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Embrace Discomfort And Honest Dialogue on Race

Georgia Politics is ugly and goes deeper than a single social media post.

Embrace discomfort and honest dialogue in GA primary.

Georgia Democrats need to embrace discomfort and work through tough discussion on race. It is an uncomfortable subject for many, but it is clear that we cannot allow this subject be ignored any longer.

CBS46 recently covered an incident of an inappropriate social media post. While some may agree with the statement, the image used was inappropriate. The story is a part of a larger pattern and practice across media coverage of this race. It is a disservice to voters to run stories full of conjecture and people’s ego-driven rhetoric. Racist undertones exist across the political spectrum. Failure to address the broader issues challenges the concerns raised by CBS46.

We have the opportunity to expand our boundaries and change the way business has been done. But instead, we are wasting time playing in the mud addressing ridiculousness. Many issues with race and racism are ignored in this primary. This is about more than the personal social media post covered by CBS46. A deep reflective conversation needs to happen. Such a discussion must embrace discomfort and discuss persisting issues of race. Otherwise, this is a distraction.

Many offensive posts or those laden with racist language are disregarded or overlooked. Closed and Secret Facebook groups shield the worst of these offenders. Rules prohibit sharing outside of these spaces keep some of the worst from public view. Private listservs also protect those entrusted with providing news and political commentary from scrutiny.

Are we scrolling through and examining posts and threads in online forums such as Nextdoor? Have folks held the Intercept accountable for bias and anti-blackness of its writers? No. It is a pile on fueled by fear of losing and a need to distract from actual issues.

Casual Racism is Wrong Even When it Affects People We Don’t Like 

Criticizing Stacey Abrams doesn’t make one racist. Supporting Evans doesn’t mean anything wrong about anyone either, and the converse is true. However, failing to address casual racism raises a conversation to be had about the treatment of Black women, particularly in political spaces, along with sheltering whiteness and fragile thinking. It is frustrating to see claims of victimization while engaging in problematic behavior. People should not attack Black supporters of Evans for their support. But there is a question of the acceptance of racist behavior toward a Black woman they don’t like.

To be clear calling attention to the problems of privileged white women is not racial, racist, or “playing the race card.” In 2018 we should all know that reverse racism is not a thing.

Evans and her supporters dismiss issues and critiques as “divisive.” It is not divisive to demand a candidate address issues raised that are tone deaf and racist. Evans still has not apologized for her MLK “reflection video.” Instead, she has deflected, made excuses and claimed demands for accountability were “divisive.” Hubris is a downfall for many candidates. Blaming your opponent for mistakes made in your campaign is a sign of insecurity.

Performative outrage is a problem. In this election, people ignore, downplay, or disregard many issues of passive and overt racism. It is frustrating watching people excuse and rationalize attitudes while feeding into racial stereotypes of Black women who are fearless. White women who support Abrams have been accused of helping her because of “white guilt” as if Abrams was not otherwise worthy of support. These women address the issues where they arise and have yet to run to the media. Evans being a nice person doesn’t excuse her, her campaign, surrogates, or supporters from dog whistle politics.

Even the coverage of the two Staceys is a problem. Both are successful attorneys who grew up poor. Evans’ is defined by her impoverished rural upbringing while Abrams is defined in terms that make her seem elite and out of touch. While Evans does have a compelling story, so does Abrams. The coverage and treatment of tennis star Serena Williams read like a case study of bias against Black women in the media.

This goes beyond the Gubernatorial primary. The notion of electability applied in the Secretary of State primary is racist. Individuals will promote former Congressman John Barrow, who can appeal to white moderates and republicans, over his two qualified Black opponents RJ Hadley and Former State Representative Dee Dawkins-Haigler. Consistent advocates like Hadley and Dawkins-Haigler are being passed over for man who not too long ago ran campaign videos touting his guns and NRA support.

These are tough conversations and issues and we must embrace discomfort. A few raised the issue of institutional racism in the wake of Governor Zell Miller’s passing. A reflection and assessment of persisting racial disparity are warranted for moving forward. If we embrace discomfort, we will be in a better place serving the interest of all Georgians. Passive racism within our institutions and media limits the potential for united efforts across the state.

The primary is three weeks away, with early voting underway. Make an informed choice on who is best to lead this state forward; investing in a Georgia for all and not merely benefitting a select few.

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