Friday, April 25, 2014
Why the word "Racist" freaks white people out
It's all bullshit, they say. The few instances that do crop out are blown totally out of proportion by the liberal, elite, white-hating, lame-stream media. What about the instances of black on white racism that they say exist in droves? You know, those instances where the white kid doesn't get into the college of his choice because the black kid did or the white junior executive loses that promotion he thought he deserved to a black colleague or all those instances where blacks call whites crackers. Haven't seen them? Well, trust me, they're out there.
It must be terrible being a white guy having to deal with all that persecution. To be honest, I don't know how we manage to survive these days. I mean, what is the world coming to when all those automatic privileges we thought we were entitled to aren't so, well, automatic? Seems like only yesterday - 44 years, to be precise - that blacks made only 60.9% the median income of whites. As of 2011, that number climbed all the way up to 61.7%. Wow! At this rate, black income will equal white income in about a millennium, give or take a couple of decades.
Oh, lawdy, lawdy!
Seriously, sometimes I think I'm trapped in some past episode of The Twilight Zone. I wonder what white men must be smoking these days to even think such nonsense, let alone speak it out loud. But the facts are undeniable: racism against blacks is alive and well and no matter how hard they deny it, whites can no more escape from it then they can change color. Not that they'd want to, mind you.
And therein lies the rub. I haven't heard one of these geniuses come out and say they would trade places with their black counterparts. Not one. Even they know they're full of shit. Yet being full of shit hasn't stopped the disgusting displays of blatant racism.
The latest example came courtesy of Cliven Bundy, who had some, shall we say, enlightening things to say about "Negroes." Bet you didn't know that blacks would be better off as slaves picking cotton. I mean it's so much better than killing their babies and going to jail. The comments were so atrocious that even Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly ran for the hills in the opposite direction. You know you're out there when those two want nothing to do with you.
Think Bundy is just an aberration? Think again. He has plenty of company. Granted most racists aren't nearly as obvious or stupid as Bundy - for one thing they don't use words like Negro - but don't think for a moment that they don't share at least some, if not all, of his sentiments. Seething deep within this group is an overriding feeling that blacks are way too - oh let's just get it out of the way and say it - uppity. They simply don't know their place. It was one thing for them to have a piece, albeit a small piece, of the American dream, but running the show?
A number of years ago, I wrote a letter to President Obama about this very issue.
"Like most political pundits, we all figured that the true test of the nation was whether we were mature and advanced enough to elect an African American to the office of President. What we did not count on was that the real test would not come until you actually assumed the office. It was at that moment that we as a nation came face to face with an even uglier truth about ourselves: that there were certain elements in our society that simply could not accept being governed by a black man, especially a black man who is the chief executive of the country. They are mad as hell and they aren’t shy about strutting their racism."
I once compared Obama to Jackie Robinson, a comparison that drew the ire of some of my friends on the Left. They felt betrayed by Obama's willingness to compromise with his political opponents. I must confess, I was one of those critics. I felt he was, and is to a certain extent, a lousy negotiator and way too accommodating. The heathcare law was a prime example. It could've been considerably better had he taken a lead role in the negotiations. Perhaps we might've gotten either the single payer or public option we wanted had he been tougher. Who knows. Hindsight is always 20 / 20.
The more I think about it, though, comparing Obama to Robinson doesn't begin to get at the heart of the matter. Robinson, after his rookie year, at least began to be accepted by his white brethren. In time, they even came to admire and respect him. Obama has earned none of that from his critics. The man might just as well be Lucifer incarnate for all they know or care. If anything, their hatred towards him has only intensified. Their reaction to his reelection in 2012 was practically apoplectic. They couldn't believe he had won. Mitt Romney was supposed to be their savior: the man - the white man - who would restore balance to the universe; their universe, mind you.
You see the real problem with America lies in its power structure. For most of its history, it was tilted almost exclusively towards whites, particularly white men. It was one thing for a black man to hit a baseball or sink a basket or throw - er, catch - a touchdown pass; it was quite another for a black man to call the plays or make out the lineup card. Over the last sixty or so years, blacks have been stars of the show, but seldom have they run it. Like women, they are all but non-existent in upper management. And don't even get me started on ownership. Yeah, I know all about Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. All that means is that if you have enough green in your bank account, your blackness doesn't matter. How many African Americans do you suppose will ever get that close to wielding that kind of power? The kind of power that white people have enjoyed for centuries?
