Not Racist, Just Totally White

Photo by Avi Waxman on Unsplash

I posted a smaller version of this as a response to the description of what it was like for the Joyner Sisters to live in a white, suburban town in liberal Massachusetts.

I raised a family in a town very similar to Southborough, about half an hour away, Acton, MA. At the time, Acton had about 15% minorities. Now, I think it is about 45% minority, but 95% of those are Asians and South Asians. They are there for the good school system, and because the area is now full of high tech and biotech companies. The house prices are expensive, when compared to the rest of the country, but not nearly as expensive as the towns closer to Boston.

I am grateful to the Joyner sisters for putting their story out there. It is direct and clear. My hope is that they now begin to believe that there is a chance that their future may feel different.

I am also very pleased to read the responses. There have been diversity efforts going on for the last thirty years in towns, cities and corporations, but until now, their efforts have achieved fewer real, positive results than a commercial on Fox News.

But it seems as if there are people from Southborough, and so many similar suburban towns all across America, who have seen the last few weeks as a dope-slap to America, and not the kind that our President is advocating. It is gratifying to see that people finally realize that suburbia was built to keep white folks comfortable.

As the sisters point out, none of their social studies classes ever informed them that the great expansion of suburbs, which were built for soldiers returning from WWII, places like Levitown, PA, did not allow an African Americans to live there. How many people today know that the first G.I. Bill, which was really the seed money for the American Middle Class, as it allowed them to get an education, to buy a home, and to get healthcare, was denied to Black soldiers?

White Americans have been afraid of the people who were brought from Africa in chains, and then all of their descendants since 1619. That’s because they realized that keeping people in slavery makes them angry. Even when the chains were removed, the fear remained. That is the underlying cause of the “shoot first” mentality? “That Black man is angry, he is a threat to me, I’d better shoot him first.” So they do.

Even if they don’t shoot him, they don’t give him a good job,and then they don’t promote him from the jobs the do allow him to have. They certainly don’t want him living in the neighborhood, even if he is kind, gentle, smart, funny, prosperous, caring and helpful. They never got to see that is they way most African American men are, if you get to know them. But no one in almost all of the Southboroughs of America gets to know their Black neighbors because the police stop them as they drive across the town line.

In these towns, a huge majority of people would say they are not racist, and that they judge everyone equally. But the problem is that hey have no contact with Black people, so what they think comes from stereotypes, rumors, and total ignorance. This void often gets filled by the people who are more overtly racist. They are the ones who make jokes, let out a few slurs, and hold on to their White Privilege with pride and arrogance. The people around them, who usually have no strong feelings either way, just let it got, tolerate it, or in some instances begin to believe it. It’s those silent people who are now speaking out. That is what needs to happen.

That is why these last weeks have been sot striking. People had time to repeatedly watch the videos of three Black men being murdered. And, what everyone also saw clearly, was that the first reaction of the police and investigators was that those murders were all just in a day’s work.

Now, in reaction to that, many people of all colors and stripes are realizing that jogging through a white neighborhood, trying to use a phony $20 bill, or falling asleep in your car, is only a Capital Crime if you are a Black man.

Beyond that, people are seeing that Black people have always been the last hired and first fired. That the public schools that Black kids go to are not on the same level as those in the white suburban towns. That the public transportation into the Black neighborhoods is the one that runs late. That when houses in cities began to get more expensive, Black people get evicted. That the net worth of Black families is less than 1/10 th of that of White families. And, it’s the Black adolescent who get sent to prison while the white boy gets a “Continued without a finding.”

A lot of it goes directly back to 1865, after the Northern War of Aggression. The former slaves were promised 40 acres and a mule. They never got those. What they did get was the KKK. And now we have Trump, Barr and Stephan Miller. Despite their best efforts they may prove to be the biggest agents of change in 400 years.

It’s not over yet. Those folks don’t go away quietly. Racism has to be ripped out of American culture. It’s been there since the beginning. If we stick with it, we only need 60% of us, and it can still be done. But now, that includes YOU.

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D J B

D J B

I have been mumbling almost incoherently in response to life's problems for a long, long time. Contact me at djbermont@gmail.com