White Fear

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White fear is another consequence of racism and is related to White guilt. This is a post of my unpacking my past and my privilege, so hold on tight it might get a little bumpy.

They are claiming that we live in a post-race society, and racism doesn’t exist anymore, so therefore we do not need the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They have already struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, so now the nine most racist states can effectively make changes to their voting laws without permission, and you can read an article about it here.

We have a Black president, and he was elected twice, so we can’t possibly be racist still,  right? The ignorance of this statement is mind blowing, and I have heard it too many times. If racism did’t exist then we wouldn’t have had chairs lynched from trees through out the entire election process. Also they wouldn’t have made Obama show proof of his birth certificate. I feel that many hidden aspects of racism were exposed, because of the election of Obama and yet people are exhaling and cheering yay! We aren’t racist anymore! Hurrah!

What I want to know is how can White America be so blind? I understand that some of it has to due with the fact that if you are raised a certain way and these ways are passed down generation after generation then you just believe by default. This is how White America can move through life blind to the fact that other races are invisible in their day to day lives. We aren’t affected by it, so we don’t see it, we don’t feel it, and we don’t feel out of place or neglected in the media or in our work or school systems. We aren’t held back through the education system, or in the work place, and unless you are a woman, we aren’t paid less money for the same job. We know our history, because it is taught to us in schools, and some of us have very *long documented family trees.

(*Side note: Although I have recently found that I only have my lineage documented on my paternal grandmother’s side to go back seven to eight generations, the other three grandparents are only documented for four to five generations. Which might have something to do with my DNA results that just came in this week. I should have this update in my White Guilt post, but I am updating it here instead. My results say that I am Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, German, Polish…all of which I knew about, but the new information is that I am also Mediterranean of unknown country, Lebanese, North African, and Sub-Saharan African. This is probably why we thought we had Native American ancestry).

Is it White blindness, White guilt, or White fear that makes American’s feel or believe that racism doesn’t exist anymore? We know racism is wrong, so we do everything in our control to be “colorblind,” and we pretend that there is no racism, we don’t talk about it, and we hush our children when ever they notice it, so if we just pretend long enough that it doesn’t exist, and believe it will just disappear or that it will eventually become reality. I believe that this is just more lies that we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better. I believe that keeping quiet is part of the problem. People of color talk about race and racism inside their homes, but White people do not, as they believe if we don’t talk about it, it will just go away. Not talking about it is creating mystery or prolonging the lies, so not talking about it is creating racism. I believe the best way to raise a racist child is to not talk about race or racism inside your homes.

If you are White you aren’t racially profiled, and you aren’t randomly stopped and frisked by the police. You are free to wander around retail stores without being followed by security. If you are a White man women don’t grab their purses close to their body when you walk by.  These are common occurrences for my African-American boyfriend, and many other people of color. One day I was in a public bathroom in a downtown establishment while on a date with him, and a very young White girl walked in while I was washing my hands. She asked an Older White woman who walked in ahead of her if she could wait for her, and walk out with her, then she said that there was a gentleman waiting outside the bathroom and she didn’t feel safe. The older woman said yes of course. I finished drying my hands, and as I was exiting the bathroom it finally dawned on me that she could be referring to my boyfriend. Fear washed over me as I walked down the long corridor to the benches outside the restrooms. When I reached the end of the hall my boyfriend was the only one there, and pain then washed over me and I actually started shaking. He then noticed that something was wrong, so I told him what just occurred. By the time I reached my senses I went back to confront this child, but she was already gone.

If you are White **Cops don’t pull you over while driving, and they don’t drive through your neighborhoods looking to fill their quotas. **This link is an informative post by a fellow blogger, and her experiences with the police, and it is a must read.

One of the legacies of racism and a story of my past: I remember driving with my parents as a child, we traveled a lot, and if we happened to get lost and drive through a Black neighborhood my mother would automatically lock the doors. This is so incredibly damaging to all involved. One, that the African American men standing on the street could hear the doors locking, and I can’t imagine what this pain feels like. Two, that as a young child it was ingrained in me that African American men were dangerous. I have struggled with this fear all of my life. I knew it was wrong from a very young age, but every time I am confronted with it it rears it’s ugly head. I have to consciously remind myself that these fears are irrational. I basically just hand my purse over now every time I cross the path of a Black man. Not literally of course, but it’s sort of a knee jerk reaction that I loosen up and sort of hold out my arm towards them. Is this over compensating? Yes probably, but my brain has to start somewhere. This is the result of the racism I grew up with, but am I racist? No, I am not, because I am aware of the discrimination and the racism in my family, and I am actively educating myself, and reprogramming my brain to believe the truth, and not the lies that I grew up with and the lies that our society pushes on us on a daily basis through the media and our education system.

We are all affected by racism, and no one is excluded from the damage that racism causes.

Racism still exists, and we need the Voting Rights act of 1965 just as much now as we did in 1965. Racism hasn’t diminished; it just has a different face than it did 50 years ago or even 150 years ago.

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White Guilt?

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This picture can be enlarged if you can’t see it, so just click on it. If you are unsure of what to say visit the Unfair Campaign.

*Warning, this is an emotional post please read at your own risk.

What is White guilt?

