I Did Nothing Wrong
Racism rears its ugly head, and white people have only one primary concern:
Anxiously scrambling for the keyboard, to retweet some statement of disdain for white supremacy.
But to cover all their bases, to establish their innocence and moral perfection, they blanket it to “all sides” and “all who hate.” This startling inability to be specific, the rush to vague and vapid language as if it is some morally superior position to be imprecise, is borne out of an anxious heart. Have to spread the blame around so that I don’t have to feel bad about me and my people.
The blanket statements are rightly condemned. But the condemnations fall on deaf ears for most people have no on earhly idea why it would be wrong to just give a broad treatment to all evil. No clue. No clue how much it looks like the child backed in the corner: “I did nothing wrong mom, NO, I AM GOOD, BUT I’M GOOD I NEVER DO ANYTHING WRONG I’M THE PERFECT CHILD.’
It would seem like severe mental instability to any other outside observer.
White Americans are deeply afraid of their own shadow. They don’t want a hint of impurity to stain their image of innocence and individual agency. I have done nothing wrong. I am not responsible.
We barely cover up the reality: We don’t actually care about other people, we only care about our reputation and preserving our fragile identity.
If we admit anything more than this, our whole world comes crumbling down around us. We are not the independent, hard-working, moral agents, uniquely blessed by God, that we thought we were. Maybe we’re just the same as everybody else. Indeed, we’re in some ways worse than everybody else, becuase of all the things we had to do to preserve the lie that we were not the same as everybody else. Anyone who threatened our vision of innocence had to be scapegoated and eradicated. Native Americans had to go, because they saw the dirt on our faces. The blacks too have seen too much. They will always be here as a testament to our imperfection, they must be silenced or locked away or destroyed. Their mere existence, not to mention their occasional pleas to be put back together, is the broken piece on the vase of mother’s that we dropped on the floor. We keep turning the vase around so the missing piece is hidden but someone keeps flipping it back around and it stares us in the face.
Oh there is grace, there is absolutely grace for us. But we refuse to accept it. We’d rather have our innocence. We’d rather not be a forgiven sinner but an innocent child. But we are an adult, even though we still suck our thumb and wet our bed, we are an adult.
For all our talk of personal responsibility, we rather shun responsibility, out of fear that a speck of dirt might stain the blazing white we imagine ourselves to be.
Yes, it’s no surprise that the old KKK wore white hoods. All stain had to be covered up, all individuality or imperfection or reality. Just a blank slate of pure white, innocent, Edenic. But fantastical, unreal. The slightest stain or tear of reality would shatter the whole thing.
James Baldwin always hits it right on the head. We desperately need others to tell us that we’re ‘okay,’ that we are ‘good.’ We need the Negro to assure us that he still loves us, that we are not hated, because we have done nothing to deserve being hated.
And again he is a pawn, a pawn in our own minds, a totem for solving our own eternal emptiness.
And so ‘there’s blame on many sides,’ is so much easier than taking off the blank canvas and looking in the mirror as we are. As human.
So when our impulse is to preserve our innocence, ensure that everyone knows we had nothing to do with it, just know you’re playing into your own mind game. And that no one but you really cares. No one cares if you’re innocent. No one cares if you’re better. No one cares if you’ve condemned all the things, shunned all the evil. Certainly not God. God cares least of all, because God of all people knows it’s a lie. It’s a terrible lie. And it has nothing to do with righteousness, nothing to do with justice, nothing to do with eradicating evil.
It’s the same old game where’ we’re the most important show on the block. We’re still in the spotlight. We’re still lilly-white, and the angry masses below are a shock to us. Why are they so angry? They must be the evil ones. Down there are the demons.
Ah, but the demons are inside of us. We carry them on our backs. We feed them. We house and clothe them. We give them everything until we’re emaciated and naked, but walking around like we’re dressed in royal robes because that’s what the little voice whispers to us.
The demon is out there, we’re told. He’s the one we’re convinced is lunging for our gun. That’s exactly how Darren put it. He looked like a demon. Reaching for our weapon. We want him to do it. We’re begging him to do it. Because then we will know that we’re not the bad ones. It’s him. It will be the final piece of evidence we need that we are innocent, he is human, and humans must be done away with. We don’t want humans here, just the innocent. And if he kills us, it will at least put us out of our misery and give us a heroic ending and a chance for our ancestors to avenge us.