Thoughts on White Racism

antiracism

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on White Racism

By John Metta
www.twitter.com/johnmetta
Originally published as “I, Racist” on medium.com

What follows is the text of a “sermon” that I gave as a “congregational reflection” to an all White audience at the Bethel Congregational United Church of Christ on Sunday, June 28th.

A couple weeks ago, I was debating what I was going to talk about in this sermon. I told Pastor Kelly Ryan I had great reservations talking about the one topic that I think about every single day.

Then, a terrorist massacred nine innocent people in a church that I went to, in a city that I still think of as home. At that point, I knew that despite any misgivings, I needed to talk about race.

You see, I don’t talk about race with White people. To illustrate why, I’ll tell a story:

It was probably about 15 years ago when a conversation took place between my aunt, who is White and lives in New York State, and my sister, who is Black and lives in North Carolina. This conversation can be distilled to a single sentence, said by my Black sister:

“The only difference between people in The North and people in The South is that down here, at least people are honest about being racist.”

There was a lot more to that conversation, obviously, but I suggest that it can be distilled into that one sentence because it has been, by my White aunt. Over a decade later, this sentence is still what she talks about. It has become the single most important aspect of my aunt’s relationship with my Black family. She is still hurt by the suggestion that people in New York, that she, a northerner, a liberal, a good person who has Black family members, is a racist.

This perfectly illustrates why I don’t talk about race with White people. Even- or rather, especially- my own family.

I love my aunt. She’s actually my favorite aunt, and believe me, I have a lot of awesome aunts to choose from. But the facts are actually quite in my sister’s favor on this one.…….I don’t talk about race with White people because I have so often seen it go nowhere. When I was younger, I thought it was because all white people are racist. Recently, I’ve begun to understand that it’s more nuanced than that.

To understand, you have to know that Black people think in terms of Black people. We don’t see a shooting of an innocent Black child in another state as something separate from us because we know viscerally that it could be our child, our parent, or us, that is shot.

The shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston resonated with me because Walter Scott was portrayed in the media as a deadbeat and a criminal- but when you look at the facts about the actual man, he was nearly indistinguishable from my own father.

Racism affects us directly because the fact that it happened at a geographically remote location or to another Black person is only a coincidence, an accident. It could just as easily happen to us- right here, right now.

Black people think in terms of we because we live in a society where the social and political structures interact with us as Black people.

White people do not think in terms of we. White people have the privilege to interact with the social and political structures of our society as individuals. You are “you,” I am “one of them.” Whites are often not directly affected by racial oppression even in their own community, so what does not affect them locally has little chance of affecting them regionally or nationally. They have no need, nor often any real desire, to think in terms of a group. They are supported by the system, and so are mostly unaffected by it.

What they are affected by are attacks on their own character. To my aunt, the suggestion that “people in The North are racist” is an attack on her as a racist. She is unable to differentiate her participation within a racist system (upwardly mobile, not racially profiled, able to move to White suburbs, etc.) from an accusation that she, individually, is a racist. Without being able to make that differentiation, White people in general decide to vigorously defend their own personal non-racism, or point out that it doesn’t exist because they don’t see it.

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A Baby Boomer Looks at Africa

Africa Map

Baby Boomer Looks at Africa

When I was in grade school, back in the nineteen fifties, most classrooms…not only in my school, one may presume, but all over the United States…had a large, hanging world map usually displayed in the front of the room.

Two colors stood out on these maps: red and green.The red represented the British Empire, and green that of the French. In both cases, these colors were most prevalent on that part of the map which represented Africa.

