In Paul Wachtel's essay, "Talking About Racism,"
he addresses the problem of our inability to effectively
communicate on the subject of race because of the
over-use of the word "racist," which has led to
a lack of understanding and indifference towards the
word. Wachtel's proposal in that we should understand
the difference between racism and indifference. While his proposal
seems to strike at the psychological root of the problem,
it would be near impossible to bring about a change in
attitude for the entire nation. However, if we adopt
more specific vocabulary for the issue, then we can
deal with the roots of the issue rather than group them
together and deal with them all at once.
Wachtel says that by using the word "racism," we
shut down all forms of communication regarding the issue
because it no longer has inherent meaning to anyone,
therefore everyone is indifferent to the issue. Instead,
the issue can be broken down into several and more
meaningful subcategories that give rise to the issue.
Issues like prejudice, bias, discrimination, stereotyping. etc
all lead to racism. Unlike "racism," the issues above
are tangible, because, according to Wachtel, people know
they exist as problems and can actually deal with such problems