Saturday, February 20, 2021

What happens to the idea of white supremacy?

 

For a couple of months, I had peace of mind.  I could turn on the television and not get upset.  I normally reserve my emotions for conversations more personal and with people I know.  And right now, at this very moment, I am highly emotional.  The feelings remind me of when I was in elementary school; floating in a sea of my own anxiety…feeling like I can grasp the lifeboat of sanity only to be hit by a wave and slide under water again.

For a fleeting moment, I had peace. Trump lost the election and on January 20th, 2021, he would be out of office.  We could start anew.  The man that I wanted to win won the election; and I want to believe that the win mattered.  Sadly, my eyes are opening to the fact that there will always be a war in our government.  With Trump’s loss comes his spirit…the spirit that infected our government in a way that I never thought would happen in my lifetime.  And at the heart of all of this is the resurgence of white supremacy.  33% of white people feel as if they are under siege…that their kind is slowly being eroded or eliminated.  They are saying to America that they have the right to stand up for the rights of white people the same way that blacks stand up for the race of their demographic.  They are enraged and believe that 33% of their kind have been left behind at the expense of others.  Or at least, this is their perception.  I want to make a point to some of my readers that may be totally oblivious to others.  33% of America may feel as if they have been left behind…but it is totally lost on them that these are the exact same feelings that people of color have had to live with all their lives.  Simply put, it is okay that black and brown people are left behind economically if this demographic does not include the 33%.

What these same people do not realize is that white supremacy infringes upon the rights of people of color.  It always had.  Our nation’s history is steeped in white supremacy, which I believe is something that people of color remember vividly, and some white people forget conveniently.  33% of this country forget how it was for black and brown people.  They say that that was a long time ago or that they do not feel that way. 

We know that racial disparities exist and are alive and well in this country.  We know that white people deny its existence because to do so would mean that they could continue to enjoy white privilege. 

I used to deny the existence of white privilege saying that as I have gotten older, things have become better for people that look like me.  But the simple truth is that although things have gotten better for me, things have not really gotten that much better for me and my people.  It may look like that for white people; but if they continue to enjoy white privilege at the expense of people of color, then things really are not that much better for all of us.

The good news is that times are changing for the better for people of color.  Opportunities are becoming available that will hopefully level the playing field for all of us.  This is not at the expense of white people because it was something that should have been in place a long time ago.

I bring this up because we still do not have what we need.  We haven’t for quite some time.  We still deal with the disparities that oftentimes relegates us to the back of the proverbial bus.  We look at white people with disbelief as issues of race and all the problems that appear to come with it be of no major concern to 33% white people.  They are not interested in blacks being murdered in our streets because they are not the ones doing the dying.  They are not interested in being incarcerated at our borders because they are not the ones being locked up.

 33% of this countries white Americans supported Trump.  Let that sink in for a moment.  That is one third of every white man and woman that passes you on the street or in the market.  He wound up getting more votes this year despite his dismal performance as president over the past four years.  And why?  They believe that if he says that he was the best president since Lincoln, then it must be the truth even though he has a history of having a loose relationship with honesty.  They believe that he inherited an economy that was in shambles when in fact, he inherited a good economy due to the polices that had been implemented by the Obama Administration.  Not true?  Well, look at what the Obama Administration inherited, and that Mitch McConnell stated to his constituents that he was going to make it his mission to make Obama a one term president.  A lot of what motivates Donald Trump’s supporters is what the former president says.  If he says he won the 2020 election, then he won.  If he says that he is the true patriot and that people that follow him are also true patriots, then they are.  If he lies to them and if those lies mean that he is willingly misleading them, then so be it.

Trump was never a politician.  He is a wealthy opportunist.  He had no interest in governing unless the outcome would ensure that people of color would be hurt.  Whether this was building a useless wall, arresting people of color at the border, and then separating them from their children, giving tax cuts to the wealthiest of Americans or imprisoning people seeking asylum from their countries of unrest.

Trump had no interest in governing, but he was very much interested in the power of the presidency.  You cannot have one without the other.  And this was very much evident in his not wanting to do anything towards the end of his presidency.

I was foolish to think that after Trump’s tenure, the feelings that catapulted him to the Oval Office would subside.  It didn’t.

We see the aftereffects of everything that he has said and done.  We have seen how he wields the power of the white house.  And thankfully, that is over.

But now that we are at the beginning of a new administration, what will become of the feelings that the 33% harbored against people that do not look like them?  Will they still believe in the ideologies that revolve around white supremacy?  Or will they realize that the feelings that came to the surface get pushed back to the recesses of their mind as it becomes clear that those feelings do not have a place in a democratic society?

