It turns out I’m more naive than I thought. I blame it on being white.
See, I thought we’d pretty much handled the worst of racism. When Lyndon Johnson got civil rights laws passed, when affirmative action came in and as a liberal Baby Boomer, by the new MilleniumI thought we were in fairly good shape.
Sure, maybe there were pockets of racism but for the most part, it was a relic here in the good old USA. For the most part.
Boy, was I wrong.
Nooses, racial epithets, awful notes, confrontations? Racism — institutional and individual– is alive and well, institutionally and in our neighborhoods. Among people we know.
“Where did this come from”? I thought.
As it turns out, it was always there. Lurking. Had no idea. Because it doesn’t happen to me. I’m white. I didn’t see it because I am white.
But now that the awful man in the Oval has turned rocks over and exposed it, we can’t miss it. We can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. We are forced to address it.
It’s not that he created racism. It’s that it was always there and he gave those vermin permission to show it.
There are two schools of thought on this. One is that it would’ve been better if this had not happened. The other is that it’s good that we have exposed this hatred to the sunlight so we can address it. Eradicate it Get rid of it.
I come down on the second side. Let’s see it so we can tamp it out. Because we can’t address things that we can’t see.
When it comes to how to get rid of racism once and for all, I’m clueless. I suspect it will take generations. It certainly is taking too long. But it will take longer still if we don’t see it to address it. And we must address it incident by incident, as it comes up. We must not give it air. Leave no room for air.
When we hear or see racism, call it out.
When we see it, do something about it.
“See something, say something” is more than just a BOLO for terrorism. It’s a Be On the LookOut for racist behavior, too.
I’d love your thoughts.