I’m Not a Racist, But…

mckinney fitzgibbens

I can’t get into the McKinney incident here; that’s saved for a much longer post I hope I can get together soon. But until then, here’s this: Fourth-grade teacher Karen Fitzgibbens has been fired after posting a Facebook comment regarding the police incident between officer David Casebolt and several youths that was just a wee bit racially charged:

“the blacks are the ones causing the problems and this ‘racial tension'”


“I’m almost to the point of wanting them all segregated on one side of town so they can hurt each other and leave the innocent people alone. Maybe the 50s and 60s were really on to [sic] something. Now, let the bashing of my true and honest opinion begin…GO! #imnotracist #imsickofthemcausingtrouble #itwasagatedcommunity”

Er, yeah. Just the tiniest bit racially charged.

Her employer, the Frenship Independent School District (the misspelling of ‘friendship’ should raise suspicions about the quality of education they offer), promptly fired her. Predictably, Fitzgibbens gave the obligatory backpedaling non-apology when she talked with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:

Fitzgibbons insisted the post “was not directed at any one person or group.”

“It was not an educational post; it was a personal experience post,” Fitzgibbons said, adding she has a personal connection to the McKinney situation, but declined to elaborate.

She added: “I apologized to the appropriate people,” declining to identify those people.

So, let’s get this sorted out. Fitzgibbens entertains the idea of reintroducing segregation, specifically mentions blacks as the recipient of the forced segregation, alludes to whites as “the innocent people,” and then has the audacity to say the post “was not directed at any one person or group.” The only way that could be true is if she intended her post to include Latinos as well.

Most interesting to me here is the hashtag “#imnotracist.” Sure, it’s obvious to all of us that she’s racist, but because none of us knows Fitzgibbens, one has to wonder whether she’s just lying or honestly believes she’s not. My gut leans towards the latter. Having spent most of my life in the American South, I’ve witnessed the fine line between overt racism from people who aren’t afraid to admit their prejudices and the kind of backhanded, covert racism from people who ought to know better. They don’t think themselves racist when they derogatorily imitate a black accent, or scoff at their attire, or criticize how they act as parents. They don’t think this is racist because they’re completely fine with black people who meet their expectations of decent white behavior. These are people who completely identified with Bill O’Reilly when he expressed shock at walking into a predominantly black restaurant and didn’t find patrons jumping and screaming.

Worse still, there’s an environment that supports this kind of thinking. There were at least nine ‘likes’ on that post before she removed it, and the failures of grand juries to indict Daniel Pantaleo and Darren Wilson reinforce the idea that law enforcement is in the right and blacks are in the wrong, every single time. This kind of nu-racism doesn’t immediately attack the color of their skin, but rather the supposed content of their character; no  longer do nu-racists use the term ‘niggers’ to ID pigment, instead they opt for the code word ‘thugs’ to describe their personality.

And all this from someone who is “going to just go ahead and say it,” as if she’s the only one. As if there weren’t millions who thought the same thing. As if the record of police abuse constantly ruled in favor of the victims. I highly recommend Lawrence Blum’s I’m Not a Racist, But…: The Moral Quandary of Race, wherein he argues that we lack even a basic vernacular to talk about race-related issues, and so attitudes swing between extremes, where either everything is racialized or nothing is, and neither of those positions is the best place to be in.

Maybe Ann Coulter, monster that she is, is right when she says racism in America is dead: it’s been replaced with something worse, something harder to detect, something not always easy to get off the tip of your tongue.


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