The Self Delusions of Modern Racists

The complex mental gymnastics involved in retaining a racist worldview

Erik Engheim
17 min readApr 26


I recently had an argument with racists online, which gave me food for thought. What I find interesting is that racist ideas are quite widespread, but almost no racist I have ever debated will actually admit to being a racist. They will admit to holding all the ideas which according to most generally accepted definitions of racism would make you a racist, but they maintain that “I am not a racist”.

So, what exactly is the definition of racism? Here is one definition given in the Oxford Dictionary:

The belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another.

Your typical modern-day racist will eagerly show you their favorite statistics on how black people score lower on IQ tests and are overrepresented in crime statistics or pretty much any negative statistics. They have also convinced themselves that us on the political left are living in a rejecting objective reality. They see themselves as so-called “race realists.” Except, most of us are not rejecting the studies that find blacks to score lower on IQ tests or be overrepresented in various bad statistics.

Our pushback is against the idea that these differences are caused by genetics rather than environmental factors, such as having been given fewer opportunities to succeed in life or growing up impoverished or disadvantaged in other ways. Let me qualify that answer a bit better. I don’t entirely rule out that there might be genetic factors at play which cause some differences.

What I take issue with is that “race realists” claim that the group differences observed are almost entirely caused by genetic differences and environmental differences play almost no role. That is quite a stunning claim, giving the centuries of discrimination and marginalization African Americans have faced in the United States.

Institutional Racism

The claim often heard is that while there might have been discrimination in the past, that is no longer the case. The concept of institutional racism is completely rejected on the…



Erik Engheim

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.