Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Maybe We Aren't Alarmist Enough

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Maybe We Aren't Alarmist Enough

Article excerpt

A few days ago, a black woman I know got a text from a friend who asked what she'd be wearing "to the slave auction in January." Another friend, who is white, wrote that she is "seriously picturing trains to Auschwitz. I can't convey how seriously."

These are the kinds of conversations I find myself having in a world suddenly grown ominous and strange. You try to keep a level head, to remind yourself and others that the tragedies alluded to - slavery and the Holocaust - are unique. They are not going to repeat. We must not be too alarmist.

But the hits just keep on coming.

The other day, my brother reported seeing a pickup truck emblazoned with the Confederate battle flag tooling down the road in Los Angeles. I lived in that city for 34 years, he's lived there 47. Neither of us can recall ever seeing that before.

A few days later, he tells me some random white lady screamed "N- ----!" at him - just that word, no other commentary - because she didn't like his driving.

So it goes in these first days of the Donald Trump era.

You want to say it's just your imagination inflating random badness into a narrative of racist white bully boys and girls feeling free to vent their hatred now that one of their own has come to power. One tends to see what one is looking for, after all.

But if this is just imagination, there's a lot of it going around.

A black woman in a Wal-Mart parking lot says she was called "n--- -- b---- and told to go "back to Africa" by a truck full of white men who yelled "Make America white again" before throwing cups full of chewing tobacco saliva on her.

A black woman in Charlotte reports holding the door for an older white man in a veteran's hat. She said, "Thank you for your service. He said, "At least you n------- are grateful for something."

Racist messages are sent to black freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania. …

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