Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I don't understand racism

I don't understand racism.  I don't mean that I don't understand xenophobia or scapegoating or anti-immigrant feelings or other kinds of tribalism that are part of our standard human toolkit for fucking up social relationships.  I mean I don't understand why people of African descent get treated so badly, and why that bad treatment is so relentless and durable.

The Trayvon Martin trial is just the latest confirmation - showing as it did that a man can fear, stalk, confront and shoot to death an unarmed Black teenager who's minding his own business - without breaking any laws in the state of Florida.  To the shooter's jurors, it all seemed perfectly understandable and legitimate.

I don't understand the fever dream of contempt, fear, loathing and oppression that has burned unbroken for 400 years in the body of this country.   I don't understand the parade of delusions that we invent and reinvent to call down as much slander and ruin as we dare on these people: God's righteous wrath, evolution's slow lane, a species' atavism, a dysfunctional culture of poverty, crime and dependence, or history's damaged goods.

The Chinese, Indians, Jews, Irish, Poles, and next the Hispanics all make their way out, but never the Blacks.  We'll lionize a few - though mostly those who's success confirm the race's stereotyped failures - makin' that over-sexed music, sweatin' and shootin' those hoops, scarin' those white folks.

I don't understand why so many people build their hate filled politics upon the same timeworn caricatures generation after generation.  I don't understand why we have arrayed a vast, expensive, wasteful criminal justice (sic) system whose most durable feature is the destruction of Black people's lives.  I don't understand why we do everything in our power to make sure these people don't contribute their full potential to this society.

For what?  Why this stupid, violent, pointless waste generation after generation, century after century?