It is a sad spectacle to witness a nation engaged in the exercise of assessing the events in Atlanta, GA as racist or not. His veracity is being taken seriously though he sought out buildings that literally had the word “Asian” in their signage. He took his gun out and aimed it at Asian people and killed Asian women. The shooter would have us to believe that he was driven to his acts because of his own sexual fear of these women, again Asian women.
The poet, Julia Dinsmore, wrote on her Facebook page, “Friendly reminder that race fetishism is racism.” Fact: when you commit violence against Asian women because of your fear created by your fantasy of these women’s power to hurt people by drawing them into sexual harm, it is both misogynistic and racist.
That is how racism works. Rarely do people who act in racist and even sexist ways identify their motives with simplicity. Rather there is always something about the other that made them act with violence or cruelty. They engage in the morally justifying mechanism of “what absolutism”, “the evil of cancel culture”, “I am not that kind of person”, or other equally dubious justifications to dodge their responsibility for their own actions. Too often these distracting practices have worked to discourage people from truthfully naming their actions.
The truth matters. We cannot fight that which we will not name. We cannot change that which we will not confront. If we cannot say simply that racist acts are bad acts, as determined by outcomes and not intent, we will never possess the framework to express moral outrage and the civil, political, and social will to do better.
Worse, when we cannot name the unfair and deadly acts of racism, we implicitly agree with blaming the victims. When we refuse to name the killing of Asian women in Atlanta, we are inheritably agreeing with a killer that the very existence of these women is dangerous.
We refuse to say that racism is fueling the rising tide of Black transgender murder we are inherently saying that these women’s body deserve to be erased. When we say that racism is not a part of policing, we implicitly agree that Black people are just more inherently prone to criminality.
This denial and refusal are how we have come to this divided culture. It is the function of racism to blame and separate people into categories of deserving and underserving , even unto life and death. We must not be silent or complicit. We must be truthful. Racism is the coward’s creation. Publicly, we must confront and name it so that we can do the work to change it.
Rev. Floyd Thompkins
Pastor Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church Marin City
CEO Justice and Peace Foundation