Events of two months ago have demonstrated again that deep in the American psyche lies the ugly stain of racial bigotry. Think of how the police shootings of just three young African American men — one a 12 year old child — sheds new light on the saddest episode of US history. Conservatives have fallen all over themselves blaming the victims of these killings. “He resisted arrest.” “He was avoiding taxes by selling cigarettes one at a time.” “He was playing with something that looked like a gun.” Running out of those arguments they turn to black on black killings and looting as inappropriate responses.
Perhaps we need to listen more carefully to sensitive people who have experienced and continue to experience America’s virulent racism. The rest of this column has come to me from a multi-ethnic activist political activist, writing in response to my earlier column in which I held that racism has not disappeared, it has just gone underground.
Racism never went underground for those who have been the target of racism. However, racist people found it necessary to become more sophisticated with its use and have used it quite effectively. For others who have not been the target of racism but do not overtly support it they have just either been in denial or ignored it or simply could not identify it as racism in its sophisticated form. Many people are still in the 50’s and 60’s mode so they look for racism to still be in the form of “colored and white” water fountains and bathrooms.
Racism directed toward this mulatto President is so strong. Regardless of what he does-good, bad or indifferent, the haters cannot see past their hatred. A person of color, especially if he is perceived to be African-American, might be voted or selected for a position of authority, but when he/she attempts to exercise that authority he/she discovers that the authority was not transferred to him/her. Only the responsibility was transferred.
Racism subconsciously has taught us that one of the prerequisites to hiring a “man of color” who is classified only as African-American (even though in this situation he was never raised by any African-Americans) is that the situation has to be in a mess. Therefore, he has to come in, put out the fire and after he does that he has no purpose. However, if he does not create the “miracle” of totally solving the problem to everyone’s satisfaction, then he is ineffective, unqualified, angry, a problem himself, etc.
Many have even blamed President Obama for the recession; dismissing the role of former President Bush. Obstructionism by the right-wingers has been effective because most white Americans refuse to even classify it as obstructionism. They dance around the term and explain it away by discussing the politics of the issue. Right wingers hate President Obama more than they love this country and the economic well being of this country.
It is not that President Obama is too academic and does not have the intestinal fortitude to do what should be done in some instances. It is because “no one” has ever “had his back”. The American people voted him in and have not stood by him. The Democrats have not “had his back.” Also racism has dictated a code of conduct among most white Americans that you stand with other whites and never against whites if it is a conflict involving an African-American. They will sometimes support the truth and righteousness of the position on issues but will not step forth as a group to support an African-American if it involves a group of whites (the right wing obstructionists). When people discuss and explain this conduct as racist, others want to dismiss it by saying it is race baiting, reverse racism, playing the race card as if the card was taken out of the deck or never existed.
— Zephyr Tate Mann J.D.
As hard as it may be to listen to someone who sees racism from the inside, this may be the only way to understand what people of color continue to feel and experience.