Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

The Blaring Inhumanity of Racialism in America


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:






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:

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
Lara Gardner
Why I’m Not Voting
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?