From the Hollywood Reporter
Interesting times. Hair-raising times. But there are great trends at work under all the mess. There is the ‘about time’ movement of overturning privilege. This deep desire for change may have found its moment. Why do white people assume they are better than people with pigmented skin? Why do white men dominate the world? Why has wealth been allowed to accumulate in so few hands? Why do we tolerate sexual abuse and why is the perpetrator so often male? These are issues that run at the core of our current events. And they are thorny issues. Humans who have found ways to accrue privilege to their group do not give it up easily or voluntarily. We don’t necessarily want the scales to tip too far in the opposite direction either.
The issues get muddy. When Black folks decide to say ‘enough’ and most of us agree that we cannot watch this horror show anymore, someone always has to muddy the issues by saying ‘all lives matter.’ All lives matter is a given, but it includes those who already have more privilege than they know what to do with. White people don’t get to pile on. Many say but I am poor and white so no privilege, but that is because you are privileged in so many small ways that it never strikes you as privilege. You never need to worry if someone will object to you walking down a street unless you look too obviously poor; and then you can solve that by simply changing your outfit. If you win the lottery while white you can live anywhere you wish without having to think about the repercussion on your family’s well-being and acceptance. We are confusing economics with racism.
One issue at a time. Latinos are also included in discrimination against skin color, but they have other issues too such as language and recency. Black issues are old and we have overlooked hate that has been steeping for too long. Solving racism will lift all minority boats, but right now we are solving racism against people who were once owned by white Americas who resent that they were forced to free them, who held them down so they could look down on them, because they knew in their hearts that slavery was wrong. Slavery was such a twisted system which made a point of the economic and cultural differences between Black folks and white folks and tried to make them biological differences, cognitive differences.
Let’s stick to the racism that never ended when slavery ended and then we can deal with how we will live peacefully and productively with other minority groups. Focus, concentrate, and stop being threatened by things like a bunch of statues that mean little or nothing to most of us, or changes to policing which we can see has too many burdens – too much militaristic equipment and too many citizens with guns to deal with. What will change the way our culture is structured to keep darker-skinned people separate and not equal? Get used to the term ‘reparation’ or any synonym because economic poverty helps perpetuate racism and only economic remedies will make inroads on white supremacy. In the end white supremacy is about money and power.
This is also about history. We believe that the complex history of white nations, which is European history and American history, with its giant leaps in progress and innovation is all the proof we need that whites are superior to other races. But what our DNA mania is telling us is that there are no separate human races. We are all one race which simply wandered all over the globe and adapted to conditions in various places. The history of white nations came after other nations made astounding leaps in cultural ‘progress.’ Perhaps climate and access to fresh water had more to do with which cultures grew bigger and lasted longer.
And older cultures seem to look at all our wasteful exuberance and at what it is doing to the planet as too much progress, an obsession with progress, a hamster-wheel of progress with no point and no soul. Did we get addicted to progress just for the sake of showing off our big egos? Is there a way to edit progress, to keep what is useful and tone done what is harmful? Here we are in the midst of a pandemic and some Americans are ready to start a war unless they can belly up at their favorite bar this weekend. Will instant gratification end our Grand Experiment in governance and culture?
People also get religion all mixed up in this. Which religion developed last seems to suggest that this is the last word of God and since Christianity became the possession of white people that means that white people are God’s newest and best creation. This attempt on behalf of white people to own God and Jesus is so patently outrageous that it makes Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason, with its argument on behalf of Deism sound positively rational and right. So many bad things have their roots in Christianity in Europe and probably in most religions; it almost makes you want to abandon the entire realm of the spirit which has also been tainted by money and power.
Let’s hope this time white folks can get over themselves and do the work that needs to be done, open our arms and our hearts and our pocketbooks and get this one argument over domination, power, superiority, and money over with once and for all. With the sharks in charge this does not seem like the best hour for this fight. We know the dangers of swimming with sharks, especially hungry sharks. Will there be casualties or can we do this by winning one extremely consequential election? It could actually be that simple if that administration makes the laws that offer the change and then builds in the protections that make the laws stick.
No one should get killed coming home from a convenient store with a bottle of iced tea. That young man, Elijah McClain (say his name) did not need a ketamine injection. Solve racism to the best of our abilities, and then move on. Because we also have to solve #metoo with women asking for protection from men and men claiming that they also need protection. No wonder our brains feel ready to explode. Trying to be fair to everyone may not be possible when you are trying to change old patterns of domination.