Lanterns: The Matrix of Racism


The Matrix of Racism

”The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” 

- Morpheus, the Matrix. 

No truer statement so accurately encapsulates one of the biggest issues in America today— 


It is an issue that is ripping apart the very fabric of our nation with the prospect of war. In truth, there have already been battles fought in our streets. But those are mere skirmishes compared to what lies ahead if we do not face this head on, and UNDERSTAND IT. 

Because, what if I told you that what you think is racism isn’t really racism.

It’s culture. 

Racism inherently is the dislike or hatred, of a particular ethnicity. It’s the dehumanization of someone, based solely on skin color. Any color, take your pick. 

Culture is the rules, laws, traditions, moralities, and constructs of a given society. So you can have people of different colors occupy the same culture. 

In point of reference, let me offer some examples of things I hate. Because, just as much as we have things we love, we all have hates

I was born in Arkansas where the Confederate flag is beloved, and I’m as southern as they come in sentiment. So, at face value, some might easily call me a shoe-in for a racist. 

I hate the gangster rapper thug life image. I hate the gold teeth and the ebonics. I hate the twisty hat with the brim shooting off the side of the head. I hate it when they’re holding their guns like idiots about to get hot brass down their collars and not hit the broad side of a barn with their “gat.” Sorry, but if you aren’t an Irish or Italian immigrant in a sharp suit with a fedora, sporting a Tommy ain’t an OG, original gangsta. 

But what I’m responding to here isn’t black people. It’s a segment of American inner city culture that happens to contain as members, black people, and it’s an image sadly that’s plastered all over society. 

And because of that, it’s easy to confuse the two. 

By comparison, a black man sees that I’m driving a truck. I have a Confederate flag on my FB profile, I love guns, beer, and a white Jesus, and he assumes just as readily as I might have that his distrust, suspicions, and even hates are based on my race, which, they are not. He’s responding to a perceived cultural background that I am a part of. 

Personally, I hate country music, cheap beer, and Nascar. Watching someone turn left for three hours isn’t entertaining to me. 

In both cases, our animosities, our fears, and suspicions are the product of a human survival mechanism of ASSOCIATION. We’re making snap judgments based on past experiences. We’re associating images that help us make an instantaneous decision of friend or foe, and it has nothing to do with race, but rather, everything to do with the cultural trappings surrounding that race.

The end result is that neither of us would probably have much to do with the other, even though we’d likely find some commonality if we did. We wouldn’t hate each other but rather, we might allow certain societal factors to convince us we should. 

And that my friends, is the Matrix of racism.  


Written by Ben Coleman

Freelance author, historian and Navy veteran. Find him at

2 Responses

You have done it again Ben! Made me think and laugh at the same time! I think the way you described The Matrix of racism is very accurate and colorful. But I have to tell you what my favorite line was, well besides the one about cars turning left, driving in a circle for 3 hours, HAHAHA. But here is my favorite: "but if you aren’t an Irish or Italian immigrant in a sharp suit with a fedora, sporting a Tommy ain’t an OG, original gangsta. " I cannot tell you how much I love that line and how much I laughed! ??????????

Well thank you Miss Sonnenfelt. I see so often that our prejudices (we all have them) are more often than not based on cultural traits rather any given race, and that up until this point what has been fashioned as, or attributed to racism...has been actually the farthest thing from. But as we're seeing in society today, when such friction and hostility is being fostered, the conditions for a very REAL racism, is occurring. And it's being done by design. And thank you for the appreciation of the sense of humor LOL.

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