Sure, you can go home again

Maybe you just don't want to. Stories like this one just make me tired.

A Slidell city employee is under investigation by city officials and the FBI after he apparently hung a paper figure from a crudely constructed noose on city property following a disagreement with his African-American supervisor.

The employee, who is white, must attend a Civil Service hearing Tuesday to address his actions, and he faces punishment that could result in losing his job and possibly being booked with a hate crime, said Mayor Ben Morris, who declined to reveal the names of the employee and supervisor until the city's investigation in complete.

The man, a worker in the public operations department, had an altercation with his supervisor in the past week or so that led to an initial Civil Service hearing and a determination that he be suspended without pay for three days, Morris said. The employee then was sent home, he said.

The employee evidently created the makeshift noose -- fashioned from electrical wire hanging in an old work barn on Bayou Lane -- before the hearing took place, Morris said. He used white paper to make a paper doll to hang from the noose, Morris said.
I grew up in Slidell, lived there for more years than any other in my life, early ten years, and I knew when I left that I'd likely never move back. This is part of the reason.

It just seems like this crap never ends. I remember being on a field trip in 8th grade when two of my classmates were talking about music--one mentioned that he thought Prince was a great guitarist and the other said, casually as anything, "hmmm, never took you for a nigger-lover." I'd like to say I was so indignant that I called him out, but I didn't. Instead I sat there with a knot in my stomach wondering what I would say if he included me in the conversation, while the accused immediately backpedaled, disclaiming any love for niggers--yes, he used the word in response--and saying that he just thought the guy played a good guitar, but not as good as Eddie Van Halen. It was clear. The worst thing that a person could do is show any respect for African-Americans.

That was nearly 25 years ago, and apparently, little has changed in the attitudes of the people of the suburb where I was raised. I could take heart, I suppose, in the fact that this is actually garnering some action from city officials, and maybe I should, but I'm more despondent at the fact that it's still happening in the first place. When I was writing about the Jena Six, I said this:
The headline says it all: La. Protests Hark Back to '50s, '60s. The headline, intentionally or not, casts the story of the Jena 6 as one which is unusual today, as one that echoes a long-past time. It isn't. It's the latest incident in a never-ending series of incidents that have been going on for the last 400 years or so in North America. And to pretend otherwise is to give oneself a really simplistic, and I believe dangerous view of the country we live in, because we can't really do anything about racism in the US until we acknowledge that we're still dealing with it.
I think this story simply echoes that earlier point. Of course, we're not likely to ever eradicate racism--othering seems to be an innate part of human nature on some level--but I'd like to think that we can reduce it to the point where those who practice it are so marginalized that they're an aberration.

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