This post is not what some of my readers will expect. I try to present a well-balanced viewpoint. Sure, I am what some may call a liberal. I believe in separation of church and state, the rights of gay people to marry and have/adopt children, keeping abortion legal and safe and I generally “side” with the left on a host of other “hot button” topics.
I want to talk today about what racism is and what it is not. I want to talk about what it looks like and I also want to talk about institutional racism and how that differs from what we all see in our social media feeds and on the nightly news.
Recently I have seen a video circulating of a white woman calling the authorities about a black family barbecuing in the park in California. I have also heard of an incident of another white woman reporting a black student for sleeping in a forbidden area of campus at college. And of course, there is the infamous Starbucks incident where three black men were arrested for allegedly doing nothing.
Many of my friends are circulating these videos and these news stories on social media decrying racism. Is it fair to affix a label of racist to a person because they have a possible legitimate concern with the activities of a person of color? I say no. Is it possible that these incidents were somehow a result of latent racism or simply white privilege in action? Sure, it’s possible. Each one of these incidents and others like them should be viewed individually and with as few preconceived notions as possible.
I will never, ever defend the shooting or maiming of an innocent person by law enforcement. I will not defend name-calling and spewing hatred towards an individual based on the color of their skin, the language they speak or who they choose to love. Should we ignore minorities who have blatant disrespect for laws, rules and/or ordinances? No, but they should not be singled out, either.
As progressives, it is important to stay focused on what is important. Let’s direct our energy towards increasing the number of Democrats in our local governments. Let’s help struggling families by stocking our food banks and electing school boards that care about public education. Spending time reposting videos and memes of supposed racists does absolutely nothing. It just makes us look as vindicative and mean-spirited as the people we’re shaming.