Racism and Black History, pt. 2
Welcome back to our series on racism in America. Some may wonder why we would be discussing racism as a Sunday Message. Racism is a spiritual issue. Plane and simple. Take the politics out of it.
We need to resolve it spiritually. Look inside and see where your race issues lie. Then move forward from there.
Remember, we are all one. There is only Good, and we are all part of that good. It is of us and we are of IT.
SO, please look at this issue as a spiritual issue, keeping ego and domestication out of the discussion, out of your heart.
And so, I hope discussing this information will open your heart to what is true in our country and world. If we are all one, then there should be no racism.
But since it is present, we have some work to do.
We must seek to understand, each and every one of our brothers and sisters.
So, let’s continue our look at Black history and how it helped to get us where we are in our country today.
Two weeks ago, we looked at White Privilege.
Last week, we looked at early years of slavery. With the Emancipation Proclamation, and later Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution (1865), nearly four million slaves were freed.
But all these Amendments did little if racism is still so prevalent. It was and is more a moral issue than a legal one. Legality helps get us on the right track and helps to remind us where we needed to be.
The treatment of Africans and African Americans didn’t improve much. After being freed, they often found themselves tied to their former masters, working as sharecroppers because jobs, housing and food were not available to them. The promise of 40 acres and a mule did not happen to most.
And job opportunities were fewer to those looking into the booming manufacturing industry because of the increase of Irish and Italian immigrants taking those jobs, as well as the discriminations towards Blacks.
The Black Leaders didn’t help their cause either, as they often discriminated against their lighter skin colored brothers and sisters and vice versa.
But they DID chip away at the discrimination. They fought in both world wars, in some ways proving again that they were equal to their white brothers. They weren’t treated the same during their service, or when they returned, as we discussed last week. Those Service members were discriminated against by the GI Bill, if you recall…it was only for white GI’s.
They DID continue to prove that they were not ignorant or unable to learn. Some distinguished members of learned society gave us a variety of inventions, for example:
That ironing board we all know, and love was Invented by Sarah Boone in 1892
Carbon Light Bulb Filament invented by Lewis Latimer in 1881 allowed for longer lasting lights.
Automatic Elevator Doors, Invented by Alexander Miles in 1887
That Three-Light Traffic Light we try to beat was Invented by Garrett Morgan in 1923
As a postgraduate researcher at Columbia University in the late 1930s, Charles Drew invented a means of separating plasma from whole blood, allowing it to be stored for up to a week, far longer than had been possible at the time. Drew also discovered that plasma could be transfused between persons regardless of blood type.
Refrigerated Trucks, necessary for our ice cream as well as other food items, Invented by Frederick McKinley Jones in 1940
The Electret Microphone, Co-Invented by James E. West in 1964
Home Security System, Co-Invented by Mary Van Brittan Brown in 1966
Color IBM PC Monitor and Gigahertz Chip, Co-Invented by Mark Dean c. 1980 and 1999
Many more inventions were patented by Blacks. You might want to check that out.
Even though many members of the Black community moved forward in economic progress, it was hardly near what most whites were doing. They had to work harder to move forward, as we mentioned in our earlier Messages.
The Voting right act of 1965 was another hope to be the springboard to equality for the people of color. But it was not. Voter suppression, Jim Crow laws, literacy test, poll tax, physical harassment often kept the people from the polls.
White men who could not pass the literacy tests were able to vote due to the “Grandfather Clause” allowing them to participate in voting if their grandfathers voted by 1867
The grandfather clause was ruled unconstitutional in 1915. Poll taxes were abolished in 1964 with the 24th Amendment and literacy tests were outlawed under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
But did it stop voter suppression? No, and voter suppression continues to be a tool used to deter Black Americans and other minorities from voting today.
Congress did not provide enforcement for the 15th Amendment immediately, which didn’t help. And Tennessee was the last state to formally ratify the amendment in 1997, finally!
Additionally, the 19th Amendment did not guarantee Black women the right to vote. According to National Geographic, “In fall 1920, many Black women showed up at the polls.” In Kent County, Delaware, their numbers were “unusually large,” according to Wilmington’s News Journal, but officials turned away Black women who “failed to comply with the constitutional tests.”
