The time I hired a racist to do my yard work

Listening to author Ian Haney Lopez on Bill Moyers and thinking about the young white kid I hired to do yard work the summer before last. Lopez is the TRUTH. If I had a handkerchief to wave at him, I would.

Lopez says in this Moyers’ interview:

Look, here’s a hard, difficult truth. Most racists are good people. They’re not sick. They’re not ruled by anger or raw emotion or hatred. They are complicated people reared in complicated societies.

They’re fully capable of generosity, of empathy, of real kindness. But because of the idea systems in which they’re reared, they’re also capable of dehumanizing others and occasionally of brutal violence. And that’s an important truth. Most people are not racist out of some sort of a sickness of the soul. They’re racist because of the society in which they operate.

So this kid I hired to redo my front flower beds – you know, put down newspaper to keep the weeds out, cover it all with mulch, put in some flowers I’ve since killed. I’ve known his family since I was a teenager. We went to church together. This kid called me ma’am and was super polite.

So you can imagine my shock when I saw that he was the kid being escorted away from the KKK rally in Memphis last year (for his safety). He chose to wrap himself in a Confederate flag. I won’t go so far as to say he’s a Klan sympathizer, but he sure as hell wasn’t there to protest white supremacy. (There is some perverse satisfaction, though, that I was his master employer and he was working in my cotton fields flowerbeds.)

Lopez is the author of “Dog Whistle Politics.” Part 2 of his interview airs this week.


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