I imagine your Facebook exploded this month the same way mine did following the Paula Deen story and the Zimmerman verdict. Yours probably had people who see things the same way you do and people who will never see things the same way you do. The ones on mine who do not agree with me broke down into three distinct groups.
1. The people who do not think America has a racial problem.
2. The people who do not think anyone should ever talk about race, and,
3. The people who think whites are being discriminated against.
There is no sense wasting any typing on the first group; people who are that out of touch get to have opinions just as I do. Doesn’t mean I have to engage them. The second group, as long as they don’t agree with the first group, must think problems go away by themselves. If you hide it, no one will notice. Maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume they were trying to say that Facebook isn’t the place for such discussions. I disagree; Facebook can be more than pictures of what your friend ordered for dinner, shots of the kids playing in the pool and endless, endless, endless photos of dogs.
It’s the third group that interests me the most.
I know how they got that way. It’s not because they have any racial profiling horror stories of their own to tell. It’s because they listen to Limbaugh and Beck, watch Fox News and subscribe to right wing hate group literature. Those people and organizations all know their audience is made up of racists, and they know it’s in their best interests to feed them constant doses of reverse racism. That keeps their ratings up and makes the racists feel they are perfectly normal people because they all agree with each other. One big happy racist group. And nothing keeps their ratings up like convincing white people they are the victims.
It’s as if they believe their ancestors were enslaved and beaten and whipped and degraded and raped. And their grandparents were denied the right to vote, had separate schools and pools and drinking fountains. As if they ever had to explain that reality to their children. As if they’ve been denied housing and jobs because of the color of their skin. As if they’ve been followed around when they enter a mall, as if they’ve been stopped and frisked when they weren’t doing anything wrong, as if they’ve been harassed ever time they leave their house. As if the judicial system is so overwhelmingly against them. Racists are so oblivious to their own privilege they don’t even see it.
I remember watching President Obama’s speech in a joint session in 2009. He had been president all of nine months, yet a white Congressman from South Carolina thought nothing of yelling, “You lie!” at him, in the (what used to be) hallowed halls of Congress. Nothing like that would have ever happened to a white president. Bet they had a field day at Fox.
Back in the days leading up to the election, so many white people I know on Facebook were just enraged that a black politician was doing so well. They’d get annoyed their black friends were ecstatic. They’d ask, “Why can’t I be proud of my white race like they are of their black race? It’s not fair!” They didn’t get for a second that after 43 white presidents, this was something historic.
They felt like they weren’t the top dog anymore. So they got meaner. And nastier. And told themselves they were even more victimized. And they had Rush Limbaugh to lead the charge.
For the record, I am white. I am a white woman. But that’s another story for another day.
My brother called when he was in law school and asked if he could bring a friend home with him. It was a long holiday weekend and she lived too far from DC to go to her home. My parents said yes. (This was in the eighties; I’m a middle-aged white woman, generously speaking, too.) I know what my parents were thinking. Future wife. And my brother walked in the house with a black woman. (I know what my parents were thinking, then, too.) After they left, she called him later in the week, asking him if he couldn’t bring home a nice, white, Irish Catholic girl next time.
He said, “Ma, I don’t care if she’s white. Or black. Or brown. I don’t care if she’s Irish, or Guatemalan or Korean. I don’t care if she’s Catholic, Jewish or an atheist. I only care that she’s not Republican.
Words to live by.