Image by Marie Sjödin from Pixabay 
By Glenn Townes

After more than 30 years working as a journalist in both the Midwest and on the East coast, few things overwhelm me or leave me speechless. Granted, a lot of things make me angry, frustrated and in some cases, downright disgusted, seldom am I left so gobsmacked that instead of words and sentences, I can only mumble utterances and unkind expletives. That’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago when I saw the profile picture of a Facebook friend with the words,  “I thank God everyday for my family and President Donald Trump”–emblazoned across the front of a sweet, smiling and wholesome family portrait. Unable to maintain my usual composure, levelheadedness and journalistic objectivity, I frantically hit the delete, backspace and escape keys on the keyboard until the image vanished from the computer screen. I unfriended the now former Facebook friend!

As I look back, I know why I had such an angry and knee-jerk reaction to a seemingly innocent photo with what I guess, some people, not me, would see as a warm, humble,  and welcoming message. In some peculiar way, the image and its words reminded me of a time when people made it a point to be politically correct, at least in public, while cleverly masking their true feelings and thoughts. For example, I recall countless times when, as a young boy growing up in a mostly white working class central New Jersey town, people would tell my parents, “We’re not prejudiced! Some of our best friends are black people!” Even back then, I could read between the lines and knew what they were really trying to say. 

Fast forward 50 years later, and people continue to make similar comments—although the verbiage has progressed and kept in-step with the times. In fact, someone made it a point recently to say to me, “Glenn, some of my best friends and co-workers are African American, Hispanic, Asian, Gay and Transgender people. How could anyone ever accuse me of being a racist?” At the time, I grimaced then contorted my face to make a fake smile and in the snarkiest voice I could muster, I said, “Oh, well if only your best friends are people of color and of alternative lifestyles, then surely you can’t be a bigot, who would think such a thing!”

As much as things change, they inevitably remain the same! By the way, I never did
re-friend my former Facebook friend. Perhaps, I will…like in November!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *