They say no one is born a racist. Yet I believe that racism was placed upon my shoulders as soon as it could rear it’s ugly head and expose itself to me. Not just one source mind you, but multiple reminders that some people I had been taught to admirer by my parents were also controversial because of the color of their skin.
I had been sheltered for a short time, but soon the reality of what was going on in the turbulent sixties permeated any walls of culture my family had erected in respect of a person’s talent and their character.
There was a time of fear with angry mobs that rioted and gave me a taste of what being hated for the color of ones complexion could feel like. Helplessness. But I always knew that I was spared the hatred and resentment because I could hide behind being white.
Sometimes I would be with a group of peers and someone would say something horrific and even though I could see that some others were also uncomfortable with the hate speak, it would take until my teen years before I learned to tactfully rebuke the offender by pointing out simply that they shouldn’t say things like that, even as a joke.
Many in my generation (baby boomers) were beginning to think that the worst aspects of racial prejudice were behind us. I mean after all, we had elected the first black president for two terms. We all had the audacity of hope didn’t we?
Apparently not. The ugly propaganda began almost immediately after the election with false accusations that the President was born in Kenya and not a legitimate candidate. The false narratives continued with Obama’s Affordable Care Act being accused of having death panels, Obama is Muslim (not that it should have been a problem if he was) and that he somehow was a “race baiter” - a term used almost exclusively by racists.
The convenient marriage of the alt-right fringe groups with the Tea Party extremists and evangelicals in the Republican Party produced the Frankenstein monster that became the Trump presidency. A smart alliance for a candidate who knew this contingency as an active voter block who could be counted on in key states across the electoral landscape.
Anyone who paid attention to Trump campaign rallies saw the increased boldness which produced small violent skirmishes that seemed to be encouraged by the candidate. The rhetoric became more hateful towards not just people of Muslim faith but also for Latinos and Mexicans who became vilified by Trump as drug dealers and rapists.
Many went to the polls thinking this madness would go away and as Trump grew into the presidency he would calm down on his divisiveness. On Tuesday afternoon he let all doubt about his base connections be cast away. Trump is a fringe group sympathizer
who will not denounce the march on Charlotte and is defending their right to “peacefully protest” because after all they had permits.
The nation weeps. Our chief executive is a disgrace.
Do yourself a favor (even if you don’t feel any effects of this new racist climate) and please go visit the Stages of Freedom website at http://www.stagesoffreedom.org/ and explore some programs and lectures that might enlighten you to check in on what is really going on with inter racial relationships and outreach by prominent members of both the culture and community.
Finally, I would ask you to speak out in these times. If you witness any outrageous racist behavior, stand witness and speak up. Don’t let only the haters do the shouting. Blow those cheap torches out.
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