I’m going to tell just one little story that happened last year, of dozens I could tell from my personal experience, that reveal just a little of who keeps stirring race up and how race keeps getting stirred up. This is a true story:
A Christian woman I know very well had a house for rent next door to her own home, so she put up a sign. A black woman with a small child knocked on her front door and asked if she could apply to rent the house. The Christian woman told her that it had already been rented, the young woman said, “thank you,” and walked away. The owner came back in and said, “I don’t ever rent to blacks or Mexicans. I don’t trust them.”
The Christian woman who owned the rent house, whom I know very well, dealt that young black woman a race card. The ~owner~ played the race card in this transaction. So now the young black woman, unfortunately and through no fault of her own, can’t rent the home and of course wonders if the house is really rented. This happens repeatedly, even though it is illegal (thankfully), and in my experience it is common knowledge in African-American, Latino, and other minority communities. It is also common knowledge among those who rent homes; at least it was in Texas where I often heard it from landlords (and realtors) who didn’t know me very well.
So I cordially ask, as a male of European descent, where are all those thousands of race cards coming from? Who dealt the race cards in the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s when only land owning white males could vote and pass on inheritance? Who dealt the race cards in the 1900s when the KKK lynched African-Americans by the hundreds and it took colossal efforts just to pass voting rights acts and try to limit and end discrimination in housing and employment? Millions of race cards have been dealt by those of us who were experts in making and printing them – white people have been in power in this country for centuries and we have manufactured race cards by the millions. The race card game is ~our~ game.
Then, when a person of color dares to suggest that perhaps they were discriminated against because of race I hear of chorus of white people saying, “How dare they play a race card!” Well, sisters and brothers, they have stacks and stacks and stacks of them that they’ve been given. They just store most of them in the closets, garages, and attics of their souls and we white folks never hear a word about them. But every once in a while the wrong colored hand puts the card on the table and it makes those of us who thought we had a monopoly on the cards, a corner on the market, squirm with discomfort.
It is possible that a person of color might think they’re discriminated against when they aren’t – this just seems to be an obvious possibility to the non-Anglo friends that I’ve talked to – but that’s another deeply destructive aspect of the race card game where so many white folks have handed out so many race cards over the years. How is that young black woman to know whether she really got a race card handed to her from that landlord or whether she’s being overly skeptical? If she thought, “I’m just too skeptical,” she was wrong.