Yeah, I know. Yet another thread about race and racism. One of our favorite subjects. I promise this isn’t just about Republicans.
My question is genuine, though. Throughout this campaign season the media (including YouTube) has provided us numerous glimspes into subtle and not-so-subtle racism. One that packed a wallop for me was this segment about Democratic West Virginians and their reaction to Obama. More recently we’ve witnessed scenes like this and this and this. No one says the n-word in any of those clips, to be sure, but the level of vitriol and hatred seems so over-the-top that it makes you wonder if the “n-word” is nonetheless in those people’s hearts and minds.
But I suppose reasonable people can argue that none of the above is evidence that racism is widespread.
Yesterday, I was listening to All Things Considered on NPR, which has been doing a series of conversations on race with voters in York, PA. One of the voters said this:
*“I don’t want to sound racist, and I’m not racist,” Moreland says. “But I feel if we put Obama in the White House, there will be chaos. I feel a lot of black people are going to feel it’s payback time. And I made the statement, I said, ‘You know, at one time the black man had to step off the sidewalk when a white person came down the sidewalk.’ And I feel it’s going to be somewhat reversed. I really feel it’s going to get somewhat nasty.”
Moreland says she doesn’t think all black people will “want payback.” “I’m not talking about you, and I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the people that are out on the street looking for trouble. Putting a black man in the White House — and if he gets there, he gets there; I’m going to live under his presidency and everything. And I’m still going to be friends with anybody black that wants to be my friend and everything. But I really feel there’s going to be a time of adjustment. I really feel it. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong.”*
None of the other panelists chimed in agreement. But damn. It’s not like they pulled these people out of the backwoods somewhere. All of them seem like pretty normal, mainstream, fully functioning adults.
On a daily basis, I read on the Straightdope about someone’s racist coworker/brother/mother/next-door-neighbor/boss/etc. And then I’ll go to a thread in GD and someone will say something like, “Of course, racism isn’t a problem now. Racists are only a tiny, insignificant minority.” They’ll use this as a reason for why we shouldn’t have Affirmative Action or why most discrimination complaints are bogus.
I dunno. It seems to me if everyone’s got a racist uncle and I can turn on the news and hear about Obama Bucks or jerk with “Obama” monkey and someone’s on the radio telling me that I’m going to be uppity if Obama gets elected, then why the holy hell shouldn’t I believe racism is still a major problem? Where do the people who say racists are a tiny, insignificant minority get their evidence from? And what would it take to change their minds? An Obama assassination?