Racism in America is alive and well, but perhaps we should call it something different.
Race has been a hot topic in America in the years since the Nation’s “first black President” was elected (not Bubba but Barack) and has received heightened attention in headlines over the past year. In electoral politics accusations of racism have been flung from both sides of the aisle. In coverage of tragedies like the shooting of the black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by the Hispanic (white if you work in media) George Zimmerman, racism has been exploited as a sensational motive. And just yesterday, the Supreme Court heard a case involving a word that should have long ago been thrown in the trash bin with “nigger,” “spic” and “kike”: affirmative action.
After President Barack Obama was elected nearly four years ago, cries of jubilation from the hope-and-change peanut gallery were idealistic in tone and hinted of a new, improved post-racial American future. In fact, a poll released by Gallup in the summer following the President’s ascent to power showed that a little more than half of the population felt optimistic that the division of the past between blacks and whites in the Nation was closer than ever to being forgotten.
The results of that particular Gallup poll offer interesting, albeit heavily anecdotal, evidence of who more strongly believes that America can remove race from the success/failure equation and replace it with merit. As in “he didn’t hire me because I am black do not have enough experience in the field for the job” or “I wasn’t accepted into the University of Texas because the school couldn’t add more white students and still meet diversity requirements didn’t feel my application was as strong as others.”
That particular poll noted that while 59 percent of whites saw the election of a “black” President as a boon to American race relations, only 50 percent of black respondents shared the same view.
Since Obama took office, it has become harder and harder to tell who the most egregious racists in America are, save the obvious examples like the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nation and The New Black Panther Party which have given unfortunate merit to the race-baiting existence of organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center for decades. The examples of outright racism that are not so easily pointed out are those that burden the person pointing them out with proving that he is not indeed a racist himself.
If you’re white, criticizing the President is ridiculously likely to get you called a racist.
And pointing out that Huffington Post dedicates an entire portion of its website to black people — that’s racist — is a surefire way to elicit a response like the one of an impassioned young Occupy Wall Street Trotskyite forever immortalized on YouTube (the video, by the way, has an impressive number of views): “Are you a white man? If you’re a white man, then shut the f**k up about race because you don’t know s**t other than how to rape and kill.”
He goes on to mutter something about white people criticizing black people for criticizing the “power structure” — it is all so very Black Panther circa 1960s, but I digress.
Along with HuffPost’s “Black Voices” section, you can visit “Latino Voices” and “Gay Voices” if you are feeling incredibly minority-tastic. In honor of Columbus Day on Monday, one of the publication’s esteemed “Black Voices” columnists (a black man) penned a wonderfully racist column about “underwhelming” white people. The list, entitled “The 15 Most Overrated White People”, includes the likes of Elvis Presley, Ronald Reagan, the entire National Hockey League (except Wayne Simmons, a black Canadian), William Shakespeare, Joel Osteen, Sarah Palin and Bill Clinton.
The list includes such fallaciously sarcastic observations as this bit about Palin: “Although her political career is likely over, Palin continues to be a powerbroker among Right wing extremists. Despite her lack of knowledge of policy or strategy, Palin is still a go-to pundit on conservative media outlets. No one destroys the myth of white supremacy more effectively than Sarah Palin.”
While some of the author’s observations are actually spot on (Palin is no policy genius, and Osteen is a bit of a shameless self-promoter), imagine the racially charged vitriol coming from a white columnist in a similarly named article “The 15 Most Overrated Black People.” In the spirit of fair play, a few names come immediately to mind: Obama, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, many others whose names are preceded by “The Reverend,” Lil Wayne, Kanye West, the Congressional Black Caucus and anyone involved in the production of one of those dreadful Tyler Perry films.
Of course, you’ll never read that column because it would be an incredibly racist and culturally misguided critique of black culture coming from a white pundit.
The simple fact that the columnist in question felt the need to write about “overrated white people” in an all-black forum on Columbus Day demonstrates perfectly the damage that affirmative action, political correctness and the perpetual myth that white people are always trying to tread upon black people are doing to the Nation. Columbus Day has become a popular time for bleeding hearts to remind everyone that bad things happened in the past and will continue to happen as a result of evil and hate. And that’s fine, but picking selective racial battles only to self-embolden black identity is no noble endeavor. Perhaps a better article would have been “The 15 Most Underrated Native Americans Killed By European Settlers.” Of course, HuffPost has yet to add a “Native American Voices” section.
There is no shortage of white racists in America, but they by no means have the monopoly on hate and closed-mindedness. And so, because racist has always been such a white-centric term and “reverse racism” is an idiotic one, perhaps it is time to find another word that could encompass both the ignorant white man in his hood and robe and the spiteful black man who blames pigment for all of his problems. Luckily, we already have one: moron.