Southerners and Self-Loathing
As a southerner having spent a great deal of my life around racial hatred, and with memories of the legally segregated south, I feel I may have some insight about racist motivation. (Though I am white, I’m not blind.)
Simplifying, slavery existed because a certain number of wealthy white southerners were unwilling (or unable) to personally commit to the amount of labor necessary to provide the lives of luxury and status they desired. (Most southerners were neither slave owners nor lazy, and typically, white sharecroppers were little more than economic slaves themselves. But they did have their freedom. And even those white southerners without slaves generally became an undeniable part of the slave-owning south regardless. One presumes, content to have their status defined by those still one step beneath.) Paradoxically, slave owners were forced by self-loathing to hate what made them rich, and feel conflicted over the status provided them entirely by people with none. Southerners felt required to despise Blacks by their desperate need to deny the link between Blacks and their own equal needs for 1) wealth, status and luxury, and 2) their own preference of status over hard work. (None of these slave owners were initially lacking in resources. Had they wished, they could have hired workers instead of buying slaves. But that would have very frequently required that the “bosses” and their family also work long, hard hours, and the status they craved did not permit that.)
The wealth and success of the South, and that part of it still in existence, was built substantially by the labor and great suffering of Black slaves. Great wealth was undeniably built, though largely squandered since. (The proof being that the south almost without exception now receives more from the federal government than it pays in.) So if we compare the wealth of the south with slaves to the wealth of the south since (i.e., pre/post civil war era), there remains little question that today's typical racist southerner surely resents, if only subconsciously, that the south they take such pride in was built, not by ancestors touted in their lore and heritage, but by those they label as “worthless and lazy.” (If those supposedly “without value” built such a “glorious South”, what sense of self or personal value can that leave racist white southerners?)
When making almost exactly that same comparison of the failed America under George W. Bush (a questionable president in almost every way) to the successful America under President Barack Obama ( a president racists tried, and failed, to make questionable), once again the “racist white America” aspect must accept the harsh truth, that yet again “white” America owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to a hated, “foreign”, dark-skinned race.
Of course the south hates and resists “Obamacare”. It forces countless generational racists to consider how they are to explain to their children that they need to turn to something vitally important, yet provided by a caring and helpful (hopeful) Black man. Something that no white man had been able to provide in decades of effort. Easier to pretend it doesn’t exist by simply eliminating it through choosing a so-called ‘leader’ promising to do just that.
In that context, how might people seeing themselves as a “ruling class”, lacking in education and insight, not simply find it easier to hate a race that makes the racial majority of a nation look and feel inferior, repeatedly and historically. Hate is far easier than for southern racists to find it within themselves to grow in humanity and personal responsibility.