Racism Doesn’t Pay

What would this look like in the United States?

A story in today’s New York Times describes the court case against Japan’s Zaitokukai, in which the far-right group had to pay a hefty fine for shouting its racist ideology at a Japanese school.

Image Source: Wikipedia

Image Source: Wikipedia

The school apparently served young people of Korean ethnicity.  The far-right group protested outside the school, calling the children “spies and cockroaches.”

Is this sort of Asian race-baiting translatable?

In other words, what would this sort of racism look like in the United States?

Unfortunately, it is all too easy to see the woeful results of structural racism in America’s schools.  Schools are still often segregated by race.  Those with mostly African American students often lack the resources of schools for mostly white students.  And the educational legacy of white supremacy has often been part of America’s official educational policies, as historians such as David Blight have argued.

Even granting all that, however, I have a hard time imagining this sort of vicious race-baiting in any American city.  Maybe I’m naïve, but I can’t picture any group these days picketing a majority-African American school and shouting racial epithets.  Would the equivalent be something like the infamous Westboro Baptist Church rallies?  Even those, however, cling not to America’s racist past, but rather to an extremist religious vision.  I say again, I can’t imagine any large group shouting racist taunts at African American children.

Is this another case where my suburban liberal upbringing has left me painfully unaware of the realities of American schooling?


Leave a comment


  1. Perhaps not in a school sized case but it may occur in a one to one or small group context.

  2. willbell123

     /  October 7, 2013

    Never heard of anything like that in Canada, although the US is far worse in some aspects of race.

  3. [AL] “Is this another case where my suburban liberal upbringing has left me painfully unaware of the realities of American schooling?”

    Curiously, I really didn’t notice intense racism until moving to a more affluent/populated city. Las Cruces,NM to Austin,TX. But the better economics assauged that easily 🙂

    ps. Racism in school wasn’t a problem for me, in the corporate workplace though… (shoulda kept going to school)

  4. To me, the burning question here is whether group X has a right to forcefully take from group Y because they said something group X did not like.

    How exactly does a person come to acquire the authority to levy a fine? If I fine you for saying things that I don’t like, you most certainly would not pay.

    But what if I threatened to lock you in a cage if you did not comply?

    What if when I came to put you in a cage, you resisted and I threatened you physical violence?

    What if I ended up killing you for not paying my fine?

    If I did that I bet the next time if fined someone, they’d be more than willing to hand over the cash.

    Do you think it’s moral for a person or group to employ the force of the state to coerce others in society to comply with rules about what can and cannot be said?

  5. Patrick

     /  October 12, 2013

    I friend of mine from Illinois moved to North Carolina a few years ago. He told me the other day that he was expecting to encounter blatant racism in the South, as he had always been told to expect. He’s still trying to find some.

  6. Agellius

     /  November 21, 2013

    I grew up in a low-income, multi-racial area, and never saw anything like that. I did see occasional racism but nothing overt and public and organized.

    In response to the last comment, I recently visited the South with my non-Caucasian wife (I’m white). It was only for a few days, so too small a sample to draw a reliable conclusion from. But what I observed was people seeming to go out of their way to be polite and friendly to people of other races. I get the feeling that they’re all too aware of how they’re thought of in other areas of the country, and are making a concerted effort to prove people wrong.


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