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Christian Finnegan

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An Open Letter to Black America

Posted: 01/17/12 04:54 PM ET

So yesterday was Martin Luther King Day and now that we White Folks are done patting ourselves on the back for our enlightened views on Race, I'd like to take a moment to cop to the hypocrisy of it all. I'm 38 years-old and never in my life have I felt the undercurrent of palpable racial hostility as has existed since the election of Barack Obama. Every young-ish white person knows what I'm talking about -- we feel it in the air when we talk to our relatives at Thanksgiving, we read it in between the lines when we sign on to Facebook.

Now there are plenty of people out there who would prefer a different set of governmental priorities. They disagree with Democrats and Obama is a Democrat, simple as that. I'm not talking about those people. And I'm not talking about the extreme fringes of White America -- the overt racists, the Confederate flag wavers, the you-ain't-from-around-here-boy types. I'm talking about suburban, semi-rational white people approaching their golden years -- let's call them the Aby-Bay Oomers-Bay. Now I'm not saying that these people hate you. In fact, I'm sure you'd find most of them rather pleasant on a conversational basis. They're not bad people. They're simply not used to the idea of working for a black guy.

Keep in mind, these people get absolutely furious when you call them racists. Because in the classic 20th century sense of the word, they're not. They know what "real" racists look like. They grew up around them -- hell, they were quite possibly raised by them. But in defiance of their bigoted parents and neighbors, they stood up for equality. They cheered when schools were integrated and they cried when MLK was shot. They rejected the Natural Order of Things and are rightfully proud for having done so. Nowadays, they comfortably eat at the same restaurants as black people, live in the same area codes and work for the same companies. They have black friends. No, not "I have lots of black friends" friends. Actual friends! Who happen to be black! If that's not the fulfillment of Dr. King's dream, what is?

And yet, if you're a standard-issue Aging White Person, there's something about this Obama guy that gets under your skin. The broad smile, the ostentatious intelligence. The casual aloofness of his demeanor, as if Obama feels it's perfectly natural that he should be Leader of the Free World. Equality is one thing, but this Obama guy seems to believe he's better than you. He thinks you're stupid. He thinks you're fat and old and that you cling to guns and religion. It's not that Obama is black. It's that he has the utter nerve to be a black snob.

Can you imagine!

Remember, this is a generation that has no experience with being condescended to by black people. Throughout their lives, their only direct experience with Black America has come in two forms: deference and hostility. A black person is either the nice lady who works at your dentist's office or the angry rapper shouting through the television. But Obama is something they simply can't process. This blithe know-it-all waltzes in and casually strolls around the imperial palace? As if owns the place?? For the Aging White Person, that's discordant on a cellular level. How come Obama isn't constantly thanking us for allowing him to pretend to be in charge?

Keep in mind, our standard-issue Aging White Person is ashamed of these feelings, because he's not a racist. But that just makes him hate Obama even more. He hates Obama for transforming him into something he's spent his life happily convinced he was not: a bigot. And that anger will never go away, not until the self-appointed Chosen One is defeated and the new Natural Order of Things is restored. But let's be honest: it's not enough that Obama is simply removed from office, is it? No, he needs to be bloodied and humiliated. Publicly. When hardcore Conservatives refer to the President as "The Obamination," it's not just a silly a play on words. In their eyes, Barack Hussein Obama is an unholy mutation that must be de-legitimized and obliterated. And when that moment of obliteration comes? Ohhhhh, the mere thought of it is boner-inducing for Conservatives. It would be, to use the president's words, a "teaching moment."

That's why, for a week or two, Conservatives felt no shame in supporting a wanna-be Bond villain like Newt Gingrich, despite the fact that he represents everything the Tea Party claims to oppose. They're not nominating a president. They're nominating an Obama Slayer. It was only once we were reminded that Newt Gingrich is a national embarrassment who would lose in a landslide to end all landslides that Conservative voters suddenly remembered those pesky little "policy differences." So now they're stuck with Mitt Romney and they're pissed about it because they're worried he's not going to humiliate Obama to their liking. And they're right -- Mitt Romney is too bloodless to have blood lust. Oh sure, he'll say that Obama is a ruthless Communist who wants to destroy our very way of life, but he won't mean it. But at the end of the day, as long as Smarty McBlackguy gets his comeuppance, they're more than willing to hand the country over to an unprincipled ethical vacuum.

Black America, I can't tell you not to be disgusted and enraged by this state of affairs. It is disgusting and it is enraging. All I can do is assure you that these people I'm talking about -- the ones who hate Barack Obama for reasons that defy logic, patriotism and economic self-interest? They'll all be dead soon.

And in their place? White adults who have a wealth of experience being bossed around and condescended to by black people. Men who once had a black 5th grade math teacher. Women who once handed in summer job applications to a black Forever 21 manager. And these black authority figures weren't saints -- they were probably petty and vindictive dicks, as most authority figures are. But that's as it should be. Everyone resents his or her boss. But by 2030, it won't be a racial thing. The Aging White Person of the future won't be mortally threatened by being talked down to by a Black Guy because it will have never occurred to him that there's anything out of the ordinary about it.

Admittedly, that's probably not what Martin Luther King had in mind. But it's kinda like progress, right?