We seem to have lost the word ‘racialist’ which means a preference for being among people of our own race. Racist means a belief that our own race and culture is superior so I think we can be ‘a little bit racist.’ That would be a perfectly natural reaction because we are predisposed to what we are familiar with.
It works both ways, it could have been offensive when a Jamaican woman named Rita told me if I’d been black she would have married me, but as we were already married, just not to each other, I knew she was joking. It’s worth noting here though, to help us get past skin colour hang ups, that many Caribbean people, when they know you well enough to talk freely, feel they have more in common with us Brits than they do with African Americans.
The word ‘racist’ has been loaded with all sorts of baggage, Hitler was racist, the KKK are racist and Barack Obama’s beloved ‘moderate terrorists’ in Syria were racist as anyone who has read about what they did to women of the Yazidi and Druze communities will know.
Perhaps if we could liberate the word racialist it would help us all acknowledge that while perfectly comfortable working or socialising with people of different races or cultures, we all veer towards what we are familiar with