By David Berry: This week, the KKK, white supremacists and Robert E. Lee have dominated the headlines of every news publication in the United States. Grand Wizards are being quoted in mass media, and no, there isn’t another Harry Potter movie coming to theaters next week, you dreamers.
Can we be real about this for a minute? Let’s not pretend because a half-black guy was president that we were naive enough to think we lived in a “post-racial” society.
Hate never left. It just seemed that way, after all of humanity came together when Kendall Jenner handed riot police a Pepsi.
The only difference between now and even two years ago is that white supremacists are more outspoken and they’ve armed themselves with tiki torches. Don’t blame yourself if you confused the march with a poorly-lit Home Depot commercial for a late-summer soiree – it happens!
The world is being reminded that there are a lot of scary neck-bearded wizards who hate black people and Jews! For those of you who weren’t in Charlottesville and are filtering through your Facebook Newsfeed for people who are probably racist in the same way that OJ probably killed Nicole, here are a few ways to identify a racist.
- The guy who says “yeah, but what about the meh muh meh!” Look, brother, it’s the KKK. There was an actual fucking war about this. There is no “but what about” in this conversation. This is the conversation.
- The people who are more outraged by a Robert E. Lee statue than an entire group of people who are openly hoping to slaughter blacks and Jews. One is a bronze sculpture. The other is, ya know, living people.
- The people who think that Black Lives Matter is somehow a dark-skinned version of the KKK. If the name of your “hate” group is only as aggressive as to say that the people in your group matter, you’re a shitty hate group. Or you’re not a hate group at all, and you just kinda don’t want your kids getting gunned down in the streets without cause.
So far so good? Good. Because the next step is important, and this is where non-racists lose their footing.
Yelling and screaming on your Facebook Newsfeed about racists and bigots and Trump is like flexing in front of a mirror at the gym. Sure, you feel good about yourself, but everyone else knows you’re doing it for the attention.
To truly change the dialogue on racism – or to even have a chance at it – you have to talk to people like people; one-on-one. No, that isn’t sexy. No, that isn’t fun. But it’s the most effective way to change minds and hearts.
Hate and fear, which often go hand-in-hand, are primal emotions. And at that level, they are most often a reaction to something you either A.) Don’t know, or B.) Don’t understand.
In matters of racism, white supremacists, or even just your cranky-ass grandfather, aren’t so much hateful as they are unaware. They probably don’t interact with a single black person in a meaningful way. They probably have a distorted view of black people and black communities due to any number of bad message sources (black people will tell you, 21 Savage is not their spokesperson).
That doesn’t make their racism okay, but it gives it context. If you’re a white person, you’re as powerful as anyone in this. I agree with people who’ve said that those who are silent are complicit in the continuation of hate-fueled racism. It’s true.
Racism will never go away, but it’ll never improve if our voices only match hate with hate.
And regardless of which side you’re on, this video from VICE is a must-watch.