When Exactly Did America Stop Being Racist?
By refusing to cop to ingrained oppression in the U.S., political leaders are living in denial
Many Americans have been mulling over Republican of South Carolina, Senator Tim Scott’s wildly fantastic rebuttal to President Biden’s address to Congress earlier this week.
These remarks, delivered Wednesday night, found Scott offering jaw-dropping observations about the Republican party that the last four years of American life have proven patently false: that the GOP had a Covid-19 relief plan; that GOP changes to Georgia voting laws will somehow make it easier for more people to vote; that the GOP opposes Supreme Court-packing. It was a fun house mirror of appraisals.
Being a Black person in America, there was one line from the bizarre oration that stuck out. “Hear me clearly,” Scott said, “America is not a racist country.” Mind you, this is after Scott recounted a litany of racist acts that he’s experienced over the course of his life, presumably to show that he understands what racism is.
If Scott were the only high-ranking politician to make such a claim, I wouldn’t care. There’s nothing that Scott can say on the matter of racism that would surprise me, given his voting record and who writes his scripts. But when Vice President Kamala Harris responded to Scott’s claim (“I don’t think America is a racist country but we also do have to speak truth about the history of racism in our country and its existence today”), I took note. Not because I agree, but because she and Scott actually agree on something.
President Biden offered his two cents on the matter, as well: “I don’t think America is racist, but I think the overhang from all of the Jim Crow and before that, slavery, have had a cost and we have to deal with it.”
What’s confounding about their collective conclusion is that they don’t deny that racism exists so much as it isn’t nearly as broad or ingrained as to be considered a way of life. Scott doesn’t provide any evidence that this is true (and, in fact, provides evidence that it isn’t), but Harris, at least, references…