Although I have been thinking about it since I was in elementary school, I am neither the writer nor the thinker needed to encapsulate all of the complexities of the history, present, or future of race relations. I was fortunate enough to be raised by a mother who doesn’t – as far as I can tell – have any racial prejudices. I never once felt like I was special for being “white” or that black folks should be treated any differently than me. If anything, it was instilled in me to look out for and defend those that might be discriminated against. This isn’t to pay myself on the back, because, I don’t deserve it; to me, non-racist is the bare minimum required to be a decent human being. I bring it up simply as a juxtaposition to the experience of so many other white folks. Because so many white folks didn’t grow up like that. Even if they weren’t the proverbial racist, there was an underlying vibration to the conversations – or lack thereof – surrounding their interactions and attitudes toward black folks.
I can understand and even empathize (slightly) with someone who reads the stories detailed in the 1619 Project or the Color of Law and finds that their initial reaction is to reject those ideas. Change is difficult. Adjusting something as mundane as an eating habit or how we speak to a co-worker we aren’t fond of can be taxing and wrought with missteps. Imagine having to rewire your brain and open your mind to concepts that – as true as they might be – are the antithesis of what you have been taught your entire life. Hell, I still think Pluto is a planet. Maybe it is, I lost touch with that debate.
But that empathy doesn’t run too deep, and it doesn’t last long, because time and time again what we have seen in this country is a combination of willfully ignorant people too afraid of change, and bad-faith actors who know better, yet use the former’s fear to foment division and profit from the aftermath. People waving the flags of heritage, America first, and “Don’t Tread on Me.” And time and time again what we see at the base of these flags is a foundation of toxic Christianity. Praying to a God, and quoting a Messiah, that they can’t possibly reconcile with their actions and beliefs. At some point these people need to evolve.
The religious right has been hijacked for decades by one issue: abortion. This single issue has led them farther and farther right in almost every other social arena, culminating in the forsaking of the true nature of their religion, and the election of President Trump. I suppose the ends justifies the means is the 11th commandment.
This incoherent rant was brought on by many things, but most recently, just two. First, the Capitol Riot on January 6. And, second, the video linked below. Killing in Thy Name is a collaboration between Rage Against The Machine and the Ummah Chroma. I’ve gotten criticism over the years for listening to and promoting the work of Rage Against the Machine. It’s easier to dismiss them as just a rock band, hysterical alarmists, or even socialists. When there is no nuance, everything is fundamental, and it’s “us” against “them.”