I met a man at a bar last night. He asked if I was in town on business. As a matter of fact, I said. I found out he was from Kentucky. Oh, some of my favorite writers are from Kentucky, I remarked. Silas House, Crystal Wilkerson, Frank X. Walker, Jayne Waldrop, Wendell Berry, of course.
We talked about writing fiction, how the characters take over as the story takes root.
We talked about growing up White in Georgia and Black in Kentucky.
We talked about racism and representation.
Ever since I was little my father drilled into me integrity and how I have to represent, he said.
I was never told I represent for white women of America, I remarked.
It’s a lot of pressure, he said.
He got off Social Media because it made him feel bad about people he loved. People he thought he knew. People he had never regarded as racist until they started posting racist remarks.
He grew up in a nice home in Louisville, attended private schools, obtained his degree from a Kentucky university. He has a good job, one that lets him live an upper-class lifestyle, one that affords him travel. He’s headed to Paris soon.
Yet, because he is black people still remark about how “well-spoken” and “articulate” he is.
His daddy warned him, told him when he was still a boy that blacks face two forms of discrimination: 1) for the color of your skin 2) for your economic standing.
He has the latter. He can’t change the former.
Stacey Abrams faces a third form: Being a woman, I said.
I don’t think Herschel Walker is going to be successful in his Senate race, but, I acknowledged, there are a lot of racist white people trying to put him in office. Not because they think he is worthy or that they think he will do a good job.
Herschel Walker is the living embodiment of how racists always view Black men:
Dumb oxen who can’t put a cohesive sentence together, who haven’t read a book since Little Brown Koko, who are good at breeding children they don’t care for, and working the fields owned by rich white men (cotton or football).
Herschel Walker is the Republican Party’s Minstrel.
Should Walker pull out a win (doubtful) these Republicans would say it is God’s Will, that God has put Walker in a position of power the way they claimed God put Trump in power in 2016 (discounting the help from Russia and greedy ass corporate bastards).
Then they would use such a win to declare that their racism is further proof that God always intended white men to rule over all the rest of us: Blacks and women.
Even without the brain damage that Walker obviously suffers from, Walker was never going to be a MacArthur Genius Fellow.
But Republicans never ever wanted an intelligent Black man in office. That’s why they hate Obama so much.
Barack Obama got above his raising.
Georgia racists want the world to know that the only kind of black man they will ever get behind is one they can control.
Nothing terrifies Georgia racists more than a black man who is better educated and has more integrity than the whole of the Republican party combined.
Georgia is my home in so many ways, but I reject the racism that was the background to my raising.
I’ve traveled enough now to know that racists live in every state, in every country. Still, racism is epidemic in places where it is mixed with religion and deemed the way God intended the world to be.
I can’t believe we are right back here fighting for the things we fought against in the 60s and 70s when I was growing up here in Columbus, Georgia.
Someone I have long turned to for wisdom said to me this week that the problem we are facing as a nation is that we have embraced celebrity and personality over principles and character.
Republicans are praying, literally praying, that voters in Georgia will overlook Walker’s many character flaws – his lies, his violence, his abortions (yes, they are as much his abortions as the women who had them), his lack of integrity, and his willingness to be a white man’s tool – and vote him into office.
The only question that remains is do the voters in Georgia, the bulk of whom claim to be a people of faith, have any integrity left themselves?
Personally, I am praying daily for God to protect Warnock’s job in the Senate and to protect Walker from further exploitation by the racists in the Republican Party.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of The Murder Gene. Available wherever fine books are sold.