Being racist is like being drunk: Your judgement is impaired, you overreact to things that don’t matter, and you probably shouldn’t be in politics.
In light of upticks in police brutality and #BlackLivesMatter activists doing everything from dissing cops in Dunkin’ Donuts to blocking off entire highways , racial tension once again electrifies the air. Since many think in terms of black and white and not shades of brown, race activists need to once again think about what it means to reach across the aisle.
Let me address a language barrier before going much further. I use the terms “black” and “white” to refer to conventional divides that color inspired, but not necessarily the colors themselves—Such as when Caucasians mock one another for “acting black” or vice-versa. In reality the words oversimplify things greatly, so I consider them more illustrative than descriptive. Don’t get too hung up on the semantics, because I know that the racist relationships I’m about to describe are readily observable despite the convenience and brevity of the nomenclature.
We know the popular image of racism. If you go up to McCaysville, Georgia and float down the nearby river as I did during my family’s Labor Day cookouts, you will see on the bank a porch with a statue of a black boy holding a Confederate flag. McCaysville is the place where you will find conservative stereotypes. They sell drugs and guns in the same store, just in case you needed Xanax and a Desert Eagle for a few nights of Budweiser-sponsored fag drags in a 1946 Chevrolet Clunkbucket.
You think I’m kidding.
We know about the old white pot-bellied snaggletooth wearing Confederate flag undies and nothing else. He grins toothlessly—24oz Yuengling held aloft—from his tobacco-stained lawn chair as you gape at his moldy trailer from a Cracker Barrel rocking chair.
But there is a new white racist in town. He doesn’t hate blacks, he just pretends to love them. He’s the guy who wears shirts that say “So Sorry” while acting as surrogates in slavery vengeance fantasies.
To the new white racist, having a black friend is not about friendship, it’s about status. He assures you that he’s not racist because he wants to look open-minded, but he doesn’t give one damn about translating his sentiments into real work. He coddles black people, and even monologues about how he is better than black people because he “saw his privilege:”
Manipulators use the word “privilege” to rehash a Christian original sin narrative in the sense that it prescribes guilt by ancestry. The original sins are the nightmares wrought by white colonists in their mad rush for profit. Privilege alternatively refers to one not having to worry about problems by virtue of his demographics. It’s easy to sell a crumbling cracker on white privilege when you restrict all historical context to stories where whites hold power. Plantation slavery is a go-to recollection, but using our conception of race as a color—which is a recent development—there existed white slaves who were treated in ways comparable to blacks:
Failing to find the expected mineral riches along the eastern seaboard, [England] turned to farming, hoping to make gold from tobacco. They needed a compliant, subservient, preferably free labour force and since the indigenous peoples of America were difficult to enslave they turned to their own homeland to provide. […] This book tracks the evolution of the system in which tens of thousands of whites were held as chattels, marketed like cattle, punished brutally and in some cases literally worked to death. For decades, this underclass was treated just as savagely as black slaves and, indeed, toiled, suffered and rebelled alongside them.
When someone removes the cataracts of whiteness from our eyes, and when we look with unclouded vision on the bloody shadows of the American past, we will recognize for the first time that the Afro-American, who was so often second in freedom, was also second in slavery.
— Lerone Bennett Jr. (Black World/Negro Digest Oct 1970)
These facts are not to downplay the racism and the abuse wrought by the southern antebellum, but I hope those reading this do not make the mistake of dismissing the suffering of others because they do not feel it is as bad. If, hypothetically, 100 women and 10 men were shot dead by a single terrorist group, I would ask those who don’t feel men suffered “as badly” to talk to the victim’s families and see if they agree that their sons’ lives weren’t worth considering equally.
Blacks and whites had and have more in common than many want to admit. Sadly, racially-motivated conflict is oddly addictive to the anti-racist activist. Popular belief appears to be that whites live in a white world, and blacks experience both a black and white world. In keeping with the flattery and lunacy of standpoint theories, many suppose that black knows best because black knows both. So long as racism is a color and a dysfunctional white privilege narrative continues, whites will feel responsible for blacks and blacks will resent whites.
Privilege suggests that empathy requires experience in the sense that a man can’t empathize with a woman’s labor pains because he can’t feel them. The underprivileged, starved for understanding, demand compassion for the ignorance of others. But if white privilege says that whites cannot understand, why even ask them to be more sensitive? If one uses the word “privilege” to shame whites into submission, that means knowing that whites could empathize. If whites were blind to the black community’s suffering then they wouldn’t respond with a hint of compassion.
Racism is an equal opportunity insecurity, not a power game where the system always wins. When I hear a black person say that (s)he can’t be racist because there is no systemic backing for black bigotry, then I take that as seriously as a drunk saying they can’t actually be drunk until they get in a car. Drunks are still far more dangerous once they get behind the wheel, but to say that you can’t be drunk unless you are behind the wheel?
The words “white privilege” have always been about manipulating white people into feeling sorry for black racists trying to profit from the suffering of their own community. Nothing else makes sense.
Even if victimized blacks no longer had to endure broken law enforcement, false incarcerations and hurtful everyday gestures—such as white people locking car doors or crossing the street after seeing a black person—the requirements for a racism-free society shift to more inane standards so long as people want to take things personally. This is why an adult with food, water, an Internet connection, educational attainment, a supportive family and gainful employment can complain about Instagram filters lightening skin tone. At this point the anti-racist activist has problems that activism can’t solve.
