Every American who’s aware of their existence should be equally aware of their right to free speech. An apparently less known law of nature however is the consequential backlash of said speech, especially when the caste system of white male patriarchy is contrived of coded language and de facto lawlessness. Even the Supreme Court has taken the bewildered stance that racism must be overt in order to be punishable. So then why have conservative pundits tried to draw comparisons of offensive rhetoric “on both sides” when Roseanne was finally outed as a racist?
The first reason is simple; deflection is the simplest form of debate. The second reason is far more problematic; white conservatives have a propensity to link racism, prejudice, and regular insults altogether because they have the luxury of not having to distinguish one from another on a daily basis. People are rarely corrected in the media for improperly labeling a particular instance to be racist or prejudice. Thus, a great deal of western population wrongfully believes the 2 words are interchangeable.
So while the intellectually empathetic among us scratch our heads whenever we here the racist remarks of Roseanne being juxtaposed to Samantha Bee or Jemele Hill; we must recognize that a great deal of flyover country has been conditioned to believe that the claims of a double standard have merit. Racism has progressively been discussed as a feeling or an emotion over the last few decades because news networks monetize sensationalism. Both conservatives and liberals are guilty of sacrificing the integrity their messages for the elusive “swing vote,” but the GOP has bamboozled their base by convincing them that the racial caste system which they benefit from has been flipped on its head.
When Rick Santorum blamed Obama for the racial divide in America; his message is received differently depending the listeners tax bracket. To the policy makers, his statement is a relatively empty one- they know it’s safer to berate Obama than praise Trump. To the bourgeoisie, this was an insurance they didn’t really need much either (they’ll vote republican anyway). But to the commoner, Santorum relieved white people of any guilt for the blatant surges in overt racism that have happened throughout the country since 45 stepped into office.
White fear allowed this current president to sit in his seat. That fear was prejudice until it translated into a vote: then it became racism. Racism is born in policy and fed by policies overlooked. Racism loses its power when light is shined on it. Prejudice will probably never go anywhere. The disregard with which the appropriate rhetoric is applied allows for misdirection from the actual issues facing the African American community.
Rosannes comments are more than just hateful, they are racist because they reflect her perceived societal status over a POC. Her influence, like the president, is a message for white supremacists that is amplified by race as much it is fortified by wealth. If you find yourself debating this with someone who doesn’t believe that rich white supremacists are in control the narrative; ask them why a historic number of self-proclaimed white nationalists are running for office in 2018.
This is why insults hurled back and forth between conservatives and liberals are held to a different standard; one side is literally promoting the sub-existence of the Black race. The victim mentality is used shamelessly throughout the hierarchy of the American caste system until it reaches the bottom, where the people’s only medium to voice their narrative is social media. Remember that claims of police brutality towards Black people continue to be dispelled despite a growing library of visual evidence, but that doesn’t stop conservative news outlets from pandering to viewers with misinformed crime statistics.
Edward Said articulated that interpretation, understanding, and knowledge are all rooted in genuine interest. We must continue to point out racist diction and coded language whenever presented as its sheer existence is belittling. Most importantly, we must never absorb negative opinions of self, especially those opinions not rooted in fact.
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