Dear President Biden,
“I don’t think America is racist, but I think the overhang from all of the Jim Crow — and before that, slavery — have had a cost.”
What a shitty dance you all are doing.
I get it, I think. On the one hand you know there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that you can get any of the progressive legislation passed that would tip the scales towards racial equity if you lose the support of the masses so you’re probably gambling that the lesser of the evils is to say things like the bald-faced lie that you “don’t think America is racist” (interesting that you didn’t say that you know America isn’t racist). On the other hand, you have to somehow telegraph to Black Americans that you do get the history and that you know there’s been a cost. Seems like the strategy is to keep it vague and avoid giving the opposition sound bites they can easily weaponize.
I wouldn’t want to be you. Or VP Harris. What an awful position to be in day in and day out having to appease “the White vote” while not going so far in that appeasement that you lose “the Black vote.”
And yet, and still, I want you (and VP Harris) to step up and tell the truth.
Since I’m not Black and can’t know what exactly it’s like to hear you (and Harris) say you “don’t think America is racist,” I’ve been trying to imagine how I’d feel if you or she were routinely telling us that America isn’t sexist, which, you actually might as well start saying too since you probably don’t want to risk alienating “the male vote.” Right? I mean now that we’ve had one woman VP, maybe we’re good and we’ve got nothing else to fuss or complain or gnash our teeth about on the sexism front. That’s about as logical as saying that because we’ve had one Black president, racism is a thing of the past and while maybe there are some costs (vague, unnamed costs) from Jim Crow, we sure as heck aren’t a racist country.
You know as well as I do that America is still racist (and sexist) to its core and unless you want to become known as a chicken-shit liar on this score, you and your team need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how you are going to talk about our reality in a real way. We cannot have you sounding like our traitorous last POTUS. I know you aren’t race baiting like he did, but it’s a deeply messed up lie that you told Friday morning. Too many good people worked way the hell too hard to get you and Harris into office for you to blow it like that.
So please step up. Tell the truth. Get this crucial framing on America and racism right so that Black Americans don’t have to waste their precious energy trying to find ways to give you the benefit of the doubt and White Americans don’t keep getting passes. If you can’t or won’t step up on this you will be feeding complacency and complicity for Whites and fueling despair and frustration (at least) for Blacks. We’ve got way too much work to do to have you and Harris tap dancing around the truth, which is that America is a racist country.
May we be safe to say what’s true about this country.
May we all be willing to own up to our history and our present.
May we stop mollycoddling White people and gaslighting Black people.
May those who need to, accept that lying and papering over reality is no way to govern.