KingMidget's Ramblings

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Tag Archives: Racism

I Give Up

I have resisted every knee jerk reaction people have had to conclude that Donald Trump is a racist. It’s been difficult to maintain my resistance.

The reason for my resistance is that I don’t know the man. I’ve never met the man. (I consider that a blessing these days.) I don’t like reaching conclusions like that about people I don’t know and haven’t met.

But I give up.

His tweet about Puerto Rico that “They want everything to be done for them” is either racist or so remarkably tone deaf. It may be a dog whistle to the worst of the right wing. It is reminiscent of the statements of the right with respect to those pesky brown people and poor people who just want to mooch off the government. Statements I’ve been hearing and reading for decades.

Let’s back up for a moment though.

From what I’m seeing on the news and the interwebs, Puerto Rico is an island of three million American citizens that was … well completely destroyed by the last hurricane. And destroyed may be an understatement. Almost the entire island is without power and may be for months. Half the population doesn’t have access to running water. Now, imagine if your city, town or state were to be experiencing that. No power, no water. And, oh by the way, vast swaths of massive destruction of property, including homes and business. I think it’s safe to say that Puerto Rico is facing a catastrophe we can’t even begin to understand in which it doesn’t matter how much they do themselves, they are in desperate need of outside help.

And you know what? American help isn’t outside help. Puerto Ricans are American citizens. They are us. We are them.

But not to our President. “They” are not him. They are all brown. And they just want everything done for them.

I’m disgusted.

The reality is that I still don’t know if Trump is a racist. More than anything he is a classist and a narcissist. It’s not people of other races he abhors, it’s people who aren’t as “good” as him, based on his personal definition of “good.” All who haven’t conquered the world like he has are simply unworthy of him.

I’m disgusted. Whatever he is, he is a despicable human being. And he’s the President of the United States. While virtually every member of his Administration has and will resign either in disgrace or disgust, Trump just continues on. Tom Price resigned because he was wasting government money on chartered jets. But Trump and his family’s travel expenses make Price’s look like the difference between the money spent on a top of the line Mercedes and a Yugo.

I’m disgusted. This cannot continue.

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Kaep and the National Anthem

Before last night’s pre-season game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, Colin Kaapernick did not stand during the playing of the National Anthem.  He stated afterwards that he refused to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

I’ve had a mixed history when it comes to our National Anthem.  First, that our National Anthem is about a war speaks to something embedded in our psyche that doesn’t speak to me.  I would much rather have our national song be something like America The Beautiful.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

This speaks much more to the majesty of a country than does a tale of a tattered banner surviving a battle.

Second, I have had my times when I have struggled to stand for the National Anthem.  Times when I felt we were in the wrong and I felt my country was something other than what I imagined it could be.  Times during the Reagan presidency, when in my disgruntled youth, I attended baseball games and would rise but not place my hand over my heart.  Times in the early part of this century when we were destroying parts of the Middle East in misguided and illegal wars and torturing who knows how many people.  These were things my country was doing in my name and I couldn’t stand to be a part of it.

So, I get it, Mr. Kaepernick.  I really get it.  But I have a problem with your particular protest at this particular time in our nation’s history.  I will not deny that racism is alive and well in this country.  I will not deny that people of color and of less favored faiths continue to struggle for equality and fair treatment in many corners of our nation.  However …

In a time when our President is African-American, I simply cannot understand how you can think that “our country” continues to oppress black people.  Your refusal to stand for the National Anthem and your decision to call out the entire country for what you see as oppression of minorities is a generalized attack on all Americans.  It is an attack on me.  It is an attack on not just those who are involved in discrimination and oppression, but also those who fight it every day of their lives.  Because we are just as much a part of “our country” as the racists are.

Your protest, in tarring the entire country with the labels of oppression and racism is just as wrong as racial profiling by cops, different levels of force used against people of color as compared to white suspects, and the myriad forms in which racism exists.  We are not all racists and oppressors.  But you have just labeled us as such with your actions and particularly with your words.  Just as bad cops label any black male as a suspect.

