My husband and I publish an on-line social justice magazine. We are a bi-racial couple (he's White - I'm Black) and have posted a picture of ourselves in the "About Us" section of our site since its inception. The site gets about 450,000 pageviews a month. As online publishing goes, that's not a huge number but it's enough traffic that we'd be naïve not to expect to receive nasty comments from time to time from the lesser evolved souls that live among us.
Of course, we have a comments policy but I'm not sure anyone reads it and we have a spam filter. Our main final line of defense in the battle to prevent caustic comments from offending our readers is that we both check the comments that come to our site every day.
Yesterday, Dick took me on a date. We went to dinner and a movie – something we don't do often enough. After being away from our computers for several hours, we returned to the office we share. Dick checked the comments that had been posted while we were out and began to mumble.
I know my husband. I know his good mumbles and his bad mumbles. When I heard him mumble yesterday I thought, “uh oh, something's wrong.” When I asked what was going on he told me that someone had posted several nasty comments on an article he wrote about Romney and gun control. He wasn't sure he wanted me to read the comments and said he was going to delete them.
Well, of course, that meant that I had to read them -- right away before he clicked “delete”. I won't share everything this person said but here is a snippet of the vitriol that was posted in response to my husband's position on gun control:
"For dear Dick Price to behave as he does, publishing graphics to demonize whites while he beds down with a Negress (50% of which have herpes). . . "I think this is enough for you to get the picture. I won't subject you to more. But for those who wonder why I'd post this garbage and ask -- In posting it, am I not giving this person yet another platform – aren't I somehow giving him or her what they want, more eyes reading their vitriol? I respond that I wrestled with this myself. So I decided last night, when I read the comments, that I'd give myself a day before writing anything. I slept on it and woke up this morning with it still on my mind.
So here's the thing. This person didn't cause me to lose any sleep. He/she didn't do or say anything that would surprise many, if not most, Black people in this country.
But it was a second image that compelled me to write. The second image compares the maps of the U.S. for 2012 Election with the map of Pre-Civil War 1846.
In the 2012 map, the blue states that voted for Barack Obama almost mirrror the inae of the green states of the 1846 map - those were the states in 1846 that chose not to institute slavery. The similiarities between the two maps is obvious but many who commented on this graphic (I posted it on Facebook) expressed surprise.
I discover offensive racist comments on our site pretty regularly – sh*t happens. But it probably happens more often than the average American would believe. Therein lies one of the many disconnects between White and Black views on the state of racism in this country. We see things through different prisms.
On the heels of the re-election of President Obama and after posting the U.S. Election results graphic to Facebook, I felt I'd be missing an opportunity to put forward the message that we are NOT yet living in post-racial America – and it's going to take more than electing Obama to a second term to change that.
The person who posted the racist rant could also be a Black person's supervisor, teacher, doctor, or landlord -- you get the point.
The veil of anonymity afforded to Internet users emboldens some of them to say and do things (think former Congressional Representative Andrew Weiner) that would otherwise cause them unwanted consequences but are nonetheless reflections of their inner most thoughts.
It is a good sign of the times that in 2012, it would be career limiting for the person who posted those vile comments on the LA Progressive to voice those sentiments at the workplace. Yet, this same person can still discriminate almost as flagrantly as if he were living in 1846 and suffer no consequences. All that is needed is that he claim his actions had nothing to do with race.
Imagine (if you are not Black) how it feels to have this person or someone of his ilk in a decision-making position that affects your life - say your boss, your professor, or your doctor.
As the publisher of the LA Progressive, I have come into contact with countless people of all colors who abhor the ideas expressed by this racist ranter and his ilk. I am so grateful I have come to know so many of you. You affirm what I believe - we can change and heal this country.
Unfortunately, the racist ranter reminds me that we still have a long way to go.
I apologize that I still don't know how to post images on Daily Kos. If you want to see the images that go with this piece, you can find them here.