In my opinion, this is what is driving the recent rise in racism in America these days. A good many whites are starting to feel African Americans breathing down their necks and they don't like it one bit. Their world is turning upside down. The hegemony that whites took for granted is slowing coming to an end and that frightens many of them.
The litany of voter suppression laws springing up in many southern states has been portrayed by its proponents as nothing more than dealing with "potential" voter fraud. Funny how this concern over the integrity of the voting process only emerged when a black man got elected to the White House. I don't seem to recall any protestations during the Bush, or even the Clinton years.
But then I'm just generalizing, like most libs do. Discrimination is a thing of the past. The Supreme Court said so, so it must be true. And I suppose I was just imagining all those Confederate flags and pictures of Obama looking like some witch doctor from deepest, darkest Africa. Just like I was overreacting to the outrage that many white people had when they saw Obama with his feet up on the Oval office desk. All they were doing was defending the honor and integrity of the office. Forget that Bush, Clinton and even Reagan did the same thing. And let's not forget the row that ensued when a Marine was "forced" to hold an umbrella for Obama during a press conference. Who does he think he is, anyway, the President?
Let's face it, they've called him a liar, a Kenyan, a socialist, a fascist (that was a good one), everything but a nigger. Oh, what am I saying, they've called him that too. Not all of them, mind you, but enough of them.
This isn't some minor issue being blown out of proportion; it's a moral crisis that is threatening the very fabric of our society. Slavery has always been America's original sin. While it may have officially ended more than 150 years ago, we still haven't dealt with its ramifications. Issues like states' rights and stand your ground laws are nothing more than a smokescreen for the underlying problem. Don't believe me? Then explain how it can be that George Zimmerman is a free man while Marissa Alexander is facing a life sentence for basically doing the same thing: standing their ground.* If that doesn't work for you, then explain why it is that African Americans, who make up only 12.6% of the U.S. population, comprise 39.4% of its prison population.
Whites can freak out all they want, but the truth is they can't run away from the obvious. A good many of them are racists. That is simply a fact. I grew up in one of the whitest neighborhoods on Long Island. As I once wrote, if you were black in that neck of the woods, you were obviously lost; either that or you were driving someone home from Shea Stadium. Don't tell me racism doesn't exist. I've heard the "N" word more times than I care to admit, usually from people who assumed I shared their bigotry just because I was white. I didn't know whether to loathe them or feel sorry for them or both.
The reason whites have such a hard time hearing the word racism is because it hits them where they live. Even those who abhor it, know people who practice it; some of them in their own families. There was a time in this country where being a "nigger lover" was considered worse than being black. You may have had no choice over the color of your skin, but siding with blacks, that was a different story. The Ku Klux Klan didn't rise to prominence in a vacuum. It was, in many ways, as much a part of our cultural heritage as Betsy Ross and apple pie.
Until white America finally breaks its denial and acknowledges the 800 pound gorilla in the room, we will never truly grow up as a nation. Statements like "we've come a long way since the '60s" or "reverse discrimination is now the real problem," won't solve anything. It will only enable those forces that feed the fire of bigotry to continue their stranglehold over the rest of us.
That's the problem with unresolved rage. It never really goes away. It just continues to fester until it finally erupts like a volcano into violence. The country witnessed such violence in the late 1960s. Do not think for a moment it can't happen again.
Those who ignore history are destined to relive it.
* A post script, if I may. While it is true, as some have pointed out to me, that the Zimmerman and Alexander cases are different in that Zimmerman's team never asserted a stand your ground defense while Alexander's team did, the point I was attempting to make - perhaps not effectively enough - was the double standard within the criminal justice system. Also, Alexander did not actually harm anyone, whereas Zimmerman's actions resulted in the death of an innocent young man.
The bottom line is that blacks are far more likely to be found guilty in criminal trials than whites. All things being equal, white defendants stand a much better chance of prevailing than their black counterparts. That is simply a fact.