Living in the South means that I’m living in a “sea of red.” I’ve written before that growing up a progressive in a very red part of the country is actually an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything because I’ve seen, firsthand, what it truly means to be a conservative/Republican. I learned very quickly that I didn’t want any part of it — especially the racism.
However, when it comes to racism, I’m finally willing to admit what Republicans have claimed for years: President Obama has made racism “worse”… just not in the way that they think he has.
You see, racism has gotten worse because of President Obama. But not because he’s made it worse. What we’re seeing now with increased racial tension is what happens when racists realize that this country is moving further and further away from their outdated, deplorable beliefs.
Often when someone realizes the “end is near,” that’s when they fight the hardest, the loudest and become completely erratic. They’ll do anything to save whatever it is that they’re fighting for. In this case, it’s the racism that’s been ingrained in many parts of this country generation after generation. While we’ve been moving away from it for well over 150 years, this nation has still mostly always been based on a “white male only” hierarchy.
We still have a very long way to go, but our country is more diverse at every level today than it ever has been — and it’s becoming more diverse every single day. We have more non-whites and women in positions of power, wealth, governing — you name it — than we’ve ever had at any point since the birth of this nation.
But a lot of that goes unseen. It’s random members of Congress in a country where most people don’t even know who their congress people are, or other individuals finding success in a nation that, not too long ago, they would have never been able to achieve. What I mean by that is, the move from “white male only” to a more accepting, diverse society has been fairly subtle and, unfortunately at times, painfully slow to evolve.
So, while it’s been noticed here and there by those same people often proclaiming they’re “losing their nation” — this transition from the “American tradition” of racism and sexism dominating nearly every facet of life never truly had a “face.”
Well, that was until Barack Obama became our country’s first non-white president. Then suddenly we had a well-known, every day reminder that the era of white males controlling everything because racism and sexism had allowed for that type of socioeconomic structure to thrive was moving toward its end.
Needless to say, racists haven’t taken it all that well.
After all, how dare a non-white person with a name that sounds like “one of them Muslims” think he can lead a “white Christian nation.” Doesn’t he know the U.S. was founded by white men — for white men? The audacity of Barack Obama thinking he has the right to lead “their” country — he’s not one of “them.”
That’s exactly how the birther nonsense became such a widespread belief among many Republicans in the first place. This was their way to cope with the fact that being President of the United States was no longer “for white men only.” Even eight years later, many still can’t believe that an African American male is our Commander-in-Chief. And because they refuse to believe “their” country is led by an African American, they concocted outlandish conspiracies and propaganda to delegitimize his presidency. In many of their minds (and I can attest to this because I’ve heard them say it) they really believe at some point there’s going to be something, somewhere that proves Barack Obama isn’t an American so they can say his presidency is invalid and wipe his name from our record books.
President Obama’s 2008 victory caused a massive reaction from the racist right to fight harder, louder and more erratically than they had in years hoping to do anything to keep from facing the harsh reality that this country is not only for “them.”
Then, because many of these folks are actually in denial about the fact that they’re racists, they project their ignorance on those who call them out by claiming that those people are the actual “racists.”
You read about this phenomena in articles about relationships where one spouse will accuse the other of something, often infidelity, because they’re actually being unfaithful. Often people will project what they’re capable of on someone else to either put the other person on the defensive to distract from their disgusting behavior, or because they feel that everyone else must be secretly behaving unethically as well.
Obviously this sort of psychological behavior isn’t just limited to relationships.
That’s why whenever President Obama addresses racial issues in this country, the actual racists are the first ones out there accusing him of racism because he’s daring to call out the institutional racism from which they’ve benefited since the founding of this country.
President Obama made racism “worse” much in the same way a whistleblower makes a corrupt CEO’s life much more difficult by exposing wide-spread corruption and illegal activity. It’s not that the whistleblower did anything more than bring to light something that needed to be called out, but by doing the right thing they made the life of a CEO trying to get away with corrupt and unlawful behavior much more difficult.
So, when I say Republicans are right when they claim President Obama has made racism worse — it’s true. He’s made it “worse” because his success brought to the surface and exposed how much racism against African Americans there still is in this country and how much of the modern-day GOP is fueled by white supremacy.
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