I did something this morning that needed doing for a long time. As some of you know, I spend my winters in a fancy country club setting in Florida. It is a high security, gate access high-end community consisting of people who obviously have a lot of money and enjoy golf, tennis and other activities conducive to an active life style. I would be remiss if I did not mention that I enjoy my life in this community very much and I feel very fortunate that I am able to do so. One of the major ‘players’ in this community is a man who is the subject of this blog. Let’s call him Bill. Bill is an organizer of sorts. He has carved out one of the days of the week for a large number of the male golfers and takes it upon himself to set up tee times and a game for these golfers whose only responsibility is to let Bill know sufficiently in advance as to whether or not they want to be included in the event in any particular week. Bill collects money from each golfer, collates the various scores and pays out the winnings for those who have done better than the others in that particular week. This is a very nice thing for Bill to do and he does it very well.
Now the downside: The mechanism by which Bill does all of the scheduling is e-mail. In our club, one can sign on to the club web site and make a tee time. On one day of the week, Bill does this for a substantial number of male golfers. Bill, thus, has access to the e-mail addresses of these golfers. In addition to performing his generous activities on behalf of those who participate in the weekly golf event, Bill has chosen to be the purveyor of a particularly wicked array of racist e-mails directed at President Obama and black people in general. He has done this for a long time, but his ardor for the task increased during the presidential campaign and of late. Presumably, the success of Obama in preventing a depression in the American economy followed by his success in obtaining passage of the health care act has triggered an outrage in Bill’s mind that requires him to express his rage in a manner equivalent to the guy I saw on TV news this weekend who spit on a black congressman who was walking past him.
Now what I did: By way of prefatory comments, I tend to be idealistic I guess. When I read the Declaration of Independence where it says that ‘all men are created equal’ I get the chill-bumps. The hairs on my arms stand up, my nerve endings start to tingle, and my eyes start tearing up when I think about the men and women in our country who have died to preserve the sanctity of those words and the nation that emerged based upon that basic principle. I should also mention that I am not Polyanna either. I come from Detroit, the center of many of the racial divides of our great country. I am under no illusions or delusions about some black people who exploit the system for personal gain (just like a lot of white people), nor am I unmindful of the fact that our educational systems in the United States, despite Brown vs. Board of Education in 1953, has failed to serve the black populace miserably in providing quality education to its children. But I do not hate black people. I neither hate individual black people nor do I hate black people in general. Having said all this, I need now to tell you what I did this morning. After reading a particularly vile hate-filled message from Bill I did, quite simply what I should have done a long time ago. I wrote a message to Bill. It said simply, “Bill, please remove me from your e-mail listing.” I gave no reason because it is my firm belief that the reason is obvious. But just in case it is not obvious, let me make it clear. I believe the continued fanning of the flame of racism is anti-American and destructive. In passively acquiescing to the receipt of these e-mails over the past few years so that I could maintain my standings as one of the good guys in this nearly all-white high scale upper end community, I have sold my soul. One is either part of the problem or part of the solution. There is no middle ground here. I choose now to be part of the solution.