Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This week in racism

Race has been in the news a lot this week with the Supreme Court's ridiculous decision to rule parts of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, the affirmative action case (especially Thomas' concurrence) and with Paula Deen saying racist stuff (I've always found her extremely annoying). Alyssa Rosenberg has a good post about Paula Deen and how people like her trying to change the narrative. Check that out here. Dustin Rowles over at Pajiba has a good post describing his experience being born in the south and dealing with racism. Before you check it out, beware the horrible picture of Deen. You've been warned. Dustin's experience felt similar to mine, which I posted in the comments over there which I'll put here as well:

I was born in Memphis and have lived here most my life. It's a clusterfuck of racial tension. Words like "nigger" are rarely said in public. And people have gotten very good at using code words and couching their arguments in what appears to be non-racist motives. But as a white man I've heard it first hand from my family and from people who didn't know I was a non-racist liberal. There are Paula Deens all over the place.

I'm not sure they really belief they aren't racist. I think it could be more the fact that it's such a taboo to be seen as racist that they say whatever they can to avoid that label. And people like Deen are so shut off from people and a world that would call them out on their racism that they don't have to confront it until they are called out on it in a public way.

Public shaming is a very powerful thing. But like many other instances of public shaming, people don't seem willing to admit a fault and ask forgiveness. They would rather deny any wrongdoing and wait it out until they are around their yes-people and they can live in ignorance. That's easier than opening your mind and seriously thinking about what kind of person you are.

I had a few things to say on Twitter about the Supreme Court decision on the VRA and affirmative action. I don't have much to add aside from the fact the majority is just factually wrong. It's not apparent to these elitists who probably never interact with anyone outside their little social circles. But racism is obviously still alive. This was so apparent to Congress back in 06 (where there were still plenty of crazy people) that they reauthorized the VRA with near unanimous consent. It's 10th amendment and states' right bullshit to say that some states and districts shouldn't be treated differently when it comes to voting laws. And Thomas saying the pro-affirmative action argument is the same as the segregationist argument is incredibly simple-minded and again, factually wrong.

Not all was bad with the SCOTUS this week. This morning they ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, which should have been one of the easiest decisions the court has ever made. Sure enough, bigots like Scalia dissented and will go down in history as terrible justices. I'm obviously happy with that decision. But I'm still pretty depressed that we seem to have stalled in our progress when it comes to race in this country. People like Paula Deen should be publicly shamed for being racist. But along with that shaming, I think we need to find a more constructive way to deal with racists because the status quo doesn't seem to be working too well.

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