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Definition: The belief that being a good person and being complicit with racism are mutually exclusive.
Key Point: This belief is WRONG—these two truths can exist outside each other.
Background: Following the civil rights movement era, many people believed that only intentionally malicious acts of extreme prejudice were classified as racist and that only bad people committed those acts. The most effective adaptation of racism—the good/bad binary—became a cultural norm, operating to make it effectively impossible for the average white person to understand—much less interrupt—racism. The binary approach functions to take race off the table and exempt the person from any further engagement, protecting the current racial hierarchy. It doesn't have to be intentional, but the impact of these narratives is defensiveness and ultimately inaction.
Why "I'm not racist" is only half the story (6:33) | Robin DiAngelo | Big Think
Many scholar-activists talk about the good-bad binary and its impacts...read more here from DiAngelo, Kendi, Tatum, Russo, Brown.