#DiversityisourStrength Is hotel shampoo kind of racist, or at very least, a ‘micro-aggression’? Plus general discussion of what ‘racism’ means

It has “racist” written all over it!

Editor’s note: We took Race Manners to Facebook today, where The Root Associate Editor Jenée Desmond-Harris engaged in a live Q&A. 

One reader took serious issue with the toiletries offered by major hotel chains, going so far as to call the selections a “micro-agression” against black people. 

Another exchange tacked a timeless question: What does “racism” really mean (and why don’t people get it)? Read a partial transcript here:

Don Mullen: Why don’t America’s hotels provide hair products for black as well as white hair? Is there a way to get them to correct this “micro-aggression”?

[discussion of shampoo]

Steve Corley: I find that folks don’t understand the original definition of “racist” or “racism” and try to apply the terms to nonwhites. If we can get everyone to understand the “intrinsically superior to other races” part of the definition and how racism was enforced by discrimination and apartheid, then these conservative folks may begin to understand that there can be no reverse racism, etc.

Jenée Desmond-Harris: I agree. I also think it’s a fair read of the dictionary definition of racism to include within it “acquiescence to and accommodation of racialized hierarchies.” This makes room for situations in which the “belief that some races of people are better than others” rears its head through policies, practices, institutions and laws, and takes the focus away from individuals’ feelings (which are always up for debate, right?)…