I saw a post on Instagram this morning from a man that I would describe as a militant racist. Not an activist. He didn’t seem to be fighting for justice or equality. Based on his previous posts he just appeared to be anti-white.
Correction: he was anti-non-black.
The post in question was an aerial photo of a field with a yellow box illustrating what 40 acres looks like, similar to the one below.
The caption read — and I’m paraphrasing slightly — “No wonder the whites don’t want to give us our land #reparations #givememyshit”
The comments that followed are what one might imagine: lots of anti-white clashing with lots of anti-black rhetoric. But what struck me the most about the exchange were the well-informed and thoughtful remarks of a Native American Indian man. Again, I’m paraphrasing, but essentially he said, “My people were promised a lot of stuff that the white man never followed through on. Good luck getting yours.”
The original poster shot back with some variety of, “What do you know about the #blackstruggle? Your people were never kidnapped from their homes and enslaved.” The Native responded with a brief, yet informative retelling of his tribe’s relocation. He finished his response with the words, “We are your allies, not your enemies.”
Original poster replied within minutes: “If you’re not of the aboriginal people, you ARE my enemy.”
This exchange put me in a tough spot. I like to think of myself as more open-minded than most white folks on matters of race. I’ve done a lot of soul-searching over the last year or so. I’ve invested great effort into coming to terms with my own white privilege. While I don’t think I’ll ever be completely free of race-based biases, I definitely think I’m more evolved than most.
And then I see garbage like this Instagram post and I question everything I’ve come to believe.
Let me pause right here to acknowledge that I understand this was just one man — and a dozen commenters — spewing racist remarks (or reverse-racist depending on your definition of the word). I understand that I shouldn’t let one man and his mob undo the good I’ve done to my own way of thinking, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t find myself thinking all sorts of shameful thoughts.
I guess my whole point here is that there are a lot of narrow-minded, racist bigots out there — look at Donald Trump’s latest poll numbers for Exhibit A. But there are a lot of people out there that “get it,” too. And then there are people like myself that are trying their best to claw their way to the latter group.
Until we, the searchers, get to a place of true understanding, our beliefs are fragile and can easily be derailed.
So whether you’re black or white or brown or purple, please keep in mind that there are people all around you trying to find their way and when you start dropping your racist hate speech you’re derailing their progress. You’re perpetuating the us-versus-them race war, which I understand a lot of folks believe is the only way to achieve true justice, but I digress.
I don’t know what I’m really trying to get at here. I’m just bummed is all. Thanks for reading.