I've always thought that the core of racism would end with my generation because it was too ashamed to pass it on overtly with a more enlightened new generation who lives integrated with everyone else. But Donald Trump used the best tactic that would always supersede shame. White Progressives in the know are the key. Are you a friend and ally? Really? Then ...
It will take White Progressives to neutralize what Donald Trump and his white supremacist ilk have unleashed on this country. No one is naive. Racism, institutionalized and others remain. But the arc to mitigation was well underway. The problem is that race is but a social construct designed to divide so that a select few need not worry about the masses recognizing the pilfer effected on them by the plutocracy they control.
There are many white people, black people, Latino people, and everyone else doing just good enough to be comfortable till their next crisis. For decades our societal designed pecking order meant that in the aggregate white people were the ones who were the last to feel the economic pain of downturns and they were the first to recover.
From a simple mathematical absolute reality, it was inevitable that more and more white people would get absorbed into the same pains felt by the 'others.' You see if the personal economies of the wealthy few grow faster than those of the masses, it means more people are fighting for a smaller portion of the pie. Eventually, the racial, social construct begins to fail. Why? Because even more white people are absorbed into the same realities of the 'other,' systemic poverty and an ever lowering of their class status.
Chris Rock made a statement that some took offense to a few years ago that made sense then but is a bit more complex now.
"None of ya would change places with me!" Chris Rock said. "And I'm rich! That's how good it is to be white!"
What changed? Whiteness to many meant a surety that if they worked hard enough and secured the right breaks from the 'right people' that America was a real meritocracy for the chosen 'white people' that guaranteed them access to success over the 'other.' So then, why would anyone take on the known burden of being the 'other' in which not even wealth guarantees equal access to justice or a care free existence?
Reality forced many white people to see beyond the American dream. They don't see their ascent into success progressively. In fact, in the aggregate, they have gone from stagnation to decline. Hell, their mortality rates are moving in the direction of the 'other.' This is not at all unexpected. Again, remember race is a social construct and an imaginary construct at that. Humans behave the same and have equivalent outcomes and proclivities under similar conditions.
White people are at a fork in the road. They can scapegoat the 'other' for their difficulties. Alternatively, they can dig deep and realize that in the aggregate it is a few in their own racial, social construct that is screwing them. That latter realization would have them join the 'others' and fight those who have really pilfered us all.
But education is the key. Specifically, the education of white men who Donald Trump and his ilk have targeted for the same old indoctrination that preaches that the 'others' are the reason for their pain. And that indoctrination creates the victimhood mentality that is passed down to the next generation.
I wrote an article titled "Should we coddle angry white men or tell them the truth?" that I cross posted to the front page of the country's most progressive site, Dailykos.com. The comments were much more positive than I expected. In fact, it led me to write this post after receiving one shocking yet not unexpected comment. DROzone wrote the following.
Today, we had a BBQ at my house. My childhood best friend was there with her sister’s kids. Her brother-in-law is a NYC firefighter.
Their seven year old son was sitting with his grandmother when he said he wanted to play with one of my godson’s toys. (My Godson is my cousin’s kid, my cousin is biracial, but physically black). When his grandmother told him to ask my godson’s mother for permission, he told her “No, I don’t like people with brown skin.” He said it twice. When his grandmother corrected him, he said “they look like poop because they are poop”
When his grandmother got even more angry, he said “daddy told me”
Lest we think that future generations will end racism.
There are two things I got out of that message. One is more obvious than the other.
The first is that I am tired of my white and 'other' northern brothers and sisters playing the moral superiority card over my southern brothers and sisters. Racism is the same all over the darn country. I postulate that the South may be a bit more honest because they are more open in displaying their hate for the 'other' if even with a smile.
The second is that entitling socially constructed white America with the victimization card removed the shame of having one's offspring see their parents as racists. Why, because Donald Trump and his ilk have given them the justification for their racism and xenophobia even if they are false ones.
And this is where white Progressives must decide if they are really friends and allies of the 'others.' Because of the racial polarization in the country, you, white Progressives, are holding a valuable card. You are the bridge to sanity if you choose to live and work to instantiate the ideals you stand for and support. You are the ones who can use the tools of familiarity, peer pressure, and moral indignation with those indoctrinated by Trump and his ilk. Your whiteness gives you access and at least a hearing. The 'others'' barriers to getting access let alone a hearing in the psyche of the indoctrinated is sometimes an insurmountable task.
White Progressives who are friends and allies but not fully engaged, here is the 'then' that is missing in the title of this article. You must first enlighten White Progressives that continue to live in a privilege unrecognized to themselves.
Second, you must get off of your morally superior horse and engage those indoctrinated in a manner that relates to the realities as they see it to plant the seeds to bend their thinking over time. It is a difficult task. But we must consider it a long haul. Fail at it and the country will fail.
There is not another Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela in the making. The 'others' of today believe that the rise of Trump, his ilk, and white nationalism are failures of past approaches that the 'others' took. They are not going to negotiate equal access to success. They are not going to negotiate equal access to justice. They will make life uncomfortable in the country as their perceived oppression increases. Are you up to the task to mitigate the potential turmoil?
Please leave your comments below. Please enlighten others.
Also published on Medium.