I’m a Racist

I’m surprised no one has called me a racist in the past year.[1]

Let’s get one thing out of the way here right at the beginning: We’re all racist. If you aren’t racist because you aren’t a part of the white power structure, then you’re prejudiced and discriminatory. You’re the powerless racist. There are no saints in this sphere.

Admittedly, I’ve been rather flippant about the Black Lives Matter movement. Not because I don’t support it – I do – but because I knew the outrage – especially the white liberal guilt self-flagellation – expressed all over social media and the specters-of-violence-fueled news media would ultimately result in nothing. A week later, as I predicted, people were riveted with Pokémon[2].

Undoubtedly, I’ve written things that are or can be read as being outright racist. They aren’t, and they aren’t intended to be. Proper judgement requires refinement. Refinement is particular, not general. It works through discernment and deletion and a slow narrowing of taste. Thus, one can only make certain judgements about particular people.

But I’m still surprised I haven’t been called a racist, and I wonder why. Is it because I worked in Democratic politics for so long? That it was for a black Democrat that represented a majority-black district in Houston?[3] That I’ve always lived in mixed neighborhoods (even in ultra-white Austin)? Hopefully, it was because people who know me know that I clearly try to be one of the lesser racists.zxqhtet1

Anyone who has had even minor dealing[4] with the American criminal justice system knows that it is completely and utterly broken. It’s beyond broken. I can’t even find the right word to adequately describe it. And, given how completely fucked-up it is to anyone caught inside the system, I can only imagine it’s ten times worse for a black person. Because there are judgements and perspectives and reactions that are negative and produce negative outcomes – usually harmful to both parties.

In the military, the Army and Marines talk about the Big Green Weenie[5]. It’s the service fucking you up the ass. Sticking you with the Big Green
Weenie. Well, in the criminal justice system, they’re reaming you with one, too – ten times bigger, twenty times longer but still green. This time, however, the green represents money.

For as the Drive-By Truckers sing, “Ain’t about the races, the crying shame / To the fucking rich man all poor people look the same.”

Divide and conquer. The Confederates tried to divide us and rule. The neoliberals are doing the same. But they only continue to win for as long as we allow ourselves to remain divided along what is, ultimately, an imaginary line.[6] Just like state and national borders. Those borders only divide us for as long as we let them (see: the European Union). We must cross those borders.

[1] I look forward to the first comment to tell me I’m a racist.

[2] A few weeks ago, as I was taking George out for a walk, I noticed the streets and green patch of land across the street were filled with people. They all had their phones held in the air. They were all recording a police scene where a fight had occurred. A different kind of augmented reality, I suppose.

[3] He once told us, “You’re all black now.”

[4] When you’re pulled over by the cops, you get the slightest feeling of powerlessness and arbitrariness (and absurdity) of the criminal justice system. Those feelings (and more) rapidly increase and multiply if you’re involved with the system for anything more than a traffic ticket. For the police, you’re guilty – proven innocent or not.

[5] According to Language Log, “It was most popular during the 1966 baseball season in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The Green Weenie was a green plastic rattle in the shape of a hot dog, which when waved at opposing players, purportedly put a jinx on them. Conversely, when waved at Pirate players it allegedly bestowed good luck.”

[6] Given that race is merely a social construction, this is quite true.

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