To avoid dysfunction of this nature, remember that you don’t need to experience hardship to prefer that people not suffer it. A father can wish that delivering a baby didn’t have to hurt the mother. A white man can see a black man as his brother when the black man is dragged into a corrupt court system hell-bent on putting innocent people in jail. A woman can feel the frustration and rage of a man who lost his home, family and children to what turned out to be an abusive partner. When empathizing, take care around those who want to leech off of your sensitivity at the expense of others.
The anti-racist activist, either black or white, is a selfish, racist creature that wants your attention for the sake of their ego.
Even worse, that hateful word “privilege” denies the beautiful, unifying effect of empathy in nature. “Privilege” is accusatory. Even though talking heads assure us that the word “privilege” is not meant as a personal insult, it does say you cannot possibly relate because you are tainted by the sin of your skin. If someone says you have white privilege, they are saying that you can’t empathize with non-whites because you are the wrong color. But that’s not racist because drunks need cars to be drunk.
The black community suffers, but an entitled few use Eric Garner, Brian Banks, Marvin Anderson, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown (at least!) to justify a new Helter Skelter. You can’t be white and have sympathy unless you are willing to pay an arbitrary price dictated by loud, domineering, racist black and white people drunk on revenge, not reconciliation. It’s gotten to the point where an anti-racist protest leader at Kean University faked threats against black people so that she can make herself look like a hero. Meanwhile, white men join their sons in a bondage fantasy so that black racists can masturbate more furiously over hardships they’ve probably never experienced in the name of “coming together.”—Pun metaphorically intended.
We’re in a troubled time where kind, noble and innocent men and women in the black community become fodder for obsequious whites and black prigs who both want to be popular. If you are a victim of hate, how would you feel about activists who support you online only because it makes them look better? If it were me, I’d rather be openly hated than used as a subject of fleeting, superficial love that ends the moment my supporters realize that they can get more attention rallying around someone else.
The new racist, regardless of color, is the kind of person who would take self-aggrandizing selfies with homeless people after giving away food. What makes the new racist sick is not just hate, but his or her willingness to bastardize love and compassion to excuse that hate. The new racist professes love and togetherness while stripping agency from the people they promise to help. The new racist treats civil disagreement as a reason to harass, bully and abuse others under inexplicable double standards.
When you grow up listening to people tell you that resenting white colonialism makes you a caring egalitarian, you become hesitant to take an objective look at how different cultures interact.
Racism is everywhere and I don’t know how to stop it, but neither does #BlackLivesMatter and its army of supposedly anti-racist sycophants. The seasoned activist understands that prejudice motivates you to fight for you, not necessarily against others. In fact, civil rights movement leaders based their successes more on assertiveness and less on aggression. You could directly combat racists in a Malcolm X or Black Panther blitzkrieg, but that only revives a blood feud for another generation. Civil rights leaders knew that nothing gets under a racist’s skin more than loving yourself and living as if their violent actions and character judgements won’t break you. The black civil rights leaders and their white supporters knew how society would change when empathetic white people noticed white racists bullying blacks while they got up and kept on marching. Mastering oneself and staying calm in the storm helps render bigotry impotent because it means you can better evade oppressive forces when they inevitably come for you.
The most successful civil rights legends had faith in people’s ability to see each other as people. The activists today openly deny empathy and replace it with a story. A story that says there exists this taint called privilege, which prevents understanding and blinds those who have it into feeling nothing for others. The new racist calls other people racist to make themselves seem less racist. You aren’t allowed to relate to people of another color by people claiming that you should.
A long list of black victims demonstrate both flaws in due process and the trigger-happy nature of a corrupt police force. As clueless as I might be about what a silver bullet solution looks like, I know it won’t involve storming into a library screaming “Fuck you, you filthy white fuck!” to complete strangers until they break down crying. It doesn’t involve reducing black families to fuel in a social media flame war designed to inflate the egos of corrupted activists and justify censorship and violence.
The new racists’ bitterness prohibit whites or blacks from any demonstration of vulnerability, self-satisfaction or love. Biracial activist Amity Paye talks about white mothers as if they bring white supremacist influences into mixed families. White Minneapolis shooters gunned down five #BlackLivesMatter protesters, which only further incubates toxic divides as people come together in apparent solidarity. Anti-racist activists are going to become more of a threat to each other as the magnetic attraction of hate crimes further disrupts their moral compasses.
A happy white is an oppressive white, and a happy black is an internally-oppressed black. Whites are not allowed to live a happy life because that’s a symptom of an unbalanced system, and blacks aren’t allowed to be at peace so long as any one black person is treated with injustice. The sympathy does not go the other way because whites are seen as the problem. It was never about imperialistic conquest by the rich and ruthless, it was always about hating white people while using either a fake or distorted love for black people as an excuse.
In the world of the anti-racist activist, a black and a white person actually being friends is an increasingly foreign concept, even though that love has always been within their reach.
Every hate crime and racist remark targeting blacks makes the news, incites political action, and pushes countless white people into the sights of Larry Wilmore, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert and other politicians calling themselves comedians. People do care about racism, but so long as empathy mixes with narcissism, that old joke asking what is white, black and red all over will eventually refer to a stunned community coated in blood that their hashtags couldn’t keep inside the people they swore to help.
This isn’t progress. It’s sick.
Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.