In one of her three great books—I can’t remember which because I read her complete works back-to-back-to-back—Gayl Jones has a mock dialogue which I’ll paraphrase like so:
White Person: Why aren’t there more great Black scientists?
Black Person: All our best minds are tackling the “race problem”.
I was reminded of this again yesterday after reading an online newspaper article that had nothing to do with race.
As usual, I panned down to the comments and saw that someone named Madeline1 must have written something along the lines of “all Black people are on welfare” because several of the next posts, presumably all from Black people, were dedicated to refuting this claim.
While reading eloquently written personal histories that included how individuals were raised, which fine universities they attended and where they currently earned top dollar as valued employees, I couldn’t wondering why any of these amazing folks even bothered.
They weren’t going to change Madeline1’s opinion. She had written what she believed.
The fact that she is dumb enough to believe this—despite, I’m sure, going outside, getting on a bus driven by a Black bus driver, buying coffee from a Black barista at a coffee house and going to her own job where she sits maybe one cubicle away from a Black fellow employee—is the burden of her own stupidity.
Racists aren’t only idiots, they’re also hypocrites.
We hear racists claim to hate Black people because we’re “like animals” from the same people that hate Michael Vick because he killed dogs.
Yet, unlike, say, some fool barking at the moon, whom we all seem to know well enough to avoid, whenever most of us encounter a racist, we’re consumed with the overwhelming desire to change his or her mind.
This wastes time.
Still, while I would love to be able to suggest that it would be better to just say “Yeah! Sure!” and agree to any absurd racist thing you heard or overheard just in the interest of brevity, if we were crazy enough to keep agreeing with racists, eventually the call would sound for us all to be rounded up and killed.
And we couldn’t agree with that.
So still, despite the fact that it takes our time and it wastes our time we must remain forever vigilant at the sound of ideas that could potentially be harmful to us.