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Opinion | Don’t blame the kids for the racism they’re taught

What could have possessed those Hoover school kids to talk in such an awful way?

I couldn’t possibly guess, but there they were on the video uploaded to social media over the weekend. A bunch of white high school kids from Hoover’s Spain Park High, sitting around drinking and discussing — in something less than scholarly terms — the state of race relations in America.

They wanted “the niggers gone.” They wanted “the niggers in concentration camps.” They thought “the Jews are fine because they’re white.” They wanted to get rid of all the Democrats. And they thought that blacks were only good for “football and rap (music).” (And no, I didn’t censor their awful, racist language, because doing so takes some of the ugly out of it.)

By Monday morning, the white guilt had set in.

That’s the guilt that hits racists the day after their true thoughts and feelings have been laid bare in public. At that point, when things start getting hot, they’re suddenly sorry “if my words offended you,” and they want you to know that whatever you saw on the video/heard on the recording/read in the leaked messages was in no way indicative of the person they really are.

White guilt is usually accompanied by white surprise.

That is, of course, the white acquaintances of the person experiencing white guilt who are simply shocked by the words/actions/text messages/video/social media post that led to the white guilt.

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In Hoover, the surprise fell to the city leaders, superintendent and parents.

All of them were just baffled by the racism displayed by their children. Why, if they had, like Clark Griswold, woke up tomorrow with their heads sewn to the carpet, they simply couldn’t be more surprised.

There is no excuse for hate speech; or hate for that matter. This does not represent our city,” said Derrick Murphy, a councilman in a city that just went through several weeks of protests over the cop shooting of a black man — protests made worse by the city’s insistence on backing the cop at every turn and blaming the black man for his own death.

Murphy’s comments were to, which also quoted Hoover superintendent Kathy Murphy on the situation.

“We are exceptionally sad and disappointed that this would either be the attitude of some of our young people or whatever would prompt them to have such conversations,” said Murphy, superintendent of a school system that just a few years ago attempted to end bus service in an effort to limit minority enrollment.

Hoover, in recent years, has also been accused of toying with zoning regulations to limit minority residency. It has been accused of mistreating and improperly stopping black and Hispanic motorists. 

So, yeah, I just can’t put my finger on why these kids might have such conversations. I mean, you raise kids in a suburb that takes great strides to limit minority property ownership and/or property rental in the local school district, thus assuring your children are raised in predominantly white schools and white neighborhoods and worship in white churches and play in predominantly white sports leagues, and somehow they turn out to say really, really racist things.

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Kids! What are you gonna do, amirite?

Spare me the phony shock.

The only thing surprising about these kids saying this racist nonsense on video is that one of them allowed the video to leak.

Suburbs such as Hoover exist, in part, because racists ran the day the first black person bought a house in their neighborhood. You could find this language being used in Hoover-like suburbs all over Alabama.

And why wouldn’t you?  

Racism is nurtured into you. It’s taught, like manners and multiplication tables. It seeps into kids’ brains from watching and listening to adults, as they rant and rave and spew ignorance and hate. And when there’s zero counter-balance — not even the token black friend hanging around to at least cause people to whisper their slurs — that ignorance and hate only grows in the new hosts. 

The problem in Hoover and other areas isn’t the kids and their idiotic videos. It’s the adults who have raised them, who have taught them such awful things about other humans. Who have taught them to judge others based on, of all the dumb things, skin color.

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Turns out, the kids are listening to what we’re saying. And they’re repeating it.

But kids have this weird way of expressing ideas and opinions that strips away nuance and the phony coatings adults put on racist ideas and insults to make them more palatable. Kids’ words are cutting and raw. 

That’s what you heard on that video. Those weren’t original ideas. They were the lessons learned from listening to adults at home, at school, at church, at the baseball field, at family get-togethers. They were Fox News and Alabama politicians. They were decades of sly presentations of racism. 

Yes, Hoover, what you heard on that video wasn’t a bunch of wayward kids.

It was you.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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