The ABC's of Racism
Yesterday morning, after Jaimie and I finished our Sunday pancakes, I read the latest tweet storm from our President. It made me so irate that I've barely been able to think about anything else. I tried to meditate, I tried to take my walk in the woods, but every thirty seconds his words were popping into my head. Recently I’ve been trying to stay away from politics with my blog and social media. Anger and tension are not good for the immune system.
But as I’m learning from my wonderful therapist, neither is repression.
As I’m sure you know, yesterday the President, let that sink in for a minute, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, told four Congresswoman, all people of color, to go back to the countries they came from.
This is racism, pure and simple. Wajahat Ali called it the "ABC's of racism." It’s one of the oldest racial taunts in the book. Ask any person of color and almost all of them will tell you, especially people in the public sphere, that they have had this comment directed at them at some point in their lives. This is as close as you get to using an actual slur on someone. It strips people of their Americanness. It says to them that you are not really from here. You are not really one of us. If a seven year old on the playground said this to another seven year old, he would be sent to the principal's office. His parents would be called in. If someone said this to someone in a store or a restaurant, the whole encounter would be filmed and the the person who said it would be publicly shamed. It should be 100% unacceptable language at any level of our government, especially, ESPECIALLY, from the President.
To make matters even worse, all of the women he said it to are American citizens, so civically minded that they ran for and won congressional seats. And three of the four of them WERE BORN IN AMERICA! What country is he wanting them to go back to? Michigan? Massachusetts? The Bronx? Not only is what he said racist, it makes no logical sense!
Now I’m not worried about the four Congresswomen. They’re powerful, intelligent, strong human beings. What I’m worried about are the young people who see what he said. I’m worried about the kids with brown skin who see that and wonder if he's talking about them. This is their home. Imagine the president making you feeling like an outsider in your own home.
But what I’m mainly worried about are the white kids who hear this racism from our president. What is it teaching them? That it’s ok to question the Americanness of people of color? That if someone doesn’t agree with you and they don’t look like you then they have place at the American table? Are they learning that that sort of rhetoric is acceptable for the public square? And if that’s acceptable for the public square, what are they saying when no one is looking? Think about that shit.
Where is the line? It’s up to us, the people, to say where it is. Apparently it’s not at bragging about grabbing women by the vaginas. It’s not at calling African countries shit holes. It’s not at making fun of disabled reporters or calling Mexicans rapists or saying there were very fine people at a Nazi rally.
It’s far past time for people of color to not be the only ones calling out the president’s comments. Far past. Because racism is white people’s problem to fix, and the first step is naming it when it happens.
And if you’re ok with the president telling native born American citizens to go back to the countries they came from, then you've got some soul searching to do. And that when you're ready, I’ve got the number of a wonderful therapist.