Thursday, July 23, 2009

The blacklash of white privilege

While drinking coffee at my local coffeeshop this morning, I overheard a conversation among 4 white Verizon workers that undoubtedly is being replayed across the country. These 4 were arguing that Henry Louis Gates had acted inappropriately prior to his arrest in Cambridge and deserved to be arrested for disorderly conduct. According to this view, the cop's police report is to be believed; Henry Louis Gates, not to be believed.

In my view, these scenes are evidence of a revived white racism in America, perpetuated by right-wing radio and rooted in traditional white privilege. Why is this racism? The sentiments expressed here are about the reconstruction of a white identity, a revived racism, in a world where there have been victories against racism. White racists are portraying themselves as the victim where, as they see it, African-Americans are irrationally overstepping their bounds.

The racism of the Verizon workers is blatant. Here are reasons why:

1. Why assume that the cop is telling the truth? For those of us who have experienced the actions of some police, especially when exercising our first amendment rights in protest, we know that the police can lie. Black people know that the cops can lie and be racist. (To be fair, I'm not talking about all cops here.) That these Verizon workers believe the white cop over the black professor, without being present during the altercation, is evidence of their racism.

2. I don't know where these 4 workers get their news, but I suspect that this view is predominant on Fox News and right-wing radio. Why do people believe these sources, especially when they are so obviously biased and, despite what they claim, unchristian? The presentation of many news stories on Fox is not only biased but oftentimes gets the facts wrong in order to score ideological points. I once saw a story on my home town, about my high school, that got important facts wrong just to make such an ideological point. Fox and right-wing radio can't be trusted.

3. The very fact that these Verizon workers are so troubled by this story, when they weren't there, demonstrates that they have a psychological need for the white cop to be right and the Black academic to be wrong. Again, more evidence of their racism.

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