Did you go to the Rally for Sanity and/or Fear on Saturday or watch on TV? Some of my friends went to the Mall in DC and said it was a lot of fun. And that there was a ridiculous number of people. It was a rainy day here in San Francisco so while I was waiting for a friend to come over to watch the Giants game, I tuned in.

Overall, I thought Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert rewarded the hundreds of thousands of people who showed up with probably the most fun you’ll ever have at a political rally like ever. The Roots should definitely be the house band of all rallies from now on. Certainly the rally dwarfed that of Glenn Beck and showed that most Americans really do want peace and cooperation and humor. We really do want sanity as a nation and reject fear — and would like those who purport to represent us to do the same. I think that’s a really important message in the midst of the heated rhetoric this election season.

One kinda important message in this rally that was held the weekend before one of the most important midterm elections in American history that got lost was — Vote! I can’t remember Stewart or Colbert or any of their players asking people to vote. Umm…#fail? They didn’t have to tell people for whom they should vote. But between all the folks watching on TV, online and on the National Mall, that seems like something that should have been stated more clearly. Perhaps even in Stewart’s opening or closing remarks???

The other thing that Stewart got wrong was part of his final message to the crowd. You should watch the whole thing though because it’s cute and sweet and funny and earnest. Here’s the  snip though where John and I part ways:

There are terrorists, and racists, and Stalinists, and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned! You must have the resume! Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Party-ers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult–not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.

See that’s not how black folks experience racism. People don’t have to work hard to be racists but instead have to work hard to overcome their inner biases. I’m not just saying that — it’s what the scientists say. From Time Magazine in 2009:

A study in the Jan. 9 issue of the journal Science presents strong evidence that even people who aspire to tolerance — who would consider themselves nonracist — still harbor unconscious biases powerful enough to prevent them from confronting overt racists or from being upset by other people’s racist behavior. The authors say the results suggest attitudes so deeply ingrained that protective legislation and affirmative-action programs are required to overcome them. The results may even offer clues as to how other societies have spiraled into genocide.
Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji has found that Americans recognize negative words such as angry, criminal and poor more quickly after being exposed to a black face (often blacks do too), suggesting unconscious racist associations with black people.
For those counting, that’s at least 2 studies right there that tell you what black folks already know: “Everybody’s A Little Bit Racist” (see Avenue Q vid below). Systems like slavery and Jim Crow required the cooperation of millions…of most people in a society to enforce them. Only when people strove to overcome their own biases and choose another way of relating to each other did society change.

In an America where there are millions of people who really think that the man who is currently the POTUS is not actually a citizen and therefore an illegitimate leader and criminal, I think we need to be careful letting everyone off the hook on their racism. From Politico:

On President Barack Obama’s birthday, a new CNN/Opinion Research released Wednesday shows 41 percent of Republicans believe Obama was “probably” or “definitely” born in another country.

The poll of 1,018 adults shows 27 percent of Americans believe the president was “probably” or “definitely” born in another country, compared with 71 percent who think he was born in the United States.

I know that I personally have experienced incredible kindness from people who would describe themselves as conservatives and real bigotry from people who would describe themselves as liberals. We’re all a little bit racist in this country and it’s each person’s individual responsibility to monitor and overcome the prejudice within.

Stewart — I know you’re just a comedian/pundit guy and this is your first big rally and all. Great job on the turnout and the music and the comedy. But mind the over-simplifications through rose-colored glasses, will ya? It’s not helpful and it’s not accurate to the experiences of those of us who face daily discrimination from ordinary people. Who may insist that they aren’t racist. Cuz don’t you have to work hard to be racist…right?

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