Saturday, September 01, 2007


In mid July I posted on a disturbing billboard I've been driving past for years on I-10 just outside of Vidor, Texas. In the post, I casually mentioned that Vidor tolerates the KKK and has a longstanding reputation for racism. More recently, like over the last three or four days, this post ended up being linked to a discussion about that same billboard on an online forum page hosted by a television station in nearby Beaumont. A man from Vidor took exception to my characterization of his hometown as racist in Real Art comments.

A fascinating discussion ensued (my responses are in italics):

Ron! you need to get your facts right about Vidor before you start running off at the mouth! Your aspect of Vidor life is totally WRONG!! You stated "Vidor is a town where Klansmen have no shame running around in t-shirts with KKK insignias, and with similar bumper stickers on their pick-'em-up trucks; towns like that historically have crooked cops" How many times have YOU actually seen this?? This is whats wrong with the world today. People like Ron talk of rumors that have been passed down forever. But yet no one has actually seen any of this happening!! Get your story strait and repost it!


Tim, I'm sure you're very proud of your hometown, and I'm also sure that there are a lot of good people in Vidor. However, and I offer this with the caveat that I've only stopped there once, I've seen these Klansmen with my own eyes. My fiance and I stopped for gas back in '98 on a trip from Houston to New Orleans at a station in Vidor across I-10 from a Burger King. We're alternative art weirdos and looked the part that day, which is, I think, why these two proud racists were staring us down. She needed to go to the bathroom but these guys were apparently trying to make us nervous, so I told her that we should go to the Burger King across the highway. I swear to you these guys followed us over there--I mean, it could have been just been a coincidence; maybe they just wanted to get some whoppers, but they were there like 90 seconds after we got there. So we found a bathroom in Orange, and I've never stopped in Vidor again, which is why I've only been there once.

I'm sure Vidor isn't the hotbed of racism it was in the 50s; everything changes, but according to this recent CNN story, racism does indeed persist in Vidor, as a part of its overall culture, to this very day. My facts are straight. I think you're just engaging in wishful thinking.

Here's a hint: instead of simply wishing things are better, admit the truth and work to actually make things better.


Ron, anywhere you going in the World racism exist. YES, we do have some bad apples in Vidor. But there isn’t a town in the United State that doesn’t. And about your story you spoke of, I am sorry. But the same goes for me if I walked into the 5th ward in Houston. Not everyone in every town are saints. But please don’t base you opinion of us on a FEW LOSER we call neighbors in our town. Thanks


Yes, well, some places have more bad apples than others; some places are more tolerant of bad apples than others. You would NEVER see members of the KKK shamelessly walking around bedecked in their racist symbols in, well, MOST cities in the US. Indeed, the only time before my encounter in Vidor I had ever seen Klansmen who visibly identified themselves as such was at a rally on the Capitol steps in Austin. There was a contingent of hundreds of state troopers there to make sure that the angry mob, of which I was a part, didn't tear these vile racists limb from limb.

Where's the angry mob in Vidor?

There's not one, and that's my point.


You’re Rev. Al, Jesse Jackson and others are more raciest then pretty much every member of the KKK. Anything that happens to a colored man they have to point the blame. Example (Mike Vick)!! It’s not because he’s black that the media and the court systems want to throw the book at him. It’s because he an idiot and BROKE the law.

And explain this one to me. How do they get away with BET, African American college funds, Ebony, NAACP and the list goes on and on!! If WE set up a WHITE college fund for students the black race would be throwing the biggest fit. And don’t give me that your kind has been suppressed for some many years. I you can’t straiten stuff out in 80year you might as well give up.

I’m not mad at anyone. Just REALLY get tired of hearing outsiders who don’t know what’s going on run their mouths all the time.


Sharpton and Jackson aren't mine; they're bozo political opportunists, doing more to hurt the cause of anti-racism than to help it, and I do not support them in any way shape or form. But by what standard do you judge them to be racist? Stupidity does not a racist make.

And more racist than the KKK, which has a history of murder and lynchings? Surely you jest.

Either you're in your eighties, in which case I'll cut you some slack, or you're a racist yourself: the term "colored" when used to refer to African-Americans has been considered by mainstream Americans to be derogatory for many years now. How can you not know this?

Michael Vick is a scumbag. I've seen an essay or two by black writers alleging some racism with the media frenzy over the dog fighting scandal, but that's about it. One or two guys. Right wing radio, however, is going on and on about all these imaginary black people coming to Vick's defense. The whole thing has been made up by Rush and Hannity. They're turning a couple of essays into some huge non-existent thing.

Kind of like O'Reilly and his imaginary war on Christmas.

You know, we do have white college funds; they're called "college funds." We also have white magazines called "Time," and "Newsweek." Further, we have white history month: it's from March to January, and generally referred to simply as "history." When white culture is also mainstream culture, as it is here in the US, you don't really need to put the word "white" in front of things. It's simply assumed that's the case.

And you say "your kind"? You appear to be under the mistaken impression that I'm black. I'm not. I'm white, just like you. I'm from Texas, just like you. But I don't waste my time whining about African-Americans trying to overcome the white power structure's multi-century oppression of them. I mean, c'mon. Jim Crow only ended forty two years ago and you expect everything to be just dandy? That blacks start with nothing in 1965 and then must shut the hell up forty years later because you think they're no longer oppressed?

Finally, your whole "tired of hearing outsiders" comment sounds a LOT like what George Wallace might have said about the "outside agitators" coming down South to register black voters. Like I said, I'm a Texan, just like you, white, just like you. I've never lived in Vidor, but it doesn't matter. You don't get a pass just because you live in a different town. Racism is wrong everywhere.

Tim, I think the reason you believe that racism is a non-issue in your town is because you appear to be extraordinarily unversed in contemporary discussion on the matter. Of course you don't see racism in Vidor--you don't quite know what racism is.

The truth is that Vidor has a long history of racism which lingers to this very day. Indeed, back in the early 90s Texas Monthly did a big story on the town, in response to this incident, and wrote in big letters on the cover "The Most Hateful Town in Texas." This is recent history we're talking about. So I'm right; Tim is wrong.

Actually, the guy simply ends up making my point for me in his last post when he finally lets loose with his own David Duke styled tirade. I really thought about straight-up calling him a racist in my final post, but that's a word that drives white people nuts whether they're racist or not. I figured that if I wanted him to listen to me I'd be better off keeping the flame level at medium instead of bumping it up to high.

But make no mistake: this guy's a racist.