— rac·ist \-sist also -shist\noun or adjective
Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
— big·ot·ed \-gə-təd\adjective
I recently met a woman who emigrated from Sierra Leone to America by way of England. Having gotten my worldview of race relations in that country from BBC America, I had assumed that racism and bigotry were relatively non-existent. Unlike American television programming, British TV series tend to be more inclusive of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. She nipped that misconception in the bud with “The racists in England will tell you to your face. In America they a sneaky about their feelings.” After President Obama was elected her ex-husband called repeatedly, begging her to go back to England because of the hateful and nasty rhetoric being heard from across the pond. But she said no, her children were teenagers now and settled into the American culture.
Racism and bigotry have been a part of the American fabric since the first white men stepped onto North American soil. Initially their focus was on the members of The First Nation, deemed heathens and too ignorant to manage their lands, so they took them off their hands. Then it was the enslaved people from Africa, bought and sold as a commodity, because the color of their skin denoted little or no intelligence or potential of such.
Having come of age in the Detroit area during the 60’s and 70’s, with its civil rights movement and the war on poverty, I thought a new paradigm was unfolding. Not being a foolish person I knew it would take time to win over the hearts and minds of some of the strongest proponents of these types of behavior. Sadly, here we are, as a nation, ending the year 2011, with the vestiges of ignorance still firmly planted in the souls of America’s so-called leaders, whether they be members of Congress, titans of industry, or the religious right. This behavior can be felt, heard, and seen, simmering just below the surface of our society.
All of this came to the forefront when President Obama was elected by a vast majority of the country. Unfortunately, that election also brought us the 2008 The New Yorker cover, meant as satire, of President and First Lady Obama as Islamic terrorists. Or the Tea Party, spitting on black members of Congress and flashing racist posters of Obama.
The GOP in congress and their Tea Party puppet masters have attacked just about everything the President has proposed, from blocking critical appointments of ambassadors to judges. In many states they are attempting to sabotage voting rights, along with threatening the government safety net for millions of poor, elderly, and working poor. Most of whom are people of color …. and Obama backers.
But it’s not just members of Congress. It’s been known for years the law enforcement and the judicial system ROUTINLY mete out “justice” heavy handedly to people of color verse those who are white. Remember, “everything is a business model” including the American prison system.
Businesses such as Koch Industries, whose owners back some of the harshest policies against the poor and working poor, primarily people of color. Or Lowes, pulling their advertising dollars from a program about Muslim Americans in Dearborn Michigan, because a small religious group complained.
Which brings me to those bible thumping, “Jesus is my Lord”, God fearing religious right Christians in America, including many GOP’ers, wanting to dismantle any and all government sponsored safety nets for the poor children, women, and elderly. Though I consider myself a “heathen”, I vaguely recall from my Catholic school days that Jesus was ALL about the have not’s and against the “money changers”, the biblical Wall Cheaters of their day. Call me crazy, but I think these “holy rollers” have missed His message of love for all and all for each other.
As I told the woman from Sierra Leone, they are a very small segment of American society, they just happen to have big mouths and even bigger wallets. So Tribe, it’s time to shut them up once and for all. Make a difference by boycotting any and all products produced by Koch Industries, Lowes, and other companies that pander to such low levels of baser thoughts, words, and emotions. That would be Fear, fear of your fellow children, women, and men, whether they be Muslim, Hindu, black or brown.
But I think more importantly, reach out to the Wordsmith of The Tribe. For far too long, many of American Main Stream Media, whether in print or on television, have turned a deaf ear and blind eye to what’s been happening. Ed Shultz, Rachel Maddow, and some writers at the Washington Post have recently spoken up about this unseemly behavior. I urge all of you reach out to the others to encourage a more mature and thoughtful discussion to finally end this unbecoming ugliness. Please ask your soul “If not now, when?”
I'd like to end this piece with a poem I found by James Patrick Kinney
THE COLD WITHIN
Six humans trapped in happenstance
In dark and bitter cold,
Each one possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story's told.
Their dying fire in need of logs
The first woman held hers back,
For of the faces around the fire,
She noticed one was black.
The next man looking across the way
Saw not one of his church,
And couldn't bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes
He gave his coat a hitch,
Why should his log be put to use,
To warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned,
From the lazy, shiftless poor.
The black man's face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.
The last man of this forlorn group
Did naught except for gain,
Giving only to those who gave,
Was how he played the game.
The logs held tight in death's still hands
Was proof of human sin,
They didn't die from the cold without,
They died from the cold within.
THE ABOVE "WORDS" ARE NOT INTENDED TO BE FACTUAL STATEMENTS
(thank you Trevor!! Happy Holidays)