Emotional Manipulation is the New Racism
I recently attended a community meeting to discuss how the current and proposed education reform legislation puts many African Americans in Louisiana at a disadvantage. I will be the first to admit that part of the discussion was reactive in nature (because what’s done is done), but with regard to future endeavors, there is a golden opportunity to be proactive, and create a plan for the future that doesn’t heavily favor whites in the upper-income bracket, while disproportionately impacting poorer African Americans.
As those of us who were present got into the mechanics of the situation, the Lone White Guy in the room said a couple of things that I thought were – beyond a doubt –disrespectful:
Thing 1: “I’m the angriest person in this room. I don’t understand why no one else is as angry as I am”.
Thing 2: “Why do you (Blacks) want to be separate?
Allow me to put Thing 2 in perspective: there’s a rumor (from a very credible source) that there is a plan for southeast Shreveport – the part of town that has the strongest tax base and political influence – to create its own independent school district (ISD), which would make Caddo Parish a district comprised primarily of inner-city (mostly failing) schools. The kicker is that three of those inner-city schools – Byrd High School, Caddo Magnet High, and Caddo Middle Magnet – are among the top schools in the state.
The belief is that southeast Shreveport’s ISD map will “somehow” find a way to include those three schools, even as none of those schools are located within its geographic boundaries. With those three schools gone, Caddo Parish will – on paper – be a district filled with “D” and “F”-rated schools, leaving them vulnerable to becoming part of Louisiana’s Recovery School District, which will, in effect, bleed the district dry.
To be sure, there are problems aplenty within Caddo Parish, and there is more than enough blame (real or imagined) to go around. That doesn’t mean, however, that African Americans – the majority of whom live in the inner-city areas that would be most affected by the policy – should be left holding the bad end of the public policy stick.
Which is why, during the meeting, creating an ISD plan of our own was part of the discussion.
That we had to explain to the Lone White Guy that advocating for the interests of African American students (which was, after all, why we were there) doesn’t make us “exclusionary” nor “reverse racists” in our advocacy made me realize this: As long as we are being bullied or otherwise coerced into advocating alongside others in support of their objectives, we’re the most cooperative and understanding people anyone’s ever come across, and everyone will say so.
But, the second we decide to advocate for dismantling public policies that negatively impact us and the members of our communities, EVERYBODY – white folk, especially – goes all “Can’t we all just get along?” on us.
And, that my friends, is racism, disguised as bullying and emotional manipulation. Other groups (whether political, ethnic, or social) get to have problems with whatever they have problems with, and no one ascribes a hidden meaning to it. But, when we have a problem with something, it’s always “You should be the first ones to understand what we’re going through/why we’re doing this, because of slavery”.
Do you not get how insulting it is to compare some of these issues to slavery? For example, can you please explain to me how the gay marriage issue and over 400 YEARS of direct and indirect oppression are even remotely alike?
How does not being able to legally marry equate to 400 years of being raped, mutilated, tortured, terrorized, being discriminated against through the mechanism of public policy (Jim Crow, Segregation) sold like food or so many bottles of water, de-humanized, humiliated, and being written (and unchanged) in the Constitution as “three-fifths of all other persons”?
It DOESN’T. It ain’t even in the ballpark, and you KNOW it.
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