It’s an Ugly Time in America

Around my junior or senior year at Aledo High School, an African-American transient was found tangled up in a barbed wire fence near Interstate 20. Authorities said he had wandered out there and died of exposure. A kid in my class said he had seen the body. When I asked him what it was like, he said it wasn’t like finding a dead man. It was just a dead nigger.

There was one African-American kid in my class at Aledo. His father was a normal, law-abiding citizen who used to get pulled over by law enforcement personnel about once a month, just because he was African-American and an African-American man driving around in our community looked suspicious.

After college and a few years in Austin, I returned to the Fort Worth area and met and married a beautiful African-American woman. After our third child we moved to Aledo to be closer to my parents and raise our kids. One day a co-worker who was also a member of the Willow Park Volunteer Fire Department (an adjacent town which feeds into Aledo ISD) received a call on his radio reporting an “NIWP.” I asked him what an “NIWP” was. He said it was a “Nigger in Willow Park.” I confronted him and informed him my wife was African-American. His facial features shrunk into a disgusted grimace and he said “That Ain’t Right.”

Right or wrong, we stayed in Aledo and I began to think things were changing. Then Barrak Obama ran for president.

My kids encountered theretofore unheard racial slurs from classmates and were bothered by the petty prejudices the school seemed to tolerate more than discourage. My wife and I were disturbed, but we assumed the bigotry would subside after the election was over. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my oldest son’s high school teachers asked the class what they thought of Obama. Many of my son’s classmates said Obama was the Anti-Christ, vaguely alluding to passages from the book of Revelation. I was shocked and wondered which local church fostered such inanity.

Then, last week, one of my son’s instructors asked students to record in their journals how they felt about the school refusing to air the live broadcast of Obama’s speech on education.

My son usually keeps a low profile, but on this subject he expressed his sense of alienation and frustration. In his journal he wondered if Obama’s speech would have been televised if he had been an “old white guy like most presidents.” His sentiment cut to core of the issue.

If George Bush or John McCain were president and either wished to address American classrooms on education, most schools in the Metroplex would have televised it. No one even bothers trying to pretend otherwise.

This is an ugly time to live in America. There are good people in our communities, but they’re not speaking up, defending our better principles or challenging the sad elements that perpetrate these outrages. Albert Camus once said that the evil in the world almost always stems from ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.

The decision to prohibit the broadcast of President Obama’s education speech in local schools was malevolent and the rationale behind it was clearly rooted in a lack of understanding.

The vilification and dehumanization of our president is ignorant and dangerous. The racist indoctrination of our children is evil and loathsome. Why is it being tolerated? Why are we condoning Jim Crow tactics by our school officials and the rhetoric of lynching by media pundits and politicians?

The current hostilities go beyond sour grapes and unpopular policy proposals. When malcontents attend political forums with guns, it’s not just a 2nd Amendment stunt; it’s KKK tactic. When my son’s classmates believe our president is an agent of Armageddon, Aledo becomes Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. And when rabid tea-baggers hang politicians in effigy, it’s no longer the 21st century. It’s November in Dallas, circa 1963.

E.R. Bills is a writer from Aledo, Texas and the author of Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious (History Press, 2013). He can be reached at: erbillsthinks@gmail.com. Read other articles by E.R..

19 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Keesha said on September 23rd, 2009 at 9:39am #

    I so love it when Whites see racism everywhere and that’s sarcasm. Disagree with Barack, it’s racism!!!!! That meme needs to be put to rest already. I know it makes a lot of White people feel good to point out the racist — which means, “Hey, it’s them, not me!” — but it’s really boring to this Black woman. Bob Somerby’s addressing these false cries at The Daily Howler but I think Marcia at Sickofitradlz said it best:

    http://sickofitradlz.blogspot.com/2009/09/tom-perriello-racist-liar-or-racist.html

    “And, see, that’s what we generally suspect about the White people always screaming ‘racism!’ We suspect that they do that for public consumption, to get brownie points but in reality they’re either joining in the racism or refusing to call it out when it happens.”

    And to Marcia’s observation, I’ll note that the author of this article never mentions calling out his classmate from long, long, long ago and far, far, far away.

