Greetings and salutations, my friends. Yes, I know it has been a while since I posted, and for that I apologize. Life has taken some distracting turns for me, including, happily, my work in getting my Master’s degree (finally!!!) and finding myself becoming more of an activist in social justice issues, which is in part the topic of today’s posting.
Earlier this week, Tim Wise (www.timwise.org) posted an article on his website entitled “The Crime of Innocence: White Denial, Black Rebellion and the Cost of American Obliviousness” (May 5th, 2015), subsequently posting the same article to AlterNet re-titled “White America’s Greatest Delusion: ‘They Do Not Know It and They Do Not Want to Know It’”. The article was the equivalent of a 10-page thesis on the topic of why even those who do not believe they are racist (or who actually fight against racism) are still racist and that there is apparently nothing they can do to change that fact.
Really? If there is nothing we can do to change that fact, why do we bother working so hard on the issue or continue to discuss the problem? The answer is simple … we continue to work on it and discuss it because we as a society can change, despite the claims to the contrary, and it has nothing to do with mythical “white privilege”. The claim of white privilege is itself a racist stereotype that implies everyone who is born with white skin is automatically responsible for the sins of their fathers racist mistreatment of minorities, creating a state of collective guilt that can, in Wise’ opinion, never be forgotten.
Perhaps that is part of the problem. It is neither forgotten nor forgiven, perpetually driving a wedge of hatred between the communities and fueling the very racism you are claiming to be against. The black community and apparently self-hating white men like Mr. Wise don’t think it’s enough that we have thrown down the slave whips of the past. Their attitude seems to be that we should pick it up and us it against each other in the white community in a perpetual act of self-chastisement for crimes that we, ourselves, may never have been a part. In rebuttal to the article, I shall confront its points one at a time and explain my perspectives on each.
Wise pointed out that, factually, whites also riot. This is admittedly true. However, the examples he gave pale in comparison to what we have seen in Los Angeles, Ferguson and Baltimore. How does one compare impromptu bonfires of trash, construction debris and portable bathrooms to the burning of gas stations, store fronts and office buildings? How does the throwing of rocks, beer bottles and concrete chunks on a college campus or after a sporting event compare to the throwing of Molotov cocktails and a barrage of bullets in Ferguson or Baltimore?
It is not the act of rioting at issue; it is the level to which protesters took the event that is at issue. And, with all due respect, there is a very large difference between the damage or destruction of a community during a time of war and one committed against your own community during a riot. Moreover, you compare black communities to concentration camps and then accuse white people of rioting when a black man moves into their neighborhood? Really? Let’s see … when WAS the last time that happened? Hell, I was attacked once for daring to move into a BLACK neighborhood in Denver’s “Five Points” neighborhood and a couple years before that in north Aurora for the same reason. How about when I was ganged up on by two black teenagers on my way home eight years before that in Denver’s “Valley Park” neighborhood where I had lived for almost five years and told to “go back to your own neighborhood” after they had assaulted me and stomped on my glasses before walking away?
Claiming that blacks are justified in such behavior is beyond laughable. Claiming foul over jobs moving overseas is equally laughable. How many white people have also lost their jobs over such corporate moves? I lost a call center job because the company “offshored” their call center to somewhere in India twenty years ago. Furthermore, I have been passed over numerous times for jobs because the staff at a given restaurant or business was primarily or even exclusively black or Hispanic and “wouldn’t fit in” with the rest of the crew.
To accuse all white people of being oblivious to the problems of racism ignores contributions by people such as Abraham Lincoln, who believed in more than just the abolition of slavery. If all people are oblivious, how do you account for the contributions of Juliette Hampton Morgan, Reverend James Reeb, Jonathan Myrick Daniels and Viola Gregg Liuzzo during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s? How do you account for your own contributions, Mr. Wise? As misguided as I believe you to be, I recognize you, as a human being, for your efforts in combating racism; I just don’t agree with your blanket claim and attitude on your claim.
Should I bemoan “women’s privilege” over the fact that women get hired more for secretarial positions or as restaurant servers than men like me do or “black privilege” because black people have nightclubs that only they are welcome in or scholarship programs that only they qualify for? Should I tolerate accusations of having “chocolate fantasies” should I have a black woman as my girlfriend, lover or wife while a black man with a white woman screams racism if he is accused of “mixing crème” or having “Oreo” babies?
All of this is offensive, I admit… just as your accusations are offensive to those of us to whom they ill fit. The truth is most of your accusations become self-fulfilling prophecies because minorities tend to believe them to be inevitable and act as if they are true, even when “white” America is standing beside them, trying desperately to help change things. Instead of pointing fingers, Sir … try actually working with people to change the world. As Morgan Freeman said, “How are we going to get rid of racism? Stop talking about it!”
Instead, Sir, do as I do … try treating people as human beings, regardless of their skin color, gender or sexual orientation. This includes NOT accusing all white people of being ignorant of racism. And by the way, I do condemn anyone who destroys the property of others, even if the Rockies were to win the World Series this year.