After publishing the LA Progressive for this many years, I've discovered that I'd rather do almost anything except write. And so, it appears that is exactly what I do – almost anything.
But sometimes I just can't get away from it -- writing. Today is one of those days, thanks to the racist rants of one of our “readers”.
Here, at the LA Progressive, we get about 450,000 pageviews a month. With that kind of traffic, I'd be naïve to not expect to get comments from the lesser evolved souls living among us.
Dick Price (the cutie pictured with me here) is my husband and the editor of the LA Progressive. We employ a spam filter that catches a lot of unwanted comments. Of course, we have a comments policy but I'm not sure anyone reads it. So our main line of defense in the battle to prevent caustic comments from offending our readers is that we both check the comments that come to our site every day.
Yesterday, Dick took me on a date. We went to dinner and a movie – something we don't do often enough. After being away from our computers for several hours, we returned to the office we share. Dick immediately checked the comments that had posted while we were out and began to mumble.
I know my husband. I know his good mumbles and his bad mumbles. When I heard him mumble yesterday I thought, “uh oh, something's wrong.” When I asked what was going on he told me that someone had posted several nasty comments on an article he wrote about Romney and gun control. You may have read his piece, "Romney: The Gun Lobby's Mitch." He wasn't sure he wanted me to read the comments and said he was going to delete them.
Well, when he said that, of course, I HAD to read the comments. I went to them quickly before he clicked “delete”, read them and then snapped a screen shot. I won't share everything this person said but here is the screen shot I grabbed before Dick got rid of the nasty business:
Some of you may wonder why I'd post this garbage. In posting it, am I not giving this person yet another platform – aren't I somehow giving him or her what they want, more eyes reading their vitriol? I wrestled with this. So I decided last night, when I read the comments, that I'd give myself a day before writing anything. I slept on it and woke up this morning with it still on my mind.
So here's the thing. This person didn't cause me to lose any sleep. He/she didn't do or say anything that would surprise many if not most Black people in this country. It was this second image coupled with the racist comments that motivated me to write.
The second image compares the maps of the U.S. for 2012 Election with the map of Pre-Civil War America circa 1846. The 2012 map shows the states that voted for Barack Obama in blue. The 1846 map shows the states that did not institute slaver in green. The similarities are obvious but when I posted this graphic on Facebook, many of the commentors expressed surprise.
We get offensive racist comments on our site – sh*t happens. But it probably happens more often than the average non-black American would believe. Therein lies one of the major disconnects between White and Black views on the state of racism in this country. We see things through different prisms.
On the heels of the re-election of President Obama and after posting the U.S. Election results graphic to Facebook, I felt I'd be missing an opportunity to put forward the message that we are NOT yet living in post-racial America – and it's going to take more than electing Obama to a second term to change that.
The person who posted the racist rant above could be a Black person's supervisor, teacher, doctor, landlord -- you get the point.
The veil of anonymity afforded to Internet users emboldens some to say and do things (think former Congressional Representative Anthony Weiner) that would otherwise cause them unwanted consequences especially if their veil of anonymity were removed. But anonymous or not, these are nonetheless reflections of their inner most thoughts.
It is a good sign of the times that in 2012, it would be career limiting for the person who posted those vile comments on the LA Progressive to voice those sentiments at the workplace. Yet, this same person can still discriminate almost as flagrantly as if he were living in 1846 and suffer no consequences. All that is needed is that he claim his actions had nothing to do with race.
Imagine (if you are not Black) how it feels to have this person or someone of his ilk in a decision-making position that affects your life - say your boss, your professor, or your doctor.
As the publisher of the LA Progressive, I have come into contact with countless people of all colors who abhor the ideas expressed by this racist ranter and his ilk. I am so grateful I have come to know so many of you. You affirm what I believe - we can change and heal this country.
Unfortunately, the racist ranter reminds me that we've got a long way to go.