I did not want to spend 20-minutes of my night writing this, but I am so frustrated I could not resist. I originally wanted to respond to a Facebook post gone nuts, and then it became too long for a post, so I made it into this blog post instead.
Basically, a friend, a good dude, earnestly shared a post about a recent KKK march in Hillsborough, NC. The original post—by Senator Jeff Jackson of NC—used this incident to highlight the fact that racism is still very alive and a “major” problem here in the US. So, of course, this caused an uproar on my friend’s wall when he shared it (and on the Senator’s Facebook wall, as well).
Here is the original post from the Senator’s page:
Use your imagination to fill in the blanks. It’s honestly not hard. Just think about the typical rhetoric espoused in these situations. Here is my response:
Per the post, “…racism is still a major and pervasive force in our society.” The post gives one example of racism, i.e. a KKK march that happened about 30 to 40 minutes down the road from me and my family here in NC. From that, multiple commenters on this thread have latched onto the argument of this being a statistically insignificant “fringe” group, which therefore disproves the initial statement in the post of racism being “major and pervasive.”
They KKK’s continued existence is one example of racism’s pervasiveness—it’s not the only example.
Even former FBI Director James Comey understands that racism is still a very real and prevalent issue with statements such as, “…we—especially those of us who enjoy the privilege that comes with being the majority—must confront the biases that are inescapable parts of the human condition.…We must speak the truth about our shortcomings as law enforcement, and fight to be better. But as a country, we must also speak the truth to ourselves.” ( https://www.fbi.gov/news/speeches/hard-truths-law-enforcement-and-race )
What about in the ‘90’s when multiple LA police officers formed a Neo-Nazis gang? ( https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1991-10-12-me-107-story.html )
Or, what about in 2006, when the FBI literally warned the country about the white supremacist infiltration in law enforcement? ( http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/402521/doc-26-white-supremacist-infiltration.pdf )
But those are more grandiose examples of overt racism. What are some things that are “softer” but still impactful?
How about a manager that discriminates against “black-sounding” names on a resume? ( https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/minorities-who-whiten-job-resumes-get-more-interviews )
How about medical professionals dismissing the ailments of black patients and causing worse outcomes, including death for black patients? This is especially true for black women when they are pregnant. ( https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/racism-discrimination-health-care-providers-patients-2017011611015 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6167003/ )
Someone cited the SPLC, which actually states there was a 50% increase in white nationalist groups specifically in 2018 and that there are over 900 currently known hate groups in the US—the overwhelming majority of which being hate groups centered on white supremacy. ( https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2019/year-hate-rage-against-change )
In NC alone, the SPLC estimates 40 different hate groups. In 2017, the SPLC cited FBI statistics that stated hate crimes reached their 3rd highest mark with over 7,100 incidents.
In 2018, Derek Black described in detail the pervasiveness of white nationalism and how it spreads. Derek Black is a reformed white nationalist who is the godson of David Duke and the son of Don Black, both former national leaders of the KKK with Don being the creator of Stormfront, the largest website for racism and white nationalism with over 300,000 members.
Why do some, like me, continue to read about, discuss, and research racism and its effects? Because folks like me are tired of dealing with it almost every single day of our lives and it is not our responsibility to fix it. I am sick of hearing these arguments from people who have never experienced racism talk about how it is just the “actions of a few” and that black and brown folks are just “fear-mongering.” This is real life, and racism has a multitude of negative impacts on our lives.
The older I get, in addition to the expected suffering we all experience in life, the weight of past racist incidents endured combined with the new ones arising every week weigh me down more and more.
I. Am. Tired.
My parents are in their early 60’s, which means when they grew up in MD, they were part of the first generation to attend integrated public schools. And, per their accounts, it was miserable. Why are some folks in our country under the assumption that this recent history can just magically go away? Per Robert Mueller’s testimony and recent report, we currently have a foreign government using our unresolved race issues against us. And all it boils down to is simply believing someone else’s experience.
This is exhausting. I’m tired of the lack of empathy, compassion, and simple lack of just giving a damn about what people go through.
I can’t immediately change anyone’s mind through a Facebook post, but maybe I can plant a few seeds and help two or three people reflect and begin to read and listen to the data, historical accounts, and current lived experiences of black and brown folks… and maybe… just maybe… a few will begin to think differently and pass that paradigm shift onward.
Despite my deep frustration, I feel we as a society will eventually get this right (for the most part). And right now, all I want is for anyone reading this to reflect and imagine life from the shoes of someone else. We are in this together folks, and our inability to see the plights of others is currently resulting in children being placed in cages because they are “illegal” and for bigots to march proudly down the street.
Our greatest strength (diversity) will continue to be our greatest weakness if more folks cannot accept the reality of racial inequalities and overall bigotry that is so strong within our borders and extending back to our country’s inception and beyond.
May we all value each other’s lived experience.
Here are a few books to read and podcasts to listen to, if you are willing to take a chance:
- Black Man in a White Coat: https://www.amazon.com/Black-Man-White-Coat-Reflections/dp/1250105048
- High Price: https://www.amazon.com/High-Price-Neuroscientists-Self-Discovery-Challenges/dp/0062015893
- Divided by Faith: https://www.amazon.com/Divided-Faith-Evangelical-Religion-Problem/dp/0195147073
- Just Mercy: https://www.amazon.com/Just-Mercy-Story-Justice-Redemption/dp/081298496X
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: https://www.amazon.com/Black-Kids-Sitting-Together-Cafeteria/dp/0465083617
- The New Jim Crow: https://www.amazon.com/New-Jim-Crow-Incarceration-Colorblindness/dp/1595586431
- Evicted: https://www.amazon.com/Evicted-Poverty-Profit-American-City/dp/0553447459
- Seeing White (podcast): https://www.sceneonradio.org/seeing-white/
- Rising Out of Hatred – The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist: https://www.amazon.com/Rising-Out-Hatred-Awakening-Nationalist/dp/0385542860
- Hidden Brain (episode about implicit bias): https://www.npr.org/2018/03/09/591895426/the-mind-of-the-village-understanding-our-implicit-biases