8.21.17 ‘The extent to which you do not see racism does not negate its existence’
Not that this is the definitive answer to any of what is going on in our country today, but I wanted to preserve and share this particular exchange I had on Facebook recently with someone who’d replied to a post a friend shared. Yes, I succumbed to a bit of “somebody on the internet is wrong!” reaction, but sometimes it’s just hard to ignore.
The original post/story that was shared is here.
The comment that was made was this, verbatim:
I don’t usually post when I disagree. It’s your page and folks generally just don’t want to hear anything but affirmation.
What I see is the media miscontrues what Trump says,and I have seen many examples which make him sound as though he is a racist. Also, that he won’t or refuses to denounce or disavow white supremicists. This is false. I have seen a video that is a compellation of the times he did. It’s a ridiculous amount of times with different reporters. He says he doesn’t like hate groups or want their support and even footage of David Duke saying he never endorsed Trump. I have seen many examples of stories that put a slant on facts (lies). The post you made about the death of the girl in Virginia upset so much, it stayed with me a couple of days. I can’t imagine that you know anyone that would think it is okay to drive a car into a crowd. So what was the point? This article talks about racism by default. I don’t believe that. I can tell you I don’t look at people as a race or a color. To me they are people. I interact with people daily and I have good interaction with most and if I don’t like someone it’ts because they’re a jerk on some level. My point to that is I don’t think they look at race either. Antifa has been getting a pass from the left and I do not understand why. Violence is not an answer. I don’t care why. Violence is not an answer. I am an Independant. I voted for Obama and regretted it when he took office. I said shame on me for believing a politician. The left today is name calling anyone that isn’t left. Everyone is a Nazi. I had a woman I know that once said I was the voice of reason. ( not politcal circumstance) she unfriended me when I came out and started posting Trump support. Personally I like to hear different oppinions. It makes me think. I look and read lefty posts. Anyway if you unfriend me I’ll understand. I just don’t believe we have a racism problem at the level that is being touted. I do occasionally see it. On all sides. If you expect a racist that’s what you see. Trump is right about the media. Fake news just means they are deliberately lying. Look close.
Here’s what I decided to say:
I struggled about whether to comment on this comment. There are a number of assertions being made here that I itch to tackle, but I’m going to try and aim for the broader issue and go with the comment here that says, “I just don’t believe we have a racism problem at the level that is being touted.”
The fact is, we do. We have an enormous -ism problem in general. I don’t know you, [commenter]; I’m sure you’re a decent person who doesn’t kick puppies and who probably donates to your local charity of choice. But the fact is that you are white (as am I) and I’m going to reckon that you are Christian (I am not), or at least of a Christian denomination. That puts you in a place in this country of default acceptance: The world shapes itself – whether you realize it or not – to fit your perceptions. When you are not white, Christian, straight or male in this country, there is a certain amount of course correction that has to be undergone every day of the year, and it varies depending on how you “deviate” from the “norm.” These individual course corrections – from something as minor as shopping for pantyhose and finding “nude” is not actually your skin color, to people holding Tiki torches and declaring they will not be “replaced” by your particular religion – are part of everyday life, and for many people like the death of a thousand cuts. It is soul-sucking, it is life-altering and it is sometimes life-endangering. The extent to which you do not see it does not negate its existence; it only means that you yourself do not experience it, or experience it in such a way that it doesn’t alter your life.
An article you may want to read:
Government exists to provide a continuity and stability to everyday life, so that we in theory do not have to think about every single battle out there – and we can live our lives. Politicians are meant to represent all of us – whether we vote for them or not. If 100 percent of the people vote for you – go ahead, you do your thing. But if you get in with 50 percent of the vote? You still have to represent that other 50 percent. It’s about the greater good: what are the people we choose to represent us doing to make things better? To make things safer? To make it so we don’t have to think about whether the neighborhoods we live in, the water we drink, the buildings we walk into, the streets we drive on, the civilization we are a part of – works for us. But it needs to work for all of us, and that includes the least-able and least-“default” among us as well. We are a wealthy nation that can afford to spread it around, yet we have people in power who say we are dangerously low on resources and that they are going to people who don’t deserve it. And that they are the ones who are going to define who deserves and who does not.
