I’d like to say that I’m not a racist person. I don’t wear a Klan hood and robe, and I don’t use slurs. But in reality, I’ve been guilty of some racist tendencies.
Growing up on Grand Isle, Louisiana, I don’t remember knowing anyone who wasn’t Caucasian. But I knew other ethnicities existed. I was taught at an early age that America is a “melting pot” , an amalgamation of ethnicities and nationalities from all over the world. It’s a good buzzword, but we Americans don’t live it. I remember that although I never personally used any slurs, I do remember laughing awkwardly at racist humor. I would do this just because everyone else was. But that makes me just as guilty as them.
I remember when I heard about the Rodney King beating back in the 90’s. I had an African-American classmate who was my sparring partner in basketball during P.E.. She and I got along well until the beating. The night after, she treated me like I was someone she hated. I was hurt, so I asked what was the problem. Ever since I was little, I tended to avoid any news programs. I didn’t like how negative the news was. After she told me what had happened, I asked her “Am I one of those cops? What do I have to do with this? The only thing I have in common with them is skin color.” She realized what she was doing , and apologized.
During the Clinton administration, I started listening to Rush Limbaugh. I got into him because my Aunt Paula had copies of his newsletter, The Limbaugh Letter. At the time, he was actually pretty tame. He did mock people like Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, by imitating their way of speaking, and I often laughed at his impressions. That could count as being mildly racist. She also had both of his books, The Way Things Ought to Be, and its sequel See, I Told You So.
It wasn’t until Barack Obama’s administration that Limbaugh changed his tactics. He got worse, and unlike his criticism of Clinton, he would bring up Obama’s skin color just as often as his policies. I admit, I believed many of his half-truths and outright lies without even bothering to do research.
When the Black Lives Matter movement started, I often doubted its legitimacy. I’d heard all the statistics concerning black on black crime. I’d hear that some of the victims were already criminals, and I admit that led me to think they deserved what they got.
But what caused me to change? I began to learn that while there were victims who were criminals, many were actually innocent. I’d heard that even children were victims. And the more I heard, the more my doubts started to deteriorate. I no longer would tell people “well, they were criminals, so they deserved it.” That was speaking from a place of privilege. I lied to myself by believing “white privilege” didn’t apply to me. I didn’t grow up rich, so I thought that term only applied to people who were upper class. I also had never had any run-ins with the law. I would bring up the disproportionate number of black women who aborted, asking why they want to say they matter when they won’t even stop aborting future lives.
There is a biblical way to look at Black Lives Matter. In the Parable of the Good Shepherd, the Shepherd leaves 99 sheep behind to look for a wayward sheep. Does He not care about the others? Yes of course he does. But they aren’t the ones in danger. When people complained about the athletes taking a knee, I never complained like other white people. I don’t see the flag as something to be worshipped disguised as patriotism. I know that our nation is far from perfect.
I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter if the victims are guilty or innocent. These victims are still human beings. What was George Floyd guilty of? The only thing he did was tell a woman to leash her dog! That’s not grounds to kill him. And for the record, the cop’s method of “subduing” was far from acceptable procedure. Here is something that is overlooked: the cop is racist. I saw a viral picture of him wearing a MAGA hat that reads “Make Americans White Again” instead of “Make America Great Again. The right-wing media, in their efforts to criticize the riots, do not want to admit the cop was one of them. It’s amazing that even they will admit Floyd’s innocence. (I’m not naming the cop because as far as I’m concerned, that scum doesn’t deserve recognition.)
President Trump could have dealt with this by showing compassion. But instead, he has shown cowardice and hatred. He lumps the protesters in with the looters, something I was once guilty of. I’m not saying the riots are justified. When Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “a riot is the call of the unheard”, he was also condemning them in the same quote. But he was telling us they were a symptom of the problem. They’ve tried to be peaceful by kneeling during the anthem. And what did Trump do? Did he listen? No, he pressured the NFL to fire them! What are they supposed to think?
I continue to heed the advice of Ice Cube: ” Check yourself before you wreck yourself. ” That means to think before you speak or act. Don’t say things that hurt the situation by focusing on the violence. Try to move forward to a solution. During these events, I have shown my solidarity with the protesters and educated people in how to better approach this tragedy. The past version of me would have ignored the tragedy. Just because I didn’t know George Floyd personally doesn’t mean I shouldn’t care. He was a brother in Christ. I have now applied what I learned.