My recent journey through the southern states in our RV was an eye opening experience. Nightly we were seeking a place to park the RV that afforded some semblance of safety, quiet and nearby facilities.
These searches lead me to speak to individuals that worked in the areas where we wanted to park. Over the course of the week I spoke to a Wal-Mart security person, a rest stop employee and a local gas station clerk.
While I was greeted warmly, each of them cautioned me that the area was “on the dark side of town’. In my innocence, the first such statement was taken as referring to the lack of light in the area. Innocence, however, is the bastion of the privileged.
It took me awhile to realize the insidious nature of these comments. What these locals were doing is substituting a more palpable term for the now unacceptable word “nigger”. The thing is that the new term carries all the same old hate, discrimination and othering as its’ predecessor did.
I am disgusted, offended and outraged that such intent is laced into language in 2013. Maybe, in my privilege, I am becoming aware of this manifestation of hate later than most, my late arrival, however makes it no less distasteful.
It is incumbent on all of us to confront such language. The re packaging of racism, with words that are designed to smooth over the reality of hate, bigotry and ignorance is a threat to all that our country has accomplished.
Needless to say, there are now at least two individuals who took the brunt of my fury over the use of such language. I could not let the language or its’ intent stand with out a direct confrontation. Even more insidious is the urge that I suppressed to “let is pass”, obtain the information I needed and move along. I am glad that I did not pay attention to these urges: just the thought process was alarming for me and reminded me that all that is needed for racism to flourish is for good people to say nothing.
Yes, the word “Dark” is the new nigger, and I am committed to confronting such speech at every opportunity.