  2. bozhidar balkas vancouver said on September 23rd, 2009 at 10:00am #

    I wld like to say that if it wasn’t for the darkest people of afrika and their adaptation for survival, i wldn’t be here today. tnx

  3. mcthorogood said on September 23rd, 2009 at 11:00am #

    Alexa.com shows that the web traffic for ColorOfChange.org has increased 810% over the last 3 months. Thanks Glenn Beck.

    http://www.colorofchange.org/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bn7yXrbz8Cw&feature=channel_page

  4. native said on September 23rd, 2009 at 5:23pm #

    I’m personally tired of all this yelling about race and old white guys and blacks or latinos and such … all of this does nothing to bring us together.

    Can’t you see that all of this nattering is dividing us and weakening us?

    Divided we fall and united we stand and we need desperately to stand against the juggernaut of the nanny state government that is coming our way!

    The light at the end of the tunnel is not the light of day but the beacon of the road to the loss of out republic!

  5. deang said on September 23rd, 2009 at 7:45pm #

    What E. R. Bills writes here rings true to this white Texan. I was born in Fort Worth myself and have relatives throughout east and north Texas, all racist to varying degrees. Most aren’t explicit about it but some are as vulgarly anti-Black as the white cop the author quotes (one of them is even a sheriff). Luckily, one family member has married a somewhat liberal woman who voted for Obama and supports liberal legislation, so maybe there’s some hope, but Texas is just lost. And surely you’ve all seen reports in recent years that indicate that US schools are more segregated now than they have been since the 1950s, and it ain’t Blacks that have caused it.

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain said on September 23rd, 2009 at 7:47pm #

    The US is crumbling from imperial overstretch and internal corruption. The country’s foreign policy is controlled by Judaic money power, to the embarrassing extent of near unanimous votes in support of Israeli brutality against the imprisoned, helpless Gazans. US indebtedness is unparalleled in history, while polls of global public opinion reveal widespread antipathy to US bellicosity and aggression. I even saw Lech Walesa, of all people, criticising US belligerence the other day.
    Inside the US the ruling elite’s ruthlessly enforced ideology of absolute individualism, rejection of collective action and total indifference to the fate of others, has produced a ruthlessly inegalitarian society, where inequality of wealth, income and opportunity is growing like topsy. Median wages have stagnated for over a generation. Mass consumption was only maintained by going into gargantuan debt, no longer possible. Well-paying manufacturing jobs have been off-shored to low-income countries to increase profits. The middle-class is sinking, social mobility is all downwards and elite greed, with multi-million salaries that are nothing but legalised larceny,is a daily affront to the hard-working plebs.
    In a normal society this would result in mass agitation and social unrest. Not in the US, though. As the most thoroughly brainwashed and indoctrinated population in history, Yanks are unable to contemplate any other social arrangement but market capitalism with its inescapable, innate, injustice. So they need to be diverted, their attention drawn away from their plight,and the mainstream media is up to the task.
    The US public is also one of the most ignorant and obscurantist populations imaginable. Vulgar religiosity abounds, and symptoms of brain-death such as rigid adherence to the imbecilities of ‘Creation Science’ are widespread. Violence is omnipresent, from the horrors of mass murder inflicted on Iraq and Afghanistan, that is training up a body of murderous psychopaths who, on returning to the US, are indulging in just that murderous violence they inflicted on the poor people of Iraq and Afghanistan, to massacres and a murder rate vastly higher than comparable countries. Gun worship, particularly on the sexually uptight and repressed Right, is akin to a religion.
    The Right has maintained a grip on power for decades by appealing to the vicious racism of Southern bigots, outraged by the civil rights laws of the 1960s, which came after a century of lynchings, Jim Crow laws and ruthless intimidation to keep the blacks in their place, after their supposed ‘emancipation’.These racists, often religious zealots fanatically allied to Israel, (despite hating Jews), in the hope of provoking Armageddon through religious war in the Near East, have been assiduously cultivated by the Right. Over recent years, since Reagan removed the requirement for ‘balance’, talk-back radio has become a mighty engine of hate and fear-mongering, playing on the resentments of White losers without the brains or guts to attack those really responsible for their plight, America’s avaricious, fascist, rulers. Instead the usual scapegoats, blacks, Hispanics, illegal immigrants, environmentalists, gays, Moslems, uppity women, have all been demonised, and this insistent hate cultivation has found fertile ground in psyches perverted by crude religious doctrines and a popular culture characterised by relentless violence, in movies, computer games and television. In recent years the evil sewer of FoxNews has been added to the engine of hatred, and the process of demonisation, denigration and fomenting of rage has reached a sickening apotheosis in the ranting rabidity of the various anti-Obama campaigns.
    In my opinion the US is a critically ill society, sickening from its own internal poisons, which have been carefully but recklessly fomented by an evil and immoral ruling elite who practise the tried and true tactics of ‘divide and rule’. Clearly the visceral heart of Obama hatred is race-based, and to deny that is wilful ignorance and self-deception. Most great civilizations have gone through the catharsis of internal moral and spiritual decay, followed by civil strife, ending, hopefully, in a rebirth as a chastened but better culture, with the worst impurities and toxins purged. Perhaps the US is at the brink of just such an upheaval, but I dread the consequences. A military Moloch like the US, belligerent and pitiless, thrashing about in the throes of self-destruction seems to me to be an hideous danger for the rest of humanity.

