Coming To Terms With Racism, A Conservative’s Perspective
In today’s world, we can’t pretend racism doesn’t exist anymore.
There has been a lot of racism in the news recently and it got me looking internally about my perspective on it. It is important to know that I’m white of Italian descent, a Republican and a supporter of President Donald Trump.
I was raised in the city of Newark, NJ. A diverse city with a high crime rate.
In that city, we did not see racism and as kids we learned about it as if it was a thing in history.
As I have aged, I have witnessed more racism in the news and in stories I have heard from friends in other parts of the United States.
But never has it hit me the way it has in recent weeks.
There was Republican Rep. Steve King saying he did not know when the words white nationalist and white supremacist became negative.
Then there was Republican Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel resigning after he was found to have dressed in blackface as a Hurricane Katrina victim.
That was followed by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam admitting, then denying, he was the man in blackface in a photo in his yearbook.
But he did admit that he dressed in blackface for a Michael Jackson costume.
Then on Monday, it was reported that actor Liam Neeson told a reporter that he considered murdering a random black person because a friend of his was raped by a black man.
For a long time, I have said that people should get beyond racism and that it does not exist anymore the way it used to.
It is apparent that that advice was incorrect.
For someone like me who did not witness this type of racism, it is tough to comprehend that it continues to exist.
The fact is that I and those like me are never going to be able to know how a black person feels when they see blackface, or what they think when a representative says he does not know why the words white supremacist are bad, or when an actor you admire says he wanted to murder someone who looks like you.
And for many of us who have not experienced these things, it is tough to imagine a society in which blackface is accepted.
Accepted enough for a medical school to allow blackface photos in its yearbook. Accepted enough that someone can use it to mock the pain and tragedy many experienced in a devastating hurricane and not have their friends call them out on it before they get caught.
And accepted enough that a governor thinks dressing in Michael Jackson in blackface is more acceptable than blackface for another reason.
When our fellow Americans are being treated with this type of hatred or indifference to their feelings we can no longer pretend that what they see does not exist.