COMMENTARY | Everyone, it’s time to have a hankie handy. This one’s a real tearjerker, I tell you. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention warns us that someday, homophobes will be marginalized, much like the members of the Ku Klux Klan.
That’s right. Land is decrying the unfairness, the sadness, the injustice of marginalizing active hatred.
Are you crying yet? Yes, I get it. I’ll give you a moment to compose yourself, there’s nothing that gets you quite like thinking about KKK members being made to feel awkward about their core beliefs. All better? Good.
This warning of bad days to come for the openly prejudiced might be a bit premature, given that the Supreme Court is currently considering whether we need the Voting Rights Act. Personally, I kind of think Justice Antonin Scalia’s characterization of the act as “racial entitlement” pretty much answers the question as to its necessity.
What with all these uppity people demanding access to the polls, the next thing you know, we’ll being acting like there’s something wrong with slavery. Wait, what? That’s gone already?
I hope someone tells Scalia.
Absurdity aside, the truth is that these claims that racism is dead are generally delivered alongside a sickening dose of racism. Like calling the Voting Rights Act — which had to be invoked in the 2012 election — “racial entitlement.”
Do you really think racism is dead? If it were, would we have to talk about it?
Let me tell you a little story, with permission from a friend. She is an attorney and works with business and financial clients. This morning, she had a breakfast gathering of sorts. When she recounted the tale, we marveled that there were 17 women in the room of 200.
That’s an improvement, believe it or not.
Anyway, she told me there was one other lawyer of color there. Did I mention she is African-American? Well, she is. And it’s relevant.
Because there she was, professionally dressed, professionally speaking to a group of other people in the field when a white man approached her. “Oh, here,” he said.
He shoved his cup in her direction.
He assumed she was the catering staff. She didn’t look like catering staff. She certainly wasn’t acting like catering staff as she was actively networking at that moment, so why would he think, of all the places to put his used cup, it was best given to her?
“Did you throw it at him?” I asked her.
“No,” she told me, “because I then, no matter how much he deserved it, I would always be the Angry Black Woman who threw the cup.”
When my friend can go to an event and not be treated like the hired help, or as though she is invisible, or as though she doesn’t belong, then we can talk about the end of racism.
I think Land’s worry is a bit premature. We haven’t really marginalized racism, so for the time being, no doubt the homophobes can rest assured. And we are absolutely not ready to let go of something so needed to protect fundamental rights as the Voting Rights Act.
If it wasn’t serving its purpose, there wouldn’t be people so anxious to get rid of it.
No, there are plenty of Richard Lands, too many courts filled with Scalias. Hatred hasn’t been marginalized, it’s oozing its way back into every realm, every facet, every breakfast meeting.
We do not mourn the marginalization of bigotry. We should mourn its bold, open resurgence.