Sometimes racism isn’t about vicious bigotry and hatred towards those with different skin color than your own, let alone a willingness to walk into a church and massacre nine of those others because you think they’re “taking over your country.” Sometimes, racism is manifested in the subtle way a person can dismiss the lived experiences of those racial others as if they were nothing, utterly erasing those experiences, consigning them to the ashbin of history like so much irrelevant refuse.
In the last few days, since Dylann Roof’s terrorist rampage in Charleston, we’ve seen some of that on the part of those who steadfastly defend the confederate flag, which Roof dearly loved, from its critics. As the flag has come down in Alabama and is poised for removal from the statehouse grounds in South Carolina, its supporters have insisted that the flag is not a sign of racism, even if the government whose Army deployed it made clear that its only purposes  at the time were the protection of slavery and white supremacy .
Those who defend the flag consider the black experience irrelevant, a trifle, hardly worthy of their concern. Who cares if the flag represented a government that sought to consign them to permanent servitude? Who cares if segregationists used that flag as a blatant symbol of racist defiance during the civil rights movement? Remembering the courageous heroics of one’s great-great-great-grandpappy Cooter by waving that flag or seeing it on public property is more important than black people’s lived experience of it. That such dismissiveness is intrinsically racist should be obvious. But what of less blatant examples?
For instance, what are we to make of certain comments by Congressman Louis Gohmert, Senator Ted Cruz and conservative media personality Sean Hannity in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing marriage equality nationwide? While those comments were not about race per se, it is hard to deny that their implicit subtext demonstrates a worldview entirely shaped by a white racial frame, viewed through a white racial lens, and one that takes as it starting point a profound disregard for the lives of persons of color: in short, a worldview that is (whether consciously or not), white supremacist to the core.
Start first with Gohmert. Given to hyperbole, one is loath to pay too much attention to the likes of Louis, and yet, his comments  in the wake of the marriage equality decision represent far more than his solitary views, so similar are they to the kinds of things heard from many an evangelical white Christian whenever their moral sensibilities are offended. According to the Texas Congressman, because of the ruling, “God’s hand of protection will be withdrawn” from America. In other words, God so loves the world (but hates the gays) that he will either smite us directly, or at the very least no longer offer his thus far really impressive protection from things like economic recession, killer tornadoes, scorching heat waves, disastrous blizzards, a crumbling national infrastructure, and for that matter, racist young men who walk into churches and slaughter nine of his followers in cold blood. Got it? No more “protection” from those things!
At first glance, perhaps this comment seems to have nothing to do with race at all; but think about it. For Gohmert to claim that now God’s protection will be withdrawn is to suggest that prior to this time we were the active recipients of that protection, that to this point God had shined his light upon America, blessing us with all good things, happy at the sight of our superior morality. And yet, for that to be true, one would have to believe that God saw nothing wrong with the enslavement of African peoples for over two hundred years, the slaughter and forced removal of indigenous peoples from their land, the invasion and theft of half of Mexico, the abuse of Chinese labor on railroads, the internment of Japanese Americans—nothing wrong with lynching or segregation. You would have to accept that God is more offended by marriage equality than any of those things, that God was essentially sanguine about formal white supremacy, and willing to extend his protective blanket over us even in the face of that, but somehow so-called “gay marriage” is a bridge too far.