Let the hate show

When I read yesterday that Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church, a church in my lovely state of Kentucky, voted to ban interracial couples from its congregation, I thought, “So much for post-racial America.”  While I was appalled, shook my head, and joined in with the “And they call themselves Christians,” chorus, I felt some vindication for all those times I or more famous black commentators have been scoffed at for saying racism still exists.

Today, I’m liking this church’s style.  I like that at least six members of Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church not only said how they really feel, but they put it in writing!  There’s no wondering, no guess work.  Sure, their feelings are ignorant and socially unacceptable in 2011 and definitely un-Christ-like at any point in time.  But I think I prefer written, “I’m a racist,” resolutions than I do things like, “I’m not racist. I just knew that Barack Obama would be the worst president in history before he even took office, and I hope he fails,” or anything you could paraphrase from Rush Limbaugh’s mouth.

Or any of the shenanigans our Congress has decided to perform in lieu of doing their job and under the veil of their belief that it’s what’s best for the country.

Or loving people of all races who just don’t see color and can find a perfectly logical, non-racial answer to every aspect of social inequality and every questionable circumstance.

Or “enlightened” white people who won’t even have a conversation about race, because clearly they don’t feel the way their ancestors felt and all that’s behind us now and black people should really just let the country move on.

When I attended an Arts & Democracy workshop a couple of weeks ago, a number of social change artists who are also theater artists recalled their experiences when performing or directing historical interpretations. One had been cast often as a slave.  Another had directed plays in which white men oppressed black women and black men at different decades throughout U.S. history.  They were equally shocked at how quickly and easily people got into their roles. Not only was there unscripted ass-grabbing—from audience members,too—but also feelings of hatred, power, superiority and inferiority that carried over after the director called scene. These actors didn’t know they had it in them.

To their credit, the actors were genuinely freaked out and embarrassed by their feelings and actions.  But they are better off for having had the chance to confront it.

Most of us don’t get that chance. We just wonder if that rejection letter from a potential employer was the result of a better candidate coming along or something else.  If that person’s cold demeanor when they finally meet you, a person they’ve heard so many wonderful things about, is a reflection of their social awkwardness or something else.  If they’re following you through the store because it’s the last day of the month and they’re on commission and they’re hungry for the sale that will mean they can make their house payment, or if it’s because of something else.

If only everyone showed racism like this church.

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