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English 103: The Color of Racism

November 13, 2017
I
“No, my grandson ain’t playin’wit no white boy,” the aged and stern-looking black woman informed me from behind the screen. I had knocked on the neighbor’s door expecting that my new friend would be allowed to come outside and play. I did not know about racism, and I saw no difference between the boy and me, but the old woman recognized our differences all too well. She did not look upon me and see a child, also living in poverty, who only wanted to run around with his new friend; she saw the son of a slaver, an oppressor, with more privilege than her grandson. In reality, I lived on the same block where there were shootings and spent the same amount of time standing in the welfare line with my mother and younger siblings—we weren’t so different. In today’s society, I feel that racism is overly recognized as being an attribute of whites and that prejudice toward whites is somehow acceptable due to history’s sorrows.
In Gloria Anzaldúa’s essay, “Entering the Serpent,” she makes sweeping statements against white racism that in themselves are insidiously racist:
“No matter to what use my people put the the supernatural world, it is evident that the spirit world, whose existence the whites are so adamant in denying, does in fact exist.”
The denial of her “her people’s” spirit world was not by an opposing “white race,” but by a faction of the white race and a religion that was once the foundation of this country’s settlement; in fact, the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant were even disdainful toward other Europeans who did not conform to their beliefs, such as the Irish who were once enslaved.
My own progenitors were also victims of WASP-prejudice, despite their white skin. It is time for us to start looking at the world through twenty-first century eyes and a better understanding of history. Many battles were fought to bring us to where we are today, and to hold onto the tragedy of those battles without learning a lesson from them is to continue inflicting ourselves and each other with worthless wounds. It is time to stop embracing the role of victimhood for what our ancestors had to endure and simply be proud of their abilities to endure.
II
“Pinchi gabacho! I hate gabachos!” the Mexican boy said, then spit at me, as we did jumping jacks on the recreation yard of Juvenile Hall.
Growing up in poverty, on the streets, and in institutions, I was the minority, and I had to fight for “respect” and “acceptance.” I could often feel the bitterness and resentment of the other races and maybe the simplest explanation is that I was outnumbered and different, although, I believe that it goes much deeper. I think that in some way, shape, or form, minorities in the projects are taught that all white boys are somehow automatically dealt the better hand in life—something known as “white privilege”—and for this reason my own struggles were denied. The expectation was that I did not belong there in their neighborhoods. Historically, white’s have occupied the upper and middle class, locking minorities into the lower class through segregation, but today there is no such thing as lawful segregation. All races are given a much fairer chance, especially with affirmative action programs and minority support groups like the NAACP.
III
“They say it’s the white man I should fear,
but it’s my own kind
doin’ all the killin’ here”
—Tupac Shakur
My grandmother is the best! When I was riding in the car with her as a teenager, she would allow me to play whatever music I wanted, and I was listening to a lot of Tupac. Grandma sometimes winced at all the cursing, but she was usually able to find the message in his lyrics. Tupac’s poetry was insightful and profound enough that it is still relevant today, twenty years after his tragic death. For instance, the news of white cops killing black men is splashed across the headlines, creating a nationwide outcry against racism and white hate, but as Heather MacDonald relates in her book, “The War on Cops,” merely four percent of black homicide victims are killed by cops. Furthermore, according to a report released by the National Review, victims of black crime are overwhelmingly other blacks. Tupac himself was murdered by other black men. These facts reflect his lyrics with a pristine image of truth.
Still, every time there is an altercation between a white cop and a black man, both whites and blacks take to the streets and begin marching to the mantra of “Black Lives Mater.” The racial conflict is exacerbated by the news media broadcasters who put extra stress on one syllable words, like “white” and “black.” There is no noise when a white man is shot or beaten by a cop; in fact, nearly twice as many whites were killed last year by police than blacks. It is also true that black cops, as well as white cops, were involved in the deaths of both whites and blacks. White police are not assassinating black men the way that they were when J. Edgar Hoover was running the FBI, and the Black Panthers marched through Sacramento and took over the state capitol, resulting in a days long stand off and a shoot out. I think that history has made society sensitive to any situation involving different races that may not be amicable, and sadly, racism seems to be a dark cloud hanging over white America.
IV
1968, The Black Panther Party
A Corrupt Government, and the Future of Humanity
There is rage in the streets
Tangible as the blood that marks the pavement
There is a revolution at hand
To be free or see the grave
Even children march the town
Young, proud, and brave
To be released from oppression
Police brutality and a government depraved
Men are captured and tried
Imprisoned and locked in a cage
Sentenced for no sin except to be black
Proud warriors wear shackles and chains
“Liberty!” is the cry in the streets
The march for change
Fight to topple this totalitarian pseudo-democracy
Corrupted and deranged
Come together now people
And witness the end of a dichotomy
For if they could bind and gag Bobby in the courtroom
Surely they c ould do it to you or me
Fight!
Not for black
Not for white
But for the future of humanity
Works Cited
I. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky, “E`ntering the Serpent.” Ways of Reading, An Anthology for writers, 8th Ed. Boston, New York” Bedford/St. Martins, 2008 29-41 Print.
II. Shakur, Tupac. All Eyes on Me, “Only God Can Judge Me.” Death Row Records, 1997
III. National Review, Police Shootings Black vs White, n.p., n.d.
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2 Comments
  1. Margie permalink

    This is a well thought out essay and you make a good point. However, it is misleading when you quote statistics like “twice as many whites were killed as blacks” without pointing out the fact that the black population makes up only about 12% of Americans. Taking this into account, you would expect the difference to be much higher. Also, you state “white police are not assassinating black men…” How can you know this? Is this a personal belief or one you can substantiate? I also find it sad that you believe racism is a cloud that hangs only over white America–I believe it is a cloud that hangs over all Americans.

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    • Assassination is a strong word. J. Edgar Hoover actually wrote about oppressing Blacks and set out schemes to do that. He sent police to kill leaders of the Panthers. He put out “hits” on them. “That” is assassination. If cops were assassinating Blacks more than 4% of the “African American” homicide rate would be caused by police. Also, is there evidence to “substantiate” that police “are” assassinating Blacks? I’d say there’s more evidence they are not. One half of the 2 million people in prison are white, the other 1 million consists of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Indians, and every other non-white. To make claims of “systematic racism”and state that the “system” is completely “disproportionate” toward Blacks seems like an overstatement to me. It’s also cynical to believe that just because there are more whites in America that more would be killed or incarcerated. Having the greater numbers does not limit potential and lead to doing more evil. The reason I say “racism” is a dark cloud hanging over “white America” is because when Nick Cannon did the “white face” skit nobody complained, but the “Saturday Night Live did the “Black Face” skit there was outrage. When Taylor Swift shot her video in Africa, but did not include enough Blacks, “They” called it racially insensitive. When the Black girl on the East Coast lost the Beauty Pageant her mother said too many white judges. Confederate statues are destroyed but the very “racist” Marcus Garvey is hailed as a hero by Blacks. Brown University as an all Black college but anything “all White” would be racist. Black Singles is a Black dating service. The Black Caucus is a group of Black politicians. Black neighborhoods… But for me to even say “White America,” I’ve been told , sounds racist. I was chastised by a teacher for saying “White pride.” What about the Union soldiers who died? Should I not be proud? When I say racism is a dark cloud hanging over “White America,” I mean that most recognize whites as the perpetrator, but excuse the Mexican kid who spit at me for being White, the Blacks I fought with in Juvenile Hall or East San Diego because I’m a white boy. It all connects to my thesis, the last sentence of first paragraph.

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