Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What is fueling the racist backlash?

Last fall Ta-Nehisi Coates noted something significant about the intersection of racism and politics during this era of our first African American president. He spoke to the change in reaction by conservatives to the killing of Trayvon Martin.
The reaction to the tragedy was, at first, trans-partisan. Conservatives either said nothing or offered tepid support for a full investigation—and in fact it was the Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, who appointed the special prosecutor who ultimately charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. As civil-rights activists descended on Florida, National Review, a magazine that once opposed integration, ran a column proclaiming “Al Sharpton Is Right.” The belief that a young man should be able to go to the store for Skittles and an iced tea and not be killed by a neighborhood-­watch patroller seemed un­controversial...

The moment Obama spoke, the case of Trayvon Martin passed out of its national-mourning phase and lapsed into something darker and more familiar—racialized political fodder.
Of course all the President said at the time was that we could empathize with the pain Trayvon's family was feeling and that if he had a son, he could have been Trayvon. The backlash of racism those simple words set off provide us with some insight into what has happened since the President made more extended remarks last Friday following the verdict in the Zimmerman trial.

Its gotten really ugly. And its not just coming from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.  Jennifer Rubin used it as a platform to suggest that President Obama is not honest and simply wants to incite people for political ends.  The National Review used both the President and AG Holder's remarks as an excuse to fuel the fear of all those dangerous black men/boys. Those are just a couple of examples. The white male patriarchy is doubling down on their racism since the black President spoke. That shouldn't surprise us.
From the perspective of those who are entitled, the problems begin when those they despise do not go along with—and have the power and wherewithal to not go along with—the perceived entitlement...

Several times I have commented that hatred felt long and deeply enough no longer feels like hatred, but more like tradition, economics, religion, what have you. It is when those traditions are challenged, when the entitlement is threatened, when the masks of religion, economics, and so on are pulled away that hate transforms from its more seemingly sophisticated, "normal," chronic state—where those exploited are looked down upon, or despised—to a more acute and obvious manifestation. Hate becomes more perceptible when it is no longer normalized.

Another way to say all of this is that if the rhetoric of superiority works to maintain the entitlement, hatred and direct physical force remains underground. But when that rhetoric begins to fail, force and hatred waits in the wings, ready to explode.
As I said the other day, the mere fact that a black man is president is enough to send them into total obstructionist freak-out mode because the "rhetoric of superiority no longer works to maintain the entitlement."  But when he actually makes comments - as innocuous as they were - about the state of racism in American today, the hate really explodes. Its always been there. We all know that. The fire is lit by a simple statement of reality that challenged the masks.


  1. The realization that the white male majority is now surrounded by women and ethnic minorities, truly frightening to them---and, yes, the need to strike out is unmasked. Pure racism on one level; and attacks on women's freedom on the other.

    1. I agree. Reagan gave back permission to the white privileged bastions and their fearful underdogs to be openly racist. Beginning with the assault on government - the entity that uphold equal rights - to the sneering "Welfare Queen" who was implicitly Black, he began the drumbeat of division and oppression. The claims of 'reverse discrimination' were raised, all totally bogus, and white people were encouraged to perceive themselves as oppressed as people of color advanced, sometimes ahead of white people. The fact that those same white people often were not as well educated or experienced as people of color never was brought to light. White people were LOSING OUT so the mantra ran. As if. Anyone who is a high school drop out is encouraged to see President Obama with his education as cheating said white dropout of his or her "rights". Fear and a sense of entitlement have united to make open racism a powerful presence once again. And yes, add in organized labor, women, immigrants - and the white people, mostly male, who feel embattled are now allowed to circle the wagons and shoot anyone outside their self proclaimed base.

  2. To Churchlady -- Reagan began his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi... so he not only gave permission to be racist, he led the way.

  3. Lufkin man's 'I am Trayvon Martin' photo goes viral
    Posted: Jul 23, 2013 3:44 PM CDT Updated: Jul 23, 2013 3:59 PM CDT

    By Jeff Awtrey - email

    A Lufkin man's photo which he posted on Facebook which shows him from four years ago and now has gone viral.

    Corey Shy, 21, posted the photo to show how four years ago, he could have been labeled as a thug, like Trayvon Martin may have been portrayed when he was killed. However, Shy explains that he is now on his way to Texas A&M's Health Science College of Medicine to become a doctor.

    Shy explains on his Facebook post, which as of Tuesday afternoon had netted more than 71,000 shares, that at age 17 he did not appear to have a promising future. But two months later, he began college at Prairie View A&M and began to study harder and eventually graduated Magna Cum Laude.

    "The reason I am sharing this with you is because I COULD HAVE BEEN TRAYVON MARTIN!!! The defense team could have gone onto the Internet and found pictures of me that were similar to Trayvon's pictures and characterized me as a thug," Shy wrote on his Facebook post. "I could have been portrayed an aggressor and it may have lead to my death. If that would have happened, then I would not have had the opportunity to reach my true calling, which is to become a medical doctor."

    Shy explains that Martin could have gone on to the a doctor, lawyer or engineer and that he wants people to be more conscious of their racial profiling.

    "Everyone has the potential, as long as they are alive, to achieve greatness and make a positive impact on this world," Shy wrote.