If something undesirable happens to an African American, the culture is pushing the norm that the misfortune ought to be presumed to be the result of racism until decisively proven otherwise. Similarly, if a white individual is responsible for a black citizen’s plight, deserved or not, the white individual’s motivations are also presumed to be based on racial animus.
Both presumptions are nothing less than sanctified bias and prejudice, as much so as racism itself.
A case study from Washington, D.C.:
About a hundred seventh and eighth-grade students from Shelton Intermediate School in Shelton, Connecticut were visiting the nation’s Capital last week. The group was supervised by twelve chaperones, and the itinerary included the usual museums, monuments and landmarks, including the newest attraction, the Smithsonian’s African American Museum.
While touring the museum, a male student leaned over a balcony and drooled or spit down on the visitors below. His saliva struck one of them, and the victim was black. As a result of the incident, the entire group was ejected from the museum.
Now the incident is being exploited by the NAACP as a overt racist act. Greg Johnson, president of the Ansonia Valley NAACP, said the location of the incident alone is evidence that the incident was not a neutral act of childish behavior, but racism.
“He didn’t spit on anyone at the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial,” Johnson said in an interview yesterday. “[It was] a total and complete lack of respect and one of the most degrading acts one can commit against another. It’s an embarrassment not only to Shelton, but to Connecticut,” Johnson said.
Boys have been spitting over balconies down onto unsuspecting bystanders as long as there have been balconies. I’ve been hit on the head by such ambush loogees, both as a kid and an adult. I’ve seen boys do it. I’ve known boys who did it (and who are now respected members of society. I bet even black kids do it.
Yes, it’s an asshole thing to do, which is essentially the point. In addition to seldom involving personal animus, the fact is that such spit-bombs don’t have guidance systems. Usually the spittee has only a general idea whom or what his spit will land on.
Johnson’s effort to turn routine childish horseplay into a racial cause is transparent demagoguery and race-baiting. How does he know the boy didn’t spit on anyone at the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial, or engage in some other disrespectful behavior? He doesn’t. As I read Johnson’s remarks, he seems to be saying that any inappropriate behavior in the African American Museum is evidence of racism.
If the kid spit over a balcony at the Air and Space Museum, I guess that would prove he was a Luddite.
“The incident at the African American Museum involved a student spitting over a balcony,” Dina Marks, the school’s principal, tweeted. “It allegedly hit a visitor, a person of color. It was an act of stupidity, disinterest, & immaturity, completely inappropriate, but I believe, not racially motivated against that person.”
Well, of course. But the theory Marks is trying to rebut holds that if the student’s spit hit a white visitor, then it was just an act of stupidity, but if it hit a black one, it must have been motivated by racism. Presumably if the white visitor struck by drool were gay, or transgender, then anti-LGBTQ bigotry inspired the episode. We’re talking hate-spit here.
I wonder: if the students were touring Harvard, and one spit over a balcony and hit an Asian-American…never mind, I don’t have the energy to think about it.
- The museum over-reacted by kicking a hundred students out because of one student’s act.
- Johnson and the local NAACP chapter are choosing to stigmatize and exploit a child for cheap political capital. Shame on them.
- The boy who caused all this should be punished, but the severity of the punishment should not be based on the ridiculously excessive and hysterical aftermath.
- The presumption of racism is divisive, destructive, cynical, and wrong.