The Parable of the Non-Racist Klansman

Kelisa Wing, former Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), was reassigned after a flap ensued concerning this Tweet she made prior to her assuming that position:

So exhausted at the White folx in these PD sessions. This lady actually had the CAUdacity to say Black people can be racist, too. I had to stop the session and give the Karen the BUSINESS . . . We are not the majority. We don’t have power.

She falls back on the old canard that black people can’t be racist because they are not the majority and don’t have the power the majority wields.

In another flap, Kesha Hamilton, a school board member in Jackson, Michigan, got herself into hot water over this Tweet she made in response to a man who mentioned that he was hiking along a wilderness trail:

The last thing you have to worry about is an animal – though that could be a very real threat.. more dangerous are any white folks you may see on the trail.. be safe!

And what about Darrin Johnson, convicted of a hate crime for assaulting and threatening to kill a college student for no other reason than his being Asian? How can a black man convicted of a hate crime based on the victim’s race not be a racist?

I believe everyone would agree that members of the Ku Klux Klan are racists par excellence. What follows is a little story about a Klansman who wanted to go big game hunting in Africa quite a few decades ago before smart phones and GPS had been invented. He takes a steamship across the Atlantic to the African coast, makes a long trek inland by motorcar, and arrives at a landing strip where a bush pilot is going to fly him out to the safari base camp. During the flight, they are overtaken by a particularly violent thunderstorm and blown way off course; the plane crashes, the pilot is killed, and the plane’s two-way radio is destroyed. The Klansman manages to crawl out of the wreckage with a broken leg.

African natives find him, put splints on his broken leg, and carry him back to their village to recuperate. He may be in uncharted territory; it might take weeks or even months before a party from the outside is able to find him and get him back to modern civilization. In this territory, he is the minority and wields no power; he is completely beholden to the natives for his continued well-being. So does he now magically stop being a racist? Does the racism seep back in on his return voyage to the States when the steamship enters US waters?

Racism isn’t a matter of being in the majority or in the minority; it is a matter of negatively prejudging people based on their race instead of evaluating them on their individual merits or lack thereof. Kelisa Wing, Kesha Hamilton, and Darrin Johnson are every bit as racist as our eponymous Klansman.

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