Death to the race card

Some straight talk on discrimination

The author is a longtime community member, former CN&R employee, chair of the Chico State Black Faculty and Staff Association, and father.

Thirty-seven years of empirical data collected while being black in America doesn’t hold water in the eyes of many folks of the Caucasian persuasion when discussing racism. In describing what I believe to be another in the countless daily examples of race-based discrimination, my lens is often scoffed at or mocked as just another black person pulling the “race card.”

Ignoring the fact that the phrase alone is, at minimum, a blaring ode to entitled white supremacy, its derisive and dismissive nature, coupled with its superfluous use, work to undercut any real discussion about the interlocking systems of oppression in this country.

The race card holds the assumption that we live in a post-racial society, when nothing could be further from the truth. Lest we forget the recent attack on an interracial family right here in our own quaint little town? Individuals fault the CN&R for not supporting free speech. On what moral ground does free speech allow for intimidation tactics? I’m sorry, white people, but your free speech rights do not trump my right to feel safe in my own home.

I say to those who routinely use the term race card as a tactic to invalidate what black and brown people experience daily, this incident is a mere symptom of societal structures meant to maintain the status quo. The way that Chico Police Department officers allegedly continue to victim-blame as part of their “investigation” is indicative of the dehumanization of black people and our concerns.

Recent media coverage spotlighting the University of Oklahoma’s SAE fraternity illustrates how white people talk about blacks in their “safe” groups. Dare I say this is really how white folks feel? The disregard for black life was obvious not only when the students joyously sang, “You can hang ’em from a tree …” but also in the absence of a voice against the song. That is a blatant display of deep-seated (and sometimes unrecognized) hatred—period.

These individuals represent the future business leaders, politicians, advertisers and police of this nation and the inbred hate society has taught them and continues to teach. This hatred is manifested in discriminatory hiring, biased/unequal staff promotions and an outright hostile environment for people of color within any given organization. This is how institutionalized racism works. White America’s refusal to acknowledge it allows it to continue.

No, this is not me pulling the race card again—this is me killing it.