Racism – One Man’s Horror

I just began reading Michael Eric Dyson’s Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster. I chose this as the first of his books to read because I remember vividly the news accounts of the aftermath of Katrina along the Gulf Coast, and in particular the events in New Orleans.

I remember seeing the television news video of a mother holding her infant child tight to her breast, pleading for water and food for her baby. I was incensed that the national media could get journalist and crews to the survivors at the Superdome, yet it was reported that due to flooding, FEMA and the military could not reach these people in need to deliver essential food and water.

To this day I believe the failed government response to the poor Black community of New Orleans was in no small part due to deeply ingrained systemic racism. This is racism that many people then and now believe no longer exist in this country. 

Anyone doubting how racism harms us as a nation need only look around them today. Political divisiveness is running rampant in the US. Party lines are now more than ever drawn as much on the basis of race, hatred, and the worst aspects of identity.

I offer the following passage from Professor Dyson’s book for your consideration of the state of American racism today.

My cousin hollered, “You’re shot.” I got up and tried to jump over the tree stumps in the street, and as soon as I got in mid-air another blast hit me in my back. And I fell on the ground again. Somehow, it was a miracle, I got up again, and I began to run. I heard [the white guys] saying, “Nigger, you gotta run.” I ran around a corner and I saw this black guy sitting on the porch, and I said “Man, help me.” And he said, “Come on,” but he was in the house with some white people. When I went to the back of the house, this white lady said “I can’t help you. You gotta get out of here.” So I ran away from their house. And I ran up to this truck with two white guys, and I said, “Please, please, please help me.” I felt like I was going to die. And the older white guy said, “Get away from my truck. We can’t help you. We’re liable to shoot you ourselves.” And they pulled off and called me a nigger. It’s like [white people] were using the opportunity nity to do something they’ve been waiting to do. And I’m thinking about racism and all that’s running in my head. I’m like, “I can’t believe lieve this.” After everything we’ve gone through, and everything I’ve been through, I would have never imagined this happening to me.

-Darnell Herrington, Katrina survivor

Dyson, Michael Eric. Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, Basic Civitas, 2007, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0014ET26Y/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_1kjcAbZ5GX5EE.


Angry White Men – A Meeting of Minds

We were at a day long gathering of friends. There was ample food for a brigade and whenever the door bell rang more friends and more food were welcomed. Four generations of friends and family of friends were present, and while almost everyone was acquainted, there were enough unfamiliar faces to keep conversations interesting throughout.

In the afternoon a handful of folks gathered on the patio. I wondered into the group, taking a chair next to a gentleman I had yet to meet (I’ll call him Bob); a relative of a friend, I believe. I settled into an ongoing discussion of social assistance programs, their cost and their abuse.

Bob was leading the group in a rant about “them”. You know who “they” are. They’re the lazy people, mostly criminals, with drug dealer being the profession of choice. Those not dealing drugs support the illicit trade through their addiction.

Bob’s sharing of what can only be divine insight into a segment of society he has no real first hand knowledge of was well received among his like minded listeners.

I listened quietly as the group entered into their emotionally charged descriptions of the how and why of “them” feeding at the teat of government. Apparently vacation cruises, new cars, and per newborn income increases are the norm.

The obvious solution to end this problem of dependence (i.e., stealing from the wallets of hard working white folk) is to drug test everyone benefiting from assistance programs. Bob is big on this remedy, and he’s rewarded with smiles all around as he regurgitates the conservative party line. Drug testing is sure to eliminate a great deal of fraud “they” commit.

There were retirees among us. Some were Social Security recipients, I imagined. Championing their cause, I acknowledged we can no longer support from our own pockets those receiving money from the government. Wholeheartedly agreeing with drug testing, I suggested we need to go further. Everyone receiving government benefits of any kind must be regularly drug tested.

I was surprised. It seemed they hadn’t considered extending their perfect remedy beyond the problem of social assistance. I realized that in the moment I had won the room.

I casually observed that, of course, social security recipients will have to be tested. “They” get social security, too. I expressed my confidence that Bob and the others wouldn’t mind submitting to recurring drug testing, then looked across the group as if seeking supportive acknowledgement. They were hesitant, unsure; feeling inconvenienced, I suspect. Bob said nothing.

What about military retirees and disabled veterans? I reminded him that “they” serve in the military, too. We’ve all heard the reports of the Veterans Administration driving veterans into addiction. “Should they be tested, also?” I asked Bob.

I perceived some tension in the group. I presume the discussion crossed out of their comfort zone of attacking those they perceive as beneath themselves and into the realm of disrespect for a group they champion at every opportunity. I wondered if, outside of their immediate discomfort, they had an inkling of the dichotomy of their positions.

I think not. That would require their acknowledging of, and accepting responsibility for, their racism. They would have to stop blaming the victims. Then who would they hate? Who would “they” be?.

Bob will always be that angry white man. I hope, though, the next time he’s railing on “those” people he’ll remember there’s more in play than his anger and false sense of being wronged. “They” are people. They live, love, and feel, as do we all.

This is a recounting of a discussion that took place in late 2014.

For anyone unfamiliar with such discussions, I assure you they are not at all uncommon. The participants are not white supremacists, Klan members, or anything so interesting. They’re working and middle class folks ranging in age from 20’s to 70’s.

They are everywhere. Look around.

Conservative America – Black Racism, White Victimhood, Hypersensitive Police

From @thenation on Twitter.

Governor Faubus (center) speaking at an anti-integration rally in Arkansas in 1959, a woman holding up a Confederate flag stands in the background. (Library of Congress)

September 4, 1958: Arkansas Governor Calls Out the National Guard to Prevent Public School Integration @thenation

The Nation’s article brings to the surface for me something I’ve seen happening for years. In fact, it was around many decades ago.

‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people’ has become government of the people by pressure groups for the benefit of minorities. ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ has been shortened to just plain ‘Give me.’

Kenneth W. Sollitt, “Freedom Under God”, Faith and Freedom, September 1951, 8 – 11

There are those that would bury our racist past and create a new and wonderful future for us. They are tired of living their lives under the burden of belief that Black folks are basking in an aura of special advantage. “They” don’t deserve it. “They” are the product of a liberal / progressive / socialist government, a government not of god or the bible; a government that has created the entitlement and welfare culture conservatives so loathe.

Police Victimized By Unjust Killing Of Unarmed Citizens

We now have a capability unique in history. We have citizen photojournalists recording unjust and illegal killings of unarmed citizens by Law Enforcement on the streets of the United States of America.

The conservative response to these incidents, and the necessary citizen backlash (I refer to non-violent activism), is to label the victims as criminals bearing predetermined guilt, the police as the true victims who are ostensibly incapable of committing such offenses, and the activists as police hating, white hating, thug racists. Anyone see those white folks matching in solidarity with blacks? If you believe Fox News, we are in the midst of a brewing racist armageddon against whites.

White is the new Black, or If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Be Them

Conservatives declared racism ended with Obama’s election. That fallacy at once emboldens conservatives and triggers the epiphany that they have long suffered racism and discrimination at the hands of evil government and those racist Blacks.

See the upcoming Monty Python reunion production for the details of this reasoning. You may be interested in the results of this Google search: “whites suffer more racism than blacks”.

There isn’t only racism at play in this, however. Power, politics, and money are top motivators of those who proselytize that peculiar madness. While there are some tried and true race haters among whites, I suspect there are many more whose anger is stoked by talking heads and the media.

The benefactors of this new racial rage are the plutocrats that gain financially and politically from the sociopolitical change their expanding white victim class might catalyze.