Part 3, Racists

Don’t start here! Start with Part 1.

We sat at a table against the wall on the far left, back side of the room. The sound table was just behind us. My friend said later she chose the table because a female SLED agent was stationed right behind our table, and her presence made her feel safe. I think there were about three rows of 10-top tables, maybe six tables per row. People were dressed in business attire, mostly sipping wine. Cadets in dress uniform served dinner, and a few servers who wore black probably worked for the Holliday Alumni Center.

Before we even sat, Emily heard someone say, “Everyone blames it on the South, but Muslims had slaves, too.” As soon as we sat at the table, we introduced ourselves cheerfully. The man to my right almost immediately started talking about this week’s election results in Virginia. I can’t quote him verbatim, but he essentially said that the election went really wrong. He said that Trump should’ve fired all those people. I asked what he meant. He said that when Obama was elected, all the black people moved to Northern Virginia, in the DC area, for jobs and free things.

When he said the word “black,” he lowered his voice substantially, for that one word. I haven’t really heard that in decades, since my grandparents used to do it when they spoke of African Americans in public, usually in a derogatory sense.

Anyway, once the black people moved to Virginia, he said, the white people (of course) moved out to Maryland, leaving Maryland white and Republican. “Do you know that there are places in Northern Virginia where no one speaks English? Well, not no one, but almost no one.”

I felt dirty. I have made a decision within the past year not to let racist bullshit like that slide, but here I was, letting it go. I was undercover, a guest of a friend. I nodded and smiled, and I continued to ask questions and try to remember everything he said.

We were in a white space, albeit not an all-white space. But, more than that, this man believed that, because I sat there, because I was a Republican at this dinner, obviously I was okay with his racist speech, that I agreed with him. Is he right that everyone else who attends those things, who sees Steve Bannon, holds racist ideas? I doubt it. But I’m guessing that it’s a place where non-racists are in the minority. They probably don’t speak up.

Soon, I went to refill my wine. The bar was not in the main room, but in another room down a narrow hallway. Since virtually everyone was seated, the lobby was empty of guests, though it was still full of security. On my way to – or from – I don’t remember – the bar, I spoke to three very large SLED agents who wore khaki outfits with tactical vests (if that’s the right verbiage.) Two SLED agents were black men and one was white. I thanked them for keeping us safe, fixing my eyes toward the two black men. They were kind and appreciative. I couldn’t help thinking of how many men and women of color were first responders that night. Many were. What must it be like for them to protect the crowd coming to see Bannon, who pushes a nativist agenda? It is also Veteran’s Day weekend, and so many people who fight and die for our country are people of color.

I returned to the table in time for the National Anthem. Or maybe the anthem was prior to my leaving, I’m not sure. Everyone stood, hands on hearts. The crowd joined in for “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” The white supremacist to my right quipped, sarcastically, “That’s clearly racist.” I smiled at him, and I took out my notebook and wrote it down.

Does he know the following stanzas of the anthem? The ones that really ARE racist? Or does he have no idea, and is simply bewildered when people talk about the racism in the anthem? It’s hard to tell when the white supremacists are simply uninformed. If you only watch FOX and read Breitbart, you might never know that there IS a racist part of the National Anthem.


Follow Dr. Cleaveland on Twitter: @CHSPolitico

One thought on “Part 3, Racists

  1. I lived in Northern Virginia for 25 years. I can guarantee that during this time there was not a flood of African Americans moving to NOVA, especially just to vote!. It would be largely whites in that area who would have voted Democrat. His comment is laughable. But it is a very diverse community, with something like over 100 different languages spoken. I wished you had asked him if he had ever been to the area. Wonder where this whopper of a story comes from?

    I’m sure after the fact you have all kinds of unanswered questions. This was like going to a foreign country, even though you live here. Something as simple as census figures could probably debunk his claim, but these don’t sound like people who fact-check.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s