By Askia Muhammad
I first met the brilliant comedian and social activist Dick Gregory in 1968, and for the next 49 years until his passing in 2017, he always insisted that young white people would save America because they saw things differently from the way their bigoted parents saw them. I think my brilliant friend was wrong about that.
I think Dick Gregory believed in the “ghost” of decency that unfortunately does not exist in sufficient numbers of white folks to “save” America from herself.
Sure, there are plenty of “good” white folks, young and old. I know several myself. But their numbers and power appear to be unable to even slow the rising tide of race hate in all age and all income groups of white people.
Since the country’s twice-impeached president, whose father was arrested after a Queens, New York, Ku Klux Klan rally in 1927, rose into office, all the boundaries of the need for human decency have been tossed into the trash by white folks who see themselves being outnumbered soon, and vulnerable to political defeat unless they cheat and rig the electoral system in their own favor.
Now, with incidents of racist “Karen” encounters too numerous to keep track of, and the unrelenting drumbeat of murders of unarmed Black men, the evidence of white hate boiling over is unmistakable.
For decades, spanning the entirety of Dick Gregory’s public career, the infamous Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) had law enforcement strategists and the public worried, directing nearly all government resources into policing “Black extremists” as the greatest domestic terrorism threat, while ignoring what is now seen as the grave danger from so-called “disaffected” whites — radical right-wingers, members of QAnon, the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers, and other so-called “sovereign citizens” who either don’t recognize the authority of the federal government, or who want certain states or counties to secede from the union to form a nation by and for white people, first and foremost.
Those are the core of the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, at the command of President No. 45. They avoided detection and scrutiny, and are now brazenly conducting unlawful violent acts because of their seething race hatred.
Charleston, S.C. murderer Dylann Roof — a young man — whose death penalty was recently upheld in a federal court, admitted that he plotted for months to murder Black worshipers at a historic church, in order to foment a race war.
In Salinas, California, white children collectively behave as badly as racist adults during the height of the Southern anti-segregation battles. One student there said she’s heard racial slurs since elementary school. Now, as a freshman, she fears walking down the hallways of Alisal High School, she told USA Today.
A group of students allegedly defaced a Black doll during a school jamboree. Some white children created an Instagram account for the doll that the students had named “Shaniqua.” Photos show markings on the doll that appear to be an ankle monitor bracelet drawn around the doll’s ankle and scribble marks on the face. In a video posted on TikTok, several students are seen stomping on the doll. These were schoolchildren. Sorry Greg, these rascals today are no better than their grandparents were in Dixie. And this is in the education system that is supposed to be preparing the youth for the future.
“I don’t want this to be minimized as just a joke or silly kids,” said Jordana Henry, a parent, teacher and leader in the school’s Black Girl Magic Club. “This is white supremacy.”
Is there any wonder that white adults in more than 25 Republican-led states have passed or proposed restrictions on how teachers can discuss racism and sexism in a movement that started under Mr. Trump after The New York Times Magazine published its “1619 Project” in 2019. Their opposition is to the teaching of what they call “critical race theory.” Civil rights historians call it “truth.”
Meanwhile, some white grown-folks have abandoned all masks of civility. J.D. Vance, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Ohio, discarded all civility when he suggested that he has an advantage in the race because “our people hate the right people.” Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” made the comment during an interview with The American Conservative magazine in late July.
It’s okay now, for them to just come out in the open with their race hate. It almost feels like some white folks are openly spouting their racism for sport, like in the 1950s.
WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.