Elegy to a Racist
I started thinking about this around November 6th, 2012. You can make the connection, I think. And then today I read Ashley Miller’s story of how she lost her father… to racism. So I put all the words into some sort of order, and here they are.
Elegy for a Racist
“I ain’t apologizing. That’s just the way I was raised.”
“That’s an excuse, not a justification.”
So you’re a racist in 21st century America. Welcome to the fringes. Oh, no, you didn’t realize did you. You thought you were still mainstream, salt of the Earth, true blue. Perhaps you’ve surrounded yourself with others like yourself and that helps you maintain the illusion. Or, at the very least, you’ve cowed those around you with your bile and wrath, so they won’t challenge you or call you out. But the truth is that the society you live in no longer accepts you as rational, as educated, as ‘normal’. And it doesn’t care to hear your arguments contrariwise. No, sir or ma’am, you are a minority. You are an ‘other’. The society where you fit in has grown and matured. It has left you behind. You and that hateful lump of smoldering rotten coal that simmers in your heart.
You’re unwanted. You are an artifact of an age, time and place that no longer exists. The words you once loved to use as weapons – now so actively listened for that – even muttering one under your breath is a risk you rarely take outside the walls of your home. And you will sit there, festering and growing colder and harder as you begin to feel the isolation of being an outsider. And not so long from now, you will become a fossil — Bigotus Americanus. And people will look upon you with new eyes, eyes not clouded by the hate you’ve kept burning and tried to pass down to your kith and kin. And they will wonder how you lasted as long as you did.
Yes, surely a few of you will survive long into humanity’s twilight. Your kind are always around, lurking. But no longer in the numbers you once enjoyed, comfortable in the rocking chair of self-satisfaction and privilege you once lazed in. You are now, and they will future be, pariahs. They will be secret outcasts who dare not speak their mind lest they be tossed out of humanity’s warmth. Hiding as you and your kind have made others hide.
But you, you original sinner, you will be long gone.