I don’t know. 

Only time will tell.

~J.L. Whitehead

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Instead of looking at our past, we can look to our future

 

Every time an incident takes place that shakes us to our core, one of the first things that I hear is “This isn’t America!”  At one time, I was foolish enough to believe that this was true.  Whatever took place…whatever shocked us into temporary silence is a direct contradiction of what America truly stands for.

But what we are seeing is that the events that took place on Wednesday, January 6, 2021is as un-American as it gets.  The sad part about this incident is that it is true.  This is America.  As painful as it may be to many of us, this is America.  We are a nation where a third of us believe that they have the inalienable right to dictate to the rest of us that despite who we elect to office that our voice does not matter.  Sadly, they believe that their voice has been silenced and that they have the right to protest and in doing so, destroy and terrorize our elected officials that works in our nation’s capital.

In a post Trump era, Trump has become somewhat of an enigma instead of a president.  He has willingly lost sight of what the role of the presidency means as well as the constitution that he has at one time sworn to uphold.  We have all had window seats to what he has allowed this country to become.  We have become the nation of Trump…like it or not.  We are living in Trump’s America.  He campaigned on fear, hatred and finger pointing, all in the name of patriotism which is partially responsible for the insurrection that we all bore witness to three to four weeks ago.

 The mayhem that took place is a result of a middle class that feels as if they have been forgotten; a race of people that are threatened by the black and browning of this country, an economy that does not work for everyone and a government that habitually pays homage to the rich.  This is what we see on the surface of what 1/3 of this country believes that this is what ails them.  But there is something deeper at work with “white peoples” pain.  The pain comes from the gradual erosion of the middle class.  In certain parts of the country, there are people lining up in food lines…people that never thought that they would have to participate in a food distribution program

Our problem as a nation starts and ends with inequality.  For decades, there has always been a race of people that prospered at the expense of another.  They flourished with the advent of slavery…and yes, you have probably heard where I am going with this, but for you to understand how we got here, we must understand where we came from.

African American and Indigenous people have been killed, maimed, and raped in the name of whiteness.

Once people of color were freed from the bondage of slavery, we subjected to laws that would further repress us as a people.  This came in the forms of Jim Crow laws.  And while the great migrations of people of color from the south to the north in search of better living conditions and job opportunities, once we got here, we were met with repressive housing tactics and further inequality policies.  This led to mass incarcerations where men of color were jailed for minor drug offenses and given no means to join the working society as upstanding, contributing citizens forcing them into recidivism…or rather, having to repeat the same offenses that landed them in jail in the first place.

“We are seeing racially blended families in the media which signals that now, it is okay to simply be as opposed to being worried about who marries who.” …JL Whitehead

War on drugs was not so much a means of making the ghettos better as it was an unspoken war on black men or men of color.  We were skillfully removed from the household of our families leaving our wives and children to fend for themselves.

I say all of this because this brings us to where we are.  We have survived the presidency of a man who did not believe in equality.  We have survived the policies of a man who wrongfully claimed that he did more for African Americans than any other president when in fact, he rode the success of his predecessor in turning the economy around.  He took credit for it while having nothing to do with it.

But now we can do something about it.

We can move forward as fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, and cousins with pride.  We can hold on to our dignity as we pursue education knowing that the playing field is as close to being even than we have ever seen in decades.

We are seeing racially blended families in the media which signals that now, it is okay to simply be, as opposed to being worried about who marries who.

I have given much thought about this.  In many ways, I became “woke” during the Trump Administration.  Many of us did.

We realized that many of our fellow countrymen valued being white over fairness and equality.  But the truth is that many of our neighbors’ value who we are and will join us as we move forward into a time of hopeful policies that will lessen the burden on us as a people.

Hopefully, we can rise together as a nation that is not splintered in hatred and hypocrisy.  Instead, we can be better by doing better.  We can be a nation that knows what true patriotism is.  True patriotism is loving our nation which is inclusive of everyone and valuing everyone’s contribution to our ideals and principles.  We can lift everyone and rejoice in our nationalities; Germans, Irish, Dutch, African (which contain many divisions of who we are as a people) Italian, Indigenous and Jewish as opposed to one color.

Folks, this can work.  But we must want it to work.  And the road to success is simple…one group must be willing to give up the power that they have enjoyed for decades and be willing to share it so that we all can enjoy the fruits that this land has to offer.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The only way that racism can be abolished is if white people come to grips with their history


 

I was always aware of racism in some way, whether it be in the realms of housing (ghettos), the police, teachers, co-workers, store clerks and supervisors.  African Americans have learned about racism in direct ways such as the institution of policies that were designed to keep people of color in their place, respectively.  We knew that we had been relegated to second class citizenship when we were watched in stores as we shopped, questioned by police with an air of suspicion and regarded with skepticism when it came to the validity of our schoolwork.  We learned how to deal with the role of second-class citizenship by hiding it under the pride of our blackness.  We ignored the poverty by wrapping them in the memories that encompassed the traditions that reflected the love of our families and friends.  The holidays were exclusively ours even if our existence was overlooked by the folks that had no idea that we were capable of loving and feeling…just like them.

