They’re Here, They’re Racist, Get Used to It?

By Guest Columnist Mar 30, 2007

by Menachem Krajcer It seems that the facade of a ColorBlind society has completely evaporated. Two weeks ago, Arizona nativists cheered at a “joke” that a bullet to the head is the best solution to immigration reform. One week prior, young Republicans at NYU staged a treasure hunt to find the illegal immigrant. College basketball fans are bemoaning Illinois University’s decision to get rid its racist mascot. And let’s not forget early this month, AsianWeek published a column on “Why I Hate Blacks.” Meanwhile, the NAACP is leading a new campaign to outlaw the N-word, claiming that rap is legitimatizing the use of racism among whites. Believe me, white folks need little encouragement. I was raised in the suburbs of Chicago with a community of first generation, Eastern European immigrants. We made fun of ourselves, as much as we made fun of others, but racism ran deep. One of my parent’s friends had a deep dislike for Blacks calling them “Shvartze Cholera,” which literally translates from Yiddish into the Black Plague. I’ll never forget the time his son came back from a trip to the South Side of Chicago in 1992 where a family friend owned a convenience store—read liquor store. Wild-eyed he gleefully described how they caught a Black teenager shoplifting and strung him up in the basement. He didn’t directly participate, but clearly got off from watching the beating. When I moved to Idaho in 1996 to organize around welfare rights, the poor whites complained about how the “wetbacks” were getting all the benefits while they got nothing. I lost count of number of families who said they fled California for Idaho because all those colored people had ruined the state. California is not much better. People blame “them illegals” for just about anything from crime to high costs of health. My neighbor rants about those "Islamic rag heads" and how we have to kill them all to win the war. He is half white, half Mexican. My ex-plumber applauds the high homicide rate in Oakland as a good thing because all the N*****s are killing each other off. He’s dating a Black woman. On a flight to L.A., a white woman sitting next to me wished they would just racially profile, because security was such an inconvenience. For some, race baiting is just fun and games. I’ve recently become addicted to online poker where you can chat while gambling away play money. Three times last week I had to leave tables due to immature racist banter. “You’re just a bunch of Mexicans….screw you Negro….” I’ve tried to call them out, but they just lol. Instead of getting frustrated, I got even. I lured one into a high stakes hand and cleaned him out of all his fake money—he was pissed and let me know it. I wrote back, “beating racists was never this much fun.” Trying to combat this undercurrent of racism is like treading water upstream. People just learn to tone it down when you are around, but their attitudes really don’t change. Attitudes lead to (in)action when it comes to issues of racial equity. People recognize, for example, the stark racial inequities of our educational system—they just don’t care, as long as there kids don’t have to go to “those” schools or have the will to support change. And while these same people won’t move to fight racial inequality, I wonder if their verbal racism is better out in the open.