I always knew when white men were talking about black men, because it was the only time they referred to an adult as a “boy.” Unless they were talking about a “good ol’ boy,” which meant the man was white and “dependable.” A “boy” could never be forgiven, while a “good ol’ boy” could do no wrong.
Chris Tomlinson, Tomlinson Hill: The Remarkable Story of Two Families Who Share the Tomlinson Name – One White, One Black
to exclude, by general consent, from society, friendship, conversation, privileges, etc.
It’s been a weekend for thinking about racism, and the perpetual definition of and mistreatment of “the other.”
#1 – I went to see the movie, The Imitation Game. And I was just so saddened (saddened “again” – yes, I already knew the story) by the fact that Alan Turing, and tens of thousands of others, were punished, and ostracized, and arrested, because they were gay. Though the Queen issued a pardon years after his death, it was way, way too late…
#2 – I watched portions of, and read every word of President Obama’s eloquent and so very accurate Selma speech. It is a masterpiece. And though it is hopeful, it is also a very sad reminder of our violent racist history.
#3 – My wife and I are watching the British production The Hour. (We watch it on Amazon Prime). We just watched season 2, episode 2 – “Keep Britain White,” and there was a powerful dramatization of the ugly racism in London in the late 1950s.
#4 – I’ve now watched the video of, and read much of the reaction to the University of Oklahoma’s fraternity’s racist chant. (Read about it here). By the way, does anyone believe that this was the first time this chant was ever sung by members of this fraternity? I seriously doubt that it was the first time. I would suspect that it was a regular “tradition,” but it simply had never been recorded and posted. (The members singing it knew the words pretty well, didn’t they?)
Here’s what is painfully clear. There is an almost innate human need to think… what? That my group is better than your group. That your group does not have the right to be part of “our” greater society; our group. “We” want to run you out, make you leave, make you unacceptable. The ostracization is so all encompassing – of people in the LGBT community, of black people (not just African Americans; black people in England, and in South Africa, and) … so many other peoples in so many places experienced and continue to experience such ostracizing racism; and of course the ostracization of immigrants of all ethnicities, throughout our history.
For a number of years, I’ve presented book synopses monthly for the Urban Engagement Book Club, focusing on books dealing with social justice (sponsored by CitySquare). Here’s a consistent theme – the treatment of the “other” crops up time and again. In other words, this really is an ongoing problem.
Generally, I’m not a fan of zero-tolerance rules. But I’m ready to embrace it in issues of exclusion of “the other.” No “boys will be boys” excuses, or any other excuses, should ever be considered or tolerated. No tolerance – zero tolerance – is the only possible response.