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On December 6, 2004, 29 homes under construction at the Hunter’s Brooke subdivision in Indian Head, Maryland were damaged or destroyed by fire. The monetary costs of the arson totaled $10 million. The housing development was opposed by many area residents who were disturbed by the long arm of urban sprawl invading their pristine neck of the woods. Environmental groups became the usual suspects.

When the dust settled, six men were arrested and charged with arson. Their goal was not to protect the environment through the use of eco-terrorist tactics.  It was all much simpler. They didn’t want black people moving into their neighborhood.

After long winded fulminations about radical environmentalism and the threat of urban sprawl, it turns out that the perpetrators didn’t want the neighborhood to “go black.” The more things change the more they stay the same.

The media behaved predictably. They all asked if the Maryland community was racist. The answer was a resounding no. White residents said “not us,” black residents confirmed a feeling of comfort with their neighbors.

Despite any and all protestations to the contrary, one suspect owned up to feeling “southern pride” and thought slavery wasn’t so bad. Another said that blacks “have to die.” The arsonists knew which homes had been purchased by blacks and started the fires on those lots.

At this point in the story everyone relaxes. The suspects are in custody and under federal indictment, black and white proclaim they are relieved. Whites aren’t guilty. Blacks aren’t nervous. They should be.

Everyone should be. Violent expressions of racism are never far from the surface in America. Most white people will gasp and proclaim that not one racist bone resides within them when asked about racist motives, thoughts, feelings or actions. Some are telling the truth, and some are not.

However, there is a large minority who will confess and proudly proclaim their racism. Overt white supremacy groups never go away. In the very blue state of Oregon a group who call themselves “ghost skins” are going door to door, like the Avon ladies of yore, in an effort to “enlighten the public on racial truths the media, schools and government are afraid to promote.”

The ghost skins eschew goose stepping and rioting, and proclaim their intention to blend in with their neighbors. They are skinheads, but kinder and gentler in their approach, hence the ghostly aspect of their movement. The ghost skin who distributed the most flyers denouncing “the Oregon cesspool of Niggers, Spics, Kikes, Faggots, Ragheads, Chinks, Gooks, Roaches & leftist communist swine," received among other prizes, 1,000 white power songs as a bonus for work well done. Thank goodness we now have Ipods.

In Riverside, California a volunteer coach for a high school football team was also recruiting players into a white supremacist organization. An investigation that began with allegations of steroid use concluded with the seizure of 100 automatic and semi-automatic weapons, 15,000 rounds of ammunition and photos of freshly scrubbed young Californians giving the old Zeig Heil instead of the lyrics to the school song.

The Maryland men who set fire to the new homes may not have belonged to the KKK, but they may as well have. They were willing to commit a violent act to keep a few brown faces out of their community.

There are thousands of people like them. They sit and lurk in the shadows, waiting for the slightest hint that they have permission to act out their hatred. The narrative is the same all over the world. Muslims in Bosnia told the same story. They lived seemingly in peace with people who rose up to murder them as soon as they thought they could get away with plans for ethnic cleansing.

Americans aren’t any different. Some of us live among people who hate us in silence and passivity. If the conditions are ripe, they will speak up and begin to act out.

As usual black people can’t win. If we get and keep good jobs and save up enough money to buy a nice home in a picturesque setting, we are still unwelcome. The behaviors that we are told will put us on the road to happiness and success often do not.

Once again we must be like tight rope walkers in the circus. Work hard. Buy a house wherever you want to live. Well, not where you want, but wherever your neighbors won’t burn your house to the ground. Being black means never being able to relax.

Lest anyone relax, it is worth mentioning that 168 Americans of all races were killed by the white supremacist Timothy McVeigh. As reluctant as the corporate media is to point it out, McVeigh once had a trial membership in the Klan. He claimed that it wasn’t pro-gun enough to suit him, but if racial hatred didn’t appeal to him at all he would have just joined the NRA.  

So beware of the haters. Beware of them no matter whom they claim to hate the most. Know that they are out there collecting guns and ammo. While our government tells us lies about Chinese-Iraqi terrorists headed to Boston, there are all American boys and girls planning to kill.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in   Ms. Kimberley is a freelance writer living in New York City.  She can be reached via e-Mail at [email protected]. You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at


February 3 2005
Issue 124

is published every Thursday.

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