This last week saw a heinous act by an emotionally unbalanced human being; that of the cold-blooded murder of 9 human beings. These people were mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and the sons and daughters of others. They were hard workers, trying to make their way in this world like the rest of us. They were regular church goers, which at this time, is more than I can say for myself. They also happened to be black, and the shooter happened to be a white guy who was apparently also a racist.
That being said, it is sad to see that this tragedy is being used as a pulpit for politicians and others to finger point and pontificate to us, the white guy, that we are all racists. I have to ask in this case: if strangers are calling me a racist, without having first spoken with me and gotten to know me, or calling a collection of white people racist without first having ascertained that to be a fact, then who is the racist here? Who is exhibiting prejudice? The definition of prejudice is as follows:
Prejudice is prejudgment, or forming an opinion before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case. The word is often used to refer to preconceived, usually unfavorable, judgments toward people or a person because of gender, political opinion, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, language, nationality, or other personal characteristics. In this case, it refers to a positive or negative evaluation of another person based on their perceived group membership. Prejudice can also refer to unfounded beliefs and may include “any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence”. Gordon Allport defined prejudice as a “feeling, favorable or unfavorable, toward a person or thing, prior to, or not based on, actual experience”.
Over the course of the last 8 years, I have been accused more than once of being racist because I did not vote for Obama. Moreover, I have been very outspoken against his policies. My choice to not vote for Obama and the fact that I vehemently disagree with and dislike what he is doing to our country, has nothing whatever to do with his race. I frankly could not care less if he were purple. I care very much, however, that he has saddled this country with an enormous amount of debt since he took office.
Yet politicians and other public figures, including Obama himself, accuse EVERYONE who is white of being racist. In Obama’s eulogy in Charleston just this week, he said:
“Maybe we now realize the way racial bias can infect us even when we don’t realize it, so that we’re guarding against not just racial slurs, but we’re also guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal. (Applause.) So that we search our hearts when we consider laws to make it harder for some of our fellow citizens to vote.”
My FIRST objection with what Obama said here is that he is accusing us in general of using voter ID laws to make it harder for people to vote. This was a HIGHLY inappropriate remark to make at a funeral! He was using the Reverend Pinckney’s funeral to campaign about a political issue. Had I been Pinckney’s widow, I would have been incredibly offended at ANYONE using my husband’s funeral as a soapbox for their political agenda.
My second objection is this: IF I am going to be “infected” by racial bias, I will damn well be aware of it. As will anyone else. If I call Johnny back for a job rather than Jamal, it will be because Johnny has a better resume and better references. If it turns out that Jamal will do the better job I will invariably hire Jamal. I would be in business to make money – and that means I need workers who do the best possible job. Most sensible employers feel the same way. And if they don’t, why on earth would Jamal want to work in that company to begin with?
Additionally I object to anyone finger-pointing and assuming that because I am white, and worse, and slightly upper-middle class (although probably not for much longer!) and worse still, an at-home Mom, that I am therefore bigoted and the product of “white privilege”. Such assumptions and biases are themselves racist. I am tired to death of being thus accused. I am tired of having to watch carefully every word that comes out of my mouth (or my pen) for fear it would “offend” someone. I am tired of the choices I and my family make being held up to scrutiny under a microscope in order for one little shred of evidence to be found that we might be racist, sexist, homophobic, or what have you. I am tired of being presumed to be such.
It would be well if politicians and others would stop the rhetoric about race, gender, and sexual orientation. It is unfair and unjust to make sweeping generalizations about a group of people, accusing us of qualities we do not possess – much the same as they say we accuse them and treat them. While I do not deny that discrimination of all sorts exist – and they do – it is rarely if ever an unconscious bias. Racism and other types of discrimination are usually at the fore front of the mind of the ignorant people who embrace them, simply because it fills them with anger and vitriol. Embracing hatred of any sort is like drinking poison and waiting for the other guy to die, and it shows; it does not hide in the shadows and in the unconscious parts of the mind.
Obama goes on to say: (apparently quoting Pinckney)
“Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history — we haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.” (Applause.) What is true in the South is true for America. Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other. That my liberty depends on you being free, too. (Applause.) That history can’t be a sword to justify injustice, or a shield against progress, but must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past — how to break the cycle.”
CLEM????? Isn’t that as bad as using “boy” or worse with regard to an African American? Who is using the sword here to justify injustice? And when it is said that history must be a manual to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, wiping out traces of the Confederate States and their past is doing just exactly that. While I have no objection whatever of the Confederate flag being removed from the State Capitol of South Carolina, I find it VERY objectionable to talk of banning things such as the movie “Gone With the Wind”. I find it DEEPLY disturbing that the portraits of such luminaries as General Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson have been removed from the Army War College recently because they were “enemy combatants”. By the same token, Britain’s Royal Family are usually welcomed here with a State Dinner. Yet as late as 1812, less than 50 years before the start of the Civil War, Britain was our enemy. Moreover they very nearly threw in with the Confederate States against the Union.
We have a troubling double standard going in our society, fueled both by a chaos loving media, and a President and others who use every opportunity to fan the flames with accusatory rhetoric. I am no more responsible for the actions of Dylan Roof in Charleston last week than President Obama is of my having been robbed at gunpoint in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago by a black man. I am no more responsible for slavery or for Jim Crow than Turks who are alive now would be responsible for the Armenian Genocide. None of us are responsible for events which happened prior to our births. We are responsible for the present and for the future, and for our own actions, not those of someone else. As such, it is up to all of us to avoid pointing fingers and making accusations against anyone excepting against those who are responsible. We should not be on trial for the sins of our fathers, nor should anyone forget that we are innocent until proven otherwise beyond the shadow of doubt.