I’m almost certain that Tonya Battle would have been perfectly fine with not having to look after another newborn on her shift.

What she wasn’t fine with, though, was the racism that went along with that relief.

Last October Battle, a black nurse working in the neonatal intensive care unit at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Mich., was caring for a white newborn when she was abruptly reassigned from that duty. As it turns out, the baby’s father said he didn’t want a black nurse caring for his child.

What was worse was that the hospital obliged this racist, even placed a sign, in fact, on the assignment chart saying that no blacks were to care for that baby.

I wonder if they would have banned black people from using the water fountain on that floor if the bigoted father refused to use it if they did.

Now Battle is suing her employer – as she should. But during these times, times in which the election of a black president, times in which the fear of being outnumbered by Latinos and times in which right-wing talkers have many whites  believing that being able to discriminate is among the “rights” they are losing, I fear that we haven’t seen the last of this kind of craziness.

In fact, what happened to Battle isn’t unique.

Last March DeWitt Thomas, a white man, refused to allow a black man to bag his groceries at a store in Big Sandy, Texas. According to news reports, he told the bagger, Aaron Menefee, “Wait a minute, don’t touch my groceries. I can’t have someone negroidal touch my food. It’s against my creed.”

Menefee called someone else to sack Thomas’ groceries, but when he returned two days later and made the same request, Menefee’s boss, Keith Langston, who wasn’t in the store when the first incident occurred, didn’t cave into Thomas’ demands – as Hurley Medical Center did for the white father.

Instead, he filed a criminal trespass charge against him.

Thomas, however, had the nerve to file a lawsuit against Langston, claiming that by kicking him out and banning him from the store, he was violating his civil rights; that “white people are to be protected under the same civil rights law as everyone else.”

Boy, does he have it twisted.

Civil rights is what guarantees people access to education, to the ballot box, to jobs and to facilities regardless of their race, sex, ethnicity or religion. Civil rights do not give people the right to use race, sex, ethnicity or religion to discriminate.

If that were the case, a bunch of neo-Nazi skinheads could walk into a diner, take up half the seats, request that no black people or Jews be seated near them, then claim their civil rights were violated if a black person is seated close by.

If that was the case, white separatists could go to a public beach or pool and claim their rights to their beliefs were violated because blacks or Latinos weren’t kept separate from them.

I expect to see more of this, though, because the people like the swastika-sporting father who didn’t want Battle to attend to his baby, and the grocery customer who tried to use religion as a cover for his racism, are struggling with their soon-to-be minority status.

But the difference between them and us is that when we were fighting for our civil rights, we were fighting for rights and access that had been denied to us legally and otherwise.

These bigots, however, have never been denied anything. But they’ve always believed that being able to exclude people who don’t look like them from everyday facets of their lives is a right that defines them – and one they ought to be fighting for before Obama takes away their guns and the Latinos take away their jobs.

Obviously, the age of Obama has spawned an alternate age of unreasonableness; an age where some whites believe rights and privileges for people of color equate to victimization for them.

And the enemy is anyone who makes them feel victimized by defying their notions of superiority – be it a black nurse caring for their baby or a black guy bagging their groceries.

The madness continues.

Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her @tonyaajw. Or visit her webpage and blog, “Tonyaa’s Take,” at www.tonyaajweathersbee.com.

(Photo: AP)

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11 thoughts on “Racism and Civil Rights: Don’t Get ‘Em Twisted

  1. 50 years MLK Day celebration: KKK Threat saddens my heart. They’re marching I’m still dealing with racism, unfair education system and violations of injustices. 50 years later, there is less of an” innocent until proven guilty system.” There is less interest in remedy injustices and equal rights. There is almost no interest in discovering the truth. People that can provide legal help, don’t have time unless you have the money. By the time a poor person can save the money, the statue time of limitations is up. This plan works out perfect for the persons and corporations in the wrong. However, it keeps the oppressed depressed for they have waited so long for nothing. http://www.youcaring.com/help-a-neighbor/kkk-school-threat/81338
    Their justice fighting went from days to years without seeing JUSTICE come to light. The court will not hear the long kept evidence. So, while we cry for help, they flip the calendar of no justice.

