Here’s the thing: I’m a white guy. I hang around with white guys; most of my friends are white guys. So I hear things, and because I’m a member of this tribe, I listen in on unfiltered communications, unfiltered conversations.
And because my pigment offers me this intimate access, it is with great sadness that I report–racism is alive and well in America.
I bring this to the table because of postings I read excoriating President Obama for poking this bear, for having the gall to speak on the subject of race. According to their postings, the subject of race should be locked in the closet, it’s cancer bottled so it doesn’t disturb our busy lives.
Well, that’s one way to go.
But if you have a cancer, by ignoring it, it spreads. It’s a malignancy that needs to be confronted, otherwise it will kill the body, much like racism will kill the American dream. Electing an Afro-American President didn’t vanquish racism in our country, it only served to stoke what had been left dormant.
Racism manifest itself in many forms, may colors and shades: from the extreme of using the N word, to the subtler renderings: rants about welfare queens, or free cell phones, or rap, and speeches about their tax dollars supporting “these people” who don’t want to work, and then there’s the insulting jokes about Ebonics–really? All of these attributes could easily be applied to white people I have known.
I have been sent emails where President Obama has been dressed as a monkey, promoting some economic world view, citing the travails of the 1 percenters. And then there are the more insidious, invisible structural forms: The Voter Suppression Laws for example, which simply replaced the popular Poll Tax prevalent in the South after reconstruction. Now we have gerrymandering being exhumed by the Republican hierarchy. The intent of these actions is the same: prevent people of color from voting, from participating in our democracy. In 2013 a guy told me that in his Long Island township they block any Afro-American from moving into their white enclaves. They do this by keeping secret what homes are on the market. And if an Afro-American somehow managed to put an offer on a house, it suddenly became unavailable.
And this was 2013, on Long Island; not 1952, in Mississippi.
But here’s the rub: a lot of these racist rants emanate from some from some of the finest people I have known, who wouldn’t hesitate a second to race into a burning building to save your kids, no matter what color they were. Nevertheless, they have been infected with this racist virus, both subtle and overt. They have been sold a bill of goods on the concept of scarcity, that if another culture or race rises, their position, their livelihood, their neighborhood, will be compromised, threatened, maybe wiped away. They have been fed the concept of a dangerous environment, that their anxiety and fear is not of their own doing, or responsibility, but stems from some other nefarious person or race. They are a sponge for scapegoats, their prejudices having been implanted, nourished, sitting dormant until a politician harvests and exploits their resentment into office, which is precisely what our new emperor did to win the election.
Man is basically good; he is not basically racist. Racism is a learned behavior but the teachers of hate no longer wear white hoods; they wear Brooks Brothers suits and have slick websites that name names: Muslims, Afro-Americans, Mexicans, Jews, the Jewish bankers.
Right now there is a battle for the hearts and minds of America. Right now, there is a concerted campaign to separate us, label fellow Americans’ boogie men, much like McCarthyism did in the 50’s and Hitler did in the 30’s.
Our new emperor’s most trusted advisor is a ‘white supremacist’. Think about that for a second. The person pulling our emperor’s strings is a white supremacist. We already see his handiwork in the Administration’s relentless drumbeat of what a dangerous environment we live in, that only they can save us from the barbarians. On the White House website, they publish crimes committed by Muslims. They don’t publish crimes committed by white people…oh wait, maybe white people don’t commit crimes. When Hitler was taking power, he published crimes committed by Jews.
These powerful forces are seeking to divide us by appealing to our baser instincts, and their intent is to disarm our compassion, our humanity and our empathy.
The traits that make us human.
There is so much that connects us, so much that binds us. And it is these connections that will make us whole, make us great. My wife has infinite love for our children, just as a Syrian Mother has infinite love for her children. Mexican parents desire the same thing for their children as my white friends want for their children–a better life than they had, a life filled with purpose and passion.
This is the hard part: there is money to be made by dividing us, money to be made through the creation of conflict. The munitions industries would evaporate, along with its enormous profits, if conflict was removed from the world. They would have a very difficult time making payroll. Unfortunately, there are dollars to be reaped through bloodshed.
So how do you respond to this hate, the exploitation, the witch hunts? Martin Luther King said we should love our enemy even when they throw hot coffee in your face or firebomb buses you are riding in. Gandhi responded to force and hatred with non-violence and by so doing he brought the mightiest nation on the planet to its knees Abraham Lincoln said we should have deep empathy for slave owners. Love should be our weapon to combat the hatred and racism spewing forth from this administration.
We must resist to our core the scapegoats offered up by the new emperor, and we must resist the propaganda that seeks to divide us.
Right now, this administration is coming for the Muslims; they have already come for the Mexicans; the Afro-American community has a staggering incarceration rate…don’t think for a moment that they won’t come for you.