Special guest post from Myristic Mystic:
When I was young, people would say things like this in response to people who seemed to like to talk about a subject that was not of immediate importance to those with whom he or she usually interacted. Well, in this instance I can say, “yes, I already wrote a book on the subject!” However, though less than fifteen years ago, it seems like it might as well be about a hundred years ago. Back then, I thought what one might call obvious racism (such as was witnessed in the South during the Civil Rights era) was the realm of a few “kooks and nuts.” What I’ve been reading since the recent spate of police shootings of unarmed “black” people has led me to reconsider not just how many “true racists” we have among us, but also how such notions have been held in check, or have they?
Clearly, with the ability to post anonymously online a whole new world has opened up for those “kooks and nuts,” but what I’ve seen since paying more attention at comments posted to news reports (since Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson) is that it would defy reason to assert that true racism is confined to a few oddballs, or perhaps to a small percentage of the elderly population. Did an elderly person put up the road sign that said Treyvon Martin is a “N-word?” When I saw that sign, I was still thinking “a few kooks and nuts,” but over time it was clear that something had either changed significantly or a certain non-negligible percentage of the population was truly racist.
Before proceeding further, I’d like to mention some of the thoughts and conversations I had when I was conceptualizing my book about racism. One thought I had was that it would seem best to define terms very precisely. Thus, “racialism” would involve policies that were based upon racist notions. Segregation is an example of this. A “racialist” would be a person who is in the position to make or enforce such policies. Racism is perhaps best defined as an ideology (or at least a consistent set of beliefs) that are based upon the concept that there are distinct human races, and that differences are not just “cosmetic.” . A racist is a person who espouses or appears to support such notions.
In the heyday of what I call “classic racism,” which included rigid racialist policies, it was not uncommon for “white” people to say things like, “they are lucky we provided them with some of our civilization. Otherwise, those “N-word” people would be in Africa living like animals and killing each other for no reason.” I don’t think many people would say on national TV today that this is not a racist comment. What if the “N-word” was removed, though? Perhaps one has to hint that there is a genetic component involved, yet this statement does not contain one! Thus, to say something like, “they just don’t have our mental capacity and probably never will, no matter how much time they are given to evolve” sounds clearly racist to almost everyone today, but the interesting question is how much of this kind of thing is implied by statements that are not kept in the racist closet, so to speak? Let’s take this examaple:
“I guess that’s what happens when you flunk out of school and have no education. I’m sure their parents are just as guilty for not knowing what their kids were doing; or knew it and didn’t care,” she continued. “I’m almost to the point of wanting them all segregated on one side of town so they can hurt each other and leave the innocent people alone.”
This was posted (on her own Facebook page) by a fourth grade teacher who worked for a school in McKinley, Texas, after she saw the now infamous video of a teenage girl in a bikini being sat on by a police officer. Let’s break this statement down “piece by piece.” This statement was made several days after the incident, when it had become widely-known that the girl was a student, meaning that this teacher was making a blanket statement, presumably about “black” people (no other interpretation would make sense). Moreover, she does not address the claims that a “white” adult started the incident, or at least exacerbated it greatly. At the very least, she would have to explain why she thinks it must be the case that the “black” started some sort of ruckus. Then there is the “innocent people” phrase, which sounds like she just didn’t want to say “white people.” Lastly, there is apparent nostalgia for outright racialist polices !
If anyone doubts that this teacher harbors clearly racist notions, I would suggest simply not talking to that person about this subject, if one wanted to talk to him or her at all. However, now I want to move on to what one might call clear evidence of racism that isn’t as obvious. While reading comments to an online story about a night protest in Oakland, during which no police were present, I asked myself, aren’t these likely the same people who were saying that the “government” should leave Cliven Bundy alone? In that case, the person used the court system and lost, so the authorities were simply trying to enforce the law. In the case of protesting, all American citizens are supposed to have that right! If the police don’t show up to theoretically “keep order,” that is not an issue involving race. One has to go out of one’s way to try and make it so! Let’s look at some of the comments:
“Black protesters and marchers wanted equal education for black children so busing was made legally mandatory to integrate public schools so that black children could have equal educational opportunity starting at a young age. The outcome of busing was that public schools in America became harbors for gangs and drug trafficking…”
So here we have someone opposing policies designed to undo racialist polices of the past claiming that one of these anti-racialist polices is the cause of gangs and drug trafficking in public schools, neither of which are relegated to any one “race” (cosmetically, at least). Moreover, this seems like another “backhanded” way of suggesting that racialist policies were beneficial, without offering any evidence other than a warped view of history – and what does this have to do with one’s right to protest? And then there is:
“This is another Black generation going down the tubes. Look what they were sold by Obama and white liberals and compare that to what they got…”
They got health care, a better economy, almost certainly less war, etc., but putting that aside, what evidence is there that the “black” race is “going down the tubes? When was the time when American “blacks” were doing so well and not dealing with outright or “closeted” racism? And what does this have to do with police not showing up to ensure order during a supposedly Constitutionally-protected right to protest?
