Friday, August 12, 2016

This Woman Worked Hard to Overcome Her Racism. So Why Are We Ridiculing Her?

I'm a bit disturbed by this post at Vox, about a woman whose daughter married a black man — causing the woman to recognize, then work to overcome her racism. The article she then wrote has become the target of ridicule, enough that she's had it removed from the website where it appeared.

You can see why this post, which the author almost certainly thought was a message about tolerance, was read differently by people who were irked by the idea that accepting a person of a different race would be a major feat requiring point-by-point instructions and a mandate from God. 
I shudder to think of how she would have treated this person if she hadn’t found a biblical angle that mandated seeing him as human, or if she embraced a different interpretation of scripture.
I mean: This is just liberal snootiness. And I say this as a snooty liberal!

I don't like racism. I hate it. I'm sorry that this woman's racism was so ingrained that it created issues within and for her family. But you know what? I'm really glad she recognized it and took steps to overcome it. For some people, that will require step-by-step instructions and religious motivation.And if she was motivated by her belief in God that racism was wrong ... well, we should probably tell Martin Luther King Jr. he was doing it all wrong.

Don't get me wrong. If I'm black, I'm probably irritated that it takes so much effort to treat me as human.

But still: What's our plan, liberals, to work against racism? To humiliate racists into surrender? Or to actually, genuinely change hearts? What's better for society? What's better for the individuals involved?

Vox is also careful to ridicule this woman for caring that her other, racist family members be treated with respect.

Calling Uncle Fred a bigot because he doesn’t want your daughter in an interracial marriage dehumanizes him and doesn’t help your daughter either. Lovingly bear with others’ fears, concerns, and objections while firmly supporting your daughter and son-in-law. Don’t cut naysayers off if they aren’t undermining the marriage. Pray for them. 
The writer seems to be quite concerned with the potential dehumanization of Uncle Fred and the experience of her daughter, but the impact of the decision on the “African American with dreads” isn’t given any thought at all. It’s a hint that she may still struggle to see him as fully equal to a white person.
Since the original piece was taken down, I can't say if the woman really appears to be more concerned about her racist family than her new son-in-law, and "lovingly bear" could encompass all sorts of responses. Let me suggest that it's possible to be concerned about both, though. And while I hate racism with all my heart and soul, let me say this: Racists are people too. 

That doesn't mean we don't confront racism. And it doesn't mean there aren't times to get angry about it. But if we really want to reduce racism in the world — I don't believe, unfortunately, that it will ever go away — we might try winning of hearts and minds. And we might stop ridiculing the people who are brave enough to acknowledge their own wrongdoing, people who have worked hard to overcome their own racism. Let's make it easy for people to do the right thing.

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