The 7 Types of Modern American Bigots

One of my new favorite hangouts is the website Wait But Why. They post something new every Tuesday(ish) and you can bet a paycheck that it’s well-researched and very high-quality content. When I found the site, I immediately asked for their permission to republish some of their best on Liberal America and they generously consented.

As the authors say, bigotry is “timeless and universal.” You can go anywhere in the world at any point in history and you’ll find bigotry. Here in the U.S., we’ve taken it to a whole new level and embraced bigotry as only Americans can!

If you think things have gotten better and bigotry is behind us, you’re wrong. We liberals know that, of course, and that’s why we fight so hard for our ideals, justice, fairness, and equality. No matter how hard we fight, however, bigotry is alive and well in the U.S.A.

This discussion, while recognizing that bigotry is universal and not exclusive to white folks, focuses on what the authors call “the old classic — white bigotry.”

Y’all enjoy! Be sure and visit us on the Liberal America Facebook page to discuss.


1. The Extremist Bigot

Their Ranks Include: Neo Nazis; white supremacists; absurd cartoon character groups like the Westboro Baptist Church

Defining Attributes: The exact tattoos you’d think they’d have

Typical Behavior: Plotting assassinations; yelling mean things loudly; angrily spelling things wrong in capital letters in YouTube comments

Can you say “Tea Party”? From Wait But Why:

“In lieu of relevance, they settle for clawing for attention by being scary and upsetting, committing heinous hate crimes, picketing soldiers’ funerals, and other things they’ve decided to spend their one life on this Earth doing.”

Wait But Why


2. Your Grandfather

Their Ranks Include: Your grandfather

Defining Attributes: Feels a lot of anger about a lot of things; intensely close-minded; doesn’t give a s*** in general

Typical Behavior: Casually dropping racial slurs in front of children and in public

From Wait But Why:

“Your grandfather means well” he just happens to be a white supremacist wrapped in a lovable wrinkly case. But the main difference between grandpa and your local skinhead is that your grandfather isn’t really driven by hatred, has little idea what the world is actually like, and doesn’t want to actually hurt anybody. It’s really just that he strongly dislikes black people, gay people, Jews, and Asians. They make him uncomfortable, and he doesn’t think of them as full, legitimate people. It’s sweet, really.”

Wait But Why


3. The Teenager Who Forgot to Get Raised in Modern Times Bigot

Their Ranks Include: Girls like the ones in this video.

Defining Attributes: Bad life choices; selfish, spoiled mentalities

Typical Behavior: Ranting about their dislike of black people on the internet; saying “ching chong, wing wong” in an Asian accent on the internet; getting expelled from things

Wait But Why


4. The Far Right Bigot

Their Ranks Include: Extreme right politicians and commentators; not you, normal reasonable Republican reader, so just settle down (ha!)

Defining Attributes: Well-groomed; passionate about white America; scared of all other colors and places

Typical Behavior: Saying the things they think out loud

These bigots are the grown-up versions of the little racist girls in the video I shared above. They’re the “I’ll prove I’m not racist by using the N-Word openly and unapologetically” crowd. Think Ann Coulter. And people who say “I’m not racist but I think it’s just wrong for whites and blacks to intermarry.” And they say it totally without apology!

Wait But Why


5. The “Unbigoted As Long As It’s Not In My Family” Liberal Mother Bigot

Their Ranks Include: Your mother; probably, right?; okay, or not! calm down; I’m never writing about such a sensitive topic again, this is terrifying

Defining Attributes: Philanthropic; open-minded when it comes to everyone else’s family; vocal Obama supporter

Typical Behavior: Saying all the right, unbigoted things; pretending, in general, to not be a massive bigot

This is my favorite! “We love love love minorities, unless it pollutes our strong Nordic bloodline.” Heh.

Wait But Why

6. The Overcompensating Bigot

Their Ranks Include: A vast number of Americans under 35 who grew up in liberal environments

Defining Attributes: White guilt

Typical Behavior: Being condescending to black people by showering them with effusive praise or deference out of nowhere


“If you want to really excite The Overcompensating Bigot, just shoot some vicious racism in their direction” their general response to having their race verbally abused by a black comedian is, ‘Yes! Harder!’ because they’re incredibly grateful to anyone who can relieve them of a few pounds of the mountain of white guilt they’re suffocating under.”

Many of us liberals are guilty of this (IMO). I like to call this the misguided but well-intentioned bigot. These folks are eager to be corrected and educated. Give them a chance. They’re trying really hard. OK maybe too hard. But they mean well, I promise.

Wait But Why


7. The “I’m Not Bigoted At All in 2014!” Bigot

Their Ranks Include: You, ideally

Typical Behavior: Judging people by the content of their character

The Wait But Why folks ask this question:

“What are you doing or saying today that would make people in 2044 wince with disgust?”

They used the example of Eddie Murphy’s 1980’s comedy routines that used the word “faggot” a LOT. It was “not good but kind of fine” back then, but is “absolutely NOT okay now.” The 1983 audience laughed, but the 2014 audience cringed. The authors ask this:

“Do you make any sweeping generalizations or do any mocking imitations that just might be totally appalling in 2044? Do you treat any group a certain backward way without realizing, like perhaps discussing obesity in a tone similar to how people in the 1950s talked about kids with learning disabilities? Are there things you say to your close circle today that would make anyone in 2044 lose respect for you, no matter how close they were to you?”

Wait But Why

The Wait But Why authors suggest that to really confront bigotry, “think big” and “think small.” From the article:

1) Think small. Think about the little details of a person’s life you’re feeling disdain for because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or appearance think about the calls they get from their mother, think about the presents they buy for their son, and think about the list they have at home with plans for the future. Remind yourself that that person is trying to live up to someone else’s expectations, battling their own demons, and ultimately just trying to be happy. It only takes a little of this for empathy to replace disdain.

2) Think big. Go read about the universe. Nothing makes bigotry seem more ridiculous than internalizing for a minute how vast time and space are doing so makes you want to turn to anyone who will listen and hug them and say, “We both exist! On the same tiny planet at the same exact time! Hi!”

h/t Wait But Why


I had a successful career actively working with at-risk youth, people struggling with poverty and unemployment, and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. In 2011, I made the decision to pursue my dreams and become a full-time writer. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.