Racism Didn’t Exist Before Obama: Exercises in Blaming the Victim

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I have heard more than one person say recently that racism didn’t exist before Obama. Yes, you read that right.

At the risk of speaking in a space where there are PoC whose voices should be heard, I will listen to Awesomely Luvvie and do my part to bring equality, reconciliation, education, and justice where I can.

The way I see it is this …

This country was built in large part on the backs of slave labor.

When slaves spoke up/rose up slave owners said, things like this: “Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually. –John C. Calhoun” They denied there was a problem. They blamed the slaves for causing the problem. 

Racism didn’t exist before them.

Eventually, the abolitionists and slaves were able to win but only after 620,000 people were killed in the Civil War.

When the practice of slavery was finally abolished and slaves were given their freedom and subsequently black men were given the vote in 1872, white folks congratulated themselves on how far they had come and the sacrifices they had made. And when black folks complained about the laws and practices put in place to make it virtually impossible for them to exercise that vote — THEY were blamed for being the ones causing problems.

Racism didn’t exist before them.

After the Reconstruction, we entered the Jim Crow era. Black citizens had more freedom, more access to education and services, and more rights than ever before. But guess what? Still FAR from equal. Separate and NOT EVEN CLOSE to equal. And guess what? When people like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the young men from the Woolworth counter, and countless others had the nerve to say “It isn’t enough, we are still not equal”, THEY BLAMED THEM for being the troublemakers.

Racism didn’t exist before them.

Eventually, schools were integrated, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, Affirmative Action was put in place to help correct injustices in hiring and college admission, etc. But guess what? There are still racial inequalities and racial injustice. Is it better than it was? Of course. Are we done? Not even close. And when the oppressed stand up (or sit down, or take a knee) who gets blamed for the racism? THEM.

Racism didn’t exist before them.

Enter Barak Obama, our nation’s first black President. This advance of culture and equality as the many before it causes the latent racism present in our society to bubble to the surface. Because where there is racism, there is fear. Fear of the other and fear of losing privilege. As Reza Aslan said so eloquently when I heard him speak a few weeks ago, if all you know about black people is what you hear on Fox News, of course you’re scared. He also said “fear is impervious to data”, which explains why some people are so deep in their fear that they cannot see the forest for the trees. But go ahead, bring up biased policing or the school to prison pipeline, or the inequities in arrests and sentencing of minorities, or any other racial injustice and watch how quickly you are branded “troublemaker”, “part of the problem”, or “race baiter”. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

Racism didn’t exist before Obama.

Racism didn’t exist before YOU.

Lies. That is all lies. Racism has always existed and likely always will – at least in some dark corners. But what I see here is a pattern of HOPE if we don’t give up. IF we keep speaking, and sitting, and standing, and kneeling, and singing, and legislating, and educating, and marching, and LOVING — if we keep doing these things the world will continue to change for the better. More freedom will come. More equality will come. More love and acceptance and reconciliation will come. That is the legacy of all those who have gone before us. That is what we owe them. That is what we owe our children. That is THE Dream.

Racism existed BEFORE you but it doesn’t have to exist IN you.

 

 

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What are the Odds?

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This was the comment I posted with an article from AwesomelyLuvvie on Facebook.  This morning in the stark light of day we find ourselves with not one, but two more dead black men who should still be alive. Rather than write my own post about it, I would like you to read Luvvie’s post.

White people. Yes, you. Even you nice ones. These things that are happening? These horrifying things that are happening to my people? They are because people who look like you, have set up a system of supremacy that flourishes. It is one that says people who look like me are violent, threats. It doesn’t matter if they’re holding books, wallets, bags of skittles. It is one that allows people to be killed by cops while sitting in their cars. It allows people to be killed while they lay on the ground with their hands showing. It allows people to be killed while walking away.

Is she mad? Does she use some strong language? You bet she does and she is. SOmetimes strong language is needed.

If you want to know what you can do, start here:
http://www.joincampaignzero.org/solutions/

If you want something else to read, start here:

White America, It’s Time to Take a Knee


Now for some talk about refugees and the odds you will be killed by one.

 

If you like Donald Trump Jr. are afraid of refugees and terrorists I would like you to consider this…

These are the odds these things will happen to you in your lifetime:

Killed by a terrorist:     1 in 20,000,000

Being shot to death:    1 in 300

Being raped:                   1 in 5 for women, 1 in 71 for men

It is funny how Republicans and specifically Trump want us to be much more scared of the terrorists (and our Muslim neighbors) than we are of the Brock Turners of this country (and the Judges who slap them on the wrist) and the NRA which are both MUCH more dangerous.


Finally to tie these two issues together and drive home the point…

In The United States of America, you are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.

I am not saying this because I believe all police officers to be worse than terrorists (on the contrary, I believe most officers to be people who really just want to protect, serve, and go home to their families). I am simply saying it is much more logical for one to be scared of being shot by a police officer, a toddler, or a licensed gun owner than by a terrorist.


[A parting gift: Last week I went to a lecture by Reza Aslan where he talked about bigotry. He made an excellent point that bigotry is not actually rooted in ignorance (we all know some really intelligent bigots) but rather rooted in FEAR. Fear of the other. Fear of progress. Fear of losing privilege. Fear of _______. Then he dropped this truth bomb, “Fear is impervious to data”. All our talking and posting is good, but what really changes things is the hard work of relationship. Opening oneself up to loving people different from ourselves. To see that we are all connected. That what affects our neighbor whether black, brown, white, Asian, hispanic, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, gay, straight, trans, bi or any other distiction effects us ALL. We are all in this together. We should be about the business of “walking each other home”.]

It has all just been too much.

I have not posted for awhile. Here is why.

It has all just been too much.

Brock Turner

The Pulse Nightclub Mass Shooting

Alton Sterling

Philando Castile

The 5 Police Officers gunned down in Dallas

The Killing of a US Citizen by Robot Bomb

The Nice, France Bastille Day Massacre

The hatred in my newsfeed – for blacks, for cops, for Muslims

The craziness of the Presidential Election. Seriously, we are going from President Obama to Trump Inc. or Hillary?!? What the hell?

Y’all…the developing Republican Platform.

This is by no means a comprehensive list.

It is exhausting. And heartbreaking. And even though there is no time in history when it was better to be alive – There is still…

SO. MUCH. PAIN.

There is too much hate and not enough love.

There is too much division and not enough community.

There is too much suspicion and not enough trust.

There is too much blame and not enough understanding.

Here is where I stand. 

Black Lives Matter.

I support law abiding Police Officers and thank them for their service.

Rape is wrong.

Killing unarmed people is wrong.

I am pro common sense gun control laws.

As a white ally, I must stand up and confront racism whenever and wherever I encounter it. I also must examine my own motives and assumptions every day.

As a white feminist, I must listen to my sisters of color and their experience and recognize that even as women, we are frequently not treated equally.

Truly loving our neighbors (all our neighbors – including people of color AND good cops), which means sacrificing for their wellbeing, standing up for them when they are being mistreated, and providing and protecting their children is the only remedy.

We must look for the image of God in one another. For we are all Imago Dei and none of us is better or more human than another.

I will leave you with this prayer.

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