After writing my post on the non-existent white male plight, and my most recent post, co-written by Facebook activist Bryian Revoner, on the racial issues of support for President Obama, a conservative Facebook friend suggested that I write an op-ed on Black racism toward whites. He said that it would “only be fair.”
I told my Facebook friend that as soon as he pointed out to me how Blacks have oppressed whites throughout history, I’d be glad to write that op-ed. So, I decided to write this post instead — but for a different reason than tit-for-tat, a demonstration of Black racism toward whites.
You know, Black anger toward whites exists — of course it does. Why wouldn’t it? There are Blacks who don’t like white people, who don’t believe white people have their interests at heart, who believe that whites are not to be trusted. Is it racism? Maybe . . . or maybe not. The fact is, history — as well as the current political and racial climate — demonstrates that their feelings on this issue are based in reason. While white racism against Blacks, in my opinion, is rooted in anger that Blacks have not been kept down, are achieving, are excelling, have found a voice, and are moving forward in a stronger way than whites are comfortable with, Black racism against whites is rooted in the baggage of slavery and oppression and unfair treatment at the hands of whites. Every time I hear a white person say that “slavery is over, they should get over it already,” I look for the white hood.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve debated this with conservatives, or “closet racists,” the ones who say they’re not racist, but whose every word, attitude, tone and worldview on racist issues reinforces their deep-seated racism. What they don’t, in their limited thinking, understand is that the field of racism, white on black or black on white, isn’t a level one. Whites have not had to do much to earn the cachet of respectability, while whites have fought to keep Blacks down, and Blacks have had to fight for every forward step. I believe that whites who are racist simply want a return to the time when Blacks were second-class citizens — when they were allowed to be citizens at all. They believe intrinsically that whites are better, smarter, and in every way superior to Blacks. They want Blacks to know their place, which isn’t at the head table.
And those are the whites who claim NOT to be racist.
Blacks, on the other hand, have a legitimate reason to fear and distrust whites. If you’ve been put down, oppressed, badly treated, denied jobs, denied housing, denied basic human decency at the hands of a unified group of people, would you not be cautious? Would you not find trusting that group of people difficult? Wouldn’t you, at best, want to “trust but verify,” in the words of Ronald Reagan? And if you see now a political climate where many whites — simply by virtue of the fact that we have a Black president — have become emboldened racists, would you not feel anger in your heart? I feel it in mine. The racism that’s come to the fore in the last two years, since the election of President Obama, isn’t simply whites being angry because the election of this Black man has validated Black equality; Blacks, legitimately, have become angry as well, because the efforts of many whites (can we say teabaggers?) have validated white racism. Just because they’ve hijacked code phrases like “take back our country” and feigned a sudden opposition to “big government” doesn’t make the underlying sentiment any less obvious.
Discussions of racism make many people uncomfortable. Whites with lingering racist sentiments they don’t want to admit to are squeamish of the discussion because, despite their protests, their actions and belief systems belie their claim to non-racist sentiments. Any white who, when called out for racism, flips the script and points to Black racism against whites — does that whole “best defense is a good offense” thing — harbors racist tendencies. I’ll never see it any other way. Dr. Laura felt that she could say the N-word eleven times with no consequences — and was defended by her conservative brethren when she was called out. The claim was that she was denied free speech. Well, Dr. Laura and Glenn Beck and anybody else who throws themselves on the marketplace of public opinion has the right to say what they choose — and we have the right to reject it, and them, outright. The fact that Dr. Laura and her supporters were shocked at the outrage tells us all we need to know about the climate of racism that is gaining support. And we wonder why people of color are angry
I’m a white person. I’m supposed to stand, I suppose, with my white brothers and sisters. I’m supposed to be angered when a Black person doesn’t immediately trust me, supposed to be angered that the color of my skin causes some Blacks to look at me with doubt. I’m not a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but I don’t blame some people of color for thinking that I am. The history of the white race has not shown much decency in its treatment of Black people. And the current political and racial climate doesn’t show whites in a much better light.
I live in an urban area of Chicagoland and have all my life. We have two black kids living with us, friends of our kids. I’ve earned the trust of the Black community I live in, because not only do I live my life color-blind, I put my money where my mouth is and fight oppression and racism wherever it presents itself. And yet, I still understand the distrust. I still realize that my skin color affiliates me with whites, and that many of us are showing ourselves to be dismally ignorant and sickeningly racist.
Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” once said, “As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, he is trash.”
It’s time to take out the trash.