Racism never went away


Racists aren’t born. They’re made.

So the challenge for all of us is how to unmake and stop the kind of racism that reared its ugly head in the most public way possible this week in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It will require examining our own prejudices, listening to those who disagree with us and engaging in civil discourse.

But it starts with naming – not defending – the actions of white nationalists.

No ideologies, including white supremacy, exist in a vacuum. The thoughts that came forcefully to the forefront of national attention Saturday (Aug. 12) — with images of white men marching, tiki torches in hand, through a university campus — didn’t mysteriously materialize the day of the rally.

Racism didn’t die after the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964 or after the first black U.S. president was elected in 2008. And the threats it poses have been growing since before Donald Trump was elected president.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security knew the dangers of white supremacy, saying in a May joint intelligence report that the white nationalist movement was responsible for more violent acts since 2000 than any other domestic extremist group.

Many of the young white men who marched Saturday in Charlottesville grew up in the 21st century, a time in which many of us wanted to believe we’re more enlightened – or at least more decent – and just than ever before. Certainly, white supremacy isn’t the norm. But many of those people didn’t get their racism from their families; they found it on the internet, a place that, especially since the election of Donald Trump, they’ve found a community of like-minded people ready for action.

When the white nationalists left the Virginia rally, they went back to their daily lives. They went back to school, church, coffee shops and their jobs. And their racist ideologies – that suggest America isn’t a country for all people, but for white people – continue to filter into their daily lives.

Calling people out as racist and facing them with an equal amount of force may shove the racism back underground, but it won’t make them stop feeling the way they do about people of color or anyone else they have decided to detest.

Like us, they are Americans, but the ugliest representation of an America whose history is steeped and mired in notions of white supremacy that sought to keep anyone of color out of shared schools, sports teams, neighborhoods, agriculture loans and restaurants.

White nationalist defenders are as close as New Mexico’s Doña Ana County, where the chairman of the Republican Party said on Facebook that “violent, leftist protesters” had “created the divide” and got “exactly what they asked for.” Outcry from within his own party has forced him to resign.

Those who perpetuate racism are as close as Santa Fe, where the Hispanic leader of a new political group posted a photo demeaning a black congresswoman. She later apologized.

They’re as close as Roswell, where a 29-year-old former Marine has become the leader of a far-right group that romanticizes “white blood.”

In Taos, it would be easy to let the undercurrents of race and history drive a wedge between neighbors. After all, Taos is a place where three primary cultures ended up sharing a beautiful valley after battling and sometimes overthrowing each other.

But Taos, maybe more than a lot of places, has the ingredients for hearty, democratic and neighborly exchanges. We dance in the Plaza together. We watch movies in Kit Carson Park together. We’ve intermarried and been godparents to each other’s children. We drive past each other every day along the one main road in Taos. We have a “commons” that could well be the antidote to the bifurcated, politicized, hate- and ideology-laden depths of the internet.

Taos should serve as a model of how to listen and talk to others from across the racial, religious and political divides, how to respectfully disagree and how to support each other in the ongoing struggle to improve our communities regardless of our differences.

We can’t be resigned to racism or white nationalism. We have to envision something better. We have to believe we can make it happen.


5 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
D Smith

As a white male in northern NM who has experienced multiple examples of racism from Hispanics your focus on whites as the racists disgusts me and shows clearly your bias.

Saturday, August 19, 2017 | Report this
Robert Andreoli

The author of this piece like most of the leftist progressive liberals here in Santa Fe lite would like to ignore the fact that BLM and Antifa and their supporters are some of the most hate spewing racists in the country and are in fact the very reason for the rise of the white nationalist movement. The idea that Trump is responsible is absurd. How many times did you think you were going to poke the bear before the bear poked back. This is just the beginning, if the left continues to support and deny the actions of the hate and racism perpetrated by BLM and Antifa and their followers things will only get worse and you may just get that civil war you are always talking about. People all over this great county are fed up with the one sided antics of the left.

R Andreoli

Sunday, August 20, 2017 | Report this
Eileen Wiard

It saddens me to think that anyone can object to the thoughts and feelings of this editorial. Yes, moving to Taos was the first time I knew I was an Anglo...and experienced what it felt like to be in the minority in a community. That was not a bad thing. I have learned a lot while living here for the last 15 years. I love Taos and I love our diversity. It is not easy to live in a place where different cultures express their values and their heritage and their traditions openly. There is more room for conflict; more room for multiple views and perspectives. It is challenging and a daily learning for me. This is what I love about Taos! Political correctness, while criticized by people who don't like to think before they speak, who are not in the habit of considering how their words might affect the people within their hearing, actually is a practice that teaches us how to be respectful, if we welcome it. And I do. That doesn't mean I don't get embarrassed when I say the wrong thing or the right thing the wrong way...it just gives me a chance to learn a better way to express myself, one that doesn't hurt someone else, doesn't devalue someone else. I like being respectful. To me, it's part of practicing the golden rule.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 | Report this
True Farmer

I think it's interesting that now Everyone is suddenly a racist or a bigot if they simply don't agree with the leftist agenda that Every white person is a racist and a bigot, just by their skin color. If you have Conservative values, whether they be fiscal alone, you're a racist. If you don't agree with Open borders, you're a racist. If you don't agree with Sanctuary cities, you're a racist, no matter that criminals and gangs from other countries are running amuck committing heinous crimes against and murdering, not only their own but native born citizens, sometimes having been deported several times over.

Every 'normal' conservative American who would like to care for his own children, not EVERYONE ELSES children- pay his own way, pay for his own kids with his own hard earned cash, goes to church on Sunday, believes in the Constitution, the 1st and 2nd Amendments (as well as all the rest of them), doesn't want the country destroyed by an open borders policy FOR the FUTURE of His Children, is now a NAZI!

Perhaps he doesn't want grown men in dresses in women's locker/bathrooms with his 10 year old daughter,. He'a now an intolerant bigot! (Despite that transgender is only .01% of the population)

Perhaps he knows that MARXIST Ideology murdered a rough number of 110 million people in the 20th century and doesn't Work, but that makes him a NAZI for not believing in the common cause of wealth redistribution . Not wanting someone taking your hard earned money away from your own family and their needs 'for the general good and common cause' makes you a NAZI.

The LEFT has Completely lost their Marbles, and its going to come back and bite. Wait until 2/3 to 3/4 of your wealth is taken by government for the policies you are subscribing to, your every speech is controlled as Hate Speech, when it swings the other way, you wont be happy.

Monday, August 28, 2017 | Report this
Elaine Ray

I moved to Taos from LA where my neighbors were immigrant families from Peru, Mexico, and China. I never came across the amount of negativity towards one another as I have here. I think it is just a small town mentality that drives this hatred towards one another. Well, I'll replace that with a lack of Love for One Another. If I could thumbs up on all of these comments I would. I wish there were comments from the whole community as integrating ideas (talking stick concept) is the beginning of understanding what drives hatred and divisiveness. When people feel threatened they do spontaneous things that usually end up hurting themselves and others. The Golden Rule, Do Unto Other's as You Would Have Them Do Unto You, sounds alot like, "Love One Another As I Have Loved You."

Monday, September 18, 2017 | Report this