  7. brian said on September 23rd, 2009 at 11:37pm #

    Thanks for the article E.R…youve also managed to flush out a few closet racists on this site!
    I dont live in the US, but i can see that Obama critics are an unfortunate position just as are critics of israel…But thats the legacy of racism.

  8. Sheila Velazquez said on September 24th, 2009 at 6:05am #

    It’s really about class anyway. Racism is the cover for those who want to control both the wealth and the people.

  9. b99 said on September 24th, 2009 at 11:28am #

    Its racism alright. It’s so racism that white guys (at top) come on here and pretend to be black women. Whites bring guns to Obama’s town hall meetings because they want him dead. Someone hung a gov’t census worker in Kentucky and wrote ‘Fed’ on his chest recently, a way of hinting that Obama should be lynched. Senator Joe Wilson of SC shouts out at Obama in the Senate assembly hall though no other president is treated in that manner – all because no one should have to sit respectfully through a nigger’s rant. Obama is routinely called a ‘socialist’ – only because they don’t want to be caught calling him a ‘nigger.’ The reason that no medical insurance plan worth anything can ever get through is because it means giving money to niggers. That’s why southern senators vetoed it during Truman’s adminstration and why right now congressmen from the states where people have no teeth are ag’in it. Senators are more than willing to keep the races at each other’s throat so as not to be funneling money to negroes.

    So why does every other developed country have universal coverage – ‘successful outcome’ universal coverage – and we don’t? Because we have nigger-haters here. I don’t know how Michelle can get to sleep at night.

  10. lichen said on September 24th, 2009 at 2:22pm #

    98% of bush policy is still being followed, so actually, yes, those who were not protesting under bush but doing it now are thus concerned with SYMBOLIC shit, including the fact that the president is black. If you weren’t protesting during the bush years and your protesting now, or you were protesting during the bush years and you aren’t now, than you are stupid scum.

  11. David said on September 24th, 2009 at 3:17pm #

    Anybody notice the level of vitriol in the comments section following Mr. Bills’ article? Pretty intense, isn’t it?

    Sadly, this is America’s heritage and it will be the death of this nation.

    Who says there isn’t cosmic payback? We are living it right now.

  12. Håkan Larsson said on September 24th, 2009 at 5:06pm #

    dear Mulga Mumblebrain,
    I am a Swedish culture historian who read your instalments on DV with great interest.
    I have mailed privately to Mr. Bills, expressing my respect and sympathy.
    Would you care to contact me? My e-mail is es.oohaynull@vvvllot.

  13. Don Hawkins said on September 24th, 2009 at 6:53pm #

    A military Moloch like the US, belligerent and pitiless, thrashing about in the throes of self-destruction seems to me to be an hideous danger for the rest of humanity and in only a few months we get to see how self-destructive the US is then what. Because there will be a NOW what.

  14. Carmen said on September 24th, 2009 at 7:07pm #

    Mr Bills,

    Texas has always been racist and being black person makes me scared to drive to any small town in America. Most white people have nothing to fear when they travel through small towns this must be nice. My little boy not school age yet will hopefully not experience the hatred and ignorance as seen in the Arlington, TX school district. Mr McCoullough although he apologized for not allowing the President Obama speech somehow still allowed school children to be bused to Cowboy stadium to hear a former President speak. I wonder how much of my tax dollars will be spent on this expense? My tax dollars spent in this way hurts me and seeing a joker like Mr McCoullough take my money hurts me even more. I didn’t know when I bought my home 11 years ago there would be a race issue now I’m thinking about moving back to Dallas or perhaps Fort Worth where the school district had no problem airing President Obama’s speech. What makes Arlington school district so special thanks Arlington school district for sending out a clear message to the World.

