This hits a couple of nails on the head. As Marley K. and I have discussed, I have a great deal of discomfort in attempting to deal with actions involving token POC. This is the result of personal realization, as identified in this article, that a life time of taking positions against racism doesn’t mean shit in the end when you are on the wrong side of this thing.
I cannot escape the privileges that I grew up with nor the times when it was possible for me to simply stay quiet when racist comments were made. The result of all this is that I know what racism is in American culture.
One of the nails squarely struck here is non racist people doing racist things. On one side that can happen in this culture easily but inadvertently. Call it insensitive or stupid mistakes. The other is not inadvertent but a conscious action that will further racism while scoring points for the person who may not consider themselves racist. This is, I think, little better than dragging out your black coworker as a shining example that there is no racism around you.
The point is that this is culturally ingrained in America. It can’t be quickly scraped off and a new paint job applied to cover the ugliness. That is what we did fifty years ago. It cost people almost nothing and was ‘good enough’. But the new paint was very thin and the ugliness was still there showing through.
I don’t want to hold people who I do not know responsible for anything other than their public action. But I certainly will hold them liable for pretense and bullshit. What happened in the hearing with a person who was totally irrelevant to the corruption being discussed, whatever the reasons for that person’s position and actions, is indistinguishable from a hate crime to me.
I put this in the second of my two categories above. All people make mistakes when they are immersed in racist culture whatever their desire to not be racist. Admitting it and understanding what those actions really mean is just basic social awareness and mindfulness We grow that way.
Consciously manipulating a situation to cover a racist result is not a mistake. It is racist intent.