Behind Bars

Racism (Without Racists)

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

A United States federal judge, one of the most respected and powerful actors in the Nation’s entire judicial system, sends a joke to a close circle of friends. So far, so good. But the joke is a racist insult against both the sitting U.S. President and his mother. The word gets out, and the judge promptly apologizes, and insists he isn’t a racist. Of course he isn’t. A judge, someone sworn to protect the legal, civil and constitutional rights of all American citizens, privately shares racist jokes about the President of the United States: but he’s not a racist. Indeed, if the media is any measure, the only people portrayed as racists these days are Black people: like Minister Louis Farrakhan or the late Dr. Khalid Abdul Muhammad. A few years ago, I saw a man standing in a Ku Klux Klan robe; announce on a nationally televised talk show that he wasn’t a racist. When no one is racist, then racism becomes invisible. It becomes the province of “hyper-sensitive” Blacks, who are called racist when they point out racism. And, meanwhile, beyond symbol, lies a reality as bitter and as repressive as ever before—for millions. Question: What do you call a judge who makes racist statements? Answer: “Your Honor.”, March 4, 2012