The @alittleracist FAQ

Q: Why are you doing this?

Answer: Racism comes in many shapes. Personally, I believe that casual racism – the racism that people don’t even think about as racism – is the worst. Look at it this way: If you see someone in the street calling someone else a nigger to his face, then you know what the deal is: The guy who is doing the talking is a racist.

It gets more complicated when it’s more subtle. You’ll often find that a lot of people start sentences with “I’m not racist but…” and then go on to say something truly outrageous.

@alittleracist points out that a lot of the statements made by people are, in fact, a little bit racist. Although, as I’m starting to grasp as this project progresses, in many case, they are very racist indeed.

Q: How are the posts chosen?

Answer: I have coded a little script that searches for all Twitter posts that have the words “not”, “racist” and “but” in them, in that order. In addition, the script ignores all @replies (or, in fact, any posts with the @ symbol in them)

Of course, that means that a lot of racism and prejudice goes undetected, but I don’t want this to turn into a full-time job either. It turns out that even when restricted like that, there is more than enough racism to go around.

Finally, all posts are manually approved and queued up to be published. For me, it’s just a case of pressing a button that reads “publish”, so don’t worry I’m not spending too much time on this!

Q: You re-tweeted my post, but it wasn’t even racist!

Answer 1: Are you sure it wasn’t racist?

Answer 2: I don’t really care. I am re-tweeting posts that display a level of ignorance and generalisation that I feel the world would be better without.

One example of posts that seem to confuse people are along the lines of “God, I hate it when scary black people follow me down dark alleys”. The racism in that statement is the fact that you found it necessary to point out that the person following you down the alley is black. The implication is that you wouldn’t mind if scary white or asian people follow you down dark alleys. Does that make sense? Of course it doesn’t – so since your complaint is clearly about the people who are scary that follow you down an alley – why do you feel the need to specify a skin colour at all?

Also, I have less of a problem with statements that are quantified. If you say that “I have noticed a lot of white people tend to wear clean socks”, that’s quite different from saying “Blacks wear clean socks”. The former is an observation of a statistical correlation. The latter is a statement that I’m quite likely to be able to instantly disprove. Be very careful with generalisations; if you categorically proclaim something to be true, prepare to be challenged with a single piece of evidence in the contrary. Or, y’know, just to have your narrow-minded statement re-tweeted to a larger audience.

Q: You clearly don’t know what racism is

Answer: You are wrong. I know exactly what racism is. But again, I don’t really care if what you said isn’t technically racism because you aren’t talking about a race. If you’re generalising or stereotyping a sub-segment of the population by gender, nationality, skin color, race, religion, or anything else… You’re fair game in my book.

You’re not going to impress me by explaining in great detail that being mean to muslims or jews or women or old people or any other population group isn’t technically racism. If it is the ‘racism’ label you have a problem with, then honestly, I don’t give a flying monkey’s banana. “Racism” is a strongly emotionally loaded word that gets people’s attention. It got yours, didn’t it?

Q: But seriously, I wasn’t being racist, you misunderstood!

Answer: It could happen – if I genuinely got it wrong, then I’m genuinely sorry – but I’m sure you’ll find it in your heart of hearts to forgive my transgression.

The main reason why I get these things wrong is that a lot of people who post things on Twitter are writing text speak, which I’m not very good at reading. Forgive me.

Q: What the hell? Who are you, anyway?

Answer: I’m a guy. I live in England. I hate racism and xenophobia with a passion.

Q: Where do you live? I’m gonna come kick your ass

Answer: I really rather you didn’t. Assault is a rather dreary affair, and I don’t particularly want to have to get you arrested. If my re-tweeting what you’ve said really upsets you enough that you want to cause me harm, think about the following:

  1. Perhaps you should be more careful about what you publish on a public website like Twitter
  2. Maybe it’s worth thinking about your attitude towards people who are different from you in one way or another.

And no, I have no intention of telling you who I am or where I live.