Inherently Different

kill the white man

I think we can all agree that Reverend Jeremiah Wright is loopy on many levels. His belief that AIDS is a result of a secret government program against its own citizens pretty much cements his place in the nut house. But not everything that has come out of this mans mouth is crazy. It would be easy to lump everything together (as many Neo-cons love to do), but if you have an IQ slightly higher than that of your average head of lettuce, you can pick out truth from fantasy.

Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s now famous tirade about America’s foreign policy inciting the terrorist attacks of September 11 is interesting to me. Not because it is controversial… any intelligent person can look beyond the rhetoric and understand that the terrorist attacks on the US were the result of America’s activities on foreign shores. To deny that is akin to denying that the sky is blue or that water is wet. No, what I find interesting about the whole thing is how some people reference race and color in their commentary.

To me, the funniest part of this whole situation is when white people comment with their opinion about race relations. White people will never understand the experience of people of color no matter how low they sink… no matter how poor, no matter how deeply they invest themselves in low income communities, no matter who they marry, no matter where they go to school… white people are culturally retarded when it comes to race.

When I hear a white person say, “I grew up in a ghetto and poor! I understand race!” I want to laugh until my sides burst. You are white… you have NO FUCKING CLUE what it means to be of color. You have no idea what it is like to live your entire life thinking that if someone mistreats you, the chances are better than good that they are mistreating you simply because you are not white. The paranoia is all encompassing and no matter how hard you try, you are always under the impression that you are the target of racism.

White people, no matter where they are from (be it a ghetto in New Jersey or a palatial estate in the South) or what their economic situation might be, don’t grow up saddled with racial paranoia. Because of this simple idea, white people can never have an opinion that matters when it comes to race relations. Your understanding of the world is not based on color. You don’t understand it, how can you comment on it with any level of understanding?

For a white person, there are any number of reasons why someone make not like them… or want to wish them harm… or discount them… but for someone of color, the primary thought process will always be, “this person doesn’t like me because I am not white.”

Now beyond color and race, Wright said some things that bear further scrutiny. I have been reading everything I can about what Rev. Wright has said in his sermons and can safely say that not many things he has said are all that new. Some of them are downright ridiculous, but some of them are also based on historical fact. Of course, white people and more specifically, white neo-cons want to make sure that people see what he has said as some form of Anti-American sentiment. Just like Neo-cons paint anyone who is opposed to the war in Iraq as being unpatriotic or traitorous. It is simply a way of saying that if you aren’t with them, you are against them. That is my favorite thing about die hard republicans (aside from being predictable)… they know how to swing a flag better than anyone.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that Wright said:

“I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday,” Wright declared. “He was on Fox News. This is a white man and he was upsetting the Fox News commentators to no end. He pointed out, a white man, an ambassador, that what Malcolm X said when he got silenced by Elijah Muhammad was in fact true: America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

Wright then went on to list more than a few U.S. foreign policy endeavors that, by the tone of his voice and manner of his expression, he viewed as more or less deplorable. This included, as has been demonstrated in the endless loop of clips from his sermon, bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki and nuking “far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye.”

“Violence begets violence,” Wright said, “hatred begets hatred, and terrorism begets terrorism.”

Is any of that crazy talk? Is any of that untrue? Neo-cons would have you ignore the context of his message and instead focus on what other crazy things he has said. It is much easier to discredit by association that it is to systematically dismantle an idea afterall. But, is Wright wrong?

While Wright does believe that America holds some responsibility for 9/11, his views were actually influenced by a career foreign policy official. His name is Ambassador Edward Peck, and he is a retired, white, career U.S. diplomat who served 32-years in the U.S. Foreign Service and was chief of the U.S. mission to Iraq under Jimmy Carter. The ambassador, who has offered controversial criticism of Israeli policy in the West Bank also warned against the Iraq War.

It is easier to portray Wright as a crazy bigot, than it is to take what he has said within the context of his sermon. To take snippets and say, “here is a man who hates America and is a racist.” The Neo-cons want you to believe that he is anti-American, because they they can pin that label on Obama by association. The amount of venom that neo-cons are spewing in Obama’s direction is proof that America is not ready to reliquish the mantel of the world’s most racist country. More racist than South Africa, than 1930-40s Germany.

The United States is the gold standard by which racism can be measured. Until the day we are all the same color, race will always play a role in how we view each other and the world around us. There is no escaping that, but one thing we can start doing before then is to stop trying to pretend that color doesn’t exist.

7 thoughts on “kill the white man”

  1. I’d say you’ve got a point, Ed. White people in America really can’t understand what it is to not be white, even if they grew up in the projects in New Jersey (Hi Frank!). It’s just not possible. The best we can do is acknowledge that we can’t understand it. Just the other day my husband, the kids and me drove out to the more rural areas in our neighborhood to go to a specialty store and I’m ready to march right in without a care in the world but my husband noticing the sort of people around us (really really white people with pickup trucks) hesitated. . .braced himself for the inevitable sideways looks and then went in. It’s a small thing but one that makes a big difference in the long run.

  2. I just wrote quite a lengthy response, and lost it to a browser crash, so I’ll just cover part of it again.

    First off, Hi Dawn!

    Basically, you said that because I’m white, I can never know what it’s like to be mistreated because of the color of my skin. My answer yet again to you is this.. bullshit. Have you ever been a white man who wandered into the wrong neighborhood in New Orleans? I have. I was followed by about a half dozen teenage black guys for about 4 blocks. When I stopped in a McDonalds, they followed me in, stood all around me, trying to intimidate me, and gave me the standard, “You’re in the wrong neighborhood” talk. I will admit that this was one of very few times in my life that I was genuinely worried for my safety.

