It should not be difficult to quantify or define racism, but curiously, scholars have not come to a consensus on what does and does not constitute discrimination based on race. However, in general terms racism is views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that human beings are divided into distinct races that share attributes which make that group less desirable, more desirable, inferior, or superior. America is a racist nation despite the people elected an African American man as President twice and civil rights groups’ diligence to give people of color equality. The concept that the white race is superior has plagued this nation since its inception, but over the past four years it has increased in part because of Republican pandering to race-based opposition to President Obama, and in part by the media and Democrat’s reticence to address the racial animus toward people of color. Recently, there were two reports of blatant racism in so-called Christian churches that demonstrate the efficacy of teaching that the white race is superior, and belies their namesake’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.
Last week a pastor in a North Carolina church, Freedom House, sent an email to church members who act as greeters for Sunday morning service asking that only white people stand at the front door to greet the congregation. The pastor’s email was a reminder to volunteers that since fall is one of their busiest times of the year, first impressions matter and that the church wanted the cream of the crop manning the front doors to “bring the racial demographic pendulum of the church back to the mid-line.” The email also acknowledged the sensitive nature of the request, but contended that quality trumps quantity and it was more important to have fewer greeters at the door if it meant those welcoming visitors represented the congregation’s best. The revealing part of the story is that the pastor is African American. Her intent was to reflect the church’s racial diversity, and because African American congregants were not the “moneymakers” the church needed the pastor was trying to attract a more affluent (read whiter) membership.
The idea that an African American preacher felt the need to signal Black members they were inferior and that the “best of the best” of the congregation is defined by the white race is blatantly racist and informs the preacher’s acceptance of generations of white supremacists inculcating the population to believe the white race is inherently superior to people of color. That it is being advanced in Christian churches is despicable to say the least, but it is a recurring theme evidenced by another report that white churches in the South are teaching people that voting anything other than Republican is a one-way ticket straight to the proverbial Hell and white Southern Christians are buying the propaganda in large numbers.
An Alabama legislator described a call from a white Republican church member who shared an experience in church related to a local school district applying to be an independent segregated school. The caller explained that during the Sunday service congregants were “bullied into supporting the school district” separating itself from the county to “minimize the number of blacks that are in our school district.” The Republican was disheartened because as a longtime educator supporting integrated schools, she had never considered that the Republican perspective included white supremacy or that is was propagated by so-called Christians. The Alabama legislator confessed it is a regular occurrence in many local Baptist churches. Obviously, the Republican woman has not been paying attention to the rise of racial animus and white supremacy permeating the party since the election of Barack Obama as President.
Slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King once noted that the most segregated hour in America is at 11:00 on Sunday during church services that provides a perfect opportunity for white supremacists to indoctrinate and incite fear of the “the other” that conservative talking heads and Republicans parrot in their assaults on the President and people of color in general. The failing of the media, and Democrats, to cite dog whistle and blatant racism inherent in Republican ranks contributes to the problem and it is an important aspect of Republican tactics to promote white supremacy with impunity. Americans who are not infected with racial animus have bought into the idea that calling out racism makes them a racist and it contributes to Republican success at spreading their blatantly racist messages unopposed.
Conservative media and Republicans are not reticent to inject racism into every news story, political campaign, and opposition to social programs affectin all Americans, and they proceed with confidence knowing full well their racist machinations will never be challenged. President Obama has adhered to Dr. King’s policy of connecting the plight of people of color with America’s economic opportunity inequities, and it is a valid approach. However, it does nothing to identify Republican’s advancing the cause of poverty on the back of racial animus and fear that people of color are robbing them, even poor white Americans, of their “hard-earned success” and the American Dream.
That the white race is superior to people of color is the social contract conservatives have made with their supporters, and libertarians, Republicans, and tea baggers expand the supremacists reach by opposing issues such as healthcare for all, food assistance, social programs, and immigration reform because they tie them to rewarding people of color at the expense of the white race. It explains why poor white Americans who support Republican policies consistently vote against their own self-interests, and reveals the depth of hatred many white people harbor for people of color. In fact, despite his success and rise to the highest office in the land, President Obama has become the face of “the other” that besides being reviled as un-American is often accused of hating white people.
White supremacists labored in society’s shadows after the limited success of the Civil Rights movement, but that changed with the election of Barack Obama. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented the alarming rise of racially motivated hate groups since 2008, and few Americans have spoken out against the sheer brazenness of groups calling for race war or blatant racism targeting African Americans. Two weeks ago in a former Confederate state, South Carolina, 25 African Americans were evicted from a restaurant after waiting two hours to be seated because one white bigot felt threatened by a group of paying Black customers. Instead of a public outcry against blatant racism, main stream media failed to report the story on every evening newscast across the country because if there is one thing Republicans and conservative-biased media will not allow, it is citing the racism and white supremacy plaguing America and it is why it continues to grow unabated.