I don’t know what White guilt is, but I do know that it is a different experience for different people. I don’t feel that I carry White guilt anymore, but yes I did at one time, and more on that later. I am proud of my Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, German, Polish, and 22-25% of *inconclusive heritage. Unfortunately I was raised in a household without too many customs relating back to any one culture. I feel a deep loss because of this, but its probably because we are so muddled with different European bloodlines that there is not really one culture that could dominate in my family. Some people think I look Native American, but I was raised in a European-American household, and when I was born my mother swore I wasn’t hers because she thought that I belonged to the Native American woman who was sharing a hospital room with my mother. My mother looks Native American too. My father had to swear up and down that I was indeed my mother’s baby.

*My sister took a DNA test and it came back with strange results, so I went to a better company, and I am waiting impatiently for my DNA testing to return to me to find out what the missing link is… maybe it’s Russian or maybe it’s not?

White guilt, the feeling that you don’t like the fact that you are of European American decent, because of all of the capitalistic exploitation and colonization that Europe has done throughout the 1800’s and throughout the ages. The destruction and underdevelopment of Africa, Asia, and Latin America then and still today.

Enter the United States, and you find death and hate here too with the destruction of Native Americans, the theft of their lands and then forcing them onto reservations. The toxic diseased filled blankets given on purpose as gifts to the indigenous peoples of America. The “Indian” Schools to beat the savage out of them so they become civilized, and the displacement and feeling a sense of not belonging anywhere as a result of these schools. The gifts of alcohol that the effects still ravage many tribes, and the trail of tears, etc.

Slavery brings it’s own horrors and degradation of the African diaspora. The theft of Africans from their motherland from the 1500’s to 1865, and the toxic and tortuous middle passage from Africa to the States that many did not survive. The breeding factories in Virginia and elsewhere to make more slaves to sell. The theft of identity, of family, and of culture. The torture and rape that all slaves had to endure to scare them into staying on the plantations. The selling of wives, husbands, and of children right in front of you, and there was nothing that you could do to stop it.  

Reconstruction and the lies that were being spread about African Americans, lies of raping White women and then the subsequent lynchings. The lies that African American men were criminals and devils. The debt peonage, the convict leasing system, and share cropping that kept African Americans in slavery until the 1940’s. The Black codes or Jim Crow Laws that led to segregation, voting restrictions, and not being able to serve on a jury. The creation of the KKK, and the horrors of burning, bombings, hangings, etc

The refusal to give home loans and the creation of ghettos. The mass incarceration of African American men, and the destruction of many families as a result. School policies that push children into dropping out of school or being expelled for minor infractions, and the subsequent school to prison pipeline. The state of health care, and the state of health of people of color due to high stress racism. The fact that many people of color today are invisible, and the only time you see them in the media is just reinforcing racist stereotypical lies that have been spread for generations. Racial profiling, racial fear, and the damage to people of color because if it.

I could make a post of each one of these topics, because those are not exhaustive lists, but I don’t think I could stomach or relive the details of these horrible events as I typed it out. Yes, one has a *right to feel White guilt, and as a young child I had a bad case of it. It became worse when I turned nineteen and dated a militant Black male whom I think was really out to destroy me to express the hate that he felt inside. He had me reading all kinds of literature at the time that made me hate white people, or actually just hate myself. I endured all sorts of emotional abuse from this man which lasted about six months, and thankfully I had the strength to get out and run far away from him. It took many years to regain my sense of self and reclaim my European heritage of which I am now proud of, because what else can I do I can’t change my skin color.

**Update *While it is true we may have the right to feel guilt, because it is our right to live our lives anyway we feel we need too. I strongly feel that this guilt is negative energy, and we would be better off finding a way to educate ourselves about race and racism, and claiming our own ethnic identities instead of feeling guilty about what our ancestors did.  If you aren’t part of the solution; then you are part of the problem. We can’t just say that racism is wrong, and that we aren’t racist, and then turn around and sit idly by hoping someone else will clean up the problem. I believe that if you see racism and don’t say anything, then you are just as guilty as the active racist. For example, if you know a person of color or a person of a different sex at your employment who works hard, but is getting paid less than you, then it is your responsibility to demand that you get paid equally. Whether she/he gets a raise, or you take a pay cut. Its called equality, and fighting for the rights of all man or women kind.

Last year I read the book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Dr. Beverly Tatum. This book has enlighten me on so many different levels about race relations and racism. She has taught me that I as a European American woman that I need to claim my ethnic heritage, and be proud of who I am, because until I can do that I cannot learn and understand the plight of so many people of color in our world. That I won’t see the truth, and I cannot interrupt the racism inside my own family until I claim my ethnicity and understand who I am.

I don’t hate White people, and I don’t think that they are bad people or stupid people, but I do feel that many of them are lost. I can’t save them, but I can save myself. I am educating myself, learning, listening, and I am talking to anyone who will listen.

Communication and talking about the real subjects on race, race relations, and the state of racism today is only one step into interrupting racism, but it is one BIG step forward. The hidden subtle forms of racism today that completely hide themselves from most White people. The Unfair Campaign claims that it is hard for a white person to see racism. I agree with this statement, but unfortunately when I stated it out loud to a young White male at my University he immediately went into defense mode and claimed that the statement was unfair and it claims that White people aren’t capable of understanding or seeing racism. I wanted to say, but many White people don’t or can’t, but I couldn’t say this, because there are only so many conversations you can have with someone who isn’t willing to really listen.

I know who I am, I am working hard to see the truth, and I won’t stop till I reach my goals.