Monday, October 27, 2014

The New Racism: Denial

I come from a very large family on my mother's side and many of my Facebook friends are family members. My second cousin, LaNi is a lovely, intelligent young woman whose posts are always interesting. She led me to a piece on titled "I Hope My Son Stays White." The author is a white American male married to a black Haitian woman and they have a child together. The focus of his article, with the attention grabbing title, is the concept of white privilege and his recognition that his son, as he ages, will be regarded as a black male and will not share in that privilege. Instead his son will have to confront all the attendant stereotypes foisted on to black males in American culture. It's a thoughtful post and I recommend it.

As I tend to do, I began reading the comments following the article. Some got his point, but the white folks who are in denial that white privilege exists, were clueless, as usual. Then there was Sandy N. who felt compelled to set Tavias straight.
Tavias: I think his point is that recent events has (sic) MADE him aware of how dangerous the lack of said privileges truly are. Most who have those privileges honestly think there is no longer an actual race problem and that those who say there is are pulling "the race card."
Sandy N.: Tavias, given the recent events, I would teach my child to not be a criminal. As far as the "race card" goes, it is people like Al Sharpton that keep it alive. If the races were at peace he would go bankrupt. I don't recall him ever coming out and saying that black men and women should take responsibility for their actions. I have never heard of this man come out against black on black violence, or just violence in general. Sadly, the other biggest problem to race relations is our president. He only interjects himself and his cronies into white on black violence. When did he ever come out on the issues that I mentioned above?
Yes I know it will have no impact on Sandy, but I nonetheless decided to respond to her clueless patter. Sometimes it helps me keep my head from exploding by expressing myself. I left the following comment for Sandy. It will at least make her sputter and protest that she's not a racist and maybe, just maybe, she'll whine and feel put upon by the mean black lady. A woman can always hope. (I don't like people like Sandy.)

Sandy, it is people like you who really contribute to keeping racism alive. You live in a state of constant denial. You do exactly what the author of this post writes about. Even if Michael Brown had robbed ten stores, he was not an animal to be shot in the back multiple times and killed on the street.

Al Sharpton doesn't need to tell Black people to be responsible for our actions. We are not stupid and we don't need to be lectured on how not to be thugs.

Our children are no more thuggish than white children. Funny how when college students overturn vehicles and set fires at some pumpkin festival celebration no one ever uses the word "thugs." When white teenagers break into a house and hold a party and do nearly a million dollars worth of damage to the home, not only are they not labeled thugs but their parents get angry with the homeowner for daring to press charges against their darlings.

Stop worrying about black people's behavior and look at your own. Your attitude is deplorable. Why are you so anxious for someone to lecture us on black on black violence? Neither Sharpton nor the President, nor any black person in his or her right mind condones any type of violence. Why aren't you talking about white on white violence? Or discussing why it is that exceptionally wealthy white people still feel the need to steal, defraud, and run Ponzi schemes to rob people of their life savings? Or why young white males keep taking guns to school and shooting their classmates?

I've had experience with the KKK and you are far worse. The KKK admits that they hate people of color, Jews, homosexuals and anyone who doesn't look like them or share their values. But you are reprehensible, because you're a fraud. Your main concern is that no one think that you're a racist. You spend your energies blaming black people for "reverse racism" as the source of the racial problems in this country.

You despise Al Sharpton without ever having really listened to the man's message. He has never, not once advocated violence as a solution to America's racial issues. He is a devout disciple of Dr. King and has always preached nonviolent protest. How many times have you even listened to the man?

You won't understand a single thing that I've said. Instead you'll write me off as an angry, racist black person. I'm not angry, Sandy. I'm disgusted.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Talking About Jim Crow: The conversation that America has never had

Slavery is certainly at the core of racism in the U.S. but I think that the overt manifestation of racism became firmly entrenched as a part of American culture in the post-civil war era with the implementation of Jim Crow laws (racial segregation laws enacted between 1876 and 1965 in the United States at the state and local level). At least a credible argument can be made that slavery had roots in the economic infrastructure of the South. Jim Crow was just plain meanness, a legalized system of hate and disenfranchisement. Racial hatred based purely on skin color. (Examples of Jim Crow Laws by state)

For a brief period following the Civil War, there was an effort to educate former slaves and their children. For a brief period, there was an effort to offer some level of reparations via land and housing. Former slaves were even elected to political office but after nursing its hurt feelings and bruised ego, the South released its wrath against anyone of African descent and enacted laws to take away what little advances had been achieved and Jim Crow became more powerful and widespread than slavery had ever been. Owning slaves had been the luxury of the landowners, the landed gentry. Anyone with white skin could be superior to the new underclass of blacks.  

The implementation of Jim Crow is the something rotten in the U.S. It's what no one wants to acknowledge, that racism isn't some remnant left over from slavery; racism was created and nurtured to ensure that black people remained only a step above chattel, no longer bought and sold but still deemed inferior to even the poorest of whites.  Jim Crow cast us as the underclass, and denied us all access to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

The dialogue that needs to begin is about the post slavery era of Jim Crow. There are still plenty of us around who lived under Jim Crow laws and also plenty of white Americans who benefitted from Jim Crow laws.  Invariably when there are discussions about racism in mixed company, someone white will question why we (black people) keep talking about slavery. The commentary goes something like this, "It's long been over and done with and no one is still alive who owned slaves or was a slave." 

True, and I have no desire to talk about slavery. What I want to talk about is my childhood, my adolescence, my young adulthood and the laws that restricted where I played, went to school, went out to eat, went to the hospital, received medical care, where and how I traveled, where I sat in the movie theater (assuming it admitted me at all) and every other aspect of my life and the lives of all the black people that I knew. It's a lengthy and long overdue conversation and this country still hasn't engaged in it.