The Michael Oher situation illustrates how white people ignore other white people’s racism

The Michael Oher situation illustrates how white people ignore other white people’s racism

The most frustrating thing about racism isn’t that it still exists, it’s that so many white people refuse to undeniably admit when it happens. Because if your first instinct was to think that Michael Oher was lying or making something out of nothing, you’re the reason why racism is still thriving.

“What we’re watching is a change of behavior,” Michael Lewis, author of The Blind Side, told The Guardian. “This is what happens to football players who get hit in the head: They run into problems with violence and aggression.”

This is what happens when a man with a slave owner’s mentality writes a “white hero” book about a white family that made money off a “poor, homeless, big, and dumb football player.” To someone like Lewis, Oher was nothing until he met those kind and angelic white folks who saved his life. And ever since he’s come out alleging that the movie and book were based on a lie, as the Tuohy family never legally adopted him, it must be due to football — not the idea that Oher finally discovered the truth.

“Google him now, he’s on the dean’s list at Ole Miss, which says a lot about the dean’s list at Ole Miss,” Lewis told an audience about Oher back in 2007. Ironically enough, for all of those who found Lewis’ joke funny, all it did was show how dumb they actually are. Lewis either thinks Ole Miss isn’t a good school — which wasn’t desegregated until 1962 because white people didn’t think Black people were smart enough to hang at predominately white institutions — or he finds it impossible that Oher has the brains to achieve academic achievement. No matter what side you landed on, Lewis disrespected Black and white people.

Given that we now know that a judge has dissolved the Tuohys’ conservatorship over Oher, that Lewis was childhood friends with Sean Tuohy, and that the adoption wasn’t real, we’re left with directions that point us to just how much of a farce this entire situation has been from the beginning — which is infuriating.

To many, racism isn’t real unless there’s a “smoking gun.” It’s evidence, and white America needs countless examples of it, be it graphs, diagrams, or statistics. It’s what they require to somewhat digest that the people they know and love can be upholders of oppression or supporters of hate. If you get killed for playing with a toy gun, they will ask why that was your plaything of choice. If you die because you wore a hoodie to go buy Skittles, they will wonder why you were out at night. When you lose your life because somebody got mad at how loud the music in your car was, they’ll question why you couldn’t just keep it down. And when the world watches your death on a loop because you allegedly bought cigarettes with counterfeit money, a racial awakening will occur — and then it will disappear less than two years later.

In case you were confused by those examples — or too lazy to click on the embedded links — I was talking about Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, George Floyd, and affirmative action.

History has taught us that White America can only be moved when racism is inescapable. Sometimes, it’s videos and pictures, think police dogs and water hoses in the 1960s, or Rodney King in the 1990s. Other times it takes assassinations, think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and Medgar Evers. All of that is needed for the cries of Black people to be heard. Because when the smoking gun is attached, then racism — or the intent of it — can only be validated.

Michael Oher has more than one smoking gun, especially as we learn more about his situation. But when it comes to people like Michael Lewis and the Tuohy family, it still isn’t enough. In court, a jury only needs a shadow of doubt not to convict. In life, Black people need countless examples to show they’ve been mistreated, and even then it can still be ignored.

Racism has never been or will ever be Black people’s problem to solve, given that we didn’t create it nor do we continue to control and refine it. It’s on white people to shut racism down. And while that might sound like a tall task, it’s really not. You can defeat it by doing the small things, like believing Michael Oher and realizing that his skin color is why so many other white people wouldn’t believe what was done to him was what countless white people have done to people who look like Oher for centuries.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.