Many people say that racism, up front, in your face racism doesn’t exist. It’s all under the skin, the surface.
“Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton”
“Old times there are not forgotten”
Many people think that the “southern pride” crowd of the 50’s and 60’s were ushered out and their kids taught differently. That it’s a just few die hard, backwoods rednecks who hold out because that’s they way they were raised. Most of these folks live in what we now term the Dixie Bible Belt. The southern states. The former confederacy.
“Look away, Look away, Look away, Dixie Land!”
It’s much closer than you think.
“In Dixie Land, where I was born in,”
I was born in Dixie, south of the Mason-Dixon line, on a very cold January day in the 60’s
“early on one frosty mornin’,”
“Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land.”
I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray! Hooray!
Technically I live in Dixie, though some people think that South Florida is more Yankee than Southern, but that wasn’t always the case.
I’m not sure I actually live in Dixie anymore, we have such a diverse multi-cultural conglomeration in the geographic megalopolis that makes up Palm Beach, Broward and Dade County. That is pretty much what Southeast Florida has become.
“Away, away, away down south in Dixie.
That’s the first stanza and chorus of the song, “Dixie,” generally attributed to Daniel Decatur Emmett. I grew up singing it in public school, and sang it at a myriad of functions until I was in my teens. I’m in my 40’s now.
The idea that the core of racism was removed from the school system while I was growing up is a fallacy.
You would think with the melting pot of south Florida as it is, we wouldn’t have that much of an issue, but you could never be more wrong. It’s not just the whites vs. blacks vs. Latinos. No… it’s shades of black vs. other shades of blacks… American blacks vs. Haitian Blacks. Cubans vs. Guatemalans. It get’s ugly.
A long while ago, I read the book, A Green Rain, by Paul Tabori. The book had an interesting premise; everyone was turned green by toxic rain, and for a short while, racism disappeared completely. However, within this context, racism soon reared its ugly head again, and people started being divided by hues of green. Why? Because there are people who always want to be seen or recognized as better than other people and the easiest way to do this is by using the color of skin as the dividing line.
The book wasn’t all that great of a read overall, but it does bring up a point I keep telling people; you will never, ever, ever truly rid the world of racism. People don’t like what they don’t know or don’t understand. People also like labels, neat little labels in which to define everything. There are also a lot of mean people out there who are just mean. You may think that racism is taught by the parents, and that isn’t necessarily so. My father is one prejudicial bigoted s.o.b. I can’t stand my father as a person, and deal with him as little as possible. I personally couldn’t care less if you were purple with green polka-dots or chartreuse and fuchsia striped. There will always be people who must be seen as superior, better, smarter etc., than everyone else. Unless you can change human nature, you will never conquer this.
Racism runs in all directions. There is reverse racism, and it’s not necessarily a privilege thing either. It comes out of the perceived notion that being white I am automatically persecuting you if you are another color, thereby giving you the right to treat me like shit, even though I have never met you, do not know you, and have never spoken a word to you.
It’s worse when you are a boss, and despite the inherent testimony of your fellow employees who are the same color as you, you shout at me that I am a neo-Nazi, white supremacist, scumbag because I had the audacity to write you up for not doing your job. Welcome to the flip-side of the coin of trying to work within racism in America. Yes, I have been called a neo-Nazi, KKK lover, white supremacist, Mas’sa, Gringo, Cracker, and a slew of other wonderful names during my time of being a boss within a service industry. Sadly, you have to write people up for that, because any sort of epithetic outburst against company policy. They don’t like that much. You can call me an asshole, and I’ll probably let you slide. You call me, or any other employee a racial name or slur, and you will be in my office undergoing reprimand. I wrote up one black employee who called a Haitian worker a “Pig Fing Nr.” They tried to say that all black people call each other that. Um… no… you… don’t. (*Note, I stayed less than 18 months in this job because it was such a brutal climate… that company is no longer in business either.)
I don’t care if you think I am a blowhard white female who is privileged and has not one iota of a right to talk about this. You are allowed to have your opinion, and you are allowed to stop reading this one too, but to continue to think that we can re-write history by jumping on the über PC bandwagon and start removing every single reference to the Civil war or any other oppressive movement, then you are actually PART OF THE PROBLEM.
People who want to be bigots will always find a symbol, a cause, a flag, a monument, a series of words… SOMETHING in which to use and intimidate people not like them in the hopes of instilling fear and shame in the group of people they want to oppress. Do we really want to keep fueling the pseudo Orwellian 1984 society we seem to be slipping towards?
Hitler stole the swastika from a multitude of religions in which the symbol was one of healing, rebirth, and rejuvenation among other positive meanings. He turned it into a symbol of extreme fear and hate. The KKK stole the Virginia Battle Flag (you know, the one they are taking down everywhere… that’s not the flag of the Confederacy by the way) and used it for their means.
Where does it stop? Seriously? People are desecrating family graves because they think not even a tombstone with a fallen civil war soldier should stand as it is a reminder of a very dark time in our history. You’ve got to be kidding me.
There was an article talking about how they are now wanting the New Orleans Saints to get rid of the Fleur-de-lis because runaway slaves used to be branded with it after they were caught and tried in court. Ok… so are you going to tell the rest of the known world they can’t use the Fleur-de-lis because of this? However, some cooler heads have prevailed again asking, “where do you stop?”
What do we do?
We keep assholes in check.
We keep close tabs on hate groups and educate everyone. Remember, they are allowed to think and feel that way, it is only if they act on those feelings in ways that are against the law does it become an issue. I don’t like what they say, but they have every right to say it. You have every right to call me a gringo or cracker outside of the workplace. We start banding together and make it not just about black and white, it has to morph into anti-racism period.
We educate, educate, educate.
You speak out against the hateful speech and rhetoric. You point out the physical violence each and every time. You hold your own accountable across the board.
You support each OTHER.
We stop giving the news media bullshit excuses to blow it out of proportion and don’t let them work everyone into a frenzy, and we admit it is, and will be an ongoing exercise in patience. We admit that racism isn’t as dead as we thought it was. We tackle it face front and head on and have a multitude of open discourse, discussions and come together. We prepare ourselves for the backlash from everyone. We become wolves and not sheeple, and we take the stand as the proud Americans we are, and can be. THAT is how we beat racism.
Of course, this is just one person’s view of the problems and solutions. What is yours?