I seriously wonder about some of my fellow Americans. I want to believe we are a good people. I want to believe that our big battles regarding race are the harder, more insidious, but at least less overtly cruel ones. I mean, here we are, now more than fifty years past “I have a dream” and you would think that white people, even if they cannot get their heads unburied from their posterior regarding their privilege, could at least give up the notion of inherent racial superiority that so defined most white thought for most of our country’s history. Hell, for most of all Western history.
Then I have to get on the internet and find out that a group of fools suggested that a lynching of the President would one day be celebrated as a national holiday. You know it is bad enough when we have so-called allies that cannot bear to be called out for their insensitivity, but this is utterly beyond the pale. You can put up as many photoshopped hangings of his predecessor you want. I will point out, though it is hardly relevant, that doing so is the height of mendacity. Those old photos were made by foreigners. What is relevant is context. Yes, both photos are disturbing and disgusting. The former though, the one of our current President, cannot be viewed outside its obviously racist context. It cannot be discussed without discussing a history of lynching black men in America, a history that is, despite a Polly Anna attitude that is not limited to conservatives, hardly over.
This is also not an attitude limited to the South, or rural areas. It invades our Northern cities and suburbs as well. True, it is more pervasive south of the Mason-Dixon line, and outside the cities, but I am willing to bet that not one of my white readers, regardless of where they are from, can say they don’t have AT LEAST one relative that spouts this kind of nonsense. How often have you just rolled your eyes and walked away when someone cracks a “black” joke. How often do you just walk away when a family member complains about “those” people,” or makes a welfare crack with thinly veiled racist code? How often do you just sit and take it?
Well, if you are going to walk away, maybe you should entirely. For your own mental health for one. Being around toxic people is not exactly self-care. Also you have to ask yourself, how infected with these contagious and, yes, dangerous ideas are you becoming. Finally, it is best to walk away and tell them why. Just getting up and not saying why lets them make their own judgement about your motives. Let them know their hatred is not welcome in your company. Give them a time out. Let them know, under no uncertain terms, that as long as they continue with their hateful behavior, they need not be part of your life. Shame them into being better people, because that is what it is going to take.
It is probably a pretty safe bet that few people close to these jerks shares their level of racial animosity. They likely also have family members that disagree with them. I have said this before, but it needs repeating, and beyond the lines on your monitor, letting them get the last word lets them think they are right. Is it uncomfortable to deal with family like that? Without a doubt. You know what is even more uncomfortable though? Going through life with brown skin knowing that their murder is considered a punchline to far too many of your countrymen. Your racist family members attitudes condemn them, your silence condemns you. Speak with words and actions, and show them how truly little you think of your bigotry. Otherwise, your commitment to racial equality is seriously in question.