When I read the ridiculous racist sludge that was slung at Richard Sherman after his adrenaline-fueled post-win interview on the football field, I didn’t feel much of anything. Lots of “regular Joes” on social media called the Stanford-educated NFL cornerback the n-word, questioned his intelligence, called him a thug and expressed concern for the safety of the white female reporter. Even some not so regular Joes weighed in on the interview. NBA player Andre Igoudala tweeted that Sherman had set black people back 500 years. Right.
The wonderful and awful thing about the internet is that we all get a peek into each other’s minds in a more anonymous way, which strips away the pc mask and allows for more (brutally) honest commentary. I’m not shocked that in 21st century America, a black man who has committed no crime and is merely expressing his excitement about making a game winning play that guaranteed his team a Superbowl appearance, is walloped with ignorance and racial slurs. I’ve seen this country’s hateful underbelly many times in history books, on television, online, in magazines and right in my face. I almost kind of expect it now.
How sad. I should be outraged, upset or something, right? I do, of course, feel that these outlandish racist ways of thinking and acting need to be rectified, but sometimes I worry that I’m getting numb to racism. I literally felt exhausted just looking at that picture of a smug white woman sitting on a chair that was made to look like a black woman in a BDSM position. So many layers, so much wrong, not enough time.
I also feel privileged to be in this world right now. My ancestors endured horrible, terroristic acts all in the name of good ol’ fashioned American racism. I can sit here and type about my little angst because people much braver and stronger than me, did courageous things to create a country that was a least a little bit like right. And I do appreciate the fact that we hear and see the n-word more often in recent years because apparently, the lack of it being in the public sphere was just about being polite not enlightened.
But I do not want to be de-sensitized to racism. I want to recoil when I recognize it. I want to have a visceral reaction that will inspire me to somehow be a part of the ongoing and surely complex solutions to racism.
How do you feel when you encounter racism? Are you outraged, numb, somewhere in the middle?