 

Sub-Saharan Africa a Mythical Place

Africa – especially the sub-Saharan portion – was, for us, a mythical place; filled with lions and leopards; elephants and rhinos and giant herds of herbivores whose appearance at the nearest watering hole often meant lunch was served to and for the canine-toothed predators who knew the weaknesses and foibles of their non-carnivorous neighbors.. Continue reading

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Race, socioeconomics and love online

interracial couple

Race, socioeconomics and love online

Originally posted as “What drives online dating preference? Race or class?” by Sidney in “Fyooz” at interracialdatingcentral.com on 31 Jan

fewer people choosing mates who are outside their race

Yes! Most of us support interracial relationships… and the number of supporters keeps rising. So why is it that when it comes to online dating, fewer people are choosing mates who are outside their race? Why are online daters hesitant to date interracially despite studies showing growing support and growth in interracial relationships? Continue reading

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Ploumis Reviews “Belle”

Ploumis-reviews Belle

Ploumis reviews “Belle”  (2013)…Movies are important. They not only entertain us, but also affect us at a deeper, cultural level. We live in a time that is rife with racial debates and injustices. Continue reading

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On Trayvon Martin…one of us

From the renowned rabbi and incisive social critic, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
More of Rabbi Boteach’s writings can be read at his web site; http://www.shmuley.com/

No greater tragedy can befall parents than having to bury a child. This is especially true when the child is killed and a perpetrator gets away with it. In this sense no American can but feel the double pain of the parents of Trayvon Martin.

On the other side of the equation, however, is the interview given by the father and brother of George Zimmerman, the shooter, who have spoken of a son and sibling who shot an assailant in self-defense but who is now being so pilloried and demonized that he cannot leave his home for fear of violence.

Who is right?

Read more at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/trayvon-martin-race_b_1392934.html

Posted on the Huffington Post on 3/30/12

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“Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. DuBois Ch. 1 Pt. 1

Chapter 1

I. Of Our Spiritual Strivings

O water, voice of my heart, crying in the sand,
All night long crying with a mournful cry,
As I lie and listen, and cannot understand
The voice of my heart in my side or the voice of the sea,
O water, crying for rest, is it I, is it I?
All night long the water is crying to me.

Unresting water, there shall never be rest
Till the last moon droop and the last tide fail,
And the fire of the end begin to burn in the west;
And the heart shall be weary and wonder and cry like the sea,
All life long crying without avail,
As the water all night long is crying to me.

ARTHUR SYMONS.

[musical notation from “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”]

 

Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.

And yet, being a problem is a strange experience, — peculiar even for one who has never been anything else, save perhaps in babyhood and in Europe. It is in the early days of rollicking boyhood that the revelation first bursts upon one, all in a day, as it were. I remember well when the shadow swept across me. I was a little thing, away up in the hills of New England, where the dark Housatonic winds between Hoosac and Taghkanic to the sea. In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put it into the boys’ and girls’ heads to buy gorgeous visiting-cards — ten cents a package — and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card, — refused it peremptorily, with a glance. Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common contempt, and lived above it in a region of blue sky and great wandering shadows. That sky was bluest when I could beat my mates at examination-time, or beat them at a foot-race, or even beat their stringy heads. Alas, with the years all this fine contempt began to fade; for the words I longed for, and all their dazzling opportunities, were theirs, not mine. But they should not keep these prizes, I said; some, all, I would wrest from them. Just how I would do it I could never decide: by reading law, by healing the sick, by telling the wonderful tales that swam in my head, — some way. With other black boys the strife was not so fiercely sunny: their youth shrunk into tasteless sycophancy, or into silent hatred of the pale world about them and mocking distrust of everything white; or wasted itself in a bitter cry, Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house? The shades of the prison-house closed round about us all: walls strait and stubborn to the whitest, but relentlessly narrow, tall, and unscalable to sons of night who must plod darkly on in resignation, or beat unavailing palms against the stone, or steadily, half hopelessly, watch the streak of blue above.
To purchase “Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. DuBois click on the clink below:

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Anatole Broyard and Passing for White


Anatole Broyard

Anatole Broyard and Passing for White

Born into the rigid racial caste system of the nineteen-twenties Deep South, the gifted New York Times literary critic Anatole Broyard died a country squire in Connecticut in 1990. His secret – that he was “passing” for white in an utterly race-conscious America – was disclosed to his daughter only at the  end of his life

Anatole Broyard and Passing for White

Back When Skin Color Was Destiny — Unless You Passed for White

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