    How about a white guy walking through large portions of Washington, D. C.? I have, and let me tell you, it’s no picnic. You are glared at, followed, and have racial epitaphs thrown at you from every side.

    My brother and I were in D.C. (yes, we’re both middle class, white guys) for an event. The event ended after the metro stop near us closed. We wandered a couple of blocks looking for one that is still open. Along the way we didn’t see a single other white face, but plenty of African Americans looking at us with that distinct “What the hell do you think you’re doing here?” look. We stopped in a small convenience store to ask directions. The woman behind the counter (a fairly large, black woman) looked at us like we had lost our minds. She told us, in no uncertain terms, that we were taking our lives into our hands by being there. She took us through the back of the store, opened the back door and pointed to the metro stop across the street, saying “You run over there. You don’t walk, you run. And don’t stop to talk to nobody, or you might not make it.”

    Now, I work in a very, very white, redneck area. I hear people use language on a near daily occurrence that makes my skin crawl, and I call them out on it every single time. Because I find racism from anyone to be completely unacceptable. But I can guarantee that while a black man who walks through town is going to receive strange looks, he won’t be taking his life into his hands.

    In my opinion, the single largest obstacle to racial harmony in this country is people like Jeremiah Wright, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. They refuse to accept that any progress has been made in this country for the last 40 years, and blame any and all actions on racism.

    Yes, there is racism in this country. From all sides. But this country has also made great strides toward racial reconciliation over the last 50 years. So you can tell me I am not allowed to talk about race all you want, and my response will always be “fuck you”. Because the only way for healing to come is for all sides to be open and honest with each other, and muzzling one whole segment of the population with the label of “you are not allowed into this conversation, because you’re white” does nothing to help the country. If anything, that very attitude is going to foster white resentment and set the whole process back a few years.

  3. And I will again tell you that you have no business speaking about race from the perspective of “healing” or otherwise. You can tell me all you want about how you traipsed into a ghetto and got stared at.. LOL.. big fucking deal… imagine feeling that way REGARDLESS of where you were… good neighborhoods, stores, subways, libraries, convenience stores… You make me laugh with your diatribes about how you were once, when you went to a ghetto, looked at funny and “threatened.”

    You are white. You are also republican in all the worst possible ways. You are simply ill equipped from both a cultural and economic perspective to rationally discuss race other than to say your family owned slaves and has fought tooth and nail to eliminate illegal aliens from this country.

    Your ideology is flawed on so many levels all i can really do is laugh at you, because the flip side would be to call you a bigot. I know you aren’t one, but the way you speak about race sometimes makes me wonder. For the most part, I think you have been brainwashed by watching too much fox news or worse, getting information from sources that have little if any credibility. Wright is a nutjob to be sure, but the things he says about racial inequality in america are NOT lies… they are simply not said aloud for fear of making privileged white people feel sorry for themselves.

    As far as you thinking a black man wouldn’t need fear for his life, it is solely because it is now considered socially unacceptable to beat down a black man for venturing into a white community. It wasn’t too long ago when a beat down would have been the norm, a lynching not out of the realm of possibility. As for you taking your life into your own hands, that is slightly unrealistic… most crimes committed by blacks are committed against other blacks… a black on white crime is almost as rare as a republican actually thinking about others rather than of solely him/herself.

    Don’t get me wrong… I have no problem with racism or racists. I just like my racists to be blatant rather than hide behind “god” and “country” when it comes to demeaning and denigrating the subject of their racist rants.

  4. You can say wow… you can even say you disagree… just don’t say you understand what it means to be a racial minority in this country.

  5. As a white deomcrat, I can relate to the sentiments expressed by the author of the post. I do not know what it is like to be black in America; however, in turn, a black man has no idea what it is like to white in America. To assume that we are all one large, opressive force that enjoys special privilages is inaccurate. If we use the logic of the other person who posted this message, a black man has no right to discuss this percieved privilage. This is faulty logic. It will only be open and honest discourse that heals our national racial divide. Without this median, we are left with an inchoate view of a particular segment of society.
    Our nation is a comprised of more than two races. Simply, America is not drawn in black and white. While it is more comfortable to discuss our own experiences, sometimes the greatest challenge is listening to those of others. Do not stop the dialouge: it is the brush that fills in all the colors.

  6. I think most people, especially white people, would like nothing better than to talk about their experiences and hope that those experiences can transcend color. They unfortunately cannot. While I cannot say I know what it is like being white, I know that the experiences of a white person are infinitely different than those of a person who is NOT white. It is an idealism that is spread through american colleges like a cancer, this idea that you can empathize or have any relevant thoughts about the black experience… or the latin experience… or the asian experience… if you are white. You can’t. All you can do is understand and accept the fact that you are woefully ill prepared to discuss race from the perspective of anything other than a white person.

    The honest discourse you wish for is all well and good… but a dialogue intended to open up eyes in terms of race can never be lead or contrived by someone who is white. Sad, but true.

    Secondly, it is quite easy for a person of color to speak from a privileged perspective. There are, in case you missed the memo, rich people of color who have always had money and because of it, close to equal footing with their white peers. As such, they can speak about what life is like when you are privileged… Money is a great equalizer. Unfortunately, even with money, and the knowledge of what a life of privilege is like, color is the great barrier. No matter how rich a black man gets, he will still be black.

    A white person who has money is one thing. A white person who is dirt poor is still white. A poor white person and a rich white person are only separated by economics (and cultural/social standards inherent in that economic discrepancy). A rich white person and a rich black person are only separated by race. A poor white person and a rich black person are separated by both economic and race, but I can guarantee you that a rich white person will feel more kinship with a poor white person than with a rich black person. These ideas are not revolutionary, they are unfortunate facts about living in America. No amount of conversation will change these things… the only thing that will is going to be consistent breeding between races to one day completely blur the racial barrier.

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