When actress Stacey Dash posted an endorsement of Mitt Romney on Twitter last week, it should have been no big deal. But because Dash is a minority (black and Latino), she was attacked by other blacks for not supporting Barack Obama. The strong implication is that blacks have an obligation to stick together to support a fellow minority.
Dash’s experience prompted some articles asking whether it’s racist for blacks to support Obama in such high percentages, just because he’s black. (Here’s a conservative black woman writing about the issue.)
Is it racist for black to support Obama for being black? Well, duh. Of course it is. Is it racists for whites to oppose him because he’s black? Duh. Of course it is.
The photo above was taken Friday at a Romney rally in Ohio. A charitable interpretation of the shirt might be that the wearer just happens to support Romney for policy reasons, but the shirt is just a humorous attempt to show his support for his candidate, who happens to be white.
But does any sane and honest person believe that?
I don’t see a lot of difference between the two candidates when you look past their rhetoric, but some people do. For a large chunk of those people, it’s the party label that means the most. Many whites would honestly still support the Team Red candidate even if he were black and the Blue candidate were white. And many blacks would support the Team Blue candidate even if the Red candidate were black.
But there are a lot of people — on both sides of the racial divide — for whom race is clearly an issue.
I’ve listened to groups of blacks discussing the election and it’s been clear to me that they supported “Barrack” — they all seem to know him by first name when I listen in — because he’s “one of us.” Because he’s black. And I’ve been among groups of white people who clearly hate Obama because he’s black. They might disagree with a white candidate who holds exactly the same positions, but they have special hatred for Obama, because he’s “one of them.”
Human beings are tribal. We split into groups based on whatever differences we can find. We fight over stupid things. It seems to be wired into our genes.
I’ve talked before about the fact that we don’t live in the “post-racial” fantasy world that so many people want. I don’t think we ever will be, because many people will always find an excuse to hate someone else. If our skin color were uniform around the world, they’d just choose some other factor. The issue isn’t skin color. The issue is “us vs. them.” The issue is finding a way to force “those people” — whoever they are — to live the way we believe they ought to live.
I hate the racist attitudes that I see from both blacks and whites in politics, but I have trouble getting as indignant as some people do, because I don’t think it’s a part of human nature that can change. We’re tribal beings who are going to find reasons to hate each other and fight each other. We’re going to justify our hatred of one another, by “proving” that the “other side” is wrong and evil.
But that’s just justification. The truth is that humans just want to hate others and fight other groups and try to control one another.
It might be a depressing way to look at humanity, but I think it’s a realistic thing to understand about a fallen world. This is just who we are. The best we can hope for is for some of us to decide that we don’t have to live that way. Sadly, I think those of us who refuse to engage in the tribalism of the day — whether it’s skin color or language or religion or whatever — are always going to be in the minority.