What counts as racism?

In America, we’re good at pointing out obvious racism now, the kind that starts fights. It’s racism to enslave people just because their skin looks darker or because their parents were born in a different continent. It’s also racism to set up separate schools or restaurants or bathrooms for different races.

Other instances aren’t so obvious. A lot of them, I’m not sure about, what counts and what doesn’t, what’s good and what’s bad, what’s acceptable and what we’re just ignoring.

Sometimes, more often than before I lived in Asia, racism still feels alive and well in America, even if it’s not nearly as flagrant as it once was. We still notice, even if we don’t talk about it. We still segregate, even if it’s not required. We still base decisions on race, even if we don’t call it racism.

But should we, call it racism?

What about when they choose an African American man, an Asian American woman, and Latin American twins to pose for the advertisement banner at a dentist’s office? Is that racism?

Just showing diversity, right? But who chose those people? Did they turn down the Caucasian models because they didn’t fit the requirements for the ad? How did they come up with those requirements in the first place?

What about a church that’s 100% white? What about a church that’s 100% black? What about 100% some other color? What about neighborhoods with those demographics?

Oh, no, that’s not racism. No one forced those situations. Some people just feel more comfortable worshiping or living around certain kinds of people. It’s the culture that makes the difference, not the color.

It’s not racism. It’s just, what, preference? Preference based on race isn’t racism? It’s just what the job requires, what looks best, what we like around here? Really, that’s not racism?

Is it racism to want to marry someone from a different race?

Is it racism to base any decisions on race?

Is it racism to notice race at all?