Last month I decided to jump back into Facebook friendships with a few people that I had lost touch with (aka unfriended). Most of these people consider themselves to be conservative. They are also white and middle class. They have all lived in what they consider to be safe spaces and have not had to struggle to survive. Basically, they are living the American Dream as it has been sold to us. So why would any of them be opposed to helping other people reach their full potential? Why would they dislike people who do not look like them? Why would they argue the opposite opinion on Facebook, even if it looks like they are siding with racists, simply to provoke an argument or, what they perceive as, raise awareness? Why would people who consider themselves Christians agree with arguments made by racists?
Here is what I think – There is a core of racism that has festered in this country since Columbus arrived and white people that make arguments that are counter to the struggle to move forward out of this racism are also racist. The core of this national racism is with the white supremacist groups, of course, and they make no bones about being straight up racists. They are honest and do not care if people perceive them as such because their agenda is to make America fully and completely white. So – they are horrible people, but they are honest in their views and how they present them. They fly confederate flags in order to let you know that they are a part of a group of people that hate everyone that does not look like them. They do not hide this hatred.
The second ring of racism that exists, around these core racists are the apologists. People that argue against liberation and for the same policies that racists want to see continued or enacted. This second ring of people are more subtle and, until something happens in the country to trigger them, they stay relatively quiet in the face of racism and hatred. They do not advocate for oppressed people, but they also do not speak up for racist whites, until they either feel the pull of an argument or they are potentially in the crossfire of the march toward true equality.
Here are a few comments that fall into the category that I am speaking of above. Comments that will alert you to the existence of a subtle, second ring racist:
- “Affirmative action is not necessary. Everyone needs to work hard and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”
- This is subtle racism because it does not take into account the systemic oppression of POC within the history of our country. It does not look at the systems that have been set up within education and industry that work against people of color and continue policies of oppression within institutions.
- “There is nobody left in this country that was alive during the Civil War, therefore the Civil War is no longer a problem. Everything was solved by the South losing.”
- This statement does not consider the fact that, as humans, we are all descended from other humans. If you had ancestors who were slaves or slave-owners, you would still have a connection to the atrocities that were done to or by your ancestors. White people that have ancestors who were slave-owners have an even greater responsibility to make the wrongs of their ancestors right. They should be standing up and denouncing the people in their family history that committed these atrocities, calling out everyone in their presence that is racist, and fighting for equality for all.
- “We don’t need to tear down statues of Confederate generals because sometimes we honor things that people don’t like and they just need to deal with it.”
- I have no words. This is just. Wrong.
- “The Confederate Flag is a symbol of Southern pride and people should not equate that with slavery.”
- The confederate flag is a symbol of the South’s contribution to the Civil War, which was to fight to retain slavery. Due to this fact, the confederate flag is a symbol of hatred and racism. If you fly this flag either in front of your house or in your front window or on your basement wall you are a racist, full stop.
These are just a few of the comments that I have noticed on my travels through these new Facebook friendships that I entered into last month. One of these friendships ended abruptly when the ‘friend’ used the n word on one of my comment threads. I asked her to remove it and rather than doing that she tried to explain it away. She said she was ‘trying to make a point’ and she was, but not the point she thought she was making. The point was that she is a racist. So, I removed the comment and I unfriended her the next morning. When she wrote back to me in a private message I ‘broke up’ with her, which is to say that a friend I have known since I was 5 years old is someone I will no longer be speaking to. Some people change, some people don’t. But we don’t have to connect ourselves to racists anymore. We never should have in the first place.
Another thread (which I luckily took screenshots of before it got removed – more to come on this later) involved a comment made by a friend of an FB friend that was blatantly racist. When I called him out on it, he asked me if I was calling him a racist. I said yes, because he is and he asked me again. I assume that if the thread was not removed that it would have devolved into him attacking me for calling him what he actually is. It is disheartening that these types of exchanges are getting removed in order to ‘keep the peace’ when a way to make the world a lot more peaceful would actually be to call them out. And those that hide or side with these racists are culpable. Enablers are also part of the problem. People have this idea that if they remain bystanders they are safe, but they are not. Bystanders need to stand up and speak out. Racists deserve to be shamed. Perhaps that will change their minds. Or it won’t and at least we know who they are. Shine the light.
I will continue to chronicle the racism that I see in my Facebook feeds and stand up to these assholes. I will call them out for their racism and I will not back down from my convictions. We have to make this world better and that means shaming racists until they either change or go away. I’m not clear, yet, on what ‘going away’ looks like, but I am happy to know that the racists are actually not the majority of America. They might think they are, but they are not. And we will show them this fact by pushing them back into their dark corners.
Chantale (aka hippiegrrl)