History

How tolerant am I? How tolerant are you? [Trigger warning]

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This article contains inappropriate language regarding race and rape.

Actually, the language isn’t suitable for anyone who wishes to be deemed human. This started as a response to a friend, but I let a vein and I’m in a sharing mood.

I don’t see Antifa spreading hate. I see Antifa confronting hate. To me, blaming them is like blaming the victim of a mugging for taking part in a crime. Maybe you’ve been really lucky somehow and never met an actual racist. So maybe you’ll let me curl your earhairs a little, because I have.

antifa

I grew up in Klan country, with a good dose of Klan wannabes thrown in, many of them coonasses, or should I say, Cajuns. It’s one of those words like nigger that’s not cool for someone who’s not of that race to say, but can be used as a term of pride among themselves. There’s a little town called Kenner west of New Orleans that’s pretty well known locally as more than a little obviously racist. It was like that 45 years ago and it’s only gotten more like that over time as it grew. Dad liked to go to diners, and would begrudgingly take Mom and I out with him because he wouldn’t leave us home alone more than he absolutely had to. We’d go for months at a time to one in particular, then switch up and make some other little greasy spoon our regular hangout. He and Mom knew all the regulars, and they all knew us. We knew all the wait staff and cooks and managers and were usually aware of all the weird little dramas that unfold in a place like that.

We had this new waitress for a while, pretty young white woman who, back in the 70’s, made the horrible mistake of having a black boyfriend and not even having the good, white decency to try and hide it. Pardon me while I slip into the way I learned about it, because I’d really like to know if we both share the same tolerance for what I’m about to say. It was worse than that, you see, because that nigger-lover had a little mulatto kid, and the kid even knew what those coonasses felt because they’d talk about the halfbreed in front of him.

Uncomfortable yet?

The manager had kids that hung out there, too. Until all this drama, and figure, I’m 5-9 years old during this time period, so that’s what *this* kid right here is learning from my parents’ peers and friends, until this, I used to go out into the parking lot and the empty lots around the diner with them to play. Kids maybe only a year or two older than me. When they found out I thought the waitress was actually really nice, I got called a nigger-lover. By children. Who learned it from someone.

The coonasses boasted about being in the Klan. At a diner. In front of children. Which is how I learned about it. And they disliked that nigger-loving waitress so much they started a petition to have her fired. They even loudly and publicly threatened to burn a cross in her front yard if she doesn’t get the message. Luckily, management was more enlightened than that, and they weren’t having any of it. Management banned a lot of those assholes from coming back and they stood behind their waitress.

One day, after the drama had died down significantly, her boyfriend came into the diner, and there we were, and the waitress brought him over to our table to introduce him to us. That’s the kind of tight-knit little diner I’m talking about. He shook Mom’s hand. He shook Dad’s hand. He held his hand out to me to shake, and I just sat there looking at it. He asked me what’s wrong. I told him I didn’t like the color of his skin. I didn’t learn that from my parents. Imagine how mortified they were. I didn’t get an ass-beating for that, but I got talked to.

They’re no better or worse than anyone else. They’re just like us. It’s just maybe better when everybody keeps to their own. Mom came by it naturally, because she was raised in the early 30’s in upstate New York, where she was taught by her grandparents to never walk on *that* side of the street in town, because that’s for the ferners and the WOPs. Mom grew up to be a bit of a wild child and was actually cool with the WOPs, and the micks, and the Greeks.

Something’s missing though, right. I love dear departed Mom to bits, but she was one of those more enlightened bigots (not racist…I make a distinction some aren’t comfortable with) who can’t possibly be racist because dammit, she even has a black friend. I clearly remember how proud of herself my 70+ year old mother was the day she finally invited her black friend into her home, because it was a big deal to her. Never before in her life had she let a black person into her home. But she wasn’t racist.

Years pass and I’m now in middle school. New neighborhood, new adventures, new problems. Right around 7th grade when boys start turning into men and show it by being the most annoying little pricks they can be, you’d find shit like KKK scrawled in chalk around the school, because somehow, among that clique of losers, it was “cool.” By 13 friggin’ years old, they’re already thinking it’s cute and clever to hope for an upcoming race war.

So there’s another diner. No Dad. Just Mom, who now works at one. I was there all the time. All. The. Time. If I wasn’t in school, odds are good my ass was planted in a booth eating and drinking Mom’s tips. I knew everyone, and everyone knew me. I knew every cop in the area, every JP, everyone on the levee patrol, a fair few state troopers. Not all of the locals were quite as wholesome. There was this one, another coonass, go figure, who was known to everyone as an all-right kinda guy. Mom approved of him enough. Older gent. Gray haired. Wanted to know if Mom would be okay with taking me on a roadtrip across the river to the Westbank, which is actually south of us, deep into Cajun country on some errand or other. He thought I might enjoy the ride. I wanted to go. Mom was okay with it. Good times.

I only remember one thing from that trip. I can’t even tell you now what the trip was for or where we went, because it’s overshadowed by the one thing I remember. I’m a boy not yet at puberty, and he starts asking me about girls. I didn’t know shit at the time. Oh, he let me some things. Man, when he was younger, nothing he and his friends loved more than walking around in the country and you’d see some young little nigger bitch out in a field and you’d just tear that nigger pussy up.

You ever get words and phrases burned into your memory so deeply you can’t get rid of them?

