Is there really more racism? Or has it always been here but just on the DL? Are more racists emboldened because of their anger at our first African-American president? Or was it there and nobody said anything?
I don’t know the reason but suddenly you can hardly read the news without somebody getting caught on tape, an open mic or writing something racist and hateful. Racists seem to have their own little world on Twitter and post stuff that would raise the hair of the person with the toughest hide. It makes you wonder – do they really hate me that much? What did I ever do for them to hate me like that?
When I was a young woman back in the Disco Days, I actually thought we’d somehow move beyond all the racism of the past. I thought the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power movement had taught us to look past all that. I thought more people heard what Dr. King said about the content of our character.
I’m going to make some folks mad, but oh well. I guess I have a right. I thought when some of the Greatest Generation passed on that they would take their racism with them.
Now before you start screaming, keep this in mind: that generation was the one that insisted that black folks walk down the street with their eyes down. They were the ones who called black men“boy.” They were the ones who took pictures of a lynching and stood there proudly posing with the evidence of what they had done. They were the ones who killed the 3 civil rights workers in Mississippi. One of them killed Emmitt Till. One of them bombed a church (!!) and killed 4 innocent little girls.
Those white women spitting hate at poor little Ruby Bridges? Yep. Them too. All that at a child. A little girl.
And we all know what a little black girl is worth now, don’t we?
Bull Connor was one of them. So was George Wallace and Strom Thurmond. The Greatest Generation didn’t want to serve with black soldiers. The military had to be segregated for them. They were the ones who would not allow black soldiers to eat in the same mess hall with them – but fed German POW’s like they were guests.
They didn’t want to treat our veterans with any measure of respect after they came back from serving in WWII. Some of them beat a black vet to death because he got on a bus through the front door instead of the back.
Yeah, those people who mistreated my Mom and Dad so badly that when they left the South, they never wanted to go back.
That’s who I’m talking about. You know who they are.
But it seems they taught their kids some lessons about hate and discrimination and those kids taught their kids too. So it’s pretty clear this problem isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
I don’t have any illusions about it anymore. Racism is just as much a part of American culture as baseball and apple pie. I keep hearing about folks talking about these being post racial times and that things are so much better now. Really?
So how can a black woman who shot warning shots at a man who had been brutalizing her get arrested and charged and given a sentence of 20 years? She didn’t shoot him. She fired warning shots. But a white man shoots an unarmed teenager that he had been harassing and he walks around a free man right now.
If a young black man commits a crime – even a victimless crime – they throw the book at him. They have to get him off the street. He’s a menace. But if a white boy kills four innocent people, well, we don’t want to ruin his life. He made a mistake. People do. Besides, he’s so rich he didn’t know right from wrong. Let’s just give him probation.
Yeah. Better for who?
Inner city men are to blame for our problems. An educated black woman is called an “ape.” I could go on and on but I won’t. It’s enough to make you really depressed and sad for what’s to come.
If we try to discuss it, folks accuse us of playing the race card. I guess we aren’t supposed to say anything about it. We should just forget it, right? Get over it. Things are better.
No. No, they aren’t.
I always knew that many white people talk one way when they’re with us and it’s something else completely when they are together and we aren’t there. But when you hear some of the comments that have been recorded or you see the venom in some of the posts on Facebook and Twitter, you begin to wonder.
You look at folks you know and you wonder what they say about you. You wonder if that person who is smiling in your face really thinks that he’s better than you simply because he’s white. It widens the gulf between us.
Is that white girl looking at me that way because she thinks I shouldn’t be in the same gym with her or because she likes my outfit?
Oh dear God, there is a police car behind me! What does he want? I didn’t do anything! You struggle to get your license out and you speak slowly and you don’t make any sudden moves because you know it’s very likely that he will shoot you even though you didn’t do anything. You’re black, after all.
I used to have a lot of hope. I guess I have watched too much “Star Trek.” I thought we’d be moving towards that kind of society but we aren’t. We’re going backwards.
I wish I could wrap this up with some answers or solutions. I don’t have any. I wish we could talk to each other about this without blaming, getting defensive or anger.
I look at interracial relationships and the beautiful children they create. I have biracial cousins and a beautiful biracial nephew whom I love madly. When we get together, family wise, we have become a blended family of both races and I love that. I think maybe I’m wrong and that it will be better.
Then I read where a councilwoman in a town in New Jersey said that certain changes in her town would turn it into a “fucking niggertown.”
In the words of Marvin Gaye, “it makes me wanna holler, throw up both my hands.”
I just don’t know. I think we’re doomed. Racism keeps us from being great. It keeps us from being united and being one people – Americans. And I don’t think much of anybody cares.
And that hurts.
Brenda Joyce Thompson is a Chicago-based writer and educator who lives a full life penning fiction and promoting the written and musical work of various artists. A walking library of rock music, Brenda is a peace-loving not-so-reformed hippie who misbehaves every chance she gets.