To hear the Republican Party and the right wing tell it, apparently racism is dead in this country. The scourge has been eliminated and the only reason we still talk about race in this country is because us liberals and President Obama insist on continuing to discuss it.
Hooray! Racism is dead! Hooray! Racism is dead! Chant it with me. Racism is dead! Racism is dead! Racism is dead!
Okay, maybe not.
I read an article earlier this week that tried to make the argument that racism is just not that big of a deal in this country anymore. (Unfortunately, I did not save the link and simply don’t remember enough details to find it again.) One of the examples the writer used to justify his thesis was that Jeff Sessions, who is a conservative Republican Senator from the South invited an African-American gentlemen to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast. The author suggested that the idea that a white conservative Republican Senator from the South inviting an African-American man who had achieved the success this individual had achieved — and was actually allowed to speak with a positive reaction from the audience — was evidence of the end of racism in this country. The article posited a couple of other similar examples in support of its proposition.
Of course, the gigantic elephant in this room is that we managed to elect an African-American as President in 2008 and 2012. Surely, if America can elect one of those black people as President, racism is dead in America. Right?
A couple of days ago, the following rant showed up in my Facebook feed. The source is a distant relative.
Did any of u watch the salute to our troops by cma. It was awesome
NOW I ask u Mr. President as you run around the country promoting racism.
Did that look like america is struggling with racism to u which u seem to put in your speeches.
You need to step up to the plate and be an american like the rest of us .
Racism is not the same as unfairness, or is it Mr. President
Case in point.
Jesse Jacksons son. His punishment was nothing compared to that gov. In chicago, what’s his name.Goboyavich. he is in prison and Jacksons son is got nothing more than a slap on the wrist because he was mentally challenged. His wife too? She was in it with him. He gets a paycheck for his felonies. Because he has children they say the children shouldn’t be separated from parents. And he doesn’t have to pay back the the money he stole from campaign funds. How many men and woman are in prison with their children left with grandparents to raise.
Now again Mr. President. Racism (black/white) or unfair (black/white)?
I have no idea what the CMA did to salute our troops. I do know this. The military was the first major institution in this country that desegregated and provided some modicum of opportunity to African-Americans. So, if somehow that salute included a recognition of the success minorities have had in the military, that’s really not an indicator of the end of racism. At least I don’t think so.
Here’s the interesting thing. This distant relative has posted only one other rant on her Facebook page. It was the day before. It was directed at Eric Holder. No other rants. No other complaints about politicians or the current Administration in the entire time I have had her as a “friend” on Facebook — and it’s been several years. So … racism isn’t a problem if only Obama would stop “promoting it” but the only two individuals this person has a problem with are … African Americans.
And there’s this … Obama is supposed to be “an american like the rest of us.” What exactly does that mean.
But, wait, there’s more … Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Blagojevich. I don’t think the details of their respective alleged crimes matter at this point. They certainly don’t seem to matter to my “friend.” In her telling, it appears that from her perspective, the reason Blagojevich was convicted and sent to prison is because he’s white and the only reason Jackson wasn’t is because he’s black. Guess what, Facebook friend of mine — that’s racism. That you can’t see that there could be differences in their alleged crimes, differences in the circumstances, and simply believe that is based on their race — that’s racism. You have proved the exact opposite of the point you wanted to make.
What’s my point here? When Cliven Bundy says African-Americans would be better off in slavery than on welfare, when Donald Sterling (who is not a Democrat, but is in fact a registered Republican) is embarrassed by seeing his half black mistress with black men and who has a history of discriminating against minorities, when elected Republican officials refer to the sitting President as a monkey, when the Police Commissioner of a town in New Hampshire refers to the sitting President as a nigger and says he’s not backing down because he thinks Obama fits the definition, when there were bumper stickers that said “Don’t Re-Nig in 2012,” when one of the Tea Party rallying cries was put the white back in the White House, … well the list could just go on and on, couldn’t it … racism isn’t dead in this country. Far from it. And those who are pushing the idea are doing it for a reason. To deflect attention from the racism that exists in their hearts, their minds, and their souls.
I didn’t want to make this post about the political aspect of this, however.
Here’s the reality. in the entire history of the human race — both past, present and future — racism never has been dead, is not currently dead, and never will be dead. Racism is a thing that will never end. It is a fundamental aspect of the human condition. I hate that it is, but that’s the truth. And here’s another part of the reality — no matter how much you may claim otherwise, there’s a shred of “ism” in you, just as there is in me and every other human being on this planet. It may be racism, ageism, sexism, faithism, or some other “ism.” It’s inevitable. It’s there. And for many people racism is incredibly easy to get to. It’s a weakness of the human condition to want to see others as weaker, less worthy, inferior, something other.
You want to know what my “ism” is? It’s ageism. It’s starting to go away as I get older. Surprise, surprise. But I have struggled with old people for most of my life. They’re too old. They’re too wrapped up in the past. Their stories don’t interest me — particularly after the fifth or tenth telling. They’re too slow and I can’t wait. Given a choice — I’ll interact and spend time with a younger person than an older person any time and I form conclusions about old people quickly and based on preconceived notions. In other words, old people generally have to overcome my bias towards them before I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Again, this is why I think those who are claiming that there is no more racism in this country are really deflecting attention away from what’s in their hearts and minds. It’s there and there’s evidence all over this country that it is here, right in our midst. It is not Obama’s fault. It is not the liberals’ fault. It is simply a fact of our existence. Yes, it is not as prevalent or as obvious or as obnoxious as it was fifty years ago when a conservative Republican senator never would have invited an African-American to the National Prayer Breakfast — except if he was to serve the food — but it exists nonetheless. As it always has and always will.