Where did we go wrong? It’s a question that I ask myself repeatedly from time to time. And before I get too far along in this editorial, I have to preface it by saying that certain paragraphs are going to come off as politically incorrect…perhaps even racist.
In re-reading this publication, I may come away with that same impression even though I believe with every fiber of my being that I don’t have a racist bone in my body.
But things have changed. Racism has returned to the surface full force and it’s an issue that must be dealt with. We are not afforded the luxury of saying that it doesn’t exist even when we know it does. We are seeing more evidence of blatant racism now than ever before.
It is said that the more things change, the more they remain the same…and never has this been more apparent than in 2018. But racism has morphed (or is in the process of morphing) into something else. People of color are not being lynched from trees the way that we were one hundred years ago. We are not being arrested for vagrancy because we don’t have money, property or jobs to go to as they did freely in the Jim Crowe era. We are not being incarcerated at an alarming rate under the guise of declaring a war on drugs when it really was a war on people of color.
Instead, our institutions are being steadily eroded to the point where right is wrong and wrong is consistently being made right all in the name of an ideology that somehow, white people have been forgotten and in that left behind. It doesn’t matter that this has been the experience of people of color for entire lifetimes and generations.
It doesn’t matter that in every major corporation that I have ever worked for, the ratio of people of color in managerial/supervisory roles were disproportionate to the people working in roles that would be considered subordinate.
It doesn’t matter that what is important to me and my well being is considered to be inconsequential to people that don’t look like me. I say this with honesty as this has been my experience foremost of my adult life.
In the era that we are living in now, the institutions that have been put in place to protect us have been turned into weapons. Some white people have been emboldened to use the words nigger, chink and wetback in an effort to demean and belittle; as if the target of these words were somehow not capable of feeling…or even worse, that they deserved to be called it in the first place.
We are living in an era where people of color are looked at with more disdain and mistrust than ever. We are watched with suspicion in stores, told where we can and cannot be and labeled as drug dealers all in the name of an ideology that somehow, the forgotten white people…white people that feel as if they have been left behind is right and justified in their feelings and that everyone else is wrong.
It is the same demographic of white people who feel as if they are having their rights infringed upon which coincidentally are often the same ones that will call the police because they feel as if a person of color isn’t accepting or acknowledging that somehow, they are superior and how dare we forget that.
They frequently use terminologies that would label themselves as patriots and that somehow, most people of color don’t get that concept because we did not originate from here. Or we don’t know or understand the concept of sacrifice when we have, in fact, making sacrifices all our lives. They tell people that don’t look like them that they need to get out of “their” country and go back to where they belong; as if somehow they are the only ones that have the right to lay claim to this country.
After all, the term “black/brown” flight does not exist. But you can look up the definition of “white flight” in the Mirriam Webster dictionary and it is there for you to see:
Definition of white flight
: The departure of whites from places (such as urban neighborhoods or schools) increasingly or predominantly populated by minorities
This issue goes much farther and deeper than the subject of where some people choose to live. It is a reason why they make those decisions in the first place. It is not just the desire of wanting to live among their own kind. After all, that would be tribalism. The real question is the reasoning or “whys” of white flight in the first place. And one of the simplest reasons for this is the word, “equality.”
Some white people have no desire to learn anything about anyone else’s culture, traditions, needs or wants. The farther away the better because if they get too close, they may be forced to reckon with the fact that people of color are just like them. That we feel…just like them. That we love…just like them. That we care for our children…just like them.
That indeed, we are no different than them.
But some of them are clinging to a notion that they are better. They are holding on to the ideology that equality can exist as long as they get the best and first fruits of this country and everyone else gets what’s left over. And the sad part about that thought process is that it is this concept is not equality at all. It’s like saying I don’t mind getting old just as long as I look the same.
And yet, some have murdered, maimed, tortured, raped and imprisoned in the name of a superiority that never existed.
But when you put the paint to the wall, how superior are you really if you have to maim, torture, rape, murder and imprison to prove to yourself and countless others that you really are superior? It’s ironic that truly superior people don’t have to infringe on other people’s livelihood to substantiate their value. Superiority is a concept made up by man to present to his fellow man’s role as being one of servitude.
I am not a radical. I am a realist. I’ve always been a person that disagrees with every fiber of my being that one race is not greater than another. I believe that everyone has value. I’ve believe that everyone is entitled to that positive sense of self-worth and that it does not belong to one race of people to withhold or deny.
I’m not a racist. But given our current political and social climate, I can see the inclination, although it will never be directed at the white men and women that love me for everything I am as well as everything that I am not.
I am angry at the ones that see me as somehow being “less than” and “less deserving.” I am angry at the ones that look at equality, not as a tool to give everyone equal say in our society but one of oppression.
It annoys me that you can’t acknowledge me when I nod my head to acknowledge you in passing; that your way of acknowledgement is to not acknowledge me at all by looking past me as if I didn’t exist. And I cannot tell you how much it bothers me that these same people will say that they aren’t racist when in fact, they are.
Perhaps, what is the most disturbing is the reference to people of color being animals. That immigrants seeking safety from persecution on our shores are being referred to as people that aren’t even human at all; and therefore deserving of any punishment they receive. Because it’s not that they are breaking the law. A defined path should be outlined and made available.
Men of color have been deemed a societal threat since we were freed as slaves. We are viewed as the main perpetrators of violent crimes when statistically; this isn’t the case at all.
I enjoy a very close, tightly knit circle of friends from various racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I have revealed things to these people because I know that what we have supersedes anything that society says we should have and be. These people have laughed with me; cried with me; rejoiced with me, leaned on me and I in turn have leaned on them because we have something that is so powerful and beautiful in its simplicity that it is very much worth sharing…we love one another.
But in order to have this, it really is time for us to stop seeing our differences and instead see our similarities. We need to figure out ways to stop the senseless hatred and instill peace in our lives. People aren’t born to hate. Hatred is taught. But it takes effort to hate. It takes a concerted effort for people to not see others as human beings.
Because at the end of the day, every single life has value and every single life matters.
~ J.L. Whitehead
2. History of white supremacy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_supremacy
3. www.uua.org: https://www.uua.org/sites/live-new.uua.org/files/documents/gardinerwilliam/whiteness/white_supremacy_us.pdf