I write letters, racism style

obama displayI wrote a letter to the editor of my local newspaper. (Click to embiggen the picture)

It went a little something like this:

Jimmy Carter was right; there is confident, overt racism in much of the
opposition to Obama. It’s not just in isolated enclaves or in the Deep
South. I was using an ATM at a shop called “Sticks and Stones” in the
Oceanwalk Mall at the Ramada Inn in Hollywood Beach. The proprietor has a
display in a small enclave right inside the doorway, across from the ATM. I
attached a picture that I took with my iPhone. It has a cardboard cutout of
Obama, a stuffed baboon, and a book on Wild Chimapanzees.

I was disgusted, not only because this shop owner felt so confident in his
racism that he would put up a display like that, but also because there are
so many people who apologize for and deny similar situations and incidents.

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “I write letters, racism style

  1. I just threw up in my mouth. What the hell is wrong with people? I try and remain positive because we do have a person of color as POTUS. My 86 year old father (who loves Hilary, but voted for Obama) never thought he would see a black president in his lifetime. But, things like the picture you posted are so disheartening. I made the mistake of posting a reply on a popular parenting blog (Parent Dish), about saving 21 week fetuses. The ignorant and racist comments aimed at Obama, and me, were disgusting. I should have known better.

    • MomTFH

      Ugh, I know. The comments you got and displays like the one I photographed are embarrassing to me as an American. This championing of anti-intellectualism, and celebration of uneducated knee jerk reactions is such a shame. It almost seems like a small but noisy portion of our country wants us to revert to a fundamentalist, anti-science knee jerk reactionary third world nation.

  2. OMFG.

    I am so glad you documented that. And publicized it. And named a name. Name and Shame!

    • MomTFH

      I thought twice about publishing the store’s name and location and then I was like, why the hell not?? They have this display right next to an ATM with a neon sign in a touristy area in South Florida. It’s not a secret. They’re not hiding this. I am not creating their association with this foulness. I am just documenting it.

  3. That picture is ludicrous. And I’m quite sure there are still racists thriving (hate to say it, especially in Florida – I lived there for many years and my family is still there and Floridians are some of the most backward people I’ve ever been exposed to.) I’m sure there are people who didn’t vote for Obama because he’s half Kenyan just like there are people who didn’t vote for Hillary because she’s a woman.

    However, I get sooooooo annoyed when people try to paint all white people as racists. Isn’t that just reverse racism? It is, and two wrongs don’t make a right. And Obama IS our president… that means more people voted for a black man than didn’t. I think that says something.

    • MomTFH

      I really don’t know many people who paint all white people as racists. Reverse racism doesn’t really exist. Prejudice, sure, but racism implies a power differential, and a minority just doesn’t have that over whites in America.

      I was incredibly proud of America for voting Obama in. In fact, I was just talking to a friend of mine tonight about how this still is progress, and how it was so great that he got elected. It is democracy – America did want him, a first generation biracial man of African descent.

      But, these prominent small percentage of the opposition that are racists are disgusting.

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  5. Well, I can say there is a very serious and obvious power differential depending on where you live. I grew up in total poverty (homeless much of my life), which socio-economically speaking, means that I lived in neighborhoods where I was absolutely the minority, and nobody let me forget it. It sounds like a bad movie, but I was bullied, beaten up, and threatened all the time by some of the black girls simply because I was white and they were angry. They, as a class, definitely held power over me. I couldn’t walk down the hall without being physically threatened or harmed. This didn’t make me hate all African-American people though – I just grew up knowing that trash comes in every color. You’d have to have grow up in a ghetto to understand it, but it’s there.

    While I was pregnant with my first son I taught a songwriting seminar at Chicago Public Libraries in front of a class of 100% african-american children, who all spent the entire time telling me they “hate white people.” That was awesome. I didn’t feel threatened by the children because, hello, they are children, but I certainly felt intimidated around their parents because the kids had to be getting that from hate speech from somewhere. If a class full of white children told an African American teacher they hated black people, it probably would have made national news these days. So, I do think reverse racism exists. It’s unfortunate that there’s any racism at all, but for every step forward we make, we take a couple steps back in other areas.

    • MomTFH

      This is a reply turned post of one of my recent posts. When I posted my picture of a racist display mocking President Obama and the letter I wrote to my local paper, a commenter started talking about reverse racism. Here is my reply:

      IMO, that was ugliness and prejudice. I am sure it felt awful and I am sorry.

      We can argue and disagree on this, but most people who study racism in a scholarly way say that the power differential occurs when you as a white person gets to go home, see the heroes and beautiful people in ads portrayed on TV who look like you, all of the pictures in magazines of people who are supposed to be beautiful who look like you, and go put money in the bank who most like has a white CEO who looks like you, and just live in a society in which you know that, regardless of your lower class upbringing, you have a lower maternal mortality rate than a rich black woman, you have a better chance at getting a job, and many, many other privileges.

      When is the last time someone said a president or Supreme court justice who looked like you got their position did it only based on their race, not merit? See how ridiculous that sounds to a white person? Or that the health care plan that you’re proposing is really reparations?

      Here is a great essay by a fellow white person, anti-racism activist Tim Wise, who discusses this:

      The myth of reverse racism.

      Here is an exercise that helps you look at this. I am sure many of these items, especially those in the beginning, you may be able to say …”See, we’re the same.” But wait until you dig a little further.

      White privilege exercise.

      Once you leave that library or that situation with those black people and think about it, you know they are angry because of a LACK of power. They don’t think you’re lessor and use that to oppress you. They think you’re an oppressor and use that to attack you. They may make that judgment based on your race, but that does not give them racial power over you.

      If an Iraqi soldier ends up alone and unarmed in a bunch of angry Iraqi insurgents and gets the crap beat out of him, that doesn’t change their power differential. Yes, the Iraqi soldier was “overpowered” by the Iraqis, but that doesn’t make it reverse racism.

      I have lived in the “ghetto”, (that’s Racism Bingo card O2, by the way) and my husband grew up there. I did the white flight thing and moved from a neighborhood that was 90%+ African American in Miami Gardens Florida. If you want a trip in the police blotter, do a google search on “Miami Gardens” + the word “crime”. And, most of the crime is black on black. It’s unsafe to live there for them, too.

      I felt afraid for my young, blond, pale white son there when I saw the kids at the playground glare at him and walk away when he asked to play, and was afraid of the gang bangers who tinkered on cars at the edge of the playground and jealously guarded their turf, cursing loudly enough for us to hear, every time we were there. I still feel extreme guilt for having the privilege and ability to move to a NICER neighborhood where more people look like me. I am proud of my multicultural neighborhood now.

      But, can a black person do that? How often can a black person go to a safer place where more people look like them?

      And, finally, the main problem I have with the term reverse racism is that it is used to deny that racism against people of color, especially African Americans, is a persistent, real problem with significant negative effects on a huge subpopulation of our country, and in the long run, negative effects on all of us. Your examples are a perfect illustration about how cultural and institutional racism against blacks can turn around and hurt white people. My last post linked to an article on how that racism denial, and I would like to add the competitiveness that lower class white people feel when people talk about racism, is what allows racism to thrive.

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