Below is an abridged version of a video by Melissa McCrery (someone I’d never heard of before last week). The video made an impression on me – two impressions, in fact: the second one better than the first.
McCrery is a pro-Trump, Christian conservative, formerly from corporate America. These facts don’t come through in the original video, although she begins with at least two minutes of exposition – as if bracing her regular Facebook followers for some kind of crazy talk nobody would ever expect from her.
And then it comes out (spoiler/paraphrasing): I’ve seen the video of the murder of George Floyd, and I finally believe in systemic racism. White Americans can’t stand on the sidelines.
Reader’s Digest Abridged Edition
Here’s my slightly abridged version, cut down from 13 minutes to 9 minutes:
Note: The original video is portrait orientation, and shows her whole face.
My first impression: Who cares, Karen?
McCrery’s video was posted to a Facebook group. At first I didn’t make it past the first 90 seconds. I bailed on the video.
She struck me as a “Karen,” per the unkind meme: an entitled, white, self-important, anti-vaxxer soccer mom with speak-to-the-manager hair.
She led by saying, “this is not going to be anything particularly original.” It was unclear what her point was, or how long I’d have to watch before she got to it. The video had no title, and the description began, “As much as I HATE identity politics- AS A WHITE WOMAN- I have something to say…”
I paused the video and left the first Facebook comment in the group. I asked whether the video was worth watching – except that I asked in a really snotty way. The person who posted the video and I got into an, um, adversarial exchange, which dominated the comments. Unfortunately, it distracted from the substance of the video.
I’m sorry. Enough said about that – except that I was convinced to give the video a full viewing.
Second Impression: What bubble do you live in, Karen?
How often have you heard a white person claim not to be racist, while dismissing racism? Like, at least 1000 times, right? It always sounds disingenuous.
In her long preamble, McCrery sounds just like all of those dismissive white people. She even indicates that, with previous high-profile police killings of black men, she has always been inclined to give the police the benefit of the doubt.
McCrery admits she has discovered her blind spot, and she is now mad as H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks!
If that is the case, [that systemic racism exists], it is going to take every freaking white American to fix this problem.
It seems more plausible to me now that some people aren’t simply and disingenuously denying that systemic racism exists, but that they sincerely do not believe it exists.
(To be clear: I’m not saying it’s always plausible with all people who make this claim, but rather sometimes plausible with some people.)
I grew up in Arizona, in a middle-class, majority-white suburb. I went to public schools. I estimate that McCrery and I are not far apart in age. But I’ve known about systemic racism my whole life. If I’m surprised by anything in McCrery’s video, it’s this: Some people really do live in these bubbles.
“First of all,” McCrery says, “forgive me for not having that lens.”
She starts to fix her blind spot
I doubt that there’s much on which McCrery and I would agree. But I admire how she responds to having discovered a blind spot. It’s exactly how I like to think I respond to discovering my own: by seeking to correct my perspective as best I can.
Many people would have sought their favorite sources of confirmation bias; sought not to believe their lying eyes when they saw George Floyd die under the knee of a Minnesota cop. (This is not hypothetical. Many people are still denying the existence of systemic racism.)
McCrery’s response is not perfect by any means. There’s more than a whiff of “white savior complex” coming from inside her car – the new convert variety. But her video has been viewed more than 13 million times, and is likely giving many people permission to move their hearts in the same direction.