Finding Racism Everywhere Is Not Helping Anyone
The social media warriors lit their e-torches and clicked up their pitchforks as they virally marched last week for the annihilation of a white supremacist. Just one little problem — the guy wasn’t one.
Kelly Donahue had just won his third Jeopardy match and held up three fingers on his chest. He’d also held up one finger then two for those wins respectively…but who cares about facts? Let’s get him!
In a Facebook post, Kelly initially explained:
“That’s a 3. No more. No less”
But that explanation wasn’t good enough for the offenda-mob. The national news media picked up on the story and milked it for the profitable harvest that sowing division always reaps.
Kelly Donohue responded with a public statement on Facebook unequivocally condemning “white supremacy and racism of any kind.”
“I absolutely, unequivocally condemn white supremacy and racism of any kind. People who know me personally know that I am not a racist, but for the public at large it bears repeating: I am not a racist and I reject and condemn white supremacy and all forms of bigotry for the evil they are.”
Good enough, right? Sadly, no. There’s hay to be made. But by who?
Hundreds of former Jeopardy contestants signed a letter literally overnight and published it right here on Medium in response to the situation, part of which read:
“He held his thumb and forefinger together with his other three fingers extended and palm facing inward, and he tapped his chest. This, whether intentional or not, resembled very closely a gesture that has been co-opted by white power groups, alt-right groups, and an anti-government group that calls itself the Three Percenters.”
For a quick primer on the offensive OK sign in question, members of 4chan started the “OK sign is racist” movement simply to troll white “allies” who are perpetually offended on behalf of black people…it started as a joke. White supremacist groups rolled with it though and adopted the sign for themselves to signify white power. The “W” in three fingers for White and the “P” formed by the connected thumb and index finger for Power.
So now that the gesture really is theirs because they say it is (that’s all you have to do), it was officially designated a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League in 2019.
OK. Oops. I mean, fine.
Something else is going on here though. Something troll-ey. The perpetually over-offended ‘find racism in every corner’ mentality is hurting real race issues. Actual racists may be egging on this rent-offense movement because destroying someone who isn’t racist does only one thing…it helps racists.
How in the hell did they get 200 signatures in less than 24 hours to post this on Medium, for example. I mean that’s either 200 supposedly smart people who don’t need to think before they sign their name to something… or a trolling hoax. The thing is, even if this isn’t legit, it doesn’t matter. The news media has picked it up.
Even if the Medium article wasn’t true, it is now perceived as truth — and perception of truth equals truth as far as forming opinions is concerned.
Either a racist or an agitator wrote that article…or a “performative ally.” Probably the latter, but not sure. No matter who they are, they aren’t helping.
Destroying someone who isn’t racist does only one thing…it helps racists.
This is all reminiscent of the Jussie Smollett case, also a story that helped real racists and hurt real race issues. No one, except the see-racism-anywhere crowd, actually believed white dudes would be roaming downtown Chicago with a noose saying “this is MAGA country.” That’s like a gay guy screaming “Iran is gay country!” in Tehran as he smacks a cleric’s butt with a pom-pom. It just isn’t in the realm of reality for a person who’s thinking isn’t clouded by fear-laced gullibility.
When this “ally outrage” happens, it takes the great strides made in race relations by black people backward by a huge leap. It makes the average white person who is listening about what they can do to help wonder why the hell they are still listening.
Here’s what the average white person who doesn’t actually live with racism thinks when they hear about the social destruction of an innocent person based on a lie about a hand gesture:
“So if they are completely making this up and destroying this guy’s life for a stupid #3 sign, then are they making other things up?”
“If this is worth getting righteously outraged about, is there any actual injustice left out there, or are some people just in the straw-grasping phase of a problem that doesn’t really exist anymore?”
But worse than these questions that lead to wrong answers is that it gives real racist people ammunition to delegitimize real race issues.
This firestorm of offense-on-demand at illegitimate lies plays into a racist’s hands and legitimizes their delegitimization of real race issues.
Well-meaning, scared to think for themselves people (if this Jeopardy letter is real), or trolls (if it isn’t) are doing more damage to black people and race relations than actual racists can do sometimes — A racist couldn’t have hoped for a better teammate than an outrage-on-demand white “performative ally.”
We all need to stop giving racists what they want by taking this race-bait hook, line, and sinker — finding racism where it simply doesn’t exist.
When we are auto-offended and ready to destroy someone at the drop of any lie that comes along, real racists rejoice.
And I can’t think of many things more racist than doing things racists love.
We just need to stop and think before we destroy someone.
Stop. Think hard.
Think hard before you choose to e-destroy someone with a share-torch or a click-fork.
Anything short of that makes you just as guilty as any racist out there.