I can’t speak of racism with authority. I can’t know what it really looks like. Most of the time I think I know when I witness it but my privilege is certainly myopic to understand the pain, the anger, frustration and sadness required to clearly see it for what it is. That’s not to say it doesn’t cause me pain, anger, frustration and sadness. And if I am honest, I am grateful that I can’t personally know the depth of such ugliness. I can say and know that racism is ugly but it doesn’t really affect me in the way it must when you can’t escape it.
On Sunday I was perusing my Facebook feed and ran across a friend’s post that woke me. Erin Jackson is more of a fond acquaintance that I had the joy of knowing in my comedy days. She has a smile that will melt you, she’s beyond funny and was always gracious in spite of my amateur status. So when she described an encounter she had…it rocked me. I’ll just share with you what she posted.
Some arrogant subhuman traveler had assumed Erin was in the wrong line at an airport because of the color of her skin. And this wasn’t the first time such degeneracy had confronted her while traveling. She recounts a similar experience on her website. I just can’t even imagine.
I was brought up in a way to always stand up to blatant racism. Now I’m starting to see that perhaps the worst part of racism is the thousand tiny cuts that go unnoticed by those of us who would never experience or likely notice such transgressions. The days of letting racist jokes or comments slide has passed.
We have all heard it described that the new president has emboldened racists. That can not stand.
Last night I had the opportunity to attend a talk by Daryl Davis. The talk was very thought provoking and gave some hope in that some of the most hardened of racists can be educated. Yet I’m not sure those are the biggest challenges we face. I was embarassed in the end when a few of the white audience members suggested that they are victims to the recent backlash against emboldened racism. You could hear fear in their voices. They should be afraid because we aren’t going to let them get by with that anymore. You can’t claim to be a victim for being called out for behaving like a racist. And these people Erin dealt with at the airport. Hiding behind smiles under the guise of trying to be helpful. They were as ugly as can be. We see them. I hope that makes them uncomfortable.