When the Ku Klux Klan sets a cross on fire, the fact that a few snuff-chewing Caucasian troglodytes have come together to celebrate their low-IQ ideology is as inconsequential as the fact that they are contributing to global warming and deforestation.
It has always been about the hoods.
The idea that the cowardice of teachers, police officers and garden-variety white people is concealed behind urine-stained, low-thread-count sheets is the real problem. That they get to walk around in normal society hiding in plain sight is the scary part. Most people of color would rather see a Nazi in full regalia waving a Confederate flag than a police officer with hate hidden in the cavity behind their badge because that is how institutional racism is the real killer.
Here are four stories that shed light on how institutional bias is embedded in the fabric of America, manifesting itself in unseen ways every day:
When White House chief of staff John Kelly said on Tuesday that the reason for the low number of people who registered for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was “the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses,” media outlets immediately pointed out that his statement was kind of racist in the same way that fire is kind of warm.
In October 2017, after Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), a black woman, called out President Donald Trump on his racist treatment of a war veteran’s wife, Kelly defended his boss by creating a story out of thin air accusing Wilson, a black woman, of basically being too uppity, referring to her as an “empty barrel.” A few days later, Kelly said in an interview that he believed Robert E. Lee, who led a war against his own country to preserve the institution of slavery, was an “honorable man.” Some would say that Kelly fit the description of a Klansman who finally decided to remove his hood.
But here is the thing that no one seems to mention: John Kelly is a longtime, decorated general in the U.S. Marine Corps. Even though his racism is surfacing only recently, it is unlikely that Kelly cultivated his racist beliefs after signing on as the chief of staff for President Trumpty Dumpty.
For his entire professional life, Kelly has been in charge of the careers and lives of thousands of black and brown members of the military. While we know that the only thing wypipo love more than dogs and guitar-based music is “the troops,” it is impossible to now believe that a man who holds prejudice in his heart and mind like a Lynyrd Skynyrd song treated his underlings fairly.
I’m not saying John Kelly definitely took every opportunity to discriminate against the soldiers he was in charge of; I’m just saying that’s what a real racist would do, and Kelly has proved that he is a real racist.
When the forward-thinking Richard Spencer decided to rebrand white supremacy as the “alternative right,” it was a brilliant move. The new name distanced its adherents from the sordid, violent past of their predecessors in an effort to cast themselves as part of a political movement.
But they are still doing the same thing.
A new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center finds that the alt-right is responsible for more than 100 killings or injuries since 2014, including 60 deaths or injuries in 2017 alone. SPLC determined that most of the perpetrators of this violence were young (average age 25) white males.
How are these incidents related to institutional racism?
Well, would you call the Federal Bureau of Investigation an “institution”? Because it issued a warning to law enforcement agencies around the country against the rise of “black identity extremists,” but it doesn’t have a similar designation for white groups.
Institutions like the Department of Homeland Security issue reports about foreign-born terrorists, but the white boys who kill more people get a pass. The executive branch of the U.S. government is an institution whose powers are enshrined in the Constitution. That’s why they can pre-emptively call for a travel ban from Muslim countries instead of slapping a ban on Confederate flags and white boys who wear trench coats.
But those black identity extremists, though.
The New York Times seems to find Nazis fascinating. It recently did a story on Elliott Kline, a rising figure in the white supremacy movement. The story was about how Kline had convinced so many alt-right followers that he was a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he was a sniper who killed “scores of dirty Arabs” (not my words).
It turns out that Kline was ... well ... just a regular old original-recipe white boy who had never been deployed during his stint in the National Guard (I told y’all that wypipo love “the troops”—even Elliott knows). But hidden in the story, glossed over by every outlet that reported the news, was an interesting fact:
Kline’s day job was as a “human resources administrator.” The position is described by Payscale as:
The first point of contact within a company for all HR-related inquiries. Specific tasks include handling employment contracts, recruiting, and setting up interviews for open positions in the company. Additionally, HR administrators oversee other HR personnel.
The Nazi. The fake thug.
When you read reports like this one from the National Bureau of Economic Research, which shows that job applicants with white-sounding names need to send 10 job applications to get a callback, while those with black-sounding names have to send 15 on average to get a response, this is how that happens. The Economic Policy Institute will tell you that blacks are paid less than whites at every level of education, but no one knows exactly why.
Ask Elliott Kline.
You’ve heard of the white-genocide theory (no, that is not wishing you could go back in time and make the Kardashians disappear—that’s “Jenner-cide”). White genocide is the kooky, white supremacist conspiracy theory that because of diversity efforts, immigration and the potency of black sperm, whites will soon be extinct.
To be fair, black people say absurd things, too. We talk with too much hyperbole. We all know Republicans can be “semiracist” (“semi” comes from the Latin word that means “as a motherfucker,” right?). But when we call their immigration efforts an “ethnic cleansing plan” and say it is the Trump administration’s effort to maintain white people’s precipitous grip on their population majority, perhaps we are going too far. There’s no evidence of that.
Well, actually ...
The Washington Post reports that Trump’s immigration plan would delay the date that white people become the minority in the country by as many as five years.
For years the Census Bureau has been saying that people of color will outnumber non-Hispanic whites by 2044. But according to the Post’s analysis, Trump’s proposal could push the date back to as far as 2049.
Couple that with Paul Ryan’s statement Tuesday, which echoes the sentiments of the white genocide theory. When discussing entitlement reform, the fully grown Eddie Munster said, “People ... I did my part, but we need to have higher birth rates in this country.”
Despite their ridiculous hairstyle choices, these men aren’t fringe kooks in some dark corner of the internet talking shit. These are two of the most powerful men in the world. They not only create and pass legislation—Ryan and Trump can also prevent any bill from becoming law.
These stories show the difference between racism and white supremacy. While it might be salacious to talk about hate rallies, Confederate statues or white women screaming the n-word in Starbucks, the real-world application of institutional racism is far more insidious.
There are people who laugh at the discussion of white supremacy like they laugh at people who believe in ghosts. They think we are paranoid. They say we believe it exists even when there is nothing there. But racism is a monster with gnashing teeth lurking in the shadows, harmless and invisible to those who are immune.
Oh, what a privilege it must be to have never seen the ghost.