Posted with permission from Mr. Benjamin T. Moore, Jr. accompanied by a most eloquent speech about a sensitive topic: Mr. Tim Wise – on White Privilege.
I am going to add a preamble to this work. First, there is no such thing as a quick read on such a critical and sensitive topic. I hope Mr. Moore and author of the visual piece, Mr. Wise, does not mind my joining them in delivering a critical message that focuses on racism. Think about this as you read. People who harbor racist beliefs generally also harbor other ‘bad character.” Sexism is not far beyond.
Know that when I post articles here that so directly address lingering racism in America, my site statistics show me that those articles are read less than other articles. I also notice a much higher incidence of reading such pieces by people from other countries.
As Atty. General Eric Holder stated not long after his appointment by President Barack Obama. Holder commented about people in America not having the ‘courage’ to undertake very necessary dialogue about race in America. He received major scorn for million in America and not all came from people who call themselves conservative, or people who hate the very day Barack Obama was elected president. No, many people who considered themselves progressive did not seem to care for Holder’s remarks.
Mr. Moore introduces his piece with a story that is probably common in some form among any African-American who has shared interacting space with white people. Many instances are so subtle the ‘privilege’ is impossible to immediately discern; other instances are blatant and ugly. Let me share a couple of stories. Thus, I hope my friend Benjamin T. Moore Jr. does not mind sharing this space and this piece.
I often tell about as a very young boy, under age 5, entering the ”Colored Entrance” of an SS Kresge Store in Deep southern Arkansas. My Mom took me shopping with here that Saturday, and all was beautiful. After entering the store, Mom went about her shopping and I , as any young one left even slightly unattended or unobserved, wonder over to a water fountain. The fountain was accompanied by a small set of steps which denoted the apparatus as obvious for children (Or the extremely short in statue). Of course the fountain had a signed very visibly posted above “grey sign white lettering”. No, I could not read it[;, many many years alter I realized what that sign must have stated.
|My fountain did not even have a fountain for “COLORED” to drink.
I did what young kids do as I discerned that I could climb the three steps. I climbed the steps an activated the fountain and, ”Yes, I TOOK A FRIGGIN DRINK.” My memory after that point is gone. No I was not bludgeoned or even called a a vile word, and told to get away from there. (Bet you thought the worse!). No, my Mom must have observed my manual dexterity and rescued me from the potential ravages she would have reaped via my innocence and blissful ignorance. I was taken immediately out of the store, I guess, and our shopping day was over.
As a young volunteer member of the US Air Force stationed in the Great State of Mississippi during the Viet Nam Era, I was given a harsh reality. Our Flight Lieutenant call all black airmen together for a meeting. During the quick meeting he informed us that we could not attend the squadron’s Christmas party. His reason for the US Air Force segregation? ”...the owner of the downtown establishments did not allow Blacks in his bldg“. Many years alter I had an epiphany. I now feel that the owner of that establishment was not the culprit. I strongly feel that segregation emanated up my chain of command.
The topic as presented by Mr. Moore and Mr. Wise, is for those who care enough about our world to work as centuries against those who wish to return to a time of ‘conferred white privilege’. As may be inclined to move away from this piece and never to view Mr. Wise’s video, understand that people like Mr. Moore, myself and Wise could spend our time on other issues. There is no effort here at ‘levying ‘guilt‘. We like you react to our environment, and there are people in our environment who want life as it existed over 50 years ago. I should mention before I turn this work over to Mr. Moore, women had best keep an eye on their well-being.
“When they came for the blacks, I did not speak out, as I was not black….“
On The Subject of Racism……
When I was in the 5th Grade, a little white boy with whom I’d been friends asked me from out of the blue, “if you had it to do over again, would you come back white?” My response best as I can recall went something like “HELL NO!” Needless to say, he was taken aback because he didn’t expect that type of response. In his mind I was laboring under an extreme disadvantage. A defect in my birth which could only be rectified in my next life.
He asked me why I wouldn’t come back as a white person? “Well, white people are slow, they’re awkward, they have no rhythm, no soul and they’re just not cool.” I was only in 5th grade and while sincere, my answers lacked the breadth and scope that would come with maturity. My position has not changed and if anything has grown stronger over the years.
Let me give a glaring example of how this works. Is President Obama white or black? Think about this for a moment. He is exactly half black and half white. Scientifically it makes just as much sense to call President Obama white, yet we call him Black. There is a deeply ingrained reason that we do.
In some recent exchanges in some forums, some white people have expressed some discomfort with some of my positions. This is to be expected because through no fault of their own, they’ve been living under a carefully crafted delusion. Yes, they’re older and wiser but in their minds, their view of the world is based out of that same place as my young friend back in 5th Grade. To wit: My white skin makes me better than you and if you could, you’d want to be like me.
They do not realize they are coming from this point of view. How could they? We live in a society wherein racism has been so institutionalized it is transparent. Like the air we breathe we no longer notice it. We just accept it as how things are.
Remember the old Serial from the 70′s “Kung Fu” starring David Carradine? That show was originally pitched to the Studios by Bruce Lee with him in the starring role. However, the studios didn’t think an Asian in the starring role could carry the show. This after he literally stole the show in “The Green Hornet.” Think of what we lost and never got to see because of racism. Racism hurts everybody. The cure for cancer, the solution to free energy or faster than light travel may be in a mind that will never be developed because of the color of his skin.
To those white people who have managed to read down this far, I highly recommend this video presentation by Tim Wise. Tim is white, but he is able to put things in a way that white people can understand. Give it a try. You just might be surprised and learn something. Enjoy.
Benjamin T Moore Jr
Tim Wise – The Pathology of White Privilege
Additional reading: Sensitive-topic-white-privilege