Around that same time period, there was a brief span where I lived with this other couple. Life is weird, right? They liked to drive and listen to the radio. Hear a song, turn the dial, look for a better station, here some nigger trash come on and bitch about the nigger music because it’s just so stupid and repetitive. As a child still, I’m getting the feeling that this is a really encouraged notion. And, for the weird reasons involved, I really, really wanted to be accepted by them. I wanted to impress them. So as they’re driving down some back road on the Westbank (a part of NOLA many look down on unless they’re from the Westbank, it’s a thing) with me in the back seat, I see a black guy walking along the shoulder of the road. I rolled down the window and yelled, “hey! Nigger! as loudly as I could as we passed.

That was one of the few ass beatings I ever got.

They were very clear. I wasn’t getting my ass beat for what I said. I was getting my ass because because I did what I did. Don’t advertise.

Years passed. I served in the Army with some of the very worst people, and some of the very best. When I say worst, I mean “joined to stay out of jail, still like hookers and have consent issues maybe” worst. They were all white. When I say best, I mean that, too. And some of the very best were the brothers in the company. I’d have chosen their company over some of the crackers I served with any day.

Some of the hardest workers I’ve ever worked with were black. And Latino. And gay. I’ve had plenty of black friends, and the only thing noteworthy about their blackness to me was their experience of being black as I’d hear about it. I’ve had friends who were jumped and beaten for looking gay, regardless of how straight they were or weren’t. didn’t matter. Don’t even look gay. I’ve had black friends that can tell you about getting stopped for walking while black or “fitting the description.” What description? Black. That’s it. They all look alike, apparently.

I learned over the years how wrong I was as a kid. I learned that I learned how to be that kind of wrong. I wasn’t born that way. I learned it. And I’d fucking well unlearn it. And I grew to literally hate with a murderous passion the people who put those ideas in my childish head.

There’s bigotry, and there’s racism. I think the left fucks up hard when it lumps it all together under the racism umbrella, and I don’t give a shit what the academics say. That right there will get me dismissed by “serious” people already. I don’t care. But I think there’s some significant and important differences. Is it racist to not want to walk through a black housing project at 2 AM by yourself? Or is that only bigoted? Or is that just common sense? Is it racist when the racial justice white chick pulls her purse closer to her when a scary looking black dude gets in the elevator with her, when, in hindsight, the only thing scary was his blackness? Is it racist when a black cop busts a black citizen on false pretenses? I’d say common sense, bigoted, racist, in that order.

I only have a problem with one of those groups. I’ve got no problem with the common sense crowd. Some things are just friggin’ common sense. Hell, there’s white neighborhoods I wouldn’t walk through alone at 2 AM. Bucktown comes to mind. Common sense.

Bigots I have trouble with, but in the same way I have trouble with traits I don’t like in people generally, and I usually just grit my teeth and move past it unless I think it reflects on me directly. Anyone who’s dropped an n-bomb around me knows I will pipe up early on and say I’m not good with that and I consider it a matter of respect for *me* not to act like I’m good with it. Use it, but know I think you’re an asshole for it, at least on that front. I’ll probably lose points with some on the left for not being a purist about that, but damn, we all have some kind of moral wart. Bigotry is a bad one. So is misogyny. I cuss a lot and like tipping sacred cows. We all agree to not beat each other’s asses, otherwise get along, and agree to disagree on some things, agree on others.

Racists, though? Actual racists? The kind that would poison a child’s mind? The kind that, from positions of privilege, access, and power, spread intentional lies and distortions to stoke racial fears, resentments, and hatreds in that part of White America that never stopped being a bunch of whining loser pussies who never got over losing to America when they became a bunch of traitors to the Union and killed millions of loyal Americans?

Oh, I have just about zero moral respect for the riled-up lowlifes down south that I’m talking about. There’s bigots and then there’s the kinds of turds I’m talking about. The only thing that keeps them from being *actually* racist is that they’re not the ones in the halls of power and influence actually and intentionally making life harder specifically for black Americans, up to and including shooting them in the streets, in the back, for the misdemeanor of fleeing. They’re not the racists in power. They’re the racists who cheer power on the more obviously racist power becomes. I’m talking about what Trump called “fine people” in the Charlottesville Nazi march.

Now, if one were a bigot, which, again, I think we all are to varying degrees about different people for different reasons, some in a more self-aware fashion than others, if one *were* a bigot, rooting for power is one thing. It’s kind of like a football team. You can’t help who the other fans are. If a bunch of the other fans just happen to wear swastikas and klan hoods, so what? You can’t help what the team on the field does, either, but you cheer when they do things you like. Did it say anything about fans of the old Oakland Raiders that they would cheer when the Raiders cheated? That’s like rooting for heels in wrestling. But some of us do it, and do it differently, maybe. I often end up sympathizing more with the monsters in the movies I watch. Bring on the zombies. We have it coming, anyway. But what about the people who then start cheering on the Nazis? Someone who’s not a Nazi is cheering for the team, and the Nazis are cheering for the same team, and somehow there’s just some chemistry there and how cool is that? Man, I like the way they did that thing! What he said!

Does that say something about a person? To me, that’s a bigot starting to lean a little too close to the full-tilt racist side of the coin. At that exact point in time, a person can just go and fuck themselves if they don’t catch the error of their ways.

I am absolutely and utterly intolerant of systemic racism and the people in power who push racist policies and the people in communications who peddle blatantly racist ideas. While I won’t personally encourage violence against them, any of them at all, and I sure as hell am past a point in my life where it’s even worth my time and effort to try and hurt someone myself, any time one of these sorry assholes bites the dust or has some horrible tragedy befall them, it brings my black little heart joy, and if I could wish for anything, it’s that whatever it was hurt like hell.

Does anything get under your skin that much?

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