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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
Robert Hunziker
America’s Tale of Two Cities, Redux
David Jaffe
The Republican Party and the ‘Lunatic Right’
John Davis
No Tomorrow or Fashion-Forward
Patrick Cockburn
Treating Mental Health Patients as Criminals
Jack Dresser
An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction
George Wuerthner
Diet for a Warming Planet
Lawrence Wittner
Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Colin Todhunter
From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial
Paul Bentley
Teacher’s Out in Front
Franklin Lamb
A Post-Christian Middle East With or Without ISIS?
Kevin Martin
We Just Paid our Taxes — are They Making the U.S. and the World Safer?
Erik Mears
Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them
Binoy Kampmark
Fleeing the Ratpac: James Packer, Gambling and Hollywood
Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
Susan Babbitt
Don’t Raise Liberalism From the Dead (If It is Dead, Which It’s Not)
Uri Avnery
Palestine’s Nelson Mandela
Fred Nagel
It’s “Deep State” Time Again
John Feffer
The Hunger President
Stephen Cooper
Nothing is Fair About Alabama’s “Fair Justice Act”
Jack Swallow
Why Science Should Be Political
Chuck Collins
Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt
Aidan O'Brien
While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea 
Patrick Hiller
Get Real About Preventing War
David Rosen
Fiction, Fake News and Trump’s Sexual Politics
Evan Jones
Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!
David Macaray
Adventures in Labor Contract Language
Ron Jacobs
The Music Never Stopped
Kim Scipes
Black Subjugation in America
Sean Stinson
MOAB: More Obama and Bush
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail