On November 6th, I published a post encouraging readers to suggest topics for my blog. Through this and other mediums, the most common request I received was for more posts about cultural differences, race-relations, and my experiences as a West Indian in America.
So, when I came across the trending topic “We’re So Sick of Racism” on Twitter, and the racist filth that sprang from it, I knew there was a post in the making. Here’s what happened — and why it’s important to consider what it means, and what we can do about it.
The Liberal Cause
On November 12th, “We’re sick of racism” made it to my trending topics feed. Apparently, liberals first started the topic to discuss the whirlwind of racism storming through America, which has successfully attacked one ethnicity after another.
From “terrorists versus the mentally ill” in the news, to building walls, to police brutality, to imprisonment, to the war on drugs — race plays a large role in American life, especially for minorities.
With this in mind, one liberal tweeted:
Another pointed out:
And yet another recently re-shared:
What I noted while reading through most of the comments from liberals is that they were focused on the topic of race-relations. Very few, if any, called out conservatives or referred in any way to a political party.
It wasn’t even a hashtag. It was the phrase that had begun to trend, which implies it began purely by coincidence.
But it would not last.
Once the conservatives got on-board, the conversation completely changed. It was no longer about discussing racial tensions in America. The conversation focused on:
- Pointing fingers at political members of the democratic party
- Calling Obama racist, and blaming him for racism in America
- Belittling liberals
- Reminding African-Americans that the republicans freed the slaves and granted civil rights
- Discrediting that any racism exists in America; labelling it a liberal agenda
- Putting forward that Whites are the ones facing racism every day, pushing the hashtag: #ItsOkayToBeWhite
By the time they were done — even if you check the trending topic now — there were hardly any liberals tweeting about racism, but plenty of conservatives spreading their own political agenda. In short, they turned a trending topic about racial tensions into republican propaganda.
Who Freed the Slaves?
Of everything they said, I found the bit about freeing the slaves the most intriguing. Is it not an obvious regret of the republican party? I have never seen a liberal waving a confederate flag. Have you?
To boot, the Confederate South, who fought to keep slavery, now votes overwhelmingly republican. Meanwhile, The Union in the north and west of the United States, who fought to end slavery, now votes overwhelmingly Democrat.
When rational people vote, they don’t vote for a name. They vote for ideology. There was a time when the liberals identified with the republican party, and the conservatives voted democrat.
Those days are long gone.
Conservatives claiming credit for what liberals originally accomplished under the republican name is like giving Columbus credit for discovering the Americas. The Natives, the Muslim Africans, and then the Vikings, were here hundreds of years before he was even born.
Back on Twitter, what I found most interesting (and worrying) was how very low race and race relations fell on the conservative list of priorities, in a country that is very obviously racially segregated.
For some, I suppose it’s easier to forget, or sweep under the rug, that racial segregation mandated by law, was alive and well in the U.S. all the way until 1964. It’s not some distant horror, the way it’s often painted. To better put that into perspective, anyone over the age of 53 today, was alive during Jim Crow Laws.
So are there really Americans who believe that one generation later, racism is magically cured? That a political system set up from the very beginning to subjugate non-Whites — from stealing land from the Native Americans, to putting Japanese in internment camps, to enslaving Blacks — just automatically rights itself?
Does a country that has cured racism have what is steadily becoming regular Neo-Nazi marches, with no repercussions?
The Nazi could never show its face in 2017 Germany and live to tell the tale. But in America, Neo-Nazis are very fine people. And since they’re exercising their constitutional right, mayors can only look into their legal options from the safety of Twitter.
After the racist marches that rocked Charlottesville, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, did not fail to draw her line in the sand and pick a side; namely, the left. “It is racist, far-right violence, and clear, forceful action must be taken against it, regardless of where in the world it happens,” she said.
Political writer, Sarah Wildman, further commented on the incidents, noting a parallel in how Germans deal with an ideology that originated in their country, and how Americans deal with its offspring:
She might have added that such a thing wouldn’t have happened in today’s Germany — because it’s illegal.
While America protects the right of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, and other hate groups… Germany has strict laws banning Nazi symbols and what’s called Volksverhetzung — incitement of the people, or hate speech. Like more than a dozen European countries, Germany also has a law criminalizing Holocaust denial.
And while Confederate statues can be found in many American cities south of the Mason-Dixon Line, there are no statues of Adolf Hitler or Joseph Goebbels gracing public squares in Berlin, let alone Nazi flags or other Nazi art.
How’s that for perspective?
The Danger of Group-think
The more I thought about those tweets, the news, the marches… the more I realised that these were all great reminders of what happens when a culture treats race, religion, and politics as taboo and impolite topics. This tends to create a situation where people are only comfortable discussing real issues with those they are sure will agree with them.
If more people stepped outside their bubble, and truly tried to understand other narratives and perspectives from varying backgrounds, inside and outside of the United States, we would make leaps and bounds towards the cure of the “us versus them mentality” that runs rampant in the States.
Instead, people smile and talk about the weather. Never deserting the superficial words, until they can whip out their smartphones to air their demons online, march through Charlottesville, or just casually mow down a few people with cars.
Group-thinking is a dangerous habit to develop, and shying away from conversations about real issues affecting everyone (for better, or worse!) is an excellent way to get it.
Liberals are not immune to this either. I’ve had a few run-ins with racially and culturally ignorant liberals living in Luminescent-White-Bubbles, though they are usually well-meaning.
What gives me a sense of hope, however, is the community I like to think I share with my readers, on my blog. This has been one of those safe havens, where people have been free to ask questions, no matter how sensitive, and receive honest answers in response.
What gives me even more hope is that of all the people who clamoured for more cultural and racial posts on my blog, almost every last one was White. It’s a good reminder that many people do want to better understand. All they need are the right opportunities to do so.
That said, the fact that so many more people are not asking the right questions, or asking any questions at all, still remains. And November 12th on Twitter was a perfect example of that.
The fact that a trending topic entitled “We’re Sick of Racism” became overrun with conservatives making light of racism and fun of liberals, says a lot about their priorities, and what side of the fence they stand on.
If you’re a conservative, and reading this and nodding, and thinking, “But I’m not like that. I actually agree with you,” the fact remains that you hold ranks with a group that gives a pass to racism, even when it does not condone it, by not taking a stand.
As my grandmother often told me as a child, growing up in Jamaica:
Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.
And in the famous words of Martin Luther King Jr.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
What are your thoughts on the trending topic, and the turn it took? Is racism another liberal myth in America? Or is it an issue that requires all parties to acknowledge and resolve, in order to move forward? I look forward to hearing your perspectives via the comments below.