Not going to talk directly about my personal situation anymore, mainly because I would assume that most people are sick and tired for hearing about it by now but what I will say is that it opened up a whole new can of worms for me. I had no idea how negatively sensitive most white people are to the notion that racism is just as strong or stronger in this country today than it was when I was growing up in the 50s and that their sole answer to institutionalized racism is simply denial. Denial that racism exists certainly, but vehement denial that they might harbor a smidgen of it in the darkest recesses where all the little bits are stirred together that make a person an individual.
One of the ways in which I was ignorant is illustrated by the fact that until the totally manufactured controversy over Chris Rock’s Fourth of July tweet, I had no idea that mentioning the fact that outright slavery had once existed as an accepted institution in this country for most of the first century of its existence and that the bitterness arising from a conflict that nearly brought the country down in an attempt to maintain that institution was “reverse racism”. I don’t know why I hadn’t realized it. I’ve been well aware of the rewriting of history in other areas to minimize the histories and the contribution of racial minorities in the overall history of our country but in this one… perhaps the biggest of all… it just blew on by me.
Perhaps it was my own racial blind spot, that little particle of racism that I’m pretty sure exists in all of us but that I thought I had drug out, faced squarely and dealt with thoroughly many years ago. I think I’m finally seeing that there’s a lot more subtle nuances to racism than I had considered previously and as a result I’m having to go through the process again and try to recognize and deal with those that I had missed. Hopefully, there aren’t TOO many or my entire self view is going to be a total mess, but it’s something I need to work on if I’m ever going to consider myself a part of the HUMAN race without any attachments or accouterments dragging along behind.
Another important factor I hadn’t taken into consideration was that while retrospection and self-examination are all well and good, the mere hint that others… that all of us… might do well to examine some of our own favorite prejudices and assumptions can get you in a lot of trouble with some people who tend to look upon such a suggestion as a personal affront, an insult to their own integrity or moral/ethical standards. Most people simply don’t WANT to be faced with reminders of their own fallibility and will react to any such suggestion with a degree of anger that would appear to be all out of proportion to the perceived slight. I know this not only because I’ve seen it in others, but because I’ve seen it in myself. My initial reaction to something that make me see things in myself that I don’t particularly like or want to see is often anger, often in my case probably powered by embarrassment at not meeting the standards I had set for myself.
People simply do not like to have their basic assumptions, their world views and… most especially… their images of themselves challenged and will react quite vigorously at any perceived attempt to do so. While this may be perfectly natural, it is NOT conducive to the understanding of any other point of view and while I’m nothing much more than a feeble-minded old coot I can see that failure … that inability… to recognize that the other guy might just have a valid viewpoint as possibly a major factor in the degree of polarization the election of our first black president has obviously brought into play.
I’ve spoken before about the almost universal hatred felt toward Barack Obama… not Barack Obama the President Of The Untied States but Barack Obama the man himself, who just happens to BE the President of the United States. I had suggested that there might be a racial component to this almost obsessive hatred and received a heavy dose of the same kind of derisive venom myself with some people who were very important in my life basically severing all ties with me for suggesting it.
So now, I have a whole new question… if it isn’t racism, what DOES motivate this contempt and hatred for the man and by natural extension, anyone perceived as defending him against it? What are the differences between he and I or the differences between he and those expressing all that hate that could justify the reaction his election has brought about? Why does opposition to the man go so far beyond the normal opposition you would expect from people merely having differing political views or ideologies?
I wish just one of those people who hate this man to the point that they would sell this country out to Wall Street just to keep him from being elected would answer what seems to me to be a fairly simple and straightforward question… if it isn’t his race, what is it?