July 29, 2016

July 10, 2016

We Are Responsible


We deliberately created the ghettos in America. They're the product of covert segregation in the 20th century. This wasn't an unfortunate effect of benign policies, it was done explicitly.  Federal, state and local governments are culpable for intentionally segregating the races and turning Black neighborhoods into slums in the modern era. Banks and real estate agencies participated too, through red lining & block busting. Communities still participate through covenants, spoken or implied. The passing of the Fair Housing Act helped a little but was incapable of undoing the bulk of previous economic damage to poor Black communities. The policy is too little too late even when it's honored.

The high rates of criminal activity in Black ghettos are a result of self-reinforcing cycles of desperate poverty that we ensured through many means, some obvious some subtle. We also created the tension between law enforcement and Black communities with social conditioning. All of us reinforce in generation after generation, the fear that Black people, especially Black men, are inherently more dangerous than Whites. Sometimes it's subconscious, sometimes it's blatant and outward. It's always racist even when we're trying better not to be. Of course, there's a need for heavier police presence in some neighborhoods, yet it increases the odds for conflict and another self-reinforcing cycle of bias and animosity. 

This is just a truncated list of circumstances that keep America in a state of morbid imbalance even all these generations beyond the ratification of the 13th amendment. And here we are now in 2016 at another fever pitch - animosity proliferates, there's violence in the streets and people are blaming Black folks for it. 

STOP IT. Whites need to take responsibility. 

Any White person living in poverty can attest to how difficult it is to rise in economic class. Yet the common default is blame, not empathy for our poor Black sisters and brothers who face more challenges than we do. The truth is brutal and the brunt of healing race problems in America lies on the shoulders of White folks. Those of us who don't get that, are being racists on a fundamental level whether we understand that about ourselves or not. Too bad if that hurts our feelings or makes us angry. And the common excuse of “but I have black friends“ doesn't count for anything. We can still have Black "friends" and be White supremacists. On an unconscious level, we still want to maintain a world in which Whites wield more power and hold authority over Blacks. It’s deeply ingrained and we refuse to see it within ourselves or our public policies. THAT is the truth.

The compulsion to take measures that keep Blacks in their place in America are both literal and figurative. Ever notice that white folks weren't saying #alllivesmatter until people started saying #blacklivesmatter? It comes from the same deep-seated compulsion to keep Blacks in their place that created the ghettos and slums.

Retaliating with "All Lives Matter” is not an altruistic, progressive, noble or spiritually awakened declaration of color blindness. Some of us come at it from this angle rather than from the spirit of blatant protest. It's still wrong. It’s pretending to not see race when so much of what we do is because of race. This is yet another unconscious tool for preserving the status quo because we don’t want to take responsibility. “Color blindness” is just another way to tell ourselves that we’ve fixed the problem within ourselves even though we’re perpetuating it, especially within the collective.

Stop blaming Blacks. WE whites have played the dominant role here. This present moment has been centuries in the making, by us. Blacks have the right to be angry so be quiet and just listen for a change. Stop being defensive, breathe deeply, scrutinize our own habits and tendencies and open up to empathy. It's high time that we Whites swallow our pride and answer to our responsibilities. We keep hearing talking points like "Unite, Don't Divide" but until White people get real, it's empty rhetoric. It's not going to happen until Whites admit that it's OUR job to fix this.