Thursday, July 30, 2009

Get a Clue, Whitey!

Apart from the small contribution of my sixth generation ancestress Polly Red Bird of the Cherokee, my genes come from Northern Europe. Moreover, I have grey eyes and a pallid complexion. I do not tan; I burn. In short, I am pretty much white. I might even qualify as a WASP if it weren't for all the Scots-Irish in my background.

Because I am white, I don't really ever have to think about race. If I were an ignorant wanker, I might even be tempted to declare that I live in a post-racial America. I'm not an ignorant wanker; therefore, I know better than to make such an assertion. I enjoy a lot of privileges by virtue of my race, and I am lucky enough to be aware of it on some level.

Many of my fellow whities are deluded into thinking that discrimination and racism are long behind us. They don't see it every day, mainly because their contact with other races is sporadic at best, so it must not exist. They themselves do not overtly discriminate, or so they believe, so where is all this discrimination of which black folks complain? Theythinks black folks protest too much. Theythinks wrong, methinks.

I have had the good fortune, if I may call it that, of observing segregation and overt racism first hand as a Son o' the South. I grew up in a working class family and was not sheltered from the realities of race relations. I was trained to be a racist, one of the patronizing and condescending sort, but a racist nonetheless. I have had to acknowledge that indoctrination and to apply reason to it every day of my life in order to live my conscious moral stand against racism. It gets easier every year, but the indoctrination is still there in my brain waiting to make me say or do something stupid and irrational.

For black folks, race is an aspect of reality that they have to negotiate carefully. They can't afford to be "color blind" as the clueless and the deceitful would have them be. Being color blind might get them killed. Black folks' recognition of the significance of race is not racism; it's the survival instinct at work. They didn't make the rules of racism; they just have to know what they are.

I urge my fellow whities to get a clue or, if they are among the deceitful racist bastards, to search their souls and repent. If it bothers you that you can't say "nigger", then you are one of the folks I'm talking to. If you reckon you live in a post-racial America, I'm talking to you. Who am I kidding? I'm talking to almost every white person.

No comments: