Is there anything that will make the masses of white people own up to the fact that there is such a thing as white supremacy in these United States, that it has existed for years, and that it has produced “side effects” which continue to affect African-Americans today?
I listened to Bill O’Reilly go toe to toe with Dr. Cornel West, and in their discussion, O’Reilly said he did not believe there is such a thing as white privilege. (http://newsone.com/3168784/cornel-west-schools-bill-oreilly-on-white-supremacy-trickle-down-economics/) O’Reilly is an historian of sorts. He knows what the history of this nation has been as concerns black people. So when he said that, I just sat back, frustrated.
Nowhere do we hear from this nation’s white “leaders” except, maybe, from former President Jimmy Carter, that America has a sordid past as concerns its treatment of black people for which there needs to be atonement. While America blasts ISIS for brutal behavior, her leaders keep her brutality under wraps. The lynching of black people, a huge reality, is something we just don’t talk about. We, Americans, burned black people for being accused, not necessarily convicted of, crimes. We denied people “fair” trials by juries “of their peers.” White people, claiming to be Christian, led by their pastors, treated black people like rabid animals, not human beings with needs, feelings and emotions. White slave traders broke up black families as they looked for the best “deals” to wield the greatest profits for America’s growing economy, and now they complain about the broken black family which too often has no father figure present. White politicians ignored the right of all children to get a good education, denying funds to schools in black rural and urban areas for those schools to provide solid educations for black children. White systems made it impossible for black people who fought in America’s wars to get loans for homes and for education, once they returned home from serving their country. White law enforcement officers often participated in violence against black people; white presidents turned deaf ears and blind eyes to the needs of black people.
I read about the lynching of Sam Hose (http://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/502), accused of killing his boss, and I wept. The going reason for lynching black people was that black men were raping white women. Facts show, however, that it was white men who were raping black women – without ever having to pay for it. Black women were pieces of meat, owned by white men. They were desecrated and humiliated, and were impregnated at the same time. I am sure some black men raped white women, but in many cases, the sex between black men and white women was consensual. White women would lie and say they were raped in order not to be killed by their husbands. Why won’t white people talk about how they are not so “holy,” not so “blameless?”
White people have no idea about how their racism has impacted black people, making masses of black people live in fear. The Great Migration, brilliantly written about in The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, happened in large part because white people terrorized black people in the South, behavior sanctioned by and participated in by politicians and law enforcement officers.
Surely, Mr. O’Reilly knows this and more, and surely, he recognizes that emotional trauma like this – which has not stopped – yields side-effects. Surely too he knows that mass incarceration, on top of black people having limited access to employment, has resulted in disintegration of the African-American community. Surely …
White people seem oblivious to their history. They seem, for the most part, to want to keep their heads in the sand; many refuse to admit that the Civil War was about slavery (states’ rights meant states wanted the right to own slaves). They refuse to admit that Jim Crow worked to dehumanize black people, even as it worked to undo the freedoms black people enjoyed for a short time. They will not own that their participation in job and housing discrimination was something they could do because they were and are white – that their whiteness gave them the privilege of participating in a system which was bullying black people further and further into second class status.
All this happened as white Christians abdicated the dictates of Christianity to live in and with agape love for all people.
America’s democracy has not been democratic, not for black people, and white people will not own it.
A candid observation