Stand up for what you believe in, fight to save the oppressed and I will fight with you.  It’s time, however, to target the real oppressors, the real racists and not suggest with such blanket criticism that it is “the country,” that it is all of us.  It is not.  There are far more of us who support your objectives than who oppose them.

I’m guessing that the white couple that adopted you, took you in, raised you and provided you with the opportunities needed to become an NFL quarterback are the furthest thing from racists and oppressors.  But they are this country, too.  The flag and the anthem represents them just as much as it represents the oppressors.  Or at least it should.  If you can’t see that and stand for the National Anthem because of the good parts of our country that it represents, you should try a little harder.  There are other ways to attack the problem than to attack all of us.

[Edited to add:  Just to be clear, I am not denying that Kaepernick has the right to do this.  I firmly believe in the right of protesters to burn the flag, of a person’s right not to stand for the National Anthem, to speak publicly or privately their feelings about our country and the issues we face.  I just think that in this particular case, it was a misguided and somewhat ignorant act.]

[Edited to add yet more:  Over at Old Road Apples Junk Chuck just wrote about this also. He mentions a third reason I’ve struggled with the National Anthem tradition.  My general discomfort with mass oaths and mass allegiance statements.  It’s probably why, even if I ever change my mind about God, I won’t ever be a fan of organized religion.  Over the years, I have felt uncomfortable with the somewhat herd mentality of everybody rising, removing their hats, and covering their heart for the National Anthem.  There is something vaguely authoritarian and anti-democratic about the whole practice.  But lately, I have started having a different experience connected to the National Anthem.  In the good moments it is because I can look around me and see such a beautiful mix of people who are rising and showing their respect for something that isn’t material, isn’t technology, isn’t anything other than a statement that we, the masses gathered there (typically made up of every gender, every race, every everything) can stop everything else for about 2 minutes and 20 seconds and respect the same thing.]

Jon Stewart on Ferguson

There are times when he is stunning in how right he gets it.  Embedded in this short piece on Talkingpointsmemo.com is the video of Jon Stewart’s segment on Ferguson from the other night.  He absolutely nails it in so many ways it’s ridiculous.  Watch it and discuss amongst yourselves.

 

 

I Am

I am not black, white, yellow or brown

I belong in this place

I am a member of the human race

 

My politics are not blue, red or green

Equality for all is my case

I am a member of the human race

 

I am not disabled, stupid, a geek, or “normal”

Look at my face

I am a member of the human race

 

My beliefs are not Christian, Muslim or Jew

I am full of grace

I am a member of the human race

 

I am not gay, straight, transgender or a freak

But because love is my base

I am a member of the human race

 

 

This poem is written in response to the victims of discrimination, sexism, racism, and all of the other horrors targeted at people for what makes them unique.  Please stop identifying yourself as entitled to rights, entitled to protection, entitled to something because of your skin color, your sexual orientation, your gender, or your faith.  Instead, remove the label and demand those things because you are nothing other than a member of the human race.  It is not your color that matters.  It is not your politics that define you.  It is not your faith that identifies you.  You are a human.  Beginning, middle and end.

The outpouring about the Santa Barbara shooter’s misogynistic views (which, by the way, turns out he pretty much hated everybody, not just women) and how we all — generally meaning men — must stop … oh, hell, I’m not sure what it is we’re supposed to stop doing.  All I know is that there is this outcry about how we must do more to protect women, that men must stop being so … much like men.  All things that I completely agree with.  But…

OK, I’m not doing this very well.  Let me try it this way.  A friend tweeted that she was appreciating the opportunity to talk to her daughter and sons about how they should all take seriously the need to protect women.  I responded to her tweet that I thought it more important to teach our kids to protect all humans.

What’s my point … it’s probably obvious by now, but let’s please just stop focusing on the labels.  It is horrible when any human being is shot and killed in cold blood.  It shouldn’t be more serious if it is a hate-filled young man who “hates” women.  It is horrible when a human being is deprived of a core human right.  It shouldn’t be more serious because of their gender or their race or some other irrelevant characteristic.

So, please, if you are hurt by unfairness, discrimination, hate or intolerance.  Stand up and say “I am a human being and I have rights.”  Leave the labels behind.

 

The End of Racism

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.

 

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