I wasn't going to write anything about it, but the Pacific Northwest certainly rivals the South (where I grew up and which, arguably, gets a whole lot more flak for its unsavory racists than other parts of the country) in evidence of racism and white supremacy. Yeah, I know the whole Pacific Northwest is one of the least diverse areas of the country, and I know that racism in overt and covert forms exists everywhere, in every part of the country, but as the white part of an interracial couple, I'm being educated in ways that I, in my privilege, have been -- let's be honest -- blind to for most of my adult life.
The Bird Photographer and I saw the evidence nearly everywhere we went, and given the general tenor of the times we live in -- well -- we didn't mess around when we saw it. We walked out of a steak house/diner/truck stop and toward our car one evening, passed a small group of older folks standing together at their pickup truck. One of the men was opening what looked like birthday presents, and they spoke openly of Trump, how much they agreed with him, how much they liked him. I know this because I walked right by them and rolled my eyes in my mind, and then I noticed that on the top of the present that the man was opening at the moment was a rolled up Confederate Flag.
I hear a lot of people crying out and writing how fucked we all are! and how this is so unbelievable! and I'm as stressed as the next privileged white liberal person, but let's face the facts. This great country -- and it is great in many ways -- has an ugly core, a rotten core, and the only way to get rid of it is to uncover and face that rotten core, to acknowledge that truth and to speak, own and face the truth relentlessly, no matter how uncomfortable it makes many of us. I think that might mean acknowledging and facing our own darkness, but it also might mean erasing swastikas chalked onto bucolic pathways or speaking up and often, even to those standing in a parking lot with an old, ugly flag. It means opening our eyes to see and using our ears to listen. I wish I'd done both, but I did neither, and I regret that.
“The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed the collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors, that American men are the world's most direct and virile, that American women are pure. Negroes know far more about white Americans than that; it can almost be said, in fact, that they know about white Americans what parents—or, anyway, mothers—know about their children, and that they very often regard white Americans that way. And perhaps this attitude, held in spite of what they know and have endured, helps to explain why Negroes, on the whole, and until lately, have allowed themselves to feel so little hatred. The tendency has really been, insofar as this was possible, to dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time