RACIAL SHAME IS THE NAME OF THE GAME,By Louise Annarino,October 26,2012

26 Oct

RACIAL SHAME IS THE NAME OF THE GAME,By Louise Annarino,October 26,2012

“Ms. Annarino, are you white?” asked the toddler leaning against my back as I sat on the ground, her hands over my eyes so I could not see her. “Yes, I am,” I answered. What prompted such a question I pondered. I was new to her neighborhood, a neighborhood which housed a single white family composed of a mother and her three children, among the families of two-hundred plus African-American children who spent most of their day on the playground I supervised. The only other white adult I saw all that summer was the mailman. This little girl only knew I looked different. When she heard talk about “the white girl down at the playground,” she looked for the one girl who looked different. She made no judgments about me. My color was simply an identifier.

This was not the case within my white community. Race and color were not simply used as an identifier; but also used as instruments of power and self-aggrandizement. Noticing and or pointing out skin color and race was done  in a derisive manner, accompanied by stereotypes, meant to make the speaker feel superior. It was ugly. It made me cringe. It made me feel ashamed to be part of this tribe.

Children’s tribal instincts were strong back then. There was only 1/2 hour of the nightly news each evening to connect us to the larger world outside our neighborhoods. There was no internet, no cable news, no electronic social media like Facebook. My connection to larger world weakened my tribal ties. My mother was from New York City, not small-town, Ohio. We spent summers there with cousins who lived in the projects among people of every religious faith, every race and ethnicity, and every color. It was magnificent! When I saw racism I was perplexed. How could anyone believe these stereotypes?  I still ask the same question 60 years later. Racist beliefs make even less sense today, when we have access to more information and greater racial interaction.

We now are interconnected with the entire world, and yet, we cling to tribalism. The racism Obama volunteers experienced while canvassing in 2008 has intensified. It has become an accepted political strategy of the Republican party. There was a time in this country when racists would be shamed by the larger white community in the north. Visiting the south thirty years ago, I was surprised by the lack of shame, and the unwillingness to challenge racism  by those who knew better. Now, white Americans both north and south are shameless. Racism may be in its final throes but it is still too easily spread.

I have written often on this blog about the racism displayed during this campaign. It is now so overt I don’t even feel the need to repeat what you are seeing and hearing as examples. But, tonight I felt compelled to remind us all that it is not President Barack Obama who has created racial division in this country; but those who say he has done so. The very act of  calling Barack Obama racist is racism itself. The next time you hear someone like Palin use words “shuckin’ and jivin'”, John Sununu suggest Colin Powell supports the president because both are black and  he “wish(es) (Obama)knew how to be an American”, Newt Gingrich/Sean Hannity/and other Republicans say Obama is the “most racially divisive political figure”, and Trump says Obama is “lazy,slick and un-American”  remind yourself how RACIST this is…and how useless.It does nothing to help America select the best leader for this country. It is used to distract us from the discussion.

Racism is a grand distraction from a failed campaign. It has been used to some effect for many years. It is not a fluke, but a planned strategy. I won’t hold my breath while waiting for Mr. Romney, nor Congressman Ryan to find the moral courage to stop their campaign from using this tired old strategy and speak out against it. If they think it can improve their chances at the polls, they will continue to use it, and their supporters will continue to give racist tactics tacit approval. It is shameful.

 

 

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