Salisbury City Councilman Kenny Hardin on the Smile in Your Face Fakeness and Covert Racism Exhibited at Some Salisbury MLK, Jr. Day Events

Posted on January 17, 2017

Kenny Hardin, Salisbury City Councilman

♦ I’m sure some of those still reveling in the afterglow of the King Holiday will find discomfort in reading this, but, oh well.  I attended some of the MLK events this past weekend and purposely did not attend others for some of the same reasons stated below. The events have become a platform for some people to temporarily mask their true racist nature and for others to overcompensate and assuage guilt-ridden feelings.
We’ve relegated King to one snippet of a speech that does not accurately reflect in totality who he really was. I had a great conversation with two people after the MLK Breakfast-one who attended and the other did not. We all shared the same feelings.

It was a bit disheartening for me to look at a few of those in attendance participating in the events knowing the next day they would return to their callous and divisive ways. The hypocrisy and arrogance of some of those who attended these events over the weekend is astounding yet not surprising.

I’m ok with the overt racist. At least you know where you stand. But those that attend events like King celebrations and pretend they care about the plight of the poor and people of color are who I have little use for. I detest the ones who recognize and see hate but remain quiet for fear of falling out of favor with their circle. Some people use these events like they’re putting money on a racial debit card they can spend freely on until the next feel good event. I’m dreading February and Black History month because those cards will be used heavily.

I had a well known citizen tell me privately that “I agree with everything you say about racism in our City. I just don’t like the way you choose to say it.” What does that even mean? So, the reality in my message is less important because it hurts your feelings to hear it. I get a lot of people who come to me in private and say all the right things, but won’t take public position and denounce it. I don’t do cowardice.

I’ve heard the statement if we stop talking about it then maybe we can heal. No, if people stop engaging in racist actions then maybe we’ll have nothing to talk about and we can heal. There is a discomfort for some to have to acknowledge that racism is still as prevalent in 2017 as 1957. If those people are uncomfortable with its existence and have grown weary of hearing about it, imagine how weary those directly impacted are of having to endure it daily. People need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

People are misinformed to believe that racism doesn’t exist because you’re no longer lynching people publicly or forcing people into positions of servitude. Racism is a system of power where you have the ability to deny someone access, equity, dignity and a level of respect because you’re in a dominant group or superior position. It’s not overt anymore, which is more dangerous because you have to the ability to deny, minimize and marginalize and call it business.

If you look at the lack of respect I endure on the Council, it’s evident. Although I fight back, my voice is continually disrespected and it’s called politics. I was told by one of my colleagues how she didn’t understand why I cared so much about the Black community when they didn’t come out and vote for me. She reminded me that White people put me in office and said it with a tone of disbelief that I wasn’t more grateful. She then asked why I fought so hard for the West End because I live in a nice neighborhood. She went on to scold me in that I should work harder to not offend White people and choose a different tool in my communication toolbox other than a hammer when talking to White people.

That is the kind of subtle racism that has us in the position we are today. This colleague was at the MLK breakfast engaging in acts of brotherhood. I saw a few others that have engaged in behavior contrary to King’s vision and felt disappointed.

I would much rather you just call me a Nigger outright so I know who to deal with you, than you smile in my face and treat me like one quietly and privately.

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