‘To Solve a Problem You First Have to Admit You Have One’

obama ponderingThe right-wing, white guy punditocracy was in high dudgeon over President Obama’s comments about Trayvon Martin.

Bursting with predictable self-righteousness, they declared racism is no more. Hence, they say the president – and everybody else — should clam up about the shooting death of Martin and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman. (Check out “White Conservative Male Pundits To Nation, Stop Thinking About It” at The Huffington Post.)

To be sure, the fact that our country twice elected an African American president is proof that we’ve got racism on the run. Jim Crow segregation laws are long gone too, thanks to the kind of federal activism these pompous pontificators hate.

But they love those “states’ rights” GOP governors and Republican lawmakers who seem bent on resurrecting the spirit of Jim Crow – conjured by white supremacist Dixie Democrats of yore — with their various voter suppression laws.

Racism may be down, but it’s not out – not by a long shot.

I wish these bigotry-has-been-banished bloviators had been with us in Vicksburg, Mississippi, this summer. Naturally, they would have claimed that racial prejudice had nothing to do with our close encounter of the worst kind with a hotel clerk.

We came for the 150th anniversary of the famous Civil War battle. I drove us to the wrong hotel.

My wife came in from our Chevy, pointed out the error of my ways and named the right hotel. When the desk clerk heard it, she frowned.

“Is there something wrong with our hotel?” I implored. “You’ll know it when you see it,” she replied.

I sought elaboration. All I got was another, “You’ll know it when you see it.”

So we drove off toward the other hotel, fearing we’d have bedbugs and roaches for roomies.

We were doubly baffled when we saw the hotel.

It was nice. But when we walked in, we knew immediately what the clerk meant by her warning.

The clerk at the wrong hotel was a young white woman.

The clerk at the right hotel was a young African American woman.

Several guests in the lobby were black. So was most of the crowd at a baby shower in an adjacent conference room.

The white desk clerk had never seen us before. She knew nothing about us.

But because we were white, she took us for bigots. Okay, maybe it was our Kentucky accents, too. Whatever, she figured we’d appreciate her “tip” about the other hotel.

We didn’t, and we enjoyed our stay at the hotel.

Anyway, I wish these white right wing pontificators would take a gander at Hector Villagra’s posting on LA Progressive.

“Many have suggested that once a jury has spoken, that’s it,” he wrote. “That’s true legally – an acquittal marks the end of the criminal case – but we need not treat the verdict acquitting George Zimmerman in the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin as if it were above discussion or debate.

Berry CraigHe added, “….We must confront race, admit racism still exists and discuss how it plays out in our society – without being accused of playing the race card or engaging in racial demagoguery. The Supreme Court tells us repeatedly that we can’t become a color-blind society until we stop focusing on race, but we all know that to solve a problem you first have to admit you have one.”

I’ll add a Presbyterian “amen” to that.


Berry Craig

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