I never thought of myself as racist. My parents were involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and I worked seven years at a civil rights law firm that handled a variety of discrimination cases. Because I surrounded myself with like-minded people, it was very tempting to believe that the United States was truly healing from its racist past and moving towards a better future.

Then in 2002, I married my (now ex) Algerian Muslim husband. It was then that I really learned about racism in this country.

Let me tell you, as a white woman married to a man of color, I learned first hand what it is like to be racially profiled by law enforcement. I learned about the unintentional, clueless and downright ignorant discrimination of my white “friends.” I learned hard lessons, like that as a white middle-class woman, I was (and am) a person of privilege in this country. Not everyone was just like me, and to pretend that was the case was just plain dumb. There is a color bar still in these here United States, and many people (both black and white) are just full of absolute hate.

Nothing is more socially painful than to see the unintentional cluelessness of some white people, not to mention the mostly white-peopled political parties on both sides of the aisle, when it comes to this issue.

Take the flack over the Republican Party’s tweet about Rosa Parks this past week.

For want of a better proofreader, the Grand Old Party lost this week’s media war thanks in no small part to words relating to racism. The liberal media gave the GOP hell for the mistyped tweet about Rosa Parks single handedly “ending racism” in 1955. A few hours later, the GOP corrected the tweet to say

Previous tweet should have read “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.” [Emphasis added.]

but the damage was already done.

Without skipping a beat, the allegations of racism were leveled at the Republican Party because of its persnickety and pesky opposition to the statist policies of the Obama administration.

Of course Rosa Parks did not end racism, but is this simple typographical error “proof positive” of racial insensitivity? Isn’t a typo just a typo?

We won’t ever know if the GOP really “typoed” or not, but the fact that people reacted to this the way they did, and that they were justified in doing so, is evidence that the GOP needs to clean up its act with regard to race relations.

This gaffe comes on the heels of the GOP’s recently initiated “Growth and Opportunity Project” (get it? GOP?). The so-called “autopsy” report recommends that the Grand Old Party be more “inclusive” to “demographic partners” who are…guess who? Hispanics, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, African Americans, Women, and Youth.

It is big news that the Republicans are now “officially” waking up to the fact that the demographics of the country are changing.

Doh!

“Better late than never,” I suppose, but it may be more appropriate to quote the song from JoJo, “Too Little Too Late.”

If the GOP is really sincere about its efforts to appeal to their “different demographic partners,” why are they dispatching Rand Paul to open the African American Engagement Outreach Center in Detroit? Rand Paul (bless his heart) did not exactly endear himself to the African Americans at Howard University earlier this year by reminding them of the fact that the GOP was the party that ended slavery.

The Republicans are stepping in it even deeper by calling it the “African American” Engagement Outreach center. Detroit has one of the highest Arabic American populations in the country. Yes, Detroit is a largely African American city, but voters of other ethnicities and races live there too, right?

In my humble opinion, the flack over this tweeting disaster really demonstrates the GOP has a lot to overcome it’s white-male-rich-only image, and maybe it will overcome this … someday…someday.

Of course there is more I can say about this issue!

But, pluhease don’t even get me started with the Democrats!

  • ejdalise

    No, go ahead . . . Democrats ride a high horse when it comes to racism. I’d be interested in reading your opinion on them as well.

  • JesseForgione

    Just when it looks like she’s (rightly) calling out the left’s hysterics, she calls the behavior “justified.” Polar bear facepalm indeed.

    • Aud Lebdjiri

      I couldn’t stand the hysterics over the tweet, so I focused on that for the piece, however, I do plan on writing something about the left’s racism too.

  • Lexi

    I would love to hear a piece chastising the democrats! I’m sick of this being a one-sided debate

    • Aud Lebdjiri

      I agree. I have just as much to say about the Democrats and ahem (!) so-called “progressives.”

  • The GOP is probably dispatching Rand Paul to the Detroit center because his father won the Detroit vote in the 2012 GOP primary. Granted the number of GOP presidential primary voters in Detroit is low, but it’s still worth noting.

    Is Rand Paul the best ambassador from the Republicans to the African American vote? Not by a long shot, but I think it’s better to put someone forward who the feel is appropriate (again, I’m sure the logic was that the elder Paul won Detroit’s primary) instead of rustling up a “token black republican” to come speak.

    When I worked for Global Detroit I did a lot of demographics research on the people in the Detroit area. Your citation about Detroit’s Arabic population is incorrect; while the metro Detroit AREA has the highest concentration of Arabs outside of the middle east (Los Angeles being the area with the most total middle-easterners), most of them do no not live in the city of Detroit: they live in the suburban communities of Hamtramck, Dearborn, and Sterling Heights far away from where this new voter center is.

    Over time, most of the other ethnic groups have left Detroit: it is over 80% African American, does not attract new immigrant groups, and the only way you can win an election in Detroit is to appeal to the AA vote. The voter turnout is also always very low across all groups, so while there are voters of other ethnic groups, the next biggest ones would be white or Mexican, and those voter numbers are so low that the only people who court votes in those communities are city council candidates (who are elected by district) and state legislature candidates: all of whom only do so during the democratic primaries (where voter turnout is even lower). So calling it a “African American Engagement Outreach center” I think makes sense, and it’s also in line with what other organizations in the community call themselves.

    Is this going to get anywhere? Probably not, no. But they have a capable AA activist running the center who is well respected in Detroit’s AA community and if anyone can at least keep the conversation moving, Wayne Bradley will be able to do it. That being said, he’ll probably turn water into wine before he makes a serious dent in that vote. The political culture is a pure nightmare where people get endorsements from “non-profits” in exchange for donations and the church pastors hold the votes of their congregations hostage like its the 1920s.

    As for the ignorant tweet, well, that’s likely what happens when you let interns make social media posts without sending them to an editor first.

    • Aud Lebdjiri

      Okay, while you are correct about Arabic Americans living in the suburbs and not the city of Detroit, that does not mean that the GOP should not reach out to that demographic. Many Arabic Americans work in the city, own businesses there, and are predominantly politically conservative. From my perspective, I think the GOP is missing an opportunity here. As to Rand Paul being sent to Detroit…well, I can understand the strategy, but I think in terms of the change of branding that the GOP is contemplating, the GOP should have thought this through.

  • Noah

    Racism takes many forms these days, but, overall, I intuit that Republicans have been more racist in general, and more explicitly racist, in particular, so a piece of Democratic racism would be less egregious and explicit in terms of the quantity and quality of the remarks than Republicans’.

    We are all familiar with explicit racism. Republicans since Nixon have been using racism and racial bias as wedge tactics to secure the votes of a majority of white voters, through fear and indignation. We see it in play through welfare queens with Reagan, Willie Horton with HW, the return of welfare queens in the 90’s with Gingrich to his recent, oft-parotted impugn against Obama as the “food stamp president.”

    Implicit racism is more slippery. It could be described one way, in the words of George W. Bush, as the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” or, on the other hand, the false belief in a level playing field or tabula rasa at birth indicating equal opportunities in life, with different outcomes explained only by individual effort or merit, rather than structural disparaities. Implicit racism denies the persistence of disparaties and instead uses a rhetoric of equal opportunity and personal responsibility to justify not addressing the inherent consequences of structural racial disparaties. Sound familiar, libertarians?

    If Audree rewrote this article to examine racism within the Democratic party, then she might find some examples of racism. I would expect that she would find fewer examples, particularly of the explicitly racist, and they would be qualitatively less egregious than the racism exhibited by Republicans only in the last five years.

  • Darian Case

    Great article, thanks.