EVERY ONE OF US has a bit of an activist in our blood. It’s a fact – being that we as Afro-Americans are experts at the art of expression, and this manifest in many forms, to include activism. Now, when it comes to the subject of racism, there are many schools of approach to this. Some are better than others, definitely. Let us get one thing straight; I am from the school of thought where our white cousins MUST be included in the dialogue. Why? Because this is not an “us versus them” dichotomy. We are all in this together, and like it or not, our nation will include us both. In my opinion, it serves no purpose preaching to the choir; we as Afro-Americans extensively KNOW racism. It is, or damn well should be, a survival mechanism that allows us to, you know, not get shot by someone who suffers from afrophobia. Afrophobia… that is going to be a future article.
So, with that being said, I began to notice that there are shields that are preventing white people from, simply listening to blacks. This list of concerns stated here is pretty much my observation of white people concerning subjects of race in America as a whole. I call this list, The Four Fears. These should be viewed as obstructions, and the point of this is that if you can understand what the obstruction is, you can then move it out the way (or aid the person to do so) to better get to where you are going. Where you are going in this case would be helping white people understand racism. Because if they continue to not understand how race relations works in America (and to another extent, worldwide), they will continue to do dumb stuff like, kill young black people on trigger-finger reflex, or go blackface in a Halloween costume, or say something stupid, etc. So, let us begin…
1. The Fear of Mention
FEAR of merely talking about it. Think about it: when is it the right time for a white person to talk about racism? To a white person, there’s NO SUCH THING as the right time to talk about it. Ever. If you bring the subject of race, you will be accused of “race baiting”, which is a term white folks created to deflect and walk away from any meaningful dialogue concerning. Interestingly, the attitude that “race isn’t an issue” is same attitude they had in Jim Crow era. This is the first level of fear. Needless to say, DENIAL is the #1 platform to speak from regarding race relations selected by white people; rejecting all discussion only serves to protect this mechanism. This is the distinct reason why I challenge one to educate white people the reality of racism as a whole.
2. The Fear of (Losing) Definition
2] FEAR of losing items in society they used to be able to take for granted. This is the fear of losing the residual cultural image control that they have long owned. Number 2 is true of the people for whom number 1 is true. In short, this is the fear of losing what I call “white defaultness”.
Here is an experiment: take a bunch of kids, of all colors all over the world, and task them to draw a local national kid, and then draw an American kid. Honestly, nine times out of ten the kid will draw a blonde blue-eyed American kid. However, the bigger truth is technically they could have drawn the local kid twice. This is because of America’s residual cultural image being, currently, white.
The fear? The poster in their child’s room may not look like them; more likely to be Jay-Z or Beyonce. “A black president from Hawaii? With a non-Anglo-Saxon name? What is this? I want my president to be white, ride a horse, wear cowboy shit!”
In short, white people are beginning to realize that, they don’t necessarily define what it means to be American anymore; others can, and will. Moreover, this will drive many of them insane. White people, to include the “not racist” whites, enjoy the invisible privilege of never being second-guessed as if they are American or not. White defaultness is so fierce in America, if an set of extraterrestrial aliens were to take a look at the United States, they’d think that (English speaking) white people came from America and colonized Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Whites in America sure do act like it; act like whites are indigenous people of North America. This false-indigenosity — if that’s a word — is precisely what white defaultness is, and it is a core reality in America. When they say things along the lines of “taking America back” and crap, that’s what they mean… Taking it back to Leave It to Beaver, where blonde white kids all wish to be cowboys and blacks and others ethnic groups had a nonexistent residual cultural image.
The nonexistent residual cultural image of nonwhites is another side of this. With this loss of white privilege means actually having to listen to nonwhites. The best examples of this would be with the Confederate flag debate or police brutality, where white people seem to be Columbus-ing — just now discovering — things. White people always act like these forms of racism are something new, and often ask, “why now,” or even think pointing out these problems are “making racism worse”. The truth is, these things have been antagonizing minorities for centuries, but the shroud of white privilege means that you infinitely get to ignore us. Well, that willful ignorance is ebbing away.
At it’s core, this is loss of white privilege. With the raise of white nationalists, fascism, and authoritarian types running for various offices of government on all levels, it’s self-evident that this fear is a fear of losing white privilege. With this fear, expect more voter suppression laws. Minorities are allowed to have a controlled amount of say-so, but not a true freedom of say-so.
3. The Fear of Genetics
3] FEAR of amalgamation. This is a fear of, simply putting, mixing the races. This fear has a long storied history in America. In short, there’s always been this strange, irrational fear of being not-so-desired by your own race. When it comes to man to woman, I really don’t get how a man can act like all the women of his race belongs to him and only guys who look like him. I don’t get it. Sure, black people do this too, but it’s certainly not the same as white people. White people perhaps implicitly feel an existential threat in interracial mixing. There is a reason why the United States doesn’t look like Brazil.
There’s more prominent symbols of this today than ever before. The existence of President Barack Obama, This explains the knee-jerk response to matters such as… a mere Cheerios commercial. This hurts them so bad, they totally DENY the fact that it exists (read: birther conspiracy). They actually fear that someday, America may look like Brazil. This slides into…
4. Fear of Minority Status
4] …FEAR of becoming a minority, American style. And yes… this is a big one. One part of this fear is the fear that “they will do to us what we did to them”. That one’s scary, and interesting because if that’s a point, then that denotes a COGNITIVE UNDERSTANDING OF THE BULLSHIT WE GO THROUGH that they flat out deny (white racism denial) on a daily basis. The profiling, the police exaggerated violence, the prison industrial complex, etc. When these cats say this, they know. Another part of this fear is overall losing the socio-economic advantages of white privilege. In other words, actually fear having to compete on an even scale. But that minority bit, is huge.
This is the reason why they scooped up other white ethnicities into the white conglomerate; Italian, Irish. This is also the reason why adopting Russian babies and children was such a big deal; minorities have a higher birthrate than they do. Now, in becoming the minority, which is said to take place in 2050 or so (I have my doubts) either two things can happen:
- A] They realize that black people aren’t so different, bleed and breathe air, and come to a common ground and realization that, we ain’t going anywhere and we MUST live together and run this nation as one, or;
- B] Become more wingnut, more zealot and xenophobic (afrophobic), grab more guns, wall up their communities and get Zimmerman’d up on a us versus them mentality that seems to be a cornerstone of right wing media.
I fear it’s going to be the latter. I hope that if that were to take place, the majority would see the logic and necessity of all of us coexisting, and work together (finally). Looking around today, I most certainly have my doubts. And that’s the bigger picture.
Photography Credit: Johnny Silvercloud