Unicorns and Racists

Scott Adams has an interesting piece up titled “Unicorns and Stuff“, where he says in part:

I think there was a time in our history when intelligent people could be racist because the anecdotal evidence was ambiguous. Today, I’m almost positive that no one watches Oprah, eats a potato chip, and thinks, “I wonder if African-Americans can succeed?”

I wonder what kind of boss hires a less qualified white candidate over a more qualified black candidate and thinks that his decision will work out well for him. I make fun of management intelligence for a living, and even I haven’t seen that behavior. I’ve never even heard of it from someone else who witnessed it. I certainly understand if you’ve witnessed it, or suffered from it. I’m just saying I haven’t seen it where I live. Clearly that sort of activity is distributed unevenly around the country.

He goes on to say that he doesn’t doubt people experience or see racism (or your unacceptable behavior of choice), just that he’s never seen it.

I can recall many racist stories growing up in Salem. My grandfather always claimed “you could smell” a black person. Other family members have said we should lock our doors because “a big black man might just come in.” Some of the older members of my family have referred to people on TV, usually the local news or something, as “that black weatherman” or “that black reporter”. In those instances I never got the impression they were saying that to be insensitive, it was just a way of describing that one person out of the five or six white people. It’d be like looking at a crowd of people and telling your friend to take a look at someone’s sign or funny shirt or neat shoes. They might ask, “Which one?” and you reply, “The fat one.” It’s rude, yes, but in private, people do it all the time because it’s sometimes the easiest way of picking people out.

I remember hearing from older people when a group of Klan members hung a black man off the South Main Street bridge in Salem as recently as the 60’s. I can recall, in my lifetime, seeing a sign propped up along Highway 60 southeast of Salem that was spray painted to read, “Black people go away.”

I can remember the one black kid who came to my high school. His Dad just got a job in town, doing what I have no clue, but they moved up from Louisville. The kid was there for about 3 days before they packed up and left town. The kid left after a group of younger students hung a noose on his locker. There was no proof who did it, but everyone knew who it was. I assume his parents didn’t get the impression they were welcome, either.

The kids that hung the noose were the same group of kids that were dumb, racist, homophobic, misogynistic and they knew it and they didn’t care. Their parents were no doubt the same way and for them and a lot of people I’ve met, it was a point of family pride. These are the kind of people that hang the Confederate flag on the back of their truck and it’s as a call-to-arms. I can kinda get why a person in the deep south might hang the Confederate flag, as a way of remembering their great, great, great grandfather or something, but when people in Salem do it, they mean to say, “This is a white, Christian, country town and that’s the way it’s going to stay.”

I’ve met people that even if they had to work with or spend a considerable amount of time with a black person, they’d still never change their mind. People’s minds seldom change about anything, especially these deeply-held beliefs. They come from their parents, usually, and they stay that way.

This is, in my estimation, the biggest disadvantage of our representative democracy: people come out of those kinds of people and get to run an office. That’s dangerous.

My own dad is a quasi-birther, I think. I’ve heard him remark that he’s probably not supposed to be President and he no doubt picked that up from somewhere because he’s completely insular. He doesn’t watch the news of any kind or get online. He gets the local newspaper and skims the headlines. To my knowledge, that story hasn’t made it into the paper. The birther movement happens when you get a group of people together that distrust black people. That all black people are dangerous and therefore, Obama is dangerous, thus we must remove him.

And don’t pretend I’m painting everyone in Salem or Southern Indiana as a racist because I don’t mean to, they’re plenty of wonderful people there. But whenever I hear people claim that racists or misogynists or homophobes or whoever don’t really exist anymore, I have a very hard time agreeing.

One Comment

  1. It’s a fragmented society. I would contend that non-racists (presumingly Mr. Adams) don’t associate with racists regularly (or at least aren’t aware of it). Most of the people I regularly spend time with (in my free time) have very similar beliefs to mine which buttress my beliefs even stronger.

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