And here is one that seems to allude to the “lazy Negro” type characterizations from many decades ago:
“The daily life of the black minorities is just heart wrenching. They wake up each morning wondering how they are going to survive another day,
On the first of the month they wait at their mailbox waiting for the mailman to show up and deliver their twelve hundred dollar section eight check so they can take it to the low income apt complex office and pay the twenty dollar difference for another month of living there…”
And this one is funny, at least in a dark way – it seems that this person isn’t coping well with recent social changes very well:
“America has changed.
Black ‘professional’ protestors & looters have taken over the city streets.
The LGBT community have become the new government endorsed bullies of society…”
There was no looting during this non-policed protest, so this suggests that the police may in fact be the problem, or a big part of it, but I guess this person has taken a vow not to believe his or her “lying eyes.” Why? Doesn’t there have to be an ideology for that to occur in this context? Bringing up the “LGBT community” “(as if they are apart from the rest of us) is interesting in light of a BBC documentary I watched circa 2010, entitled “Rude Britannia.” Not only did it seem that the “middle class” feared the “working class” when a large group of the latter assembled, even for entertainment purposes, but there were also popular shows in which women dressed as men, which were condemned by various “authorities.” And these things occurred at or before the middle of the nineteenth century !
Then there are the comments that suggest the person thinks the reality is somehow the opposite of what it clearly is:
“god for bid that anything happens to a black person. they rape rob mangle kill and even try to run down cops but don’t hurt them for it. when we get them to court we will come down hard on them. we will slap there hand and tell them not to do it again and set them free or maybe give them a time out but don’t hurt them. if they riot and burn down the town, so what. i don’t blame the cops what so ever…”
This brings me to the claims about “black on black” violence, which is not related to the right to protest, nor whether police have used excessive force (assuming they should have used any force) in several well-publicized incidents over the last year or so. Who is arguing that murders, rapes, etc. should not be prosecuted? If anything, a true “law and order” person would want police to be prosecuted with everyone else who commits the same crime! And should police be subjected to a lower standard than the rest of us? I think they should be at least trained to think that they should hold themselves up to a higher standard. But perhaps most disturbingly, why would anyone equate murdering, raping, etc. to the desire to protest peacefully? What in the world could possibly underpin such notions? If racism isn’t driving such comments, what else could possibly be?
Yet another person commented with a statement about how most “middle class blacks” he or she knows are fine people, but that the protesters are “either paid agitators or just lazy dead beats.” Obviously, a large crowd can’t be comprised of all “agitators,” and weren’t our “Founding Fathers” undeniably “agitators” anyway? Do “lazy dead beats” go to any protests? Was this a protest about getting something of value for free? At least in this case there is a suggestion that the person may be more of an opponent of government policies such as unemployment insurance than a racist, though again we have a “lying eyes” issue here.
And then we have what might be best described as racist insanity:
“Whites should be out protesting about Obama’s move to diversify white neighborhoods. He wants to put government funded housing in rich white neighborhoods so people of color can live there. Diversify is code word for white genocide…”
Do I need to say anything about this one? But let me make an important point – there were no comments that were clearly supportive of the protesters, after reading a whole bunch of these. I decided to leave one and see what might come of it:
“‘We the people’ have a right to protest. How many people were injured despite not being ‘protected’ by the police during this protest? Perhaps many less police are actually needed to ‘protect’ us than anyone ever imagined! How many police officers were there at the time the Constitution was written?”
I was trying to strike a “Tea Party” type of tone here (to see what responses might result) – if the protesters were all “white,” would those who argued that Cliven Bundy was the victim take the exact opposite view? If so, how could there be a non-racist explanation? I hope that what I have said here strikes a chord, or is just outright obvious, to most people. Obviously, to people who make such comments, I doubt any words would matter. There are lies, there are damnable lies, and then there is ideology! As of this writing, several days later, nobody has replied to my comment – perhaps most couldn’t figure out if it was pro-“white” or pro-“black” !
The news report in question can be found here: