Thursday, August 13, 2009

RESIDUAL RACISM

What is this beast that long lurks beneath the surface, but erupts with pathetic vitriol

What is this beast that lurks beneath the surface
so long bridled, seemingly dormant, even dead
that breaks the fa├žade of apparent inclusivity
spewing venomous vitriol in fits of pathetic
racial rage?

What feeds this thing during years of guarded restraint
keeping it subdued, at bay, and yet ever alive
until mild provocation shatters political correctness
and the charade ends in a revelation of sheer
bigotry?

Is it birthed by early familial murmurings
implanted in impressionable minds by
loved ones who fail to confront their own
hatred of what they fear and so carelessly
inflict blame?

Is it nurtured by nursing perceived sleights
encountered in the schoolroom and playground
each conflict and every word reinforcing
an irrational calculation justified by
each new hurt?

Is it fed by the observation of unaddressed injustices
ignored by leaders, minimized by influence groups,
cynically renamed and recast as inconsequential
to a public too satiated by technology and toys to
second guess?

Is it fueled by unspoken allegiances, winks and nods--
the stuff of fraternal bonding and back-watching
that is etched unquestioningly into the social psyche
as necessary and acceptable norms for getting along
in one’s herd?

Is it given wings by ideologies that define civility
by drawing narrow circles and daring those on the margins
to get up to speed, measure up, perform to the standard
that the self-protecting privileged could never fulfill
on their own?

It is driven deep into some supra-social DNA
by resentments, pride, unsettled scores, and revenge
that build layer upon layer, generation upon generation
until one’s identity as race or class or caste or ethnicity are
ultimate?

Wherever it comes from, whatever its sources
let each and all of us attend to this residual parasite
that leeches our very hope for finding common ground
and knowing ourselves—and the other—as capable of being
peaceable.