Thursday, September 17, 2009

Regular folks are talking more about racism and sharing their stories

As a retired person I have a lot of time to read the news, and although I welcomed Jimmy Carter’s forthright statements about race, it’s clear many did not. I’m stunned by some of the responses such as these reported by Politico:

Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards, who has represented a conservative, heavily white Texas district for 18 years, said he didn’t believe there was any evidence to support Carter’s assertion that racial factors had motivated Wilson.
“I just don’t want a divisive dialogue on race to become a battering ram of division for our country,” he said.
Alabama Democratic Rep. Artur Davis agreed. “It’s not a productive or healthy conversation,” he said.

Read more: here

No evidence?? Not a healthy conversation?? Sure I am worried that focus on the racism of right wing extremists might fuel opposition to Obama, but enabling those who are in denial is what’s really unhealthy.

I do think a lot of regular folks are talking more and sharing feelings and stories on a personal level.

I'd like to share the story I received from my friend and NOW sister, Jocelyn Morris about her experiences:

My Story:

I have worked as a civilian for 23 years for the U.S. Army. My current
position is a combat Developer in the Maneuver Support Battle Lab doing
limited and other types of experiments on new equipment and concepts
before material solutions are developed. We have 23 employees in our
department. There are only 2 Black Females and no other minorities.

Yesterday, is typical in that most meetings I attend I am the only Black
and only Woman in the meeting. Yesterday was a little different because
there were 2 other women in attendance. However, I was the only Black
and no other minorities were in attendance.

We were doing an update on our programs to the Commanding General and
other schools and directorate leadership. During the briefing, a lower
ranking Soldier comes into the meeting with a mug of something to drink
to give the General. When I told my husband about it he said maybe he
is the General's driver and assistant. My comment was it was a
continuation of the Slave Plantation mentality to have a Black Man
(Soldier) serving/waiting on a White Man (General). Don't they see or
get it at all? I can't remember a time when I have seen this
relationship any different. Racism at its finest!

Is it because I am Black, that automatically when I enter a room, I
notice whether I am the only minority there? Do Whites notice the lack
of minorities in the setting they are in (Work, social, sports, etc.)?
The "Old Boys Network (White and male) is slowly being infiltrated by
women (One at a time mostly), because organizations like NOW are out
there fighting a daily battle for Equality for Women and other
Minorities. We should not let these incidences of racism go

My husband said I should contact our new Black General (One star pinned
on 1 Sep 09) and see if he has a White Driver/Assistant). I might just
do that (Smiles)!!!

Yours in Global Sisterhood,

Jocelyn P. Morris


  1. I haven't really commented about this anywhere else, but I've been mulling it over for a while. Here are some stray thoughts:

    1. Did racism play a role in what Rep. Wilson did? Part of me wants to say: This is America. Of course racism played a part. It's everywhere - and with Wilson's history, probably more deeply ingrained there. The question is whether it's there in a more tangible, less indirect way than this. And there, it seems like there's a lot of displacement happening.

    2. In particular, it's displacing onto Wilson some of the straight-up and only-slightly-skewed racism against Obama that's elsewhere in the health care debate. Because the Wilson story is sticking, everything about the whole story is sticking to Wilson.

    3. It's also displacing racism as a complex, interlocking ideology onto a comparatively simple black-white racial scale. It's not accidental (I think) that the statement that provoked Wilson's outburst was about health care for illegal immigrants. Yet virtually all of the discussion has assumed that the only racism that's mattered here is Wilson's against Obama, rather than anything having to do with anti-immigration sentiment - or anything else, for that matter.

    It just makes everything distorted, silly -- easy to misunderstand, easy to discount.

  2. Thanks Tim, for your thoughtful comment. You are right—-this is much more than a black/white issue and the immigration dimension has gotten lost in much of the coverage. There are people who are totally freaked out that the country is becoming multi-ethnic. I think you should put these thoughts together in a blog post--maybe for YPP.