FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Blaring Inhumanity of Racialism in America

by MISSY BEATTIE

We sat around the dining table in my new place, drinking Prosecco, eating, talking.

Sheila’s beautiful, commanding, elegant, a dynamic speaker with a passion for life and for her work, executive director of a nonprofit. She has three degrees. Her husband Nelson is a hair stylist. He’s low key, well read, wise. They’re good together—no, great. Family members gave them three months. They’ve been married 25 years.

We discussed Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.

Sheila told a story, circa 1992. She and Nelson were driving in Louisiana when they were pulled over by a “Bubba” sheriff.

Bubba said to Nelson, “Boy, do you know how fast you were going?”

They were not exceeding the speed limit.

Sheila looked at Nelson’s face, knew how and what he felt. She was terrified he’d say something that would end in an arrest, even injury. She made a decision to give Bubba what he wanted. Slapping her hand against Nelson’s arm, Sheila presented a stereotype: “Surr, I tole dis boy he’s goin’ too fast.”

Satisfied, Bubba allowed them to leave, and Sheila took the wheel. But he followed them to the county line before turning around. When he was out of sight, Sheila pulled to the side of the road and vomited.

***

Early September, I passed a sorority house. A gazillion rushees congregated on the front law—Greek Week. I glimpsed the past.

Years ago, I stood among the girls with Pappagallo Button Bags. I didn’t own one of these purses. But there I was, awaiting a welcome. Finally, the front door opened and we were herded in for scrutiny, appropriateness.

“Would you like punch, cookies?” I was asked.

“Yes, thank you.” Small talk. Mingle, mingle, mingle.

At three sorority houses, I small talked. And mingled.

Sorority house number four: “Would you like punch, cookies?” I looked at the questioner and said nothing, Just stared at her. She repeated the question. I repeated the silence. “Excuse me, I’m going to have someone else come talk with you.” I watched as she whispered to her “sister” and both looked my way. This was beginning to be fun. I sat there, expressionless, mute.

Sorority house number five: repeat.  I was in only one sorority house after that—to visit a friend.

This image wandered back to the shelf where old memories are stored. And reemerged when I read that all 16 sororities at the University of Alabama rejected a black student during this year’s rush. Alpha Gamma Delta member Melanie Gotz, said, “The reason was the color of her skin.”

Several sorority sisters wanted the black rushee “but were told by the chapter alumnae that it was not an option.” In protest, Gotz moved out of the house.

I thought about an absurd proclamation after Obama was elected president. That we live in a post-racial society.

Here are just a couple of facts:

According to the Pew Research Center, “…the median household income of a family of three in 2011 was $39,760 for blacks but $67,175 for whites. That’s a difference of about $27,000, up roughly $8,000 since 1967.”

And that white men with criminal records are more likely to be called back for job interviews than black men without criminal records.

Even when other qualifications are identical.

Ask Trayvon Martin’s parents if the US is post-racial. Or the young black woman who, despite being “gifted” and well connected, was rejected during rush week. Or the newly crowned Miss America, Nina Davuluri, of Indian descent, who received these insults: “Miss 9/11” and “terrorist”.

And check out Hollywood actors Cherie Johnson and Dennis White’s account of their harassment by police in South Carolina on September 22, 2013, 21 years after Sheila and Nelson’s frightening experience in Louisiana. Searched for drugs and handcuffed, Johnson and White claim the incident occurred because of their race.

Here’s another example of discrimination, reported on a wellness blog:

Black and Hispanic children who go to an emergency room with stomach pain are less likely than white children to receive pain medication . . . and more likely to spend long hours in the emergency room.

This is the blaring inhumanity of racialism. And it extends far and wide. Indeed, it is a pillar of US foreign policy. Ask anyone in the countries where intervention is pronounced necessary by America’s narcissists.

***

Last week, I had lunch with a friend. I asked if she knew about the sorority disgrace. That the old guard wanted to protect the purity of the clan. Admitting to knowing very little about sororities, I said, “I’m sure they support charitable activities and provide a sense of family.”

She said they do. Her daughter was a member.

Later, I thought of another story from years ago. My brother was in school with a Greek American student. The sorority of her choice excluded her. Why? Because she was Greek.  Ironic, huh?

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail