The first thing that struck me when I read about the murder by the young racist Roof was the amazement and shock most people interviewed expressed. I would not have been surprised by grief, anger, sadness, melancholy, or rage, but I was surprised by surprise. Where, I wondered, do these people live that they have not been aware of the ugly undercurrent of racism that has changed form in America from signs that proudly proclaim “ White only” to practices that daily say the same thing?
Racism is as American as apple pie and as widely savored by some. The displaying of the Confederate flags on trucks and houses in the North by people who have never been south of Cincinnati or had relatives who were ever south of Cincinnati is a not so tacit declaration of their racism. It is equally a sign of racism in the South.
When I went to UNC to work they took us on a week long bus tour of the state—only the important people, administrators and tenured faculty, the common people got no love. While we were being wined and dined, driven around the state looking at people and things we were often hosted by owners of banks, companies, mines or in one case mountains. On our way to one of these events, being given a personal tour of Grandfather Mountain by its owner Hugh Morton ( This trip early in my career at Carolina made me know I would never really fit in there. Who gets to own a fucking mountain?) we were driving up the incline and at the side of the road was a stand selling souvenirs, including Confederate flags. It was not on the grounds of the mountain complex, but before you got there. I , of course, made a comment about it. One of our guides, a man who in my short experience with him—he was a former editor of the News and Observer— I had pegged as a racist by some of his comments, stood up and told me quite loudly that those flags were for tourists, that North Carolinians did not buy or display that flag. About ten seconds later the bus was passed by a car proudly displaying the stars and bars on its bumper, it had a NC plate.
Americans have tolerated racism in all of its myriad forms since about the end of the 17th century. In the very beginning it was virtually unknown. But, the need to have free labor and the the failure to enslave the Native Americans meant that another group had to be found. The white ones disappeared too easily into the general population and besides mistreatment of them , folks who looked like you, caused push back sometimes. So blacks were relegated to the role of slaves. In order to make them unsympathetic the pro-slavers worked diligently to churn out print material about how inferior, animalistic, dumb ,hyper sexualized and uncivilized they were. They must be kept in check. If not kept in check they would rob, murder, and gasp! rape the white women! Sound familiar?
At no time in our history besides the brief actions of the Civil Rights Movement which was primarily directed at the South, has there been any effort to quell racism in an organized fashion in this country. The Civil Rights Movement itself concentrated, as it should have, on public accommodations and institutions, not on education about race or creating a moral imperative or even a societal standard that racism is unacceptable. Illegal in some cases, yes, unacceptable in your daily activities, no. As an American you have no responsibility to condemn racism, let alone help to eradicate it. We call that freedom in America. Freedom to be a bigot.
As a result white supremacy was bent, but not broken. With the election of Barack Obama the nightmares of lots of white folks have come back. “ They are taking over!” and the presumption is that if they do take over they will treat us like we treated them. Oh horrors!
There were white folks firmly convinced that the election of a black President would mean they are going to be enslaved as payback. The level of ignorance in that belief was so staggering i could not even get to the racism in it. I learned in 2008 that far too many Americans are morons. They lack critical thinking skills and have no concept of reality at all. Much of this is instilled by the modern pro-slavers like the Koch Brothers, North Carolina’s Art Pope, the Tea Party and Fox News. Daily doses of how dreadful black people are are really not designed, believe it or not for the simple goal of making people racists. If they fool these gullible mini-brained folks into thinking their main problem is black people they can pick their pockets of everything they have and keep them from advocating or even agreeing that change needs to be made in a country where one person can own a mountain.
Nothing black people have done, said or are created racism. It was created and is carefully tended and promoted by white people for profit. It is part of American capitalism. There is money in poverty, just not for the poor. Ask the owners of the for profit jails, the owners of the Payday loan places, the mortgage companies that charge blacks with the same credit twice as high an interest rate, the ads on television for easy credit that always feature black people in them, the schools where nothing is taught and nobody cares. As long as the people being denied educational equity, economic equity and equity in the justice system do not look like you you may not feel the need to confront the abusers. That is the problem of “those people.”
So America, you get what you bargained for. You allow bigotry, prejudice and racism and then are shocked when a racist shoots black people in church. You feign outrage and do absolutely nothing to address the root causes. You tell people it is time to pray heal. The 9 dead people were praying when they were shot and are going to have a hard time healing in the ground.
Turning the other cheek only gets you two bruises folks.
If you have heard people on television, in print media or anywhere else spewing race hatred and have been silent some of those bullets you bought. If you have just ignored it when people were trying to tell you that this country is broken when it comes to racism because you feel like it is not your business, you bought some of those bullets, if you have allowed you family members, co-workers, Fox News, or anyone else to tell lies about black people and have not spoken up, you bought one of those bullets and if you raised your child to believe black people are inferior, you pulled that trigger at least once.
Don’t like to talk about race because it makes you feel bad? Glad you have the decency to feel bad, sad you don’t have the decency or courage to change things so you don’t have to.