Roseanne and “Teaching Moments”

Many historians, sociologists, academics and many Americans consider slavery to be our “Original Sin”. Slavery and the legacy of slavery has certainly been a chronic problem and enduring stain on our national conscience. It has left generations of Americans with a reflexive and mostly unconscious racism. We see it every day in the form of people crossing the street to avoid a group of black teens, suspicion of a black person who seems “out of place”. We hear about in in the news when the police are called to investigate a black family barbequing in a public park, or moving into their own apartment or sleeping in a college dorm common area.

Unconscious racism is an enduring problem, we have to work at recognizing it and feel embarrassed when we do it. What we are seeing now in the Trump era is an unapologetic racism. Roseanne Barr’s Tweet was vile and overtly racist, but she is only the most recent example. Trump’s own speech is racist and unapologetic and anyone attending a Trump rally will hear dozens of comments that would make Roseanne blush.

Not all Trump supporters are racist, but apparently all Trump supporters tolerate racism, because I have yet to ever hear one criticize him for any bigoted rant or action. All racism is rooted in fear and expressed with hate. There are different levels of racism, and certainly unconscious biases while hurtful are not hateful. Overt racism is hateful – and dangerous. If we fail to speak out against the overt racism encouraged by Trump then we enable and encourage hatred. This is a truth that all Trump supporters should recognize.

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