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Racism Is Not Just Name-Calling: Policies Speak Louder Than Words

I was recently listening to a conservative radio talk show host the other day when, as a rare occurrence, I heard someone on his program acknowledge a “hateful,” racist incident that had occurred in Houston. “THAT is hate,” Glenn Beck admitted, while simultaneously dismissing all of the other concerns that minorities have raised over the past decades.

In the world of conservative talk radio, most allegations of racism or racial bias are dismissed as exaggerations or as a way for a special interest group to gain some sort of political power by inventing something that did not really happen. So when an incident was labeled as hateful and was actually acknowledged it piqued my interest.

Beck was referring to an incident that had happened on the ten year anniversary of September 11, right here in Houston, Texas. According to his commentary, an employee at a sandwich shop drew pictures of the World Trade Center attack on a to-go box and handed it to a Muslim patron, saying, “Happy 9-11. Allahu Akbar,” a phrase meaning God is Greatest, and also a phrase co-opted by terrorists.

This admission on the part of Glenn Beck was eye-opening for me. I had tended to believe that these conservatives continuously denied the existence of racism because it was in their own interest. Instead, it appears that they really believe that racism only comes in the form of open name-calling.

This perspective is fully lacking in the understanding of institutionalized racism, and the racism that simply is kept under the covers. It appears that from Beck’s perspective, if someone does not directly use a racial slur, it really just does not count.

In an upcoming campaign, Houston United, a local coalition of different organizations, is working to shed light on the true nature of racial profiling. The group shares this example:

“Carlos has been a businessman, a church deacon and a responsible head of household for this family. He had been in the United States for over 10 years. Three weeks ago, Carlos changed lanes without putting on his blinker. He got stopped by a police officer in the Memorial area of Houston. Carlos was arrested for not having a valid Texas Drivers License since the State of Texas prohibits this type of license for undocumented immigrants. Carlos was then turned over to ICE authorities; he awaits deportation. In the meantime, his family has suffered an immense emotional and economic blow and his church is horrified that one of its most active members is now in a federal immigration detention facility.”
Incidents like these are now common-place, with Latinos continually feeling over-policed with respect to traffic and under-protected with respect to real crimes.
There is a real perception that law-enforcement openly targets Latinos for traffic violations, since they seem to have the attitude that they could also increase the deportation numbers. Undocumented, documented and native-born Latinos are all feeling the effects of Sheriff Garcia’s decision to support Secure Communities (and yes he volunteered for 287-g before Secure Communities was apparently mandatory).
These effects do not even consider the cause for the massive amounts of immigration to the United States. Anytime a country exploits another country by only exploiting cheap labor and refuses to invest anything which could spur development in that country, it is an act of organized racism called imperialism.
As far as we know, neither those maquiladora owners nor those law enforcement officers have openly used racial epithets (at least recently). Even so, these policies have a far more profound effect on our everyday lives than a guy in a sandwich shop calling us names.
We do not need conservatives to acknowledge these other forms of racism. They never have, but when people in and from our own community, like Sherriff Garcia, refuse to acknowledge the truth about racist policies, and when certain supposed civil rights groups and the Democratic Party continue to support him, regardless of these policies, then we know that our community is in real trouble if we do not look for alternatives.

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