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“Too many white people…” What?!

September 5, 2016

Recently, there was a story on the news about a beauty pageant that left one mother saying the contest wasn’t fair to her black daughter, because there were “too many white people.” I was reminded of another story in which Taylor Swift was called racially insensitive for shooting a music video in Africa which did not include enough black people.

I guess I could say that there are too many black people in the NBA who win MVP for it to be fair to the white players or that rap videos are insensitive for not including enough white people. But I’d be called a silly person for doing so, in not very nice words. No, they’d probably use words like prejudiced, bigot, racist. What if I said “I am white and I am proud?” Does that make me a racist? What if I said “White lives matter?” Statistically, police have killed more whites in recent years than blacks, despite what prominent media coverage would have you believe. The FBI and Department of Justice do yearly reports on these things.

I am white and I am proud, but that does not mean that I hate black people. My life does matter, but so does yours, whether you’re Black, Latino, or Asian. How can we break barriers when we seem so intent on keeping them up with labels and accusations like “too many white people?” White America, Black America; let’s just take a look at America for a minute.

The USA is a melting pot of culture. The Irish first immigrated because of a potato famine that left people starving in Ireland. Italians immigrated for economic reasons, recognizing opportunities that would come to be known as “The American Dream.” The Chinese started showing up when gold was first discovered in, you guessed it, “The Golden State.” Mexicans immigrated by crossing the border from Mexico into Texas, Arizona, and California. Today, Mexican culture is pervasive throughout the Southwest.

Africans were brought to America through the bonds of slavery. I’ve heard a lot people in prison with screwball theories like, “The white man went to Africa and tricked the Africans into selling out their people.” There was an existing slave trade in Africa long before the Europeans arrived on the continent and purchased slaves from African slave traders, as well as taking slaves on their own.

Slaves were bought, sold, and traded throughout the southern states for many years until the civil war was fought that freed them. President Abraham Lincoln changed his mind about the war several times before engaging his union army against the confederacy of southern states that had seceded from America in 1861. Before beginning the war, President Lincoln declared that “All men were created equal under God.” The cotton industry was huge, and the slave holders who grew and sold the cotton in the South did not want to lose the free labor that lined their pockets with immense wealth. After the war was over, the assassination of President Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth was a last ditch effort by the confederacy to preserve slavery in their states, but it too failed. So commenced segregation in the South and the Civil Rights Movement in the North.

These struggles have continued for many years, and there are obviously still tensions and problems to be resolved. But it’s not 1860 or 1950 anymore, it’s 2016 and we are a long ways from the days when signs hung in the windows that said “NO IRISH” or “NO BLACKS” or “NO JEWS.” If things are not going the way we want them to, it is on us to make a change. Not White, not Black, Latino or Asian… it is on us, all Americans. We all know there is a still a lot of work to be done—work that we must do together.

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4 Comments
  1. Brilliantly expressed, Sean. Thank you.

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    • Thanks for reading my blog and commenting. I enjoy writing and engaging with others about important issues. I love to read, write, and talk about writing.

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  2. It was just one person who said something dumb.

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  3. Being in prison, I’ve dealt with a lot of racial tensions. In 2009, I was involved in a race riot. It can be pretty crazy at times. As soon as you get to prison you are directed to “your people,” shown the boundaries: which handball and basketball courts are yours, which phones and drinking fountains you can use. I guess, to a degree, it keeps order, but… I don’t know… Anyway, how do you feel about this handful of pro athletes refusing to stand for the national anthem and “salute the flag of a country that oppresses people of color?” I acknowledge their right to protest in this way, but I disagree with it. I feel they could find a better way to protest than to disrespect our country, especially in these times of homegrown terrorism and massacres. The Seahawks locking arms during the anthem seemed a better way to express unity between the races.

    I know poetry and writing is a powerful tool. I’m just trying to find the right words. Thanks for your comment. I enjoyed responding.

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