If politics remains a taboo topic in polite conversation, then racism in politics represents the equivalent of suppression, of something whispered behind closed doors in the dim light of one flickering candle.
I must believe an overwhelming majority exists today versus the brave few who, more than one hundred years ago, risked their lives to hide slaves under their floors. If I didn’t, I couldn't live in this America, amid an undercurrent I can’t escape. I think about it daily, and only more so during the last several weeks of looming and actual government shutdown. Grateful for our momentary reprieve, I'm keenly aware that if we allow it, our country will soon be held hostage by insipid and racially motivated bipartisanship all over again.
We’ve come too far to watch our neighbors get away with not-so-thinly-veiled racism that has occupied the news over the last several years, certainly that which cloaked the recent government shutdown. It isn’t acceptable in polite society, or in any society. We are all human beings who must coexist on this planet. I guess this is where Enlightened Middle Mom falls to the liberal side of things. I don’t care what consensual adults do with one another in their bedrooms. I want everyone who inhabits this earth to feel like they have as much right as I do to be here, certainly the same opportunity to be a school teacher, police officer or even president. The hardworking middle deserves to be rewarded every bit as much as the entitled few.
My fear is that we haven’t seen anything yet. If we continue to rubber-stamp this attitude, I fear a woman president will be subject to even more hatred and division than we’ve seen over President Obama’s terms thus far. We saw hate delivered to the beautiful and deserving Nina Davuluri, as she was crowned Miss America. We saw loathing and rape threats thrust at Lindy West, recipient of the Women’s Media Center’s Social Media Award in New York this month, because:
“When Lindy spoke up to explain to comedians why their jokes about rape might not always be so funny, she received rape threats just for voicing her opinion on the subject,” [Jane Fonda, two-time Academy® Award-winning actress, humanitarian, activist and Co-Founder of The Women’s Media Center] said [upon presenting the award]. “Lucky for us and for everyone, Lindy hasn’t let the negativity stop her from being funny, smart and insightful about comedy, media and everything else.”
Freedom of speech extends to everyone, even those in possession of phones with higher IQs than their own. The freedom to write about what we feel, to start and contribute to important conversations is an American constitution on which we place tremendous value. But allowing discrimination and hatred toward blacks, toward homosexuals, toward women of all kinds to pass without calling it out, is deeply troubling. It’s no different than bullying that goes unchecked on the no-man’s-land of playgrounds and social media screens across America. Just as we must encourage our children to stand up for victims when they witness bullying, to prompt the vast majority of others who find themselves ambivalent in that middle place to tug on a shirtsleeve and say, “Hey, not cool, man. Let’s go,” we must set an example that calls out those who speak racism and hate, even when they do so in code or in microblog.
Racism is something we all must check within ourselves. Depending upon our upbringing or on the region in which we’re raised, conquering our fear and inherent tendencies toward racism or hatred might be nonexistent or it might take great effort. It is an endeavor worthy of our sincerest efforts, more than perhaps any other.
Not talking about what we’ve witnessed over the last several years won't get us anywhere. Our silence won't help the future of minorities and women in politics. Platitudes won’t tell the Tea Party that their thinly veiled propaganda absolutely will not be tolerated come the next round of budget votes. We’ve bought a paltry few weeks before we once again endure the same threat to our economy and our place in the world.
Those of us in the Enlightened Middle Majority might not be perfect, we might be works in progress where our own attitudes and mores are concerned, but we need to trust our inner voices and rumble a lot louder if we hope to further progress. We can't keep holding our breaths waiting for the next guy to stop the ruckus. Together with the likes of Senator John McCain, the “Sister Senators” and the rest of the bipartisan coalition that banded together in the interest of ever elusive progress, it will be up to the moderates, our voices and our midterm votes to prevent future economic catastrophes like the recent shutdown we witnessed. I don’t know about your family, but mine can’t take much more irrepressible division.
We have it on good authority there are more of us who have had enough than there are of them.
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