The first part of this post is going to be a bit of a remedial class so please bear with me. Words and phrases have meaning. Not only that, but many of them are imbued with power. For example, if you’re on the bridge of a starship and you say “make it so” junior officers will follow your orders unquestionably. Similarly Billy Batson yelling out “SHAZAM!” will transform him into Captain Marvel. Going on a racist diatribe that ends with #imnotracist also has meaning and power. But probably not the way Karen Fitzgibbons, a former Texas elementary school teacher, intended. Ms Fitzgibbons had some interesting thoughts on the Mckinney pool party that ended with a fourteen-year old bikini-clad child being abused at the hands of the police. We’ll pick up this story from Salon:
“I’m going to just go ahead and say it … the blacks are the ones causing the problems and this ‘racial tension.’ I guess that’s what happens when you flunk out of school and have no education. I’m sure their parents are just as guilty for not knowing what their kids were doing; or knew it and didn’t care. I’m almost to the point of wanting them all segregated on one side of town so they can hurt each other and leave the innocent people alone,” Fitzgibbons wrote in the since-deleted post.
She continued: “Maybe the 50s and 60s were really on to something. Now, let the bashing of my true and honest opinion begin….GO! #imnotracist #imsickofthemcausingtrouble #itwasatagedcommunity.”
Oh where oh where to begin. Yes, I suppose that the blacks are the ones causing this racial tension. Assuming one believes being a black face in a white space is inherently wrong. However, assuming every brown kid you see has flunked out of school and has parents not knowing or caring what they do is about a 7.5 on the racist scale. The implication that all of “them” are animals that can stay over there and harm one another while you and the other “innocents” chill out clocks in around a 9. But nostalgically recalling the good ol’ days of the 50’s and 60’s well before anything resembling racial integration was proposed cranks it up to ELEVEN! I’m so glad you’re in charge of molding the minds of fourth graders. Or I should say formerly in charge of fourth graders as she’s been relieved of those duties. Thankfully.
So yeah, that happened. But Fitzgibbons seems to be a bit confused. Yes, words have power — but there are limits. So returning to the remedial class and for the sake of posterity one should know that:
Racist tirades ending with a catchy “I’m not racist” hashtag doesn’t confer upon you some sort of mystic aegis against charges of racism. Quite the opposite actually. In fact, not only do we now know that you’re a racist, but also that you’re a freaking idiot. You may as well have ended it with #someofmybestfriendsareblack. Let’s try this another way Ms. Fitzgibbons. Imagine if I said:
I’m just going to go ahead and say it…women in the education field (any field really) should have a man’s permission before seeking employment outside of their home. Be it their husband or their father. Furthermore, in situations where we let you dames leave the house, you will be paid significantly less than your male counterparts regardless of education and experience. You see, the work of women is substantially inferior to the work of men, and your place is making babies and dinner, not dollars. Maybe the 50s and 60s were really on to something. #imnotsexist #itsforyourowngoodgirls #besthusbandever.
Pretty sexist, right? Now, do the hashtags make you think more or less of my sexism?
Similarly, you should just go on ahead and Lean In when getting that hate out of your heart. Why settle for half measures? Same goes for you Chris Harris, former Texas school board member. Why bother going to the trouble of posting a KKK image and then wistfully waxing nostalgic about how the Ku Klux Klan would totally settle things down during the Ferguson Missouri unrest, only to later say that you’re not a racist? Can’t educators talk about how awesome segregation was and how effective terrorist organizations known for murdering non-white people without folks resorting to name calling? Being called a racist is very hurtful, you know.
Oh right. That’s not how this works. You know what, please be as racist as you want. Personally, I like to know where I stand with people. By all means, wrap yourself in a Confederate flag, start your very own white citizens council, get pwned by a five-year old, or anything else an enterprising white-supremacist does. You can even go all George Wallace on the proceedings…
…But for the love of God do us all a favor and don’t say you aren’t a racist afterwards. Your sheets are showing.