectives) and then went back to finish my sandwich.

“Well,” she replied with a raised eyebrow, “Did you find it?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” I replied.

“And …?” she asked.

“I ain’t none of that!” I declared.

She stopped ironing and stared at me, “Excuse me, what did you just say?”

“I ain’t … ahem, I’m not, any of those things.”

And that was the end of that. From that moment on, that word had no more meaning for me than “Martian.”

What Mama was saying to me by her actions was: You are who you think you are, not who someone else says you are, and you are only responsible for your own ignorance, not that of others. Her response to that incident could and did, from that moment on, have a major influence in establishing who I became.

Today, the race card has become an integral part of the American political lexicon. “Racist” and “racism” are thrown about with (or without) the slightest justification or provocation. Anyone who may object to almost anything having to do with civil liberties is immediately linked to “civil rights” and, by extension, the racism of a bygone era.

Before we go any further, let me state for the record: America is not perfect, but neither is any other country on this planet. Perfection exists only in heaven. (If you are an atheist, you will deny even that.) I had the good fortune to have been born in the U.S., and I have lived long enough to have witnessed, and experienced, firsthand the rigid segregation of the ’40s, ’50s and the civil rights movement of the ’60s.

I also have had the privilege of visiting numerous countries on several continents, including the one referred to by some African-Americans as “the mother country” – Africa. As a result of these and other life experiences, it is my considered opinion that the vast majority of people crying “racism!” and/or “discrimination!” have no earthly idea what they are talking about.

Are there racists around today? Yes, there are some. However, the real, classical, bone-deep racism of yesteryear no longer exists in America, and the overwhelming majority of white Americans simply are not racist; in fact, in many cases, they bend over backward to prove that.

It seems to me that if white America were as racist as the critics allege, then the “racist” label would be eagerly sought out and diligently applied by all candidates for public office. However, here is a dirty little secret: The reason the racist label is kept moistened and ready for application is because of the certainty that if it sticks, the wearer is dead in the water.

So, “whatup wid dis racist/racism stuff?” As a revolutionary (nicknamed “Malcolm Z”) in the ’60s, I learned some of the basic tactics of Racial Rhetoric 101 in use today: Fight facts with fertilizer, history with histrionics and when all else fails, bring out the name calling – Whitey, Honky and Cracker. Racist can be used quite effectively as a modifier for conservatives, Republicans, bankers, homophobes, etc. (For effect, this is best done with a slight curl of the left side of the upper lip. For blacks, dreadlocks or a shaved head with a Fu Manchu mustache maximize impact.)

And lest we forget, real (not virtual) racism – ala lynchings – occurred from the late 1800s into the 1950s. During that time, according to Tuskegee Institute, 4,730 lynchings took place: 3,437 blacks and 1,293 whites (mostly Republicans). (See

I realize the following will be considered a negative comment but, according to a statistic I read recently from a 2007 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report, blacks were victims of 7,999 homicides in 2005, alone, and 93 percent were killed by other blacks.

As I have said on numerous occasions, most of what is classified as “racism” today is something I call virtual racism. This virtual racism causing such heartburn today would once upon a time have been hailed by rank-and-file blacks as having reached the Promised Land!

In my opinion (am I still entitled to one?), this virtual racism is like a video game such as virtual football or virtual war games: You can get quite exercised about it, but all things being equal, it’s not likely to draw blood.

Racist America? I don’t think so. But then what do I know, I only lived through the real thing.

Have you ever wondered what African-Americans want, and why they vote Democratic? Do you know how slavery actually began in America? Ben Kinchlow’s best-selling book “Black Yellowdogs” breaks race and politics down in black and white. Get your copy today!

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