Our lives are built around sending signals to one another and the same is true of animals. When a boy wants the attention of a certain girl, he will first send a signal that he is interested and the same is true of girls wanting the attention of a certain boy. When a baseball coach wants his base runner to take a pitch or steal a base, the coach will send a signal by way of an arm movement to paint a picture to the base runner.
Before the walls of Jim Crow laws of legal ‘Separate but Equal’ was ruled unconstitutional in the United States, I was raised under those societal rules and some Whites were masters at sending signals to their neighbors of how and what they thought of Negroes.
They would only have you come to their backdoor when you came to their house. They would put up two drinking fountains to drink from: one for “Coloreds” and the main one reserved for Whites only. They would forbid colored people from trying on clothes before they bought them for fear Whites would catch something. They would not let Blacks swim in public pools or use the same beaches. Even at drive-in movies, Blacks had to park their cars on the last two rows even if no Whites were at the drive-in. The back of the bus was where we had to sit when riding public transportation and the ultimate signal of what they thought of us was being called boy regardless of one’s age.
We have some people who still believe like United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney did back in 1857 when he ruled that “being of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the White race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the White man was bound to respect”. Now, that is a very powerful picture and signal which some people like Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona still believe.
With that picture in her mind she decided to create a more modern version by pointing her finger in President Barack Obama’s face. What she was saying by doing so was; “I know your mother was White. I know your White grandparents raised you and fought in the war to keep freedom alive in America. I know that you went to our best schools like Harvard and was president of the Harvard Law Review. I know that you were elected to the state legislature of Illinois and into the United States Senate. I know that you ran a very successful campaign and were elected to the highest office in this great country. I know that you were given a country on the brink of financial ruin and saved us. I know you did something President George Bush tried to do but did not and that was getting Osama Bin Laden. I know that you now dine with Kings, Queens, Presidents and other heads of state but to me you are still just a ‘N’ and boy.
We have seen many signals over the past few years. We had a congressman call the president a liar in a joint session of congress during a state of the union message. We see the Tea Party Representatives in congress saying make President Obama a one-term president by any means necessary. We’ve seen the racist caricatures in popular magazines.
It is too bad that some people will not face reality, that we, as a people, will not go away just because they believe we have no rights they have to respect as American citizens, even in the position of President. The picture tells it all.