Saturday, December 23, 2006

Some White Folks Get It


"Unconventional Wisdom Listen up, white folks: Your racism cuts deeper
By Alfred Lubrano
Inquirer Columnist

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about white racism. What about black racism?, dozens of you wrote me.
How come I didn't mention the inappropriateness of ESPN analyst Michael Irvin's opining that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (of Mexican descent) must have had an ancestor who copulated with a black man to account for his superior skills?
Irvin, who is African American, is foolish , but that's hardly the point. I didn't think I had to say this because it's so obvious:
America is a white-majority country. When one group has substantially more power than all others, its biases, prejudices, and mouth filth matter more.
And if whites possess the keys to the White House, the executive suite, the law firm, the construction company - not to mention the gun lockers in the police stations - then what they think about black people has greater weight and consequence than what black people think about them.
Of course, black people can be as prejudiced as whites. I've lived it. On a day I thought would be my last, a group of black guys beat me down on a New York subway train; years later, black demonstrators spit on me and opened my head with rocks. In both cases, my only sin was skin color.
But lots more black people than whites have endured systemic, organized violence in this country. And my ancestors walked off the boats that brought them here unchained.
From when I was a kid, the croaks of racists slimed my ears. Today, neighbors in rural South Jersey take me for a coconspirator, referring to "them people" and identifying certain farm weeds as N-word-heads. In white neighborhoods everywhere, you can hear far worse.
Crime. Unwed mothers. Dope. Black problems, right? When I tell people that the white Appalachian neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, I once covered had the precise same pathologies, they stare at me dumbly.
It's poverty, not melanin. It's class-based misery. It's watching your kids crawl around without Pampers or hope. It's sucking down Ho Hos and malt liquor because the sugar and the buzz feel better than the boredom and terror of each day.
White working-class people I know erroneously believe that government programs such as affirmative action give African Americans unfair advantages.
If they had a genie's wish, I ask white folks, would they beg for their kids to turn black so they could enjoy all those goodies?
I lived below the poverty line for four years in New York and I still had it better than lots of black people.
It is true that working-class white people live tough American lives.
But store owners don't automatically think they're criminals, and their kids don't have to be warned not to mouth off to cops for fear of getting tortured with a plunger.
Some psychologists of race will go so far as to say that white prejudice is proactive, while black prejudice is reactive. America began with whites thinking of blacks as animals and property. U.S. history then moved to cross burnings.
We've since progressed, but if your people get lynched and shot enough times, you might develop suspicion of all the guys with the ropes and guns.
Today, lots of people are learning to interact. But racism is a hard-to-kill bacterium. How do I know? Many of you readers told me so, with acid e-mails and racist phone messages.
You hate that a white guy is saying this. White people have to say this. Or we're not getting anywhere."

Folks, whenever I read a column like the one above, I realize that there is hope for our country, and that there are white folks in this country who really do get it. I almost never lift an entire article but this one from my home town paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, was too good not to share with the rest of you. Yes, I loved the article, and I also loved this letter to the editor from a lady by the name of Laura Modon from Havertown, Pennsylvania:

"Your article gave me hope for the future of this country and the world.

In my estimation, you are one of a minute group of men with white skin who 'get it' and who have the courage to say so. (The others who come to mind: former President Jimmy Carter;Bono; former President Bill Clinton; professor and author Jared Diamond.)

In everyday life, there are fewer still whom I have met; my own father was one. You constitute a tiny minority of pale skinned males who acknowledge the understand that the poisons of hatred and bigotry- ignited by greed and ignorance, and initially released over 400 years ago in the forms of conquest and slavery-still permeate this land.

Talk about toxic waste. But their exists a cure; the necessary 'superfund cleanup' is very simple. It is truth, and its vaccine is education."

Damn that was deep. Right on Ms. Mondon, how soon can you open a school to bring others to that place where you are? Your sh** was profound!

The field is heading out of town for a few days for a little R&R and of course the Christmas holiday. I will bring my laptop of course. Hopefully, I will be able to do the whole mobile blogging thing while I am on the road. We will see.

Enjoy your Christmas, and go Eagles!!!!!

15 comments:

asabagna said...

First, let me wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Joyous New year!

I don't know if you were following the discussion over at thefreeslave blog page on "Racism as a form of mental illness". It is the most interesting blog based discussion I have been involved with. You should check it out. There is a basic summary on my page, but the discourse itself was very deep.

Safe travels and God Bless!
Asa

Christopher Chambers said...

Merry Christmas, and shout out to Mayor Street (that's the best urban mayor name of all time...).

jameil1922 said...

what a fabulous article. and boo eagles. go panthers.

plez... said...

Merry Christmas, field!

This was a very provocative and enlightening post... thank you!

field negro said...

Peace to all of you and thanks for the love.I am blogging via laptop and out of the fields, so please hang with me.

I have had a safe and enlightening trip so far, and I can only hope it continues.

Tasha said...

Wonderful article. Enjoy your holidays field!

Anali said...

You have quite a blog here! I'm seriously impressed. I hope you had a great Christmas and enjoy the new year!

I am not Star Jones said...

wonder if mr. biden read that op ed?

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