“I’m not _______, but…”

I voted, did you

“I’m not prejudiced, but…” or “I’m not racist, but…”

The “but” says it all to me…, regardless of what comes after the “but.”

Everyone has prejudice to some degree.  When I was a teen in the 60s and very early 70s, I often said, “The only thing I’m prejudiced against is prejudice.”  Older now, I acknowledge that I’ve had my share of prejudices, some of which I still struggle with.

When someone says, “I’m not prejudiced,” I’m skeptical.

I was watching a video online the other day when a guy actually said, “I’m not prejudiced or a racist, but there ain’t any way that I’m going to vote for a black man.”

The best I can say about that is that it’s partially honest. Because of his prejudice, he is unable to vote for a black person.  It’s too bad that he can’t get past that and vote on the issues rather than the color of a man’s skin.

On an individual basis, I do not care who anyone else is voting for. That’s their personal choice — and, unless they tell me otherwise, I choose to believe that their choices are for reasons other than race or ethnicity.

Hopefully, more people than normal will be able to answer, “Yes,” if someone says, “I voted! Did You?” — and , hopefully, the result will not be significantly influenced by prejudice.

What comes to your mind when you hear someone say, “I’m not prejudiced, but…?”

give me a break!, politics, values
14 comments… add one
  • Oktober Five Oct 14, 2008

    What comes to mind is what I always say to myself in the mirror every morning: I'm not fat, but . . . I am. You're right–the "but" says it all.

  • Dot Oct 14, 2008

    What comes to mind is the same thing that comes to mind when people say, "Not to be critical, cut…" They're in denial.

    Here's one that got me. When I was around age 53, I mentioned to a friend that I was romantically interested in a coworker who is black. One of my friends said that she saw nothing wrong with inter-racial dating except that "it's so hard on the children." I was 53, what children was I going to be having?

    I love her anyway, but not for that stuff.

  • I can't think of a time when I've used that exact phrase…I'll try to start noticing. I have tried to notice when I use the word "but" and train myself replace it with "and" when appropriate…i.e., when introducing another part of the picture. I agree, "but" negates the first part of the sentence, "and" says the situation is more complicated than has been stated. It's not a conflict and more things have to be considered. (I almost wrote "but" there!)

  • Vered - MomGrind Oct 14, 2008

    What comes to my mind? Exactly what comes to yours. That they are lying. Or that they are in denial.

  • DragonLady Oct 14, 2008

    I'm with you, it's the but. Everyone is prejudice to some degree whether they admit it or not.

  • teeni Oct 14, 2008

    Great point. It's very true that the "but" says a lot in those circumstances.

  • XUP Oct 15, 2008

    "But" totally negates anything that came before. I love you but… I want to volunteer but…. I would donate but…. You know what the right thing to do/say is and you want people to think well of you BUT the truth is what comes after the "but"

  • rummuser Oct 15, 2008

    Exactly what comes to your mind Mike. Sheer hypocrisy. Another one is "I have many xyzs for friends" but, and so on so forth.

    I am glad to be called your friend.

  • chris Oct 15, 2008

    Every time I hear that I smile because I know that they are…Denial is not only a river in Egypt.

  • Cath Lawson Oct 15, 2008

    Hi Mike – as soon as the "but" comes, it kind of says it all. If some of the people in America don't want Obama – please send him to the UK. I'm sure he'd do heaps better than the clown we have running the country now. Now you're probably thinking I'm prejudiced against clowns.

  • Mike Goad Oct 16, 2008

    @ October Five – I like the analogy…, I can relate to it.

    @ Dot – That is so interesting. A long time ago, I determined that I could and would be accepting if one of my daughters were interested in a person who wasn't "white." Unfortunately, it took me a lot longer to accept a relationship where my daughter's significant other doesn't work. She does, and makes good money. After a while I realized that their relationship was a reversal of roles and he was, in effect, a house-husband…, and that's cool. She works and he takes care of virtually everything else. And he is a good guy.

    @ Jean – "But" is a perfectly good word to use…, sparingly. "She is a very beautiful woman, but she was plain as a child."

    @ Vered – I think that in a lot of cases, it's denial.

    @ Dragonlady – I think that those who acknowledge their prejudice have a chance to work through it.

    @ teeni – and, in some instances, it just say, "look at me. I'm a butt-head."

    @ XUP – "But" needs to be used sparingly. There are times when is appropriate.

    @ rummuser – That one is a hard one that I've sometimes had to resist, knowing how it sounds, even when it might be appropriate.

    @ chris – my smile when I hear things like that is more like "grin and bear it."

  • Mike Goad Oct 16, 2008

    @ Cath – Sorry, we need to keep him here. Oh, I don't mind if he goes over there to visit, but…

  • Rita Oct 18, 2008

    Mike,
    The word "but" cannot be used as a conjunction in such sentences.

    I spend the first day each year with my class reviewing the following words: IGNORANCE, PREJUDICE, RACISM, STEREOTYPING and ANTI-SEMITISM. I spend a full class defining each word (the definitions are NOT nuanced) and explaining how and where most of these terms are learned – and applied. The term "denial" can not be used once one is educated.

    Thank you for writing this. It is only through education and discussion that words like "but" and "however" will be removed from these sentences.

    Rita

  • Mike Goad Oct 18, 2008

    @ Rita – Thank you for your comment. I'm trying to spend a little more time exploring uncomfortable things.

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