Race in America
Where does one begin? The police brutality and killing of minorities. The exploitation of their and other non-white cultures. The overt smearing of non-white character in the media. The list of wrongdoings against any non-white people in this country go on and are the mere expressions of a long standing cancer within the body of what we call the United States of America. I’ve been wanting to say something about this for a while, but it seems useless at times. Facebook feeds are more cats, babies, and hollow fluff than substantial coverage of critical issues facing our society. I don’t do enough about it. We don’t do enough about it. Who are we? We are white. We are middle and upper class. We are the people in power that we elect. We are the citizens of this country.
America’s forefathers stitched a belief of white supremacy into the fabric of this country and it still is very present today. For as much good that those who built America did in regards to establishing a thriving economy and social infrastructure, they did so while atrocities were committed against the natives who inhabited the continent originally as well as to Africans who were stolen from their land and brought to the colonies for free labor. The dehumanization, exploitation and attempted exclusion of all non-white people in this country is what has created the unsustainable social construct that we find breaking today. Though there were those that opposed slavery and this malignant behavior during the founding of the United States, they share the same guilt that we present day citizens do for not making right the wrongs of our times.
I do not hate this country. I am grateful for the life it provides my family and I. I am in awe of the great minds that have come from it, how they have progressed civilization and for the economic and social opportunities inherent in our society. It is just glaringly obvious that this country was built to service me, a white, middle to upper class, straight male, and there is a complete disregard in the mainstream discussion about the reality of that. They also seem to skip the part of how we intentionally slaughtered an entire race and culture of natives for their land, how our forefathers allowed slavery and the psychological manipulation of Africans and other “minorities”, (read the Willie Lynch letters) to flourish in order to serve their economic and social prosperity, and about how the battles of the civil war may have ended, but the cultural divide between the self righteous north and the simple minded south still rages on. This is an attempt to bring forward these issues in order to have an honest and hopefully progressive discussion about the nature of our society.
The propaganda worked on all of us. White people grow up in a society that celebrates them throughout history and all across media. Black people grow up in a society that diminishes their culture and contributions, pushing them to assimilate in order to survive as the white economy only rewards those who fit the narrative it wants to maintain. Natives, now latinos, once an “enemy” of the US (defending themselves against foreign invaders), have a subservient stereotype intentionally associated with them in order to prevent them from being seen as equals. Asians, Indians, Muslims, Jews, basically anyone that isn’t a white, Christian, straight male has been subjected to propaganda by those in power in order to create a division among Americans and therefore a justified denial or at least a fortified resistance of access to a prosperous life or the “American Dream”.
That’s why black people are shot by the enforcers of the law. More often than not without retribution. Why a white person can get on a TV screen in America and say racist, ignorant things about an entire group of people to the sound of applauding supporters. Most of whom, I’d suspect are descendants of middle and lower class whites who were manipulated by richer whites in order to feel a slight sense of superiority as they worked their life away for those richer white folks’ economic prosperity.
How do you eradicate a mentality that is so deeply rooted in one’s sense of being? White Christians think this country was made by them, for them. That modern society aka minorities, gays, liberals, etc. are threatening this beautiful, sports loving, apple pie eating, gun toting, bible reading holy land with their ideals of equality, respect and sustainability. How do you get someone who watches FOX news to watch and consider the opinions of MSNBC (is that really the best that media can do?) and vice versa? How can we build a country where everyone’s culture and contributions to our shared society are welcomed and celebrated? Where economic opportunities are accessible to all?
As far as solutions, I’m a bit stumped. Waiting until racist people either die or have an experience that broadens their perspective doesn’t feel very comforting because, for one, we need to move with a little more urgency than that, and two, they often have children, usually with like minded individuals. How or what can we expose their children to that helps them evolve their perspective? Exposure to the artifacts of non-white culture does seem to captivate white youth, but not enough for them to actually care and activate to protect the wellbeing of those who produced it. How can people who recognize this problem help? Protests in the streets? Vote in educated and socially conscious politicians? Supporting organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center? Be kind to all people? Call out and try to educate people who share ignorant points of view? That’s all well and good, but for everyone impacted by this aspect of the American character, the equality, respect and opportunity that America promises its citizens is not being delivered and until it is, in full, it won’t and shouldn’t be enough.
I don’t know if anyone who sees another human as inferior will read these words and decide to open their mind to a new way of approaching people and society. I don’t know if I’m doing anything really substantial in the fight for equality, respect and opportunity in this country. I don’t know how to comfort anyone who experiences such disrespect for their culture and for human beings at the hands of people who look like me. I don’t know what to do except to let people know that I am aware of the situation and am eager to help.
I wish I had some grand proclamation to wrap this all up. A beautiful sentiment, like, “all men are created equal”, or “we are one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” that we could believe in. But, I don’t. I only have the intention of not being silent about what I see and to be an asset in whatever way possible on the march towards a just, thriving and sustainable world for all mankind.