Whether it’s SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts justifying his gutting of the Voting Rights Act or the Right Wing zealots spiking the football on Trayvon Martin’s grave, the refrain we hear from those who aid and/or exhibit racism in our nation is, “I don’t see any racism.”
Ralph Ellison wrote the classic novel, The Invisible Man, whose lead African American character feels that he is figuratively invisible because others choose not to see him, he ends up living underground the city he used to live in. This theme of white society being unwilling to recognize people of color as being people like them is not new nor is the racist’s defense of denying racism exists.
However, in this era when the wrongs of racism seem so familiar and obvious to most, it is difficult to understand how so many hateful people feel so free to openly express their racism as if it is a mainstream value (while pounding their chests and claiming to be a victim of racism if called on it).
George Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara declared that if George Zimmerman was black, he wouldn’t have been arrested. Right, you won’t find many black men being arrested nor many in prison, they do have it so much better than Caucasians (African Americans make up 13.1% of the U.S. population but According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, they accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population).
Juror B37, the one juror who has come out publicly to speak about the deliberations says that race didn’t play any role in “George” killing Trayvon (apparently she’s on a first name basis with the non-black killer of the black teen). How blind and ignorant about racism can some white people be? Zimmerman’s justification for calling 911 and following Martin was because he was a young black teenager! He and even his defense witnesses went on to claim that all the burglaries in the community were cause by black men so of course it was natural for Zimmerman to see Trayvon as a probable criminal. Because he was black. But race didn’t play any role? How many white people or Latino people did Zimmerman report to 911 during his time on the neighborhood watch? The answer is, zero, he only reported black men. But that’s just gotta be a coincidence. And this juror believed that only Zimmerman had the right to use force if he felt threatened, she said nothing about Trayvon having a right to defend himself if he felt threatened by a creepy guy stalking him then confronting him.
Nope, black men apparently have no right to stand their ground and defend themselves, that’s reserved for Caucasian men only.
But race didn’t play any role.
I don’t know that anyone’s surprised that the racists who make up the core of the GOP have been out in force toasting each other after the decision and spewing more racism in calling black people, the NAACP, the DoJ, etc. racists for protesting the verdict…and even for having the uppity-ness to have called for Zimmerman to be tried in the first place after the police let him go. And they feel free to vent their racial animosity because, like Bizarros as written by George Orwell, as long as they deny that they are racists and and that racism exists in America, they’re protected from being called racists.
Today’s GOP is based primarily upon denial, whether it’s Pres. Obama’s legitimacy in office, Climate Change, the destruction of trickle down and austerity, the growing economic injustice and class warfare conducted by the Kochs and their allies in the 1%, their intent to destroy Social Security and Medicare and on and on. Meanwhile, Republicans don’t hesitate to see many problems with most of the social programs that serve many African Americans.
What is unfortunate is that this tactic represents that these haters have their heels dug in and will not be easily turned from their racism and their attempts to legislate racism (such as the Voter ID laws and Stand Your Ground laws which have now been exposed as supporting racism). In fact, the more these people see social encroachment on their racism, the stronger and more desperately they cling to and defend their racism.
The image that’s promoted of what America is has blinded many to what it truly is. Race is a huge and terrible problem in America that has not been dealt with and no matter what the denialists on the Right might say to shield themselves from criticism and advance their racist agenda, it will continue to be a huge problem.
For Republicans, denying the existence of issues they feel favor them, allows them to keep them in place. Instead of an Invisible Man, racism for them is an Invisible Issue that lives underground in our cities and states. Instead, what this injustice seems to be doing is bringing the racism that’s endemic in America to the surface where it is more visible and more activating.
The 2014 elections could be the real test, if those who want an America that can be better than this, come together and vote out those responsible for this unjust society and system and replace them with politicians who will push back against prejudice, the Republicans who refuse to recognize racism may never even see their defeat coming.