Human beings are sadly still incredibly tribalistic, and if you can point to two identical people in a crowd and say “that one is like me” and “that one is different from me” you will probably start to draw attention. We see this all over the world, and cluck our tongues at the ways in which countries that should be able to work together fractionalize over nothing more than that their ancestors came from that side of the mountain and ours came from the other side of the mountain. In this country, creating laws based on the notion that all men are created equal only works when everyone else – including the government – agrees that yes, this is true.
Alas, for some time now we have been faced with a raft of people who do not believe it to be true, and have been poking at it with all of their daggers, big and small. Fox News created an outlet for fear, fearmongering, distortions of reality and a constant drip, drip of paranoia; a few decades later it’s no surprise that we now have divisions like we haven’t seen since the Civil War in this country. Tell people in a thousand different ways how the “other” are out to get them, steal their resources, make their world irrelevant over 20 years or so, and you’re going to have whole generations who believe it.
And then you will have the opportunistic politicians who look at what is emerging and think to themselves, how can I capitalize on this? How can I inflame people who look at the demographics of the nation and see what is inevitable: that we will be less white, less Christian and less male in the coming decades – and use it to my benefit?
What we have now going on in Congress and the White House is a stellar example of this. There may be some true believers in there – namely, those who really are eugenicists at heart – but my sense is that a lot of what is being said and done isn’t strictly about belief in “lesser” human beings not being worthy of representation, protection or life/liberty/pursuit of happiness. It’s about making money off of the division. Divide and conquer is a long-standing tactic that served the British Empire well for years; dividing and conquering the masses of Americans into small tribes fearful of one another will benefit our own American oligarchs just dandy.
Journalist worth reading: Sarah Kendzidor – https://sarahkendzior.com/
I’m not going to argue over whether I think 45 is a racist. What I will say is this: He has recognized there is a hunger out there, and he has spread out a perfect picnic to attract all the ants, and they have come running. It doesn’t matter if someone uses a slur or wears a hood or carries a flag – as the article notes, feeding into the fear, capitalizing on the tribalism and otherwise goading all of the terrible impulses we all have deep inside us to the surface is quite sufficient, especially when due to your elected position you’re expected to be the highest bar possible for equality, justice and clear-headed thinking. We don’t have that. And by not demonstrating that, he is no longer representing all of the people. He has made our daily existence exhausting because we are now expected to parse everything, fear everyone. He has poked all of the trolls and they are now testing to see whether they can truly divide us all so that the oligarchs can run away with the spoils of conflict.
And we cannot let him – or them – do it. We are united under a common flag, with common ideals. We are all in this together. And those who would tell us otherwise are on the wrong side of history.
One last thing: I am in the media. And here’s what I had to say last year about the whole “let’s blame the media” part of things, if you’re still interested in reading more: https://randeedawn.com/09-25-16-why-the-faults-not-in…/
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Well said, indeed. Thanks for a beautifully written post.
Thank you, Anne!
Well said. I had a similar experience last week, when I shared one of Chuck Wendig’s brilliant posts about the madness. A fellow who is intelligent, kind, and well meaning pointed out that “two wrongs don’t make a right,” as the Antifa group was culpable of some violence as well.
And then good ol’ 45 echoed this sentiment a day later. Hmm, where is this message coming from?
Martin Luther King Jr. stood for peaceful demonstrations and loving change. He actively spoke out against violence. He was assassinated. Malcolm X preached that it was completely understandable for POC to fight fire with fire. He was assassinated as well. When an anti-facist group responds physically to a surging hate group, some of whom were carrying assault weapons and screaming racist slurs, have they sunk to the level of the “fascists?” I would say not, especially since a young woman died that night, and it certainly wasn’t Antifa who murdered her.
Is violence the answer? Perhaps not, but what is the answer? Preach love, peace, and understanding, only to be gunned down? It’s a scary world.
Indeed. It is always going to be easier to destroy than create. How we preserve the moral high ground and still avoid being stomped on is not yet clear to me; we’re dealing with scary people, scary times.