Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Conspiracy of a Black President

Across the lines
Who would dare to go
Under the bridge
Over the tracks
That separates whites from blacks
Chose sides
Or run for your life
                    -Tracy Chapman

            To be forthcoming, I am a white American male writing about racism.  I have never known the sting of hate nor the fear that accompanies citizens of African, Asian or Latin American descent.  I am going to do my best to be clear, concise and relevant.  This post is intended to be the beginning (or at least a part of) a discussion about recent events in American history.  Indeed, there is a large amount of evidence that I have left out that should be a part of this post both domestically and abroad.  As long as it is respectful, please feel free to leave any comments, thoughts or experiences.
           As most of my readers are aware the last half of 2012 experienced several high profile acts of domestic terrorism ranging from a gunman opening fire on an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre to an attack at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and most recently, the slaughter of 20 first graders at a Connecticut elementary school.  These events, amongst others have reignited and in many circles inflamed gun owners and gun advocates to seek change.  As always in American politics, the solution is where politicians and advocates differ.  Each side of the political spectrum has fringe elements who hold the fundamentalist ideals of their affiliation to heart.  Attached to these fringe characters are conspiracy theorists who believe in a panacea of government cover ups that include aliens landing at Roswell, the moon landing, the assassination of JFK, and the 9/11 attacks.  However, since the mass slaughter of children in Newtown, a new conspiracy has developed out of the belief that the federal government had a role in the deaths of these that they can take guns away from Americans.  
              Since the first term of the President, the number of hate groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center increased to over 1000 in 2011 stemming from a reaction to anti-immigrant sentiment and demographic shifting.  The primary indicator of this reaction however, came from the election of the first African descent president in American history.  To be clear, both sides of the political spectrum have racist attitudes.  On the right, often this manifests in a more direct and personally attacking way. On the left, this often translates to structural discrimination and inaccurate beliefs about a  group of people (though both sides are alternately guilty).  However, since the election, facets of the right has specifically felt somehow disenfranchised by the election and believe that this indeed a sign that things in America has gone from bad to terrible.  Out of this movement many conspiracies have developed that have made national headlines.  Early after the election many people believed (and continue to believe) that the President's birth certificate was a forgery, that he is a practicing Muslim, that his government withheld information regarding the attack at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and now that he is trying to disarm American citizens.
           No other President has endured these claims which seek to de-legitimize not only his qualifications for office, but his allegiance to the country he leads.  To be blunt, if he was a white American, they would be attacking his politics...not his identity and character.  As with the conspiracies that surround the 9/11 terrorist attacks, insinuating that our democracy is responsible for the deaths of innocent 6 year olds is the lowest form of racist ideology to come out of the Tea Party/Patriot/Doomsday Prepper movement.
          Regardless if we identify as a Democrat, Republican, Green, or Libertarian, we must confront the prejudicial thoughts that run through our minds when we see someone who looks different than ourselves.   Only then can we begin to debunk the racist clutter in our heads and look at the picture as it really is.  To be clear. Neither Muslims nor Hindus nor Sikhs nor "Zionists" nor Gays nor Mexicans nor people of African descent are at fault for acts of terror or crimes against humanity. Terrorists and war criminals are at fault for acts of terror or crimes against humanity.   As always, Social Workers must be at the forefront of the battle against the ever-present racist actions and ideologies that continue to cradle this great nation and around the world.


  1. It's interesting, but I think you're wrong. It has less to do with race and more to do with xenophobia-- which is not, as is popularly believed, a pathological fear of immigrants but, literally, "fear of the other." Fear of anyone who is, for whatever reason, not like oneself.

    The "oneself" in this case is the white, upper-middle-class, developmentally normal American who has never experienced a significant mental illness. The ideal promoted by the marketing experts that sell, not clothing or cars or lots in housing developments, but lifestyles.

    I am a white American woman. I have never had a friend of any color other than my own. I have not experienced poverty since I was a young child-- but I remember well how it felt to be refused service by the cashier and driven away from the local convenience store by rock-throwing children when my mother (on SSI disability because she was dying of advanced-stage liver cancer but still, somehow, wanted to eat food and die indoors) sent me down the street to buy a gallon of milk with Food Stamps.

    In case I momentarily forget, I can turn on the TV or log onto the Internet and read, any time I choose, about how people like me should be forcibly institutionalized, sterilized, or euthanized. What am I doing wrong?? Well, sometimes I have trouble making eye contact. Sometimes I need to leave a crowded room. I don't like noisy concerts or cocktail parties. I have to think about my words, just to make sure they're OK, before I let them come out my mouth.

    Some days all of that leaves me feeling a little anxious. On those days, I don't dare leave my house for fear that my anxiety might be visible. If someone sees I'm feeling nervous, I could lose my freedom, even my family.

    What's wrong with me?? Schizophrenia?? Am I profoundly developmentally disabled?? Well, it depends who you ask. The official sheet of paper I ended up with when I asked for help says Asperger's syndrome (soon to be changed to high-functioning autism). I've never done anything more violent than spank one of my kids for breaking loose and running away in a parking lot...

    ...but I'm already a sociopath.

    It's not racism, honey. That's a gross oversimplification, an understatement of the size and scope of the problem. It's just plain fear.

  2. We all God's children. He loves us "ALL" . That's all that matters. We are gonna die someday and have to face the self hate we have inflicted on others who do not fit the norm in society. God created us all in his likeness, we are his children. Let us spread his love, regardless of how people treat us.