Monday, September 16, 2013

Bigotry & Prejudice -- Alive & Well in America

This. Pushes. My. Button.
 A Lot Of People Are Very Upset That An Indian-American Woman Won The Miss America Pageant
“And the Arab wins Miss America, classic.”
Sunday night Nina Davuluri, Miss New York was crowned the winner the 2014 Miss America Pageant. She is the first contestant of Indian descent to be crowned Miss America. 
When her win was announced, Twitter immediately exploded with hateful tweets, with people calling her Arab. 
And shock that an Indian American would win because “this is America.”

Other people were offended that she was crowned Miss America so close to the anniversary of 9/11.

And joked about her having possible ties to a terrorist group like Al Qaeda.

And some who were just outright racist.

One of the most heavily shared pictures of night was a four-panel image of Miss Kansas Theresa Vail. 
With people claiming Theresa Vail is what a “real Miss America looks like.”

I didn't watch the Miss America Pageant. I didn't even know it was in progress. That's how much I pay attention to this kind of entertainment. My list of objections to beauty pageants is long and boring. And apparently last night's results, according to the Buzz Feed story above, did nothing to make me change my mind. The lines were skimmed from a string of actual Twitter messages illustrating each point. 

Rather than letting myself get worked into a lather ranting about racism in America, I just want to drive home one point that by now should be as clear as the sun in the sky on a hot summer day:  This level of bigotry on the part of too many white people has been, is and will continue to be the the most durable challenge that Barack Obama faces as our president. Prejudice, like any other human quality, can take many forms. But no matter how it is presented, how many layers there may be in the costume, the toxic impact cannot be covered up. The most encouraging thing I can say to anyone who fails to recognize this reality is that you can look forward to more growth. 

I'm sure others have noticed that the Tea Party was, is and continues to be overwhelmingly white phenomenon. Yes, I realize there are sincere Tea Party members and supporters of color and ethnic minority status. And not all white Tea Party people are guilty of bigotry. But in the same way that white people who are not overtly prejudiced have the luxury of taking their white privileges for granted, those sincere, principled conservatives types who are most comfortable in the ranks of the Tea Party have a similar luxury that a sprinkling of ethnic minorities and people of color validates their politics, which they will be quick to inform you have nothing to do with race or ethnicity. 

My response to this ole "Some of my best friends" argument is simple. I spent my life in the food business and I know what baloney looks like. And that, my friend, is pure baloney. You can argue til the cows come home that you are not prejudiced just because you have black friends. You may even have black members of your family. Hell, you may be the only white person married or adopted into an all black family and community.

I'm telling you that if you are identifiably white, you have a privilege that non-white people in America do not have.  And yes, my friends who feel the Tea Party speaks for them, this goes for you as well. If you happen to be white you have a privilege more important than any other in your life. Being born in America may be a happy accident, but plenty of people not born in America have tasted the fruits of this country's many rewards. But being born white is an accident of birth you can never take for granted, no matter what part of the world you come from. And don't you forget it or take it for granted. (And remember what I just said next time a Tea Party extremist refuses to compromise with the president.)

1 comment:

  1. Indian stores - (Asian Indians) should now start stocking up goods needed by Americans too....There is no racial discrimination there. Just walk in, buy your stuff, pay up and leave.

    Enjoy life,