racist – noun – a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another.
Quite often we use words that we don’t actually know the meaning of. A racist is often portrayed as someone who hates people from other races, but that’s not the definition at all.
Is it wrong to think that people of African descent, ie, blacks, are better athletes than other races? Is it wrong to think that Romans, ie, Italians were better artists that other races? Is it wrong to think that Celtics, ie Irishmen were the greatest writers on the planet? Is it wrong to think the men are better at providing, and women are better at nurturing?
Am I a racist? Am I a sexist? Am I a bigot?
For the last week, we have been inundated with the images coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, site of the shooting death of an unarmed black teen at the hands of white police officer. Prior to last week, I had never heard of Ferguson, a town with a population of just over 21,000 people.
For a week, we have seen images of protests and violent clashes and looting flashing across the screen. The media has swarmed like flies on this small town and camped out with their cameras and klieg lights. In some cases, the media has become the story.
And much like the OJ debacle, the racial divide in this country has come front and center.
I don’t profess to know what happened out on that street. I don’t claim to have any ideas how to solve the racial issues of this country.
I do know that the racial divide still exists; it’s just buried now. Unspoken, out of fear of being labeled or blackballed.
When he first came into office, Attorney General Eric Holder called the U.S., a “nation of cowards” or racial issues.
Damn right, Eric.
A few years ago, I worked a night shift with 5 women; 3 were black, 2 were Filipino. We had some fairly interesting conversations/debates about race and gender. The discussions would often get heated, but never personal. I like to think that we were all friends, although none of us ever went out for beers and burgers.
Word must have gotten around about our conversations and I was told, “Stop talking about race.”
Last night, I watched Don Lemon host a town hall about race in America, and for the first time, I wished that I could teleport to that studio just to be a part of that discussion. The people in the audience seemed to have some interesting thoughts and ideas, but they just weren’t savvy enough, just not articulate enough to get them across properly. They needed someone with great oratory skills to bring their words to light.
They needed me.
Ok, maybe not. But the whole show got me thinking about it and when I woke up at 5am, I had no choice but to write about it.
I have not interviewed anyone. I have not conducted any studies. I profess no expertise on racial relations in America, but from what I have observed, and from what I have heard, two distinct camps have emerged.
White people don’t want to believe that this cop summarily executed this kid in cold blood simply because he was black. They want there to be some other reason; he was a thug, he was a thief, he was attempting to go for the cops gun. Anything.
Black people want this cop tried and convicted of murder. I don’t see any middle ground.
The media has done everything they can to fan both sides of the debate. They portray the blacks in Ferguson as violent thugs bent on looting and rioting.
Every time they show a white person, it’s a militant cop pushing black people around.
In 2008, Barack Obama was elected the first black president of the United States. I didn’t vote for Obama because I felt he was too inexperienced and too influenced by socialist ideals to be the right man to run this country. But as I watched the inauguration, I swelled with pride at the fact that I lived in a country that had evolved to the point where we had elevated from the stain of past atrocities to be able to elect an African-american to the highest office in the land.
I was then disgusted to watch as a small segment of the population called out the president for being ineligible to hold the office because he wasn’t born in America, when there was simply no shred of evidence to support that cockamamie theory. Not one. It was the first time in my memory that a candidate has been asked to prove his birth status. It was obviously an attempt to smear the man simply because he was black. The irony of it all was that no one questioned the eligibility of his opponent, even though John McCain was actually born in Panama. At the time, the Panama Canal was under US control, so he got a pass.
Last night on CNN, Spike Lee, an idiot who used to be a good filmmaker, but now is just an idiot, stated that there is “a war on the black male, and it’s tearing the country apart”. I wanted to kick the TV in. I was so angry, I was stuttering. Earlier in the day, another nitwit on MSNBC, Michelle Bernard, stated that America was “going to turn into a genocide if it doesn’t stop.”
My only thought was what I had read in so many different articles about crime in this country;
the leading killer of black males in this country is other black males.
I went to bed angry. My first thought was, “it’s your problem, it’s your community, you fix it.”
But it’s not just “their” problem. It’s all of our problem. I have no idea how to fix it, and I can’t talk about it publicly, because I’m a coward on race. Eric Holder were was right.
After tossing and turning for 5 hours, I woke up with two thoughts in my head. I needed to write them down, not knowing if I would have the courage to publish it.
60 years after the civil rights marches, after the civil rights act, after the death of Dr. King, after the election of Barack Obama –
White people are still afraid of the young, black male.
Black people still don’t trust white people to give them a fair shake.
I didn’t know if this was actually true, but that’s how I felt.
I tried to think of all the times that I heard the words, “token hire” or “affirmative action” whenever a black person got a promotion. I thought of a time when I heard the phrase “you know why she got the job…” when referring to a white woman that was elevated to Vice President at a bank that I worked at.
Did these things really happen, or did I make them up in my sub-conscious to justify my feelings.
I’ve been living in NYC my entire life. I’ve lived through the murderous 80’s. I’ve lived through the crack epidemic and the only time I’ve been a victim of a crime was when my first girlfriends’ “other” boyfriend stabbed me in a fight. He was whiter than me.
And yet in the past year, on more than one occasion, I had squared my shoulders and braced myself at the sight of three young black males on the train, because of the reports and videos of the knockout game. They never looked my way.
Does that make me a racist, or just an asshole?
No, it means I’m prejudiced. I pre-judged them based on their appearances.
I have three black friends and three black cousins, all of whom I love dearly, none of whom have ever been to my house for dinner.
In fact, the only people of color who have been to my home are the carmel-skinned-latinas that I tried to get to sleep with me.
Does that make me a racist, or just a sexist asshole?
I’m guessing the latter.
I’ve never written a blog like this, I’m not really sure it’s a good idea to publish this one now, but race is front and center in America right now, and Eric Holder and Don Lemon think we should be having this conversation.
I welcome your thoughts and comments, and if you happen to think that I’m a racist asshole, by all means say so, but please… refrain from making this an us-against-them debate.
You can contact me at Jimmcallen@yahoo.com, or you post your comments below.
Try not to be an asshole.