Racism 2020

Read this article. It may seem at first like just another outrage of the type that has become so common these days that we’re becoming inured to them. But there’s so much to unpack here that it’s worth spending a few minutes on this one:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-election/gail-welch-mississippi-elections-commissioner-black-voter-registration-a9604731.html

First, if you want to know why it’s important to keep saying, “Black lives matter,” consider this statement from this election official: “The blacks are having lots (of) events for voter registration. People in Mississippi have to get involved, too[.]” Notice that she considers “The blacks” and “people” two different categories. If Black Americans aren’t people, their lives don’t matter. You won’t find a plainer statement of racism, or a more cogent justification for BLM.

Next, consider her “explanation” when called on her racism. First, she said she intended her message to be private—as if it is a defense to racism to say you didn’t mean for other people to find out. Second, she says she merely intended to encourage voter turnout. But how does expressing concern about Black registration encourage voter turnout? By stoking white fear, obviously. She’s trying to encourage white voter turnout, not voter turnout generally.

Third, she seems to realize that her “explanation” is such complete B.S. that it is incoherent. Her post, she says, “wasn’t intended to be anything.” Right. Did she have a seizure that caused her fingers to type randomly, and did that random typing just happen to result in complete sentences that just happened to relate to her official duties and just happened to express racism? Because otherwise, her post was intended to be something. She just can’t articulate a non-racist explanation, because there is none.

Last but not least, I first saw this story when it was posted to Facebook by a friend. His post cited an article in the New York Post, which I consider so trashy that I thought it worthwhile to corroborate the story from a more reputable source before reposting. I found local news outlets in Mississippi that reported it, several articles in African-American outlets like BET and theroot.com, and this article from the UK. I could not find an American national news outlet that reported this story. That is where we are in this country. A few short years after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act on the grounds that it isn’t necessary anymore, open racism on the part of election officials in the former Confederacy apparently is so ordinary that it is not even considered national news.

When Joe Biden wins in November this kind of racism will go back underground, where it festered before Donald Trump. It will not magically disappear. Racists will not suddenly find enlightenment. Most of them will be more articulate than this woman. They will rationalize and explain, and many people who don’t want to believe racism is a problem will be convinced because they want to be convinced. That’s how confirmation bias works. When that happens, remember what it was like when white supremacists felt it was safe to speak their true feelings aloud.

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