I’m going to tell a short story from my early childhood. I’m sure I will get many hateful comments as a result but it is relevant to my point.
When I was around 4 or 5 years old in the early 80s, I was sitting in the back of my mom’s old Ford Pinto, parked in front of a laundromat in a not-so-great part of town in Orlando. See, my mom and my uncle, seated in the front seats, were drug addicts and frequently sat at public places waiting for their dealer to show up. Well, this particular evening, I happened to be hanging out of the window, watching all of the people walking in and out of the laundromat with their baskets of clothes. **A little history is in order for this next part; my mom’s side of the family are old school hillbillies from Tennessee. This does not excuse anything they said or did but I point it out to explain where I heard the language I used.** So, there’s little blonde haired, blue-eyed, ArmyVetChic, hanging out the window when this black man walks out of the laundromat with a basket of clothes. I watched him for a second until he got closer to the car and then shouted out, “Hey N**ger”. Now at this point, my mom and uncle start a string of cuss words a mile long because they know what I had done. The black man, to my surprise, was justifiably irate. He dropped his basket of clothes and screams, “What the f*ck?!!”. In my defense, I was just saying “Hi” to the guy using the term for him that my mom and other family had used many times before. But, this guy was not going to stand there and allow some little white girl call him the most offensive and racist term that could be used. He ran to his car because, at this point, my mom had started the car and was getting ready to drive away, and began to chase us like we were in some movie. After a few seconds, my mom and uncle start freaking out in the front seats and grabbing for the Pepsi bottles on the floorboard. The guy chasing at us must have had a gun in his car because he was shooting at our car and my mom was miraculously managing to keep the car on the road while avoiding the bullets. My uncle started throwing the Pepsi bottles out of the window at the chase car. This lasted for, what seemed like, forever. All the while my mom is yelling at me to stay on the floor of the car. I’m not sure how long this went on because I was 5 so let’s face it, 30 seconds seemed like an hour to me, but suddenly the car stopped and we were parked in some driveway of a house I did not recognize and my mom and uncle were ducking down in their seats. Apparently, my mom had pulled some movie stunt where you turn a corner quickly and shut off your headlights and the guy chasing you drives right by.
The whole purpose of me telling this story is to say that, yes, there was and still is real racism in this country. Some of us were raised with families that were racists. But that does not mean that that racism still exists in the children of those racists. I learned how bad that word was very quickly. I knew from that point on that every time I heard it, it was my family calling someone else a bad name. I never said it again and have been a strong advocate against racism since. I never faulted the man at the laundromat for his reaction. I blame my family for displaying their racism in front of me and not exposing it as such. I blame them for not teaching me that blacks, like every other race, are human beings, not black, brown, tan, or yellow. Their skin color does not describe them as people and should never be used in any derogatory way. For my own actions as a small child, I apologize to that man at the laundromat and pray that my ignorance then did not influence his own views of whites, in general.
Now that I am older and we have a black man as President of the United States, I have been called racist more times than I can count. I wonder what has changed in this country so much that, when blacks finally break through the barriers from centuries of trials and tribulations, some see even MORE racism than there was before? The country should be celebrating the amazing strides we have made, not seeking to revive the atrocities from the past. Admittedly, President Obama has taken a lot of criticism from the intolerant on both side of the aisle. Questions about his eligibility to be president because of his father’s origins are among some of the fanatical ideas coming from those who refuse to accept him either because of his ethnicity or his political affiliation. Either way, for the majority of us that use common sense and, while we may oppose his policies or political ideologies, accept and celebrate his achievement as the first black man to be the President of the United States.
Unfortunately, while we do as others have done in the past with every president in history, speak our minds about what the government is doing or not doing, we have encountered this new attack on our motives. Because President Obama IS the first black man to hold the office of the president, his presidency brings about a hypersensitivity to any criticisms of him. Many on the left have used his race to quiet the criticisms of him instead of embracing the rights of the people to disagree with their government.
During the G.W. Bush presidency, many likened him to Hitler, called him vile names, even laughed when he was physically attacked in another country by a protester. Many African-Americans hate Bush and claim he did not care about them. They disagreed with and made statements toward him that were insulting and threatening. When blacks used race to make their arguments then, it was excused and even justified by the main stream media. Now that there is a black man in office, they are turning that same race inducing rhetoric toward those that oppose Obama where it is, once again, excused and encouraged by the left leaning media. Where were the cries of racism toward the last president or the president before him or the president before him when black people rose up in dissent?
The fact is that the liberal media and supporters of the left only see racism when it is against one of their own. Chris Matthews of MSNBC actually claimed that racism, by definition, is when whites discriminate against blacks. He ignores that real racism exists when any race is discriminated against for the sole reason of their skin color. Conservative blacks have been attacked by those of the own race and many on the left, not for being conservative but, for being BLACK and conservative. The mindset on the left is that if you are black, you must be a liberal. If you stray from that self-imposed stereotype, you are alienated and attacked for being an “Uncle Tom”, a “house n**ger”, a “token black”, or the “black friend” of the GOP. The recent attacks on Dr. Ben Carson, Allen West, and Stacey Dash are prime examples of the rampant racism on the left that is celebrated as truth. Anyone who supports conservatism must walk on eggshells when expressing their opposition to the president’s words and actions because, at any moment, the racist accusations could fly. However, after browsing through social media and seeing some of the comments from liberals and liberal blacks, I have seen criticisms and some fierce opposition to recent concessions from Obama to republicans in Congress. Not one of those, that I saw, were attacked for being racist. There were replies of agreement and a general consensus that it was okay to disagree with the President, as long as you were a liberal. Why has this hypocrisy not been discussed by anyone other than the conservative hosts on the evening opinion shows of Fox News? Why do MSNBC, ABC, and CBS all ignore racism from the left and spotlight every instance of supposed racism on the right? When a rally for a republican candidate or cause takes place, the media are out in full force with their racism radars at high power. An extremist shows up with some outrageous comments or a possibly racist t-shirt and the reports are immediate and widespread. “The conservatives are racists. See? Look at this one guy out of thousands of them who said this one thing that was insulting to this race.” The label of “conservatism equals racism” is born.
It would be really beneficial to our country if we could all speak freely about politics and leave race out of the issue. It would be really great if the left would stop doing the very same thing they are accusing the right of doing: labeling one group of people. It would be wonderful if, during a conversation about Obama, people would listen to the points being made without waiting for some unknown code word that nobody had ever associated with race before but is now the new “dog whistle” for racism. When will we try to overcome the existence of racism by coming together against it? The more we accuse others of racism, that is obviously not there, we create a society that is numb to the REAL racism. The younger generations,black and white, should not be punished or strapped with the actions of their parents or grandparents. This country has an ugly past. This is true. But we will never move forward if we keep using it against one another. If we continue to divide by race as a tool for political debate, we are walking backwards toward the very thing we have worked so hard, as a nation, to eliminate. We are not the sum of our skin color; We are Americans.
Note: It was difficult for me to decide whether to post this because of the obvious repercussions of discussing racism in our country’s current climate. I would like to thank my friend, John, for reading it and giving me the nudge I needed to publish. Thanks! 🙂