I wonder if the reporter here, Michelle Marsh, would have gotten any further with Patrick Lanzos if, instead of asking him if he himself "is a racist," she had instead asked him if what he did was racist. Could that be the start of a more effective conversation with people like this guy?
But then, maybe not, with someone this delusional. I think it's clear that a man who would put a sign like that outside his establishment -- an establishment adorned inside with a Klan robe, for God's sake -- is indeed a racist, and that he thinks his racist actions are completely justified (no matter how bizarrely contrary they are to his NAACP membership and the portraits of black heroes hanging on his walls).
I don't mean to overlook Michelle Marsh's action-oriented question in this interview, "Why did you put that sign up?" Nevertheless, there's a lot of attention in this news clip to whether Patrick Lanzos is a racist. Lanzos himself seems to believe what just about all white Americans also seem to believe these days, which is that there's nothing worse than being identified as a racist. Oddly enough, even in extreme cases like this one, focusing on whether someone is a racist can become a distraction from the more crucial question of whether something they've done was a racist act.
As Jay Smooth pointed out awhile ago in a classic vlog post that bears repeating (and so I'll post it here), when it comes to racism, it's usually more effective to make it a "what they did" conversation, instead of a "what they are" conversation. In other words, in dialogues about racism, we should focus not on what white people are; we should focus instead on stuff white people do.
One other thought, also prompted for me by thinking about what Patrick Lanzos did, rather than on what he is -- where's the dividing line here between "free speech," a cherished American right that both Patrick Lanzos and Michelle Marsh cite in this news clip, and "hate speech," a designation that could strengthen efforts to take down this racist, hurtful sign? (I discussed this distinction in this post about another racist, hurtful sign ["Hispanics Keep Out"], as did many readers in the comments there.)