  2. {Still think I’m mental or overprotective}
    ABC NEWS: School Gunman Took Hostages, Car May Have Bombs

    KKK School Threat /Two knifes (Knifes don’t make a gun sound, but they kill)
    Children Withdrawn from School
    Need legal help!
    http://www.youcaring.com/help-a-neighbor/kkk-school-threat/81338

    Look at my beautiful children GOD blessed me with! We have to hold the School District accountable. We have to keep children safe.rjohnson4ob (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. after reading all these artciles I just want to say that we as black american, cant get caught in the white man mind game . he is well aware of our struggle
    s about job ,equal right , we are deserving of all of that and more , but in the struggle let not developed the same mind set , I explain to my son all the time that to be ablack man is a365day and 24 hrsa day 7day aweek job, fight and stuggle,to be a black man is ahonor@ ablessing there is areward at the end of each day the white man is after your reward so we cant affod to slip at any cause.so keep your mind on your prize, first loveGod with allyour heart ,your wife ,childrens your beatiful Black bro @ sister ,@ most importantly You have got to love Your self ,may God continue to bless all of his creation.

  4. Has anyone ever seen the movie NO WAY OUT?…it stars Sidney Poitier as a Black doctor with a white patient who dies, although under his care, but due to no fault of his own…the raciist redneck brother of the deceased,thinks that a nigra doctor is the cause of his brothers death and incites a race in the city..this movie was made in the 50s I think…this story made me juxtapose that movie…racism and civil rights haven’t changed, let alone advanced in 60 something years?

  5. A.W./Gaywrites on said:

    Have you ever heard the term: God works in mysterious ways? Well I would imagine that the opposite philosophy would also be a true reality. I’ve been watching PBS a lot lately (mostly because my year long subscription to our local cable company has again run its course and I cannot afford the regular charges) and have been horrified at the similarities in my day to day life compared to the documented wrongs broadcast on that network. I thought for a long time that it was just my own personal delemas. I thought that I am going through this because I nasty, a dead beat dad, uneducated, broke, powerless, foolish, trusting, weak, and just pretty much a complete and total failure; nobody. I have convinced myself that this is what I deserve for dogging out the one woman who really loved me when I was 21 years old and that the bible should have been my guide to the fruits of life now some 21 years later; Eve. I have to go back that far to remember what a relationship with a real woman was like for those before mentioned reasons. I’ve accepted my fate as just that: fate.

    Now I realize that I have been right and wrong all at the same time this whole time. Its: complicated. Why would I think that this is the fault of someone else? What would anyone esle have to gain by my misery? Why can’t I find a solution? Why can’t I seem to do better having found myself in this personal hell that seems to go unnoticed to the rest of the world? I have believed that it is only because I am not academically gifted enough to understand the needs of other people. Even the other people that I want to love. You see, I am, caught in between a (I)rock and a hard place. And now that I have said my peace for the like one thousand-th time I feel relieved for forums like this one to overcome the anxiety I feel going to work everyday for someone else to become sucessful hoping that someday someone on a business, professional, or at least a personal level could maybe relate to what it is that I think is the problem. Is anyone with me on that?

    • 55th st silverbacks on said:

      WHEN U ARE YOUNG IS WHEN THE MISTAKES ARE SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN,that is why adulthood is so rewarding. and growing the spiritual relationship with god is what u come to find as the answer.after losing my wife , job , apartment and the little self asteem i had left i had no other choice but to leave it all with my father , i was killing myself and my friends nicknamed me “angry man” once i laid it all down and sincerly asked my father for help he guided me to the resources i needed to understand that the internal turmoil was not totally created on my own, mybrother we MUST rely on our past history (as slaves and more importantly prior to slavery for understanding) black history month for us should be a new reminder of the still needed battle for equality , (i am also an avid pbs watcher and they is full naked truths being told. u are not alone as we all sometimes feel.

  6. 55th st silverbacks on said:

    i live in what i believe is the greatest city in america. ihave been to many other large cities and by far my town has them beat i carry pride with me when i say i am a chicagoan. with that being said there is an internal conflict (i believe most black men carry) chicago is also a highly segregated city with the highways dividing by race , the food deserts that are prominate in black communities and the overt racism that contributes to the mentality of blacks in inner cities. RACISM IS ALIVE AND WELL, IT IS THE AMERICAN CULTURE, the situations that take place everyday in a black persons life at every level of existence causing health issues mentally and spiritually. it is THE HISTORY OF AMERICA. and now we as a people perpetuate and nourish it with the actions of our youth. there mind are too young to understand that there are hurting and they lash out. the culture we have assimulated is flawed and we have a history we have not strived to know. IT IS THE ANSWER TO THE OPPRESSION.

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