Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

Just Don’t Call Us Racists

Denial, as they say in Twelve Step programs, ain’t just a river in Egypt. And there is an adage in religious circles that Dutch Baptists choke on their pipes when they see Spanish Baptists drinking red wine.

Everyone else has a problem, except “us.” And certainly we are not racists. To say, as was common in my early lifetime, that persons of color (hardly the words used) were okay but shouldn’t go to schools with or date or marry whites, not use water fountains and sit only in the backs of public buses, were considered proper social rules; they didn’t say blacks were not God’s children: they were just not quite good enough.

To such minds, “racists” were people who “had a problem,” notably that of beating blacks at will and/or lynching them. Those who merely wanted nonviolent segregation did not, and still don’t, consider themselves racists. This is called denial.

Racism is a deep and insidious sickness of the human soul, and hardly the only one. So are antisemitism, homophobia, gender discrimination, and many more–as are suppression of opportunity and well-being for such persons, not to mention overt abuse. When will we stop hating and resenting Jews?–I have some very nuanced views of the politics that brought about certain boundary issues in the Middle East, but I know more than a few people for whom the very mention of Israel occasions a burst of total blame for all that occurs in that part of the world, if not in the U.S. as well.

When will we stop hating gays and lesbians, not to mention bisexual and transgendered persons–and outlawing the free expression of their love and relationships? When will men stop their violence towards women–and why do we find such quick cures for erectile dysfunction but not breast cancer?

But I digress. Today I speak of racism and the need for everyone, even those of the best hearts and intentions, to take courses in antiracism. You and I are racists to varying degrees; at milder levels we are unconscious casualties of mental structures and behavioral pattens that we inherited–as is Harry Reid and for that matter Trent Lott. We are not taught to challenge our own assumptions but, like it or not, it’s more than past time to do so.

For years citizens and Congress have tried to control the sale, availability and ownership of deadly weapons for which there is no real need in society. But not until a black man was elected president had we seen such angry stockpiling of them. Exactly who do these folks want to shoot? It isn’t enough to say they’re just invoking the Constitution; were that to undergo amendment they would care not a fig and add a few thousand more bang-bangs to their personal arsenals. (Query: If we are truly related to the arboreal apes, are we halfway down, or halfway up, the tree?)

I’ve had to face my own racism and now it is at least known and named, and I am hereafter painfully aware of its inner presence. Blacks too have their own racism and we’re all trying to deal with it. The worst we can do is to say it isn’t there.

There are those who imagine that racism, since the death of King, Jr. and the rise of Obama, has gotten up on little hind legs and gone away. It hasn’t, and the real conversation about it is yet to begin–the Reid and Lott sagas are testament that much is still to be done.

More egregious examples are readily available. Some people still love Rush Limbaugh regardless of the nonsense he continues to spout. His minions think the only racist thing he ever said was that black quarterback Donovan McNabb is given a pass by football analysts because of his color. Their memories are selective; try on these verbal gems from my wacko homeboy: “You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray (King, Jr’s assassin). We miss you, James. Godspeed.” And another: “Let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite. Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back. I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.”

Whoever thinks there’s little to nothing wrong with those statements needs to sign up for the aforementioned class asap.

J. Donald Johnston wrote that to go into a paint store and ask for “flesh color,” you may find they no longer have just one, but a variety, because times have changed, and flesh color is not something you buy but something you have, and there are many. One flesh color, he added, is just as natural as another on the person who has it, then asked, whose flesh color would you like? They may have it. And he suggested that some will say that Black is beautiful.

Why not? And why don’t we know, or see, that everyone is beautiful?

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