Both Sides Do it… ‘Again’

Two-hundred and forty combined Congressmen and women voted to officially condemn Donald Trump, for maligning 4 American female members of Congress, of color, as interlopers, who should “go back” to the country from “which they came.”  With racism staring him squarely in the face yesterday, Mitch McConnell defended Donald Trump with a cheap imitation.  “Everyone ought to tone down” their rhetoric, said McConnell, “I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country, but it’s coming from all different ideological points of view.” If that sounds reminiscent of “very fine people on both sides” that is not an accident. Senate Majority leader McConnell’s shoes must have been smoking with the ferocious tap dance he used to maneuver around the truth.

Racism is not a political argument; it is a vile condemnation of human dignity. The mistake most politicians make is to discuss race as a vote-getter or loser as opposed to having an automatic revulsion to its immoral corrupting effect.  There are not two sides, there is only one—rejection. When a bigot says, ‘I am tired of talking about race’ what they really mean is, ‘I am angry you unmasked me.’  

Back in the good ole’ days, of the Reagan/Bush Republican Party, conservatives used the inside voice their mom(s) taught them to discuss race. You have seen it, white people will take a glance over each shoulder, push in close and say quietly in public settings, ‘there is a black guy over there.’ I am a black man and I have been guilty of that in reverse, I have hoped white folks do not give “me a hard time.” Black people do it in preparation of our involuntary superpower of invisibility; not being able to hail a taxi, slow or no service at restaurants and not finding a salesperson in high-end stores (there is kryptonite to that intergalactic power, security sees through your cloak of invisibility every time). White people do it much too often to fend off a perceived or imaginary threat, that lately has been going viral on a weekly basis.  

This may all sound like bitter ramblings, but it is not.  Your black neighbors, friends and those whose experience is foreign to you, have lived this reality and have become necessarily numb.  Even more insidious is that people of color expect, adjust and accept it every day. Mitch McConnell and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy saying yesterday that Mr. Trump is not a “racist” is not a surprise to the people who live it.  I was born before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and I remember my great-grandmother, whose grandfather was a southern slave. She was born in rural Maryland and was afraid the law would pass and put her in danger.

She beamed proudly when I showed her my voter registration card in 1977 and told me never to be scared to vote—like she was.  I have voted in every election since that time. I am a proud American and that gives me the right to critique her, scold her and love her, even when she has not always loved me back.

Vote in 2020 for Change.