I read this story in my local newspaper today.
It is a frightening and sad story. After witnessing the last few months of the presidential campaign and the boldness of blatant racism people were willing to express in public – at campaign rallies, on college campuses… everywhere.
What is equally frightening is the way in which some voices continue to insist we are living in a post-racial society… that there is no racism any longer now that a man of color has ascended to the highest office in the land. One of the ways this messages gets perpetuated is to brush off incidents like the murder of this woman as an act that was committed by a bunch of ignorant kooks – no reason to worry. Check out this quote from the article, attributed to the parish sheriff, Jack Strain:
“The IQ level of this group is not impressive, to be kind,” Strain said, adding, “I can’t imagine anyone feeling endangered or at risk by any one of these kooks.”
He can’t imagine anyone feeling “endangered or at risk.” But – ok, a woman was murdered because she was trying to get away from them. We don’t know the whole story because she is not here to tell us. Her identity has not been released, but she was a living, breathing human being whose life was taken away. She probably would not have been my friend. She went from her home in Oklahoma, presumably to take part in the initiation ritual. But at some point she changed her mind and asked to be taken back to town. Instead, she was killed. That seems pretty endangering and at risk to me. I really don’t care about the level of their IQ’s.
And I do care about how this society continues to talk out of both sides of its mouth where racism is concerned. I recognize that for my daily walking around life, the fact of institutional racism is a more present danger to me. Yet, to ignore or dismiss blatant violent racist acts as the work of a few ignorant goons who are not really dangerous continues to teach the false lesson that racism doesn’t really exist.