    Almost forgot thanks Mr Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchinson I’m sure your influence helped Mr McCoullough make his decision.

  15. Annie Ladysmith said on September 24th, 2009 at 7:55pm #

    What is a Swedish culture historian? That must really be in demand in the EU since they have no culture now, i guess one has to look back to see if there ever was any, especially in Swedeland. If you ever find any let the world know, we will all be waiting patiently for that. Bye-bye!

  16. Don Hawkins said on September 25th, 2009 at 5:12am #

    Thousands of city residents offer to house Copenhagen climate conference delegates for free

    Private accommodation offers are flooding in for those attending the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen this December, Berlingske Tidende newspaper reports.
    In July, the summit’s official private accommodation website http://www.housing.cop15.dk had about 100 options to choose from. It now has more than 2300 accommodation offers typically costing about 1000 kroner a night per person.
    But the private lenders are getting competition from people offering free accommodation. The New Life Copenhagen website now has 2700 offers of free accommodation for those attending the summit.

    Free accommodation for those attending the summit. Interesting concept free, free accommodation kind of working together. I’ll bet the private sector doesn’t like this idea as working together is not something they like more like work for us as we keep you in slavery. I see James Inhofe a one man truth squad the great Senator from the US who is not up to his eye ball’s in special interest is going to Copenhagen to spread the truth. Stay in a hotel Jim a hotel this free concept will never work. The human race is checking into a motel right now called motel hell you know the one you can check into and very very hard to check out of. Give them hell in Copenhagen Jim give them Hell. Here’s a question he could ask one of the scientists at the summit. Ok now if the ice melt’s it will come back right and he will get to see people looking at him in disbelief but he is used to that as he talks like a robot. Glenn Beck last night said in his show that it was cold in the Northeast US this summer what global warming of course he didn’t mention a few other small changes going on on the Earth but heck Glenn could go and put his ideas to the summit in a fair and balanced way and very sure with many of the people who are staying at the free accommodation the talk could just be. Are all these American’s just stupid, ugly.

  17. Don Hawkins said on September 25th, 2009 at 5:50am #

    The pictures out of Pittsburgh the G-20 are a little different. The force from the greatest nation on Earth in Pittsburgh could take over most Countries. I saw this black truck with sort of a flat screen TV thing that is used for crowd control and that’s what you can see. I wonder if the powers that be are running experiments in Pittsburgh on the few thousand anarchists who as we know there points trying to be made are well just mindless have nothing to do with the real World and the thinking is maybe in the coming years might just need more of those flat screen TV things for crowd control. Maybe those screens make the crowd see a different reality kind of an illusion no how could that be done much to hard. I guess we need to get on the right side before it’s to late. I’ll make a sign that say’s freedom isn’t free it’s my favorite. After a little zap from one of those flat screens you will then know, “O Brother, Where Art Thou” sort of.

  18. Don Hawkins said on September 25th, 2009 at 6:59am #

    Just watching Fox News and this person Bill just said Pittsburgh is a nice city and hopes the demonstrators don’t tear up the city. Well it sure looks like Wall Street the banks the media and those never ending commercials degrading people already did a very good job of tearing up this country and now want to do it again this time in a little different way. Fox News just called those flat screen things acoustic cannons and are not that bad. Yes go shopping get that loan with compound interest buy that car get that loan eat to much and pay your tax’s people of wealth don’t pay tax’s. We are now and have been in control of your TV listen to your leaders watch your parking meters work two jobs if you can watch the men in black the trucks in black ignorance is strength war is peace. Oh brother. Control control of an out of control system those acoustic cannons are not that bad we have then only for your own good.

  19. lichen said on September 25th, 2009 at 1:39pm #

    Pittsburgh is not a ‘nice city’ it is a desert of deindustrialization and chronic unemployment; there is nothing nice about it, and I hope the protesters can call attention to that as the rich bitches of g20 lounge around making sure not to solve the world’s problems all week.