Racism is as American as Apple Pie or Your Ford F-150

Baked in from the start, American ideology is now what keeps racial inequity in place

Tim Wise
7 min readDec 16, 2021


Image: kaskip, Shutterstock, standard license, purchased by the author

When I say that racism is as American as apple pie or your Ford F-150, I mean that it’s as American as Mickey Mouse riding a Harley.

Eating a Big Mac.

I’m sure many people won’t like hearing that. But indignation is not a rebuttal.

In poker terms, it’s a tell.

The louder you object, not explaining why the claim is wrong, but with platitudes about how offensive the comment is, the more you confirm it.

Were the suggestion as preposterous as you might think, you could laugh it off the way you might if I were to accuse you of being a serial killer. You know where you were on all the nights those women went missing, after all, and can prove it.

There’s no need to get defensive when you have an alibi.

Right, America?

No, I’m not saying racism is only an American thing. It has existed elsewhere and still does.

I’m merely saying that nothing about it makes it a deviation from the American norm. It is the American norm and has been for a long time.

Indeed, anti-racism, either from individuals or within the institutional spaces that make up our society, has been the deviation.

It has been the rarity, the outlier, the unicorn that few have seen.

This isn’t Critical Race Theory. Actually, it is, but it also goes by another name — truth.

There from the beginning — racism as national fertilizer

From the moment colonizers came to this continent, they began the process of racialized oppression — the displacement of Indigenous peoples and enslavement of Africans. No, it wasn’t all they did, but they did it nonetheless.

And not by accident.

When colonial elites created the concept of the white race — a notion that had never existed as such in Europe — they did so for one reason: to split emerging alliances between European indentured servants and African enslaved folks.



Tim Wise

Anti-racism educator and author of 9 books, including White Like Me and, most recently, Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights, December 2020)