Everyone wanted to talk about racism and tokenism during the Tea Parties. Everyone also seemed to overlook progress in the midst of protests last week.
It seemed like every time one turned around, there was a story, a quote, or a mention of Tea Party racism coming from the media or from water cooler conversations around the country.
Of course, the evidence for this racism came from both rumored events (e.g., chants of the “n” word in Washington, DC at a Black congressman) to tangible evidence (e.g., racist signs depicting President Obama) from a minority of those attending (but perhaps not strongly affiliated with) tea party events.
All of those catcalls came to mind when I looked at the above picture, just as it struck me in a funny and proud way:
This photo was taken in southwest Georgia.
And yes, I know that most people will see nothing but a sea full of older, White Americans from Georgia listening to one young Black man talk about the direction of the nation. And yes, they would say that this picture epitomizes why the tea party is nothing but full of White racists.
They would say – there is nothing but White Georgians in the audience, after all.
And I would reply: that’s my point.
From there, I would ask:
Would a movement full of White racists really have the patience to sit there and listen to a Black man speak on the need to protest with honor and decorum?
Would they sit there and applaud while that young Black man denounced racism and hatred in all forms if they were racists?
Would they feel exonerated that someone would actually recognized that their light skin does not condemn them as racists, especially once learning that some of their names display the diversity of their kindred (e.g., Mary Ann Panther-Eyes or Anna Issabelli)?
No. No. And no, and again: that’s my point.
I had to keep looking at the picture. At fairgrounds such as this one 50 years ago, there probably would not have been one African-American allowed on the premises, let alone allowed to speak or participate at any significant length. Yet, there in the picture, there is a young Black man, talking about equality and bringing racial diversity and healing to the forefront while protesting government expansion – and hundreds of tea partiers agree. He is there talking about a “new partnership between young and old, Black and White, rich and poor” – and they concur. He talks about all sorts of Americans – Black, White, Asian, and others – dying equally for this country so that we can enjoy freedom, notions supported by the cheers of the crowd.
And in a state where their native son once t