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I Love Black People, Said the Local White Man

i'm not racist

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Several years ago, I followed a discussion among rural northwest Ohio white people about racism. The discussion was quite entertaining. None of them admitted to being racist, and many of them felt that, whatever racism there may have been in the past, it no longer exists (or it is just the product of a few racist outliers).

One man, wanting to show how proud he was not to be a racist, informed everyone that he lived near some black people and they had a really nice house and yard!

As I said, there is no racism around here.

And there’s not, if you think racism=KKK (though the recent rise of local white supremacists groups is starting to change my thinking on this).

What we do have is a latent, subtle racism that shows up in comments like the one I just mentioned. He was surprised that the blacks who lived near him had a nice house and yard. Why? Are blacks somehow predisposed to having trashy houses and yards?

Using this kind of logic, I could make the same statement about white people. Near my ex-daughter-in-law’s home in Defiance, there are four or so homes that WHITE people have thoroughly trashed. All of the houses are rentals, owned by white slum lords who rent to people who don’t care about where they live.

So, what’s up with these white people?

Or, we can stop thinking like this, and realize that some “red, brown, yellow, black, and white, they are precious in his sight” people are pigs (shameless use of Jesus Loves the Little Children). Some landlords are slum lords who don’t care about their communities. Their only objective is to maximize their profits and hope the house burns down in a few years.

I know a good bit about poverty, When I lived with my mom in the 1970s, we were on food stamps and AFDC. I know the shame that comes from using food stamps at the local grocery, or having to get welfare eyeglasses. But, despite the poverty, my Mom kept a clean home — too cluttered for her son with OCPD, but clean, nonetheless. We took care of what little stuff we owned.

These life lessons my Mom taught me, Polly and I taught to our children:

  • There is no shame in being poor
  • Work hard
  • Take care of what you own
  • Keep your bedroom/car/house/yard clean

Just because you are poor doesn’t mean you have to make your surroundings look like the county landfill. Taking care of what’s yours and showing respect for the property of others are issues of character, not of race.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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10 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Ami

    There are a TON of those things… CHARACTER issues… not race.
    Unfortunately, there are lots of people working to capitalize on issues and make them about race.
    I’m about goddamn sick of being called a racist because I think Obama is a shitty president, for example.

    What’s the solution?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Well, there certainly are a lot of people who despise Obama because of his race, but I vote for him twice and I am one unhappy camper. His presidency has been a big disappointment for a variety of reasons, but race is not one of them.

    • Avatar
      Terry M.

      If it makes you feel better, I’m black, and I think Obama is the WORST President in U.S. History. I even would go as far as to say, I beleive he is Apollyon The Destroyer. (to find out more to that effect, YouTube has two video clips or short films that are quite compelling, “The son of Perdition, and The Obama Deception. Very spooky films. Not for the faint of heart.) I’m sorry that you have been labeled a racist for not agreeing with Obama. WHEN Clinton is APPOINTED into the Oval Office, I will be labeled a misogynist for not agreeing with her. See how it works? This is how “they” manipulate the masses into silence and submission.

  2. Avatar
    Kittybrat

    Clueless racism is in interesting thing. My grandmother LOVED black people! She said so. She told me that she saved all the most colorful of hand-me-downs for the black families she helped out, because “they” like colorful clothing. She called little children picaninnies, but in a loving way. She genuinely believed she was not racist. And, no, she did not dislike black people. She just did not understand that we are equals and not stereotypical. Sigh…

  3. Avatar
    Kittybrat

    Clueless racism is in interesting thing. My grandmother LOVED black people! She said so. She told me that she saved all the most colorful of hand-me-downs for the black families she helped out, because “they” like colorful clothing. She called little children picaninnies, but in a loving way. She genuinely believed she was not racist. And, no, she did not dislike black people. She just did not understand that we are equals and not stereotypical. Sigh…

  4. Avatar
    Terry M.

    I lived in Bryan, Ohio back in 1994 with my foster parents. My girlfriend (she was white) was labeled “nigger-lover” and “traitor” because she dated me. My foster family was recieving death threats in the mail, threatening telephone calls, vandalism, etc. For the safety of everyone, I was forced to be relocated to another home. Even though, I experienced this, I remember a time in that tiny town of Maybryan (It’s what we called it, because it resembles Andy Griffith’s Mayberry) that I felt at home. I didn’t see the racism, untill I began dating. I’m looking for a change of pace. I want to move out of the large city of Cleveland, Ohio for several reasons, and I thought about Bryan. Surely times have changed by now, I thought. This was 20+ years ago. So, I posted in the group of “Growing up in Bryan, Ohio” a new thread entitled, “I want to move back to Bryan, but I still look like this…” Then, I posted a picture of myself on the thread-post. I wanted to see, if racism was still a problem in the town, but I wasn’t sure quite how to ask without offending everyone. From most of the responses I got, people seemed completely oblivious to the color of my skin. They posted mostly comments about the trophy I was holding in the photo, and the cool shirt that I was wearing. But for people who understood what I was trying to say, they responded (for the most part) with friendly remarks. “Bryan has come a long way in race relations.” Generally speaking. However, others responded with a hint of hostility. They seemed to think that I was accusing everyone of being a racist. Which is far from the truth. I’m still considering moving to Bryan, when I get my ducks in a row. Even if I do have to deal with a bit of subtle, silent racism, I think it would be worth it. There are less than 10,000 people there, and that breeds more opportunity to gain more friends. You’re sure to run into someone you know everywhere you go. 🙂

  5. Avatar
    BJW

    It’s ridiculous. I know white people who don’t have much money and live like in a pig sty. They don’t necessarily have to be poor either.

  6. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    I read the book “Biased” by Dr Jennifer Eberhardt, a psychology professor at Stanford University. While the book is a compilation in research regarding bias, she also weaves in anecdotal stories of her own and those of people in her sphere of influence, making the book quite engaging. Bias exists among all people – we learn it, it pops into our heads sometimes subconsciously. Being aware of it can help us act in ways that are NOT racist or biased.

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