By Jim Sharpe
Is our hypervigilance against racism leading to a pandemic of pandering? And will Arizona get infected?
I want to root out racism. Not just for the people of color who are in my immediate family – and not just because I spent years living as a minority (a Bilagáana boy on the Navajo Nation). I want racism dead because it is cancer that’s stunting America’s greatest potential.
Lately, I’ve tried to be a bit more open-minded and my mind has been changed about a few ideas I used to push against.
But I’ll always be against the supposedly anti-racist ideas that put people of color in more danger — rather than less. And the ideas that put more people of color in danger — rather than fewer.
One is defunding the police. Are we really going to tell an abuelita who’s desperate to see her neighborhood be a safer place that fewer police will accomplish that?
But I want to bring to your attention a bad policy that is so ridiculously bad that it has to be lumped into what I call a pandemic of pandering: a spreading disease among politicians and corporations that causes them to trip over each other in their attempts to show how unracist they are.
Many of our political leaders and corporations claiming to stand shoulder to shoulder with Black Lives Matter are absolutely sincere about it. But you also have to ask if some of these “Johnny-come-lately’s” aren’t just slapping #BlackLivesMatter on their website to profiteer — or sniffing around for a few more votes.
Then there’s what’s going on in Lincoln County, Oregon: the worst kind of racial pandering —pandering perpetrated by health officials. And it is something we can never let our Arizona leaders consider. At least if we really care about black and brown people.
After announcing that residents in Lincoln County will be required to wear a face-covering in public, those same health officials exempted people of color because of “heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment.“
That’s dumb and dangerous — and not just because it runs completely against the constitutional principle of equal protection under the law.
It’s dumb because, while I suppose a racist idiot might call the cops because they think the new mask of choice of armed robbers is a surgical mask, responding officers will show up knowing that everybody’s in a mask nowadays.
And this mask exemption for people of color is dangerous because communities of color have been hardest hit by coronavirus — which is exactly what a face covering is supposed to stop.
Thousands more black and brown people have been killed by COVID than cops. So what’s the bigger threat? Wearing a mask — or not?
This proposal — produced by a pandemic of political pandering — shows us that some people will go to any length to look like they are winning the race to erase racism. But while they may say, “Black Lives Matter,” we should watch what they do.
And that shows that they don’t mean ALL Black Lives Matter.