Hey everyone, America is really racist. As are Americans. Americans that are born here are racist, and American’s that deign to naturalize agree to put up with and be more racist as part of the process. Racism is one of America’s original sins.
America was a nation started on self-serving lies: Namely that People of Color were so inferior so it was okay to treat them like chattel… and that First Nations were so inferior that it was okay to take all their land. You don’t base a nation on racist premises like that without the citizenry getting corrupted.
Now, every time the toxic by-products of racism almost broke the country apart, it shifted a bit and became less racist by editing out the bits of the lie that science and reality could no longer support. It never got rid of the false premises, it just wound them back a tad. America, after all, will only do the right thing after it has exhausted all other options.
The first roll-back was to end slavery, but to do so while setting up prison system so that any uncooperative People of Color could still be locked up to make stuff for cheap-as-free upon the smallest infraction. And while People of Color weren’t so inferior as to justify treating them like chattel, they were apparently so tribal and violent that they carried different diseases, so they couldn’t use the same bathrooms, water fountains, food counters, or schools as white people, or marry them.
Then, when science and reality couldn’t support those lies, it got edited again: It was no longer lawful to deny People of Color access to public facilities, but it was a convenient gray area to not allow home-sellers to show shiny-new-suburban homes in certain neighborhoods to People of Color… and for the bankers to deny People of Color loans… and for politicians to draw up new tax codes and assistance policies that slowly removed benefits from depressed areas of Color (namely ‘urban’ areas) while not doing the same to depressed areas full of White people (namely ‘rural’ areas). It wasn’t too sneaky.
Hell, ‘urban’ became a code-word for People of Color… alongside lots of other racist code words like “good schools” and “good neighborhoods”. I’m pretty sure I and all the other 11-year-olds knew what a White lady meant if she hissed “Those People” or “Thugs”. Also, an alarmingly high number of White People seems to have the Big Book of Black-on-Black crime statistics to justify why they should occupy prison at a much greater rate and why it’s okay that cops that shoot them never seem to face consequences (Was that a class I missed in high school? Was there an after-school seminar? Was I just not invited because it was gonna be the same class/seminar as “LGBTQ people are going to break into your house and give you AIDS” and they didn’t want me to figure out they knew my dastardly plans?).
So now we are at the Gen-X/millennial generations turn to turn back the lie. Tech has had a big part: Zillow and Lending Tree means that small-town banks and real-estate agents can no longer conveniently route People of Color towards certain neighborhoods and mortgages. Google and Digitization and Blogs mean that it’s real easy to gank statistics and show disproportionate systemic racism and quickly stymie bad facts. Anyone with a cellphone is now a documentarian, thus the Broken Stairs* of Policing are simultaneously being shown to exist and the subjects of demands to be repaired. Science no longer supports the racist lies of the 60’s.
So, America is Racist. Americans are Racist. It’s slowly getting less racist, but each time one of these shifts hits it’s like a cultural earthquake… Sociologists warn of tensions in the crust of our country, volcanos start popping, and a very large group of people start loudly proclaiming that everything is fine, experts are full of crap, we don’t need to move or shift anything ThankYouVeryMuch… and they suffer tremendously for being so wrong. The same Pride-laced Stagnation is cropping up this time: Neo-Nazis are a returning fad that nobody asked for. People are falling for silly arguments that People of Color protesting Racism are Disrespecting the Flag or The Anthem (oh, by the by, that Anthem is RIDICULOUSLY racist. We don’t sing the verse cheering for the death of all the slaves that fought for the British because the British offered them freedom when America couldn’t be bothered…. but it’s there). They’re calling opponents the “real racists” when they get called out… which is silly, because it’s like accusing other people of having skin.
So yeah. America is Racist and probably going to be somewhat less racist by the end of the decade (but still probably pretty racist). And the People who had to eat crow for being on the wrong side of history again, embittered that throwing a tantrum in a Publix gets them arrested instead of the thing they want… will go off to start a new class/seminar like “People of Color are all really good hackers and going to steal your credit so don’t let them use phones or computers” probably taught along the lines of “Transgender/genderqueer people get off on ‘tricking’ you”
And always remember that while America is really really racist, it will always be more sexist.
*A “Broken Stair” is pretty much a person in a community that is harmful… which the community tries to warn-newcomers-about rather than fixing. It was coined to describe rapists/abusers in small-ish hobbyist communities (the rapey dance instructor in a dance-troupe… the rapey hot dude in the sexual-liberation workshop… the successful author that gets drunk and handsy at the literary convention) but works really well to describe bad cops, crappy admins, and libelous management. Ultimately, if a community keeps asking the question “What can people do to not get harmed by this person” as opposed to “We need to stop letting this person harm people”… it’s got a Broken Stair and it’ll suffer for it.