“Our history puts the ‘what counts as racism’ bar so high.”

We’re in the middle of a reckoning on the subject of sexual assault and sexual misconduct — especially in the workplace. Abuses long swept under the rug or covered up are being exposed, the perpetrators punished.

But just as women have long endured inappropriate conduct, with no sense that they’d get any justice if they spoke up, so have many people of color. Which led us to wonder: What would a racial “reckoning” in the style of #MeToo look like in our country?

#MeToo is a social movement tough to define, but several overarching themes emerge: Perpetrators of sexual harassment are being called out for specific bad behavior, ranging from very explicit to more subtle forms. People are losing their jobs because of it. There is a cultural conversation happening that involves identifying this behavior, once acceptable (or ignored), as unacceptable. And there is a broader conversation happening about the underlying systems that enable this kind of behavior.

What would a similar movement centered on race look like? What consequences would they suffer? What would it take to make this broader conversation about what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior happen? Vox politics and policy writer Jane Coaston, identities editor Michelle Garcia, and identities writers P.R. Lockhart and German Lopez got together to discuss the challenges of a similar reckoning for acts of racism in America. Here’s their conversation, edited and condensed for clarity:

Jane Coaston

Racists are all too often able to defend themselves by simply claiming that their racism doesn’t count as racism. I think that our history puts the “what counts as racism” bar so high that many believe that to fit underneath it renders them “not racist.” “I’ve never burned a cross! I’ve never called anyone a ni**er! I just Read More Here