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rust-to-dustThat’s how I see my own journey of eradicating racism within myself.

Me? A racist? Me who rails against the bigots of the world, admitting that I too have my racist moments?

Sure I do. We all do. No matter how we deny it, we all do. We are the product of our genes, and our experiences. Nobody is raised by a racist, in a racist environment who isn’t spattered by the mud my friend.

Sure, I’ve wiped off all the mud I can see, but what about that which I can’t? You know, the spot on the back of my knee, or in the small of the back?

That’s why I continue to twist and turn with mirror in hand trying to view my body from all points, searching out but another unexpected spot to furiously remove.

This Trayvon thing has started a dialogue again about race and you can be sure that some awful things are being said. The Right continues to profess that we live in a “post-racial” world and that “everyone has equal opportunity and has for decades.” African-American voices continue to remind us that they are still having “the talk” with their sons about how to get along with white authority to avoid a bullet in the back. There is obviously a bit of disconnect here.

The hard Right is most assuredly wrong. Racism is not a thing of the past. And I’m not sure they even mean that. I think they really mean that as long as the “official” system is not racist in doling out whatever largess it possesses, then that is the end of things. People are going to be people and what they believe is really of no business to anybody. Randy Paul seems to be of this persuasion as he so clearly announced some time ago when he suggested that he wasn’t quite sure that it was right to tell a business owner who he could serve. In other words, the diner sit-ins were wrong, as were a good portion of the civil rights bills of the 60’s.

That seems to be the crux of it for the Tea People types. Institutional racism is wrong, but personal racism is really nobody’s business.

Except that isn’t a very darn good way to move along as a society I don’t think.

Tea Folk amuse me mostly. They are decidedly ignorant to a greater degree than a goodly portion of the rest of the politically aware. I’m not sure they are really against institutional racism at all but they know it’s impolitic to say so. They stand up their cardboard cut out of Martin Luther King and use him as their standard-bearer, “judge not by the color of my skin, but by the content of my character.” Except it seems that most Tea Folk find the character of most Black folk, well, questionable would be a kind word.

“The race-baiting industry saw an opportunity to further the racist careers of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Black Panthers, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, et al, who then swept down on the Florida community refusing to admit that the 17-year-old dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe Trayvon Martin was at all responsible for his bad decisions and standard modus operendi of always taking the violent route,” wrote Nugent. (Ted Nugent writing in Rare)

Add to this their adherence to the likes of Allen West, Alan Keyes, Herman Cain, E. W. Jackson,  Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson et al. These famous Black Republicans are clung to by the Reactionary Right as their proof positive that they aren’t racist. These fine gentlemen are sure to please for they never play the race card, that euphemistic term for anyone Black who dares to suggest that racial profiling had anything to do with anything.The likes of the above never do that. Instead they nod vigorously that they got where they are by hard work and hard work alone, and that all African-Americans (oops, insert Black, cause the Tea Folk don’t like that term African-American) can too if they just try. All those Black folks for vote Democratic they wisely agree, only do so because they remain “plantation” Negroes, all the while they put on the best show imaginable of the Uncle Tom shuffle.
It’s not just African-Americans of course. Hispanics fall into this wonderful category too. Phyllis Schafly is among the growing number of right-wing nuts who are arguing that there is no point to trying to appeal to the Hispanic crowd because, after all, “they don’t share our American values” anyway.
These are not racist remarks they tell us, but simply facts, as if by so defining them, the statements become the truth they so urgently need them to be. For white people the supposed reward is lower taxes. I guess. I mean they are so adamant that there is NO MORE RACISM, that that can only be the reason, that and the fact that Junior can’t get into Podunk U because of the “quota system that let’s them in when they aren’t even qualified.”
My assumption is that without the qualifier of “racism” the Hard Right can argue more comfortably that people should starve to death, carry their cancer-ridden bodies to the nearest gutter to die in, and live out in tents behind the county dump, because to fund the poor is just “enabling”. It all becomes more easy to suggest that people are just lazy if they aren’t the victim of overt racism right?
“>One might need a panel of psychiatrists to plumb the depths of self-loathing and or selfish opportunism that drives the likes of an Allen West, but we know they are doing “well” in their chosen job of protecting the racism of the Crazy Right. They are no better than the aging Black judge I practiced in front of who calmly and with genteel perfect syntax ordered the young black men who came before her to prison sentences that effectively gutted their lives. “Miss Judge,” they would moan, “I can’t do no fifty years!” She would smile softly through her perfectly lipsticked mouth and utter in a soothing voice, “well, do the best you can” as her deputies hauled away the teenager befuddled by what has befallen him.
Indeed Ted Nugent has similar sage advice to African-Americans:

“racism against blacks was gone by the time I started touring the nation in the late [19]60s” and by the 1970s, “nothing of consequence existed to deter or compromise a black American’s dream if they got an alarm clock, if they set it, if they took good care of themselves, they remained clean and sober, if they spoke clearly, and they demanded excellence of themselves and provided excellence to their employers.”

In other words, ACT WHITE! We expect such drivel from the likes of a Ted Nugent. We expect more from the likes of a Ben Carson.

Those of us who think of ourselves as “not racist” aren’t overtly, yet we are still the product as I said of a life time of experiences. Only those who are from other ethnic groups can tell us when we stray into the area of “assuming that all of them” think or act that way. We bump up against our assumptions about how we think people should behave or think all the time. And we don’t always realize that it is stereotypical at times. How many times have I had the benefit of well-meaning friends who have quietly taken me aside and told me that I’m making an assumption about them that isn’t necessarily true.

And I honestly didn’t know, much as I sometimes hear white folks say things that I now know are racially coded that I’m very sure they don’t.

We’re all on a learning curve.

And therefore it is right and good and essential that African-Americans keep pointing those things out to us at every juncture, when we speak based upon an assumption about them. They aren’t playing a race card, they are helping us to see  the world a bit clearer. If we want to truly eradicate racism in this country and in this world, we have to first be AWARE that what we think or say is objectionable and why.

Trayvon Martin has given us a legacy, one that allows us to see ourselves anew as well as how we relate to the greater world around us. For a young man, he has had a big impact on the world. We can be grateful for that.

You might want to visit this site: www.theracecardproject.com They are doing a thing where they ask people to state their views on race in six words. It’s rather wonderful. Do visit.