by James Dunn
I remember that back in the 1990s a Dallas daily newspaper used to publish every Monday the names of people who had been convicted of sexual crimes in Dallas County criminal courts. Each Monday the names of at least ten people appeared in a little box in the newspaper. Ten. Each Monday. At the end of the year that meant over 500 people had been convicted of sex
crimes. Most of the crimes were for offenses against children. This was the beginning of my admonishment to my friends to, “Watch out, you never know who is in the car next to you.”
Two weeks ago, United States Representative Steve King of Iowa held a town hall meeting in a small town in his district. Even after he was removed from all of his committee assignments in his district, his followers gave him two standing ovations. Two! He had been loudly cheered even though he had endorsed open Nazis for public office and constantly slurred people of African descent.
This follows a special election senate race in Alabama last year where he asserted that the best time in this country was during slavery. His exact words were that it was a great time, “When we were united…even though we had slavery.”
In the race against the eventual winner, Doug Jones, Moore pulles 66% of the white vote. That’s amazing. Despite Moore’s openly racist sentiments white voters endorsed him.
This return to openly hostile bigotry is breathtaking. What we see occurring is a United States where at least 50% of white people can ignore, even endorse, racial hatred. That 50% is visible to us everyday. In our schools, our supermarkets, in the car next to us.
Since the beginning of slavery, which began 400 years ago, Black people have been prey for white people. We were not the only prey for white people. So were the Native Americans, Chinese immigrants, Japanese immigrants, Irish immigrants, Italian immigrants and even more that I cannot recall at this time. Remember, this is all white people, but in 2019, we know that it includes at least 50% of them.
Take a survey of our prison and one would think that Black men were dangerous monsters. One thing we forget is that by and large the judges and juries who sentenced them were white people. A jury of their peers? Hardly.
As we try to navigate this world it is important for every Black person to remember: Be aware; you never know who is in the car next to you.
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