Arguably more mysterious than the stories of Magical Negroes …
This piece about institutional racism’s unspoken truth came to mind during my most recent digital sabbatical.
Lemme change that: this truth has been on my mind since the day a young White supremacist shot and killed nine Black churchgoers in South Carolina, but the piece I wrote back then didn’t hit truth’s center. An idea for a clearer piece came to mind during my sabbatical.
I still flow in stream-of-consciousness; forgive me.
But now that I returned to keyboard, the only two things that will likely change my mind about how this piece will flow are  I will be more direct but softer with the delivery;  I’m adding the Washington Post’s recent discovery that Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys football team owner, was a “curious” 14-year old who joined a group of teenaged White supremacists to ban six African descendants from attending a school in Little Rock, Arkansas.
(Laughing) But many of you still won’t like what I have to say.
When one of my friends messaged me about the Jones story, I laughed and said “So, the media JUST discovered that he has a problem with race?”
Prey are rarely wrong about their assessment of predators.
But I won’t go there today, I have other pieces you can read for that topic.
How in the hell can anyone, aside from Steve Smith, buy Jones’ reasoning that the future football franchise owner’s 14-year-old White supremacist self attended the school banning out of “curiosity”?
But let’s be generous and say young Jones was genuinely curious about banning Black folks or doing other White supremacist things six-and-a-half decades ago. I still would love to ask him two questions that form my main idea about racism.
One: if Jones thought that any part of the school banning he observed was wrong, why didn’t he walk away, voice a real-time opinion, or try to stop it?
Warning … that was a trick question …
Two: since that day in Little Rock, what was Jones’ social evolutionary path to becoming an anti-racist — a reversal of his 14-year-old
White supremacist curious self? How did the incident affect the other kids who were present?
Jones never — on record and unprompted — addressed those two items.
My first question is one of the reasons bias and institutional racism continue to exist in America: there is a curious shortage of people present to stop racism, or remove racism’s fuel, after observing peers commit racist acts.
Little Jerry Jones wasn’t present to stop anything on that day in Little Rock; Neither were the adults who were present.
Read the WAPO piece. Jones was soooo “curious”, that he beat the small African American delegation’s journey up the school stairs to meet them at the top — again, in the name of being curious about White supremacy.
Children observe and absorb racism all around them at a very young age. And every study I’ve ever seen says that children of color typically encounter racism as victims while White children take on a more privileged lens.
In other words, White children can observe acts of racism committed against people of color — like watching White children banning Black children from entering a school in 1957 — and then become prone to treating the observation like business as usual.
This is a reason why racism never dies: the “good people” who can stop racist acts and set a better example for children seem to disappear at key moments, while children seem to absorb these acts as another day in the racist neighborhood.
But we still fantasize about a Jerry Jones miracle — the ability to grow up with the apparent absence of anti-racist narratives while everyone expects Little Jerry’s social judgment to be free of bias.
Who knows what kind of social programming Jones experienced during his childhood?
If his experience mirrors that of the five-year-old White child who called a family member and me the n-word — and we were the only Black children in the boy’s space — then I would answer “Not encouraging; he probably learned hatred from other adults.”
We already know that White Americans carry more biases and misinformation about Black people than any biases Black Americans have about White people. The whole argument that anti-White discrimination is a trending problem in America has been dunked on by science.
And if someone has been influenced by implicit bias from childhood, how does that person socially cleanse themselves and not allow this bias to command decisions about workers to hire, loans to grant, types of customers to serve, patients to treat, and suspects to arrest?
This embedded bias is why most African descendants will likely become high-salaried NFL laborers, but never NFL coaches or executives.
Y’know, as long as the league has more owners like Jerry Jones.
And this is why Sesame Place employees can’t seem to treat Black babies with the same love offered to White babies.