I do not speak these words as an angry black man as much as am laying bare the realities of what me and people that looked like me had to endure over the years.  We knew that society as we know was built on the backs of slaves and yet we remained locked away from the first fruits of this land, almost as if we had nothing to do with its fruition.  To make matters worse, we were blamed for our inability to climb the social and economic ladder, as if we had any control over our circulation in social circles that did not want any part of us.

I learned these lessons in elementary school as a young catholic boy that had been taught the sacraments yet knew that the final word was made by a deity that did not look anything like me.

I learned that society had no place for me in a suburban catholic high school where some of the white students called me ugly for no other reason than because I was black.  I knew better than to try out for the lead role in every school play, and still remember vividly when a teacher stopped me from entering the auditorium to enjoy the high school dance because I did not have on a sports jacket; something that they neglected to state as a criterion for accessing the festivities.

I was told more times that I can remember that my writings were subpar and that I would never amount to anything.  I had no idea that this happened to millions of teens that looked like me.  We somehow had the audacity to believe in the mantra of every school that we were judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin; never mind that all of us, black students as well as white contributed to the success of every high school across the country. 

 After graduating from high school, I learned that being gay did not mean that I was entering a society that had any use for me.  To the contrary, I found that my place in this new group that I found myself immersed in placed value on me if I had a large penis.  Most interactions that I had did not value my content of character.  It only mattered how many orgasms I could make you have.  I learned quickly that I was regarded as a “snow queen” if I dated white boys.  Black boys were regarded as “dinge”, and the terminology was used not in the bright daylight of the sun.  Instead, it was whispered, never to my face but behind my back.

I further learned of how I did not fit into the working world as nothing more than moving hands and where my value was measured in how many calls I could take and adhere to a scale that only the best could meet.  It did not escape me that African Americans were relegated to staff meetings while others were included in board meetings.

I realized that white privilege had been a guiding factor throughout my life, and that what made this worse was that white people will never admit that this was the truth, most times because of something that they had said or done.

Racism is alive and well in this country.  We see it in the hateful rhetoric of the president. We feel it in cheers of his supporters.  It is not forgotten that these same people will also believe that they are the only true patriots in this country and that everyone that does not look like them are not.

Racism will never be eradicated unless white people come to grips with how they think as well as reckoning with their history.  They have to own this whenever a person of color broaches this topic is doing so to bridge the culture gap and not trying to make them feel guilty over what has occurred years ago.  Instead, we want you to see how life had been for us over the years.  Our athletes kneel in protest because black people are tired of feeling like we are taking our lives in our own hands when we are stopped by the police for a routine traffic stop.  We are tired of having “the talk” with our children over how to conduct themselves when they find themselves in this position.

We are tired of trying to explain to you that “Black Lives Matter” is not a terroristic group.  It is not a group that states that your life does not matter.  It is simply stating that our lives do matter as we are being killed in a disproportionate manner than the rest of the population.  We are tired of being murdered in the street, and our murderers are found not guilty because the police officer felt that their lives were in danger despite the fact that in most circumstances, they are the ones with the gun.

We are tired of having to explain to you what it is like to be passed over a well-deserved promotion.  We are tired of having to laugh and suck it up when the promotion is given to someone less deserving.

White people need to own up to the existence of white privilege and take the appropriate steps to get rid of it.  This may mean something different to various people.  The bottom line is that this is not an issue that people of color can address because it is not their issue to address.  The responsibility falls in the laps of white people.  And while I clearly know that all white people do not subscribe to racists ideologies, it is those same white people as well as white people that think like them that have to be the primary moving force of ending the silent plague that has been present since the first slave ships landed on our shores.

You see, Africans did not come over willingly.  We did not ask for Jim Crow regulations, Mass Incarcerations, Recidivism and forced housing into neighborhoods that were deemed inhabitable by whites. We only want the same things that you want for yourselves, your wives and your children.

And yet, that seems too much for the society that we live in to give.  And I guess the question you must ask yourselves is…why?

~J.L. Whitehead

 

 

What happens to the idea of white supremacy?

  For a couple of months, I had peace of mind.   I could turn on the television and not get upset.   I normally reserve my emotions for co...