“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963
He made this statement 56 years ago today. Sadly, this dream is not yet realized. When I say it is not realized, I do not mean it in the way that you probably think.
Since that speech was given, many laws have been changed to remove barriers, many shifts in culture have made more people more accepted in more circles, and someone who is not of European descent has served as President of the United States. Despite those signs of progress, the color of your skin remains of utmost importance to far too many people. There are still, unfortunately, people who think human beings are inherently unequal, with some being higher life forms than others, and the skin color is what determines the order of rank. I suspect we will never run out of these people, and that’s a shame. But that’s not the kind of mentality I lament today.
People believe that your skin color determines what you are supposed to do, think and believe. This is what I lament, and hate. Browse news channel websites, any social media platform, or political forum, and you will see a sickening amount of stereotypes.
- The expectation of people born in Central or South America is that they have no ability – or desire – to speak English, that they will put 5 people in every bedroom of their home, and just work outdoors.
- The expectation of people who are descendants of people from Africa is that they listen to rap music, eat fried chicken and watermelon, love violence, are also not fans of proper English, and will never vote for anyone other than Democrats.
- The expectation of people who are descendants of people from Western Europe is that they hate everyone that doesn’t look like them, they are responsible for the oppression of those people for the last 1,000 years, and owe them things (especially money), that they are “people of privilege” and should be ashamed of who they are.
What got me to thinking about this? It started earlier this year, when it was announced that the annual basketball tournaments of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the oldest conference of historically black colleges and universities, will move from Charlotte after the 2020 tournaments and will be held in Baltimore from 2021 to 2023. If those tournaments are deemed a success, they will probably stay there for many more years.
I observed that in the last few years, locals seemed to be more focused on the inconveniences – larger traffic jams, no place to park, long lines at restaurants at lunchtime, etc. – than the benefits of the tournaments and tourists spending money here. Another Twitter user replied, “Can’t we be honest that most of the “citizen complaints” are mere covers for their racism and discomfort with black people?” I responded, “I’m sure it is for some. I don’t make it a point to dig for racism in every situation. I’d like to think people have just been saying, ‘I hate this full parking lot’ instead of ‘I hate this parking lot being full of black people.’ I try to think the best of people.” He wasn’t having any of it. “White silence is consent. By not calling it out, we perpetuate white supremacy.”
Look again at what I said earlier about people’s expectations of white people (third bullet point). This Twitter exchange is an example of that. I have no idea what the ethnic background of this Twitter user is, and I don’t care to, because it doesn’t matter. The suggestion is that any person of pallor who insinuates anything negative about any black people is only doing so out of racism. It is not possible for there to be any other reason. It can’t be aggrivation because you can’t find a parking space. It can’t be worry over the shootings that occurred for a few consecutive years in the middle of this decade during CIAA week. It can’t be skepticism that the positive economic impact was being exaggerated (it was). It can’t be frustration because there’s an hour wait at every restaurant within walking distance, but you really wanted to leave the office for lunch today. It can’t be exasperation because it takes you 45 minutes to get out of downtown when you try to drive home. No, none of those are accurate. It’s only because you are racist. This Twitter user charges that racism is the one and only reason anyone would have for being OK with the CIAA leaving town. I completely reject this charge.
“Racist” is a word that is used incorrectly these days. Dictionary.com defines it as “a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that one’s own racial group is superior or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.” I think most of the time, a better word would be prejudice, or “1) an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason; 2) any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable; 3) unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.”
I think all the accusations that the current US President is a racist/white supremacist are a good example of using “racist” where “prejudiced” is a better word. I don’t think he harbors a belief that he is inherently superior to people of other races just because they are people of other races. I do sense that he has preconceived ideas about people of other races. That is prejudice, not racism. (DISCLAIMER: I didn’t vote for him. I voted for the Libertarian candidate in 2016, and I’m about 99% sure I will do so again in 2020, even though we don’t know who that will be yet.)
Why else is this getting stuck in my craw? Identity politics. I am so completely sick of people demonizing other people for not having the political beliefs consistent with the expectations assigned to their skin color. Some of the evil things being said about Stacey Dash and Candace Owens are almost criminal – and it’s all because they are conservatives, and black people are supposed to be Democrats. I shake my head at the number of black people that are demonizing black conservatives with insults like “Uncle Tom” and “sellout” and swearing that they are stupid. And it’s all because they are not Democrats. I still believe that the Civil Rights Act being passed by a Democrat super-majority in Congress and signed into law by a Democrat President proves absolutely nothing about the Democrat Party being pro-black and thus making the Republican Party anti-black. Politicians aren’t really concerned about racial and social justice. They are concerned with votes and their own wallets. The speeches they make, laws they write, and everything else they do is done to increase their vote total in the next election and secure more lucrative private business deals for themselves as a result of being in an elected office.
Here’s where I really have issue with this whole “You are black, therefore you must vote 100% Democrat” argument. If you’re in the company of a black person who happens to say, “Hey, I’m hungry.” If any non-black person were to say, “Oh, there’s a fried chicken place right over there,” or something similar, the black person would become enraged – and that would be the correct reaction. The black person would likely accuse that person of being a racist, or at a minimum, ask why that person leaped to that stereotype. Going back to the above bullet points, if you expect that if someone’s skin is a certain color (s)he will do these things, is that not stereotyping? Is that not prejudice? So if “you’re a hungry black person, you must want fried chicken and watermelon” is stereotyping at best and racist at worst, then isn’t expecting a black person to vote Democrat not the same thing? Then why is it absolutely demanded, to the point that if a black person wants to vote for a Republican or a Libertarian, (s)he is accused of being an Uncle Tom, a sellout, or “denying/forgetting you are black”? My wife once cast a vote for a single Republican to protest a law a Democrat championed, and that’s exactly what some family members said to her – “you do remember you’re black, right?” was what one other family member said to her.
Why can’t every person, regardless of the amount of melanin in their epidermis, be allowed to examine the issues, examine the people campaigning for office to address the issues, and decide who is best, regardless of party affiliation? Why is it required that if your ancestors are from a certain region that you must vote one way, and one way only?
I’ll tell you why. Because people in this world still judge other people by the color of their skin, the content of their character be damned. May God have mercy on us all.