Historians note an important difference between the motivation of white suffragists, who were working primarily with gender equality in mind, and black suffragists, who saw voting rights as a key part of racial equity and a means of uplifting their communities.
They continue to fight for equality and had made progress until recent events that have led to marching and in some cases, violence.
The progress after the Voting Rights Act came to a halt after the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case, Shelby County v. Holder, changed the way the Voting Rights Act was implemented nationwide. Since 2010 before the decision, 25 states have put into place new requirements such as voter ID laws, closing polling places and cutbacks to early voting,
It seems in recent years we have moved backwards in our effort to be “all men are equal”
Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch wrote that the recent killing in that, “despite gains made in the past 50 years, we are still a nation riven by inequality and racial division.”
In 1968, the Kerner Commission, a group convened by President Lyndon Johnson, found that white racism, not black anger, was the impetus for the widespread civil unrest sweeping the nation.
As Alice George wrote in 2018, the commission’s report suggested that “[b]ad policing practices, a flawed justice system, unscrupulous consumer credit practices, poor or inadequate housing, high unemployment, voter suppression and other culturally embedded forms of racial discrimination all converged to propel violent upheaval.”
In fact, Fifty years after the Kerner Report’s release, a separate study assessed how much had changed; it concluded that conditions had actually worsened. In 2017, black unemployment was higher than in 1968, as was the rate of incarcerated individuals who were black. The wealth gap had also increased substantially, with the median white family having ten times more wealth than the median black family. “We are resegregating our cities and our schools, condemning millions of kids to inferior education and taking away their real possibility of getting out of poverty,” said Fred Harris, the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission, following the 2018 study’s release.
Anti-Black violence was growing. More and more vigilante attacks were terrorizing the Black communities.
More than 200 anti-lynching bills failed to make it through Congress. Per the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative, more than 4,400 lynching’s—mob killings undertaken without legal authority—took place in the U.S. between the end of Reconstruction and World War II.
Incredibly, the Senate only passed legislation declaring lynching a federal crime in 2018.
It’s taken marches and riots and raised fists and bended knee. Now, with the Black Lives Matter movement, maybe, just maybe, we have turned the corner.
This has been and will continue to be an interesting year. With the pandemic, the extreme weather, the killings and marches and yes, even riots, maybe we can actually see the other side of humanity.
But if we genuinely believe we are all one with Spirit, we need to do more, or we will lose our humanity.
Racism & Black America
Good Morning my friends and thank you for returning to our series on Racism in our America, and, too often, in the world. Do you recall one of the questions I asked everyone at the beginning of this series? It was about the college professor who asked her lecture students a question. Now if any of you have ever been in a college lecture hall, they can be sizeable. That’s important because of the result of the question.
The question was, “If any of you would be ok to be treated as a Black person in our country, please raise your hand.”
No one raised their hand. Would you? Probably not.
AS most of you know, Blacks and other people of color have often been treated most shameful, and sometimes repulsive ways, and not just in our past, but in recent times too.
How does that fit into “Love your neighbor as yourself”?
I can recall when I and a friend of mine, went to a traveling exhibit of the Titanic and its fateful sinking. We each were given the name and situation of a person who traveled on that doomed ship. We knew some background information, where their passage was and what happened to them after the ice-burg hit.
It was an interesting and more personal look at that historical event. You felt a real part of the experience, more so than just looking at exhibits.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to do that with slavery? If we were more attached to the outcome of the person we were representing, maybe we would have a better and more compassionate understanding of what it meant and be better human beings to each other. If only.
It could and CAN happen. We need to keep working at understanding each other, but even more, ourselves.
The voyage from Africa to the Americas took several months. Many didn’t survive the trip. Shock, disease, and suicide were responsible for the deaths of at least one-sixth during the crossing. Some seeing suicide a better choice than being a slave. There were mostly young adults but many children too, most under ten, even as young as two, by one account.
The development of the belief that they were an “inferior” race with a “heathen” culture made it easier for whites to rationalize Black slavery.
Once purchased, the slaves were used in the tobacco, sugar and cotton fields as well as general labor and domestic work. Black slaves played a major, though unwilling and generally unrewarded, role in laying the economic foundations of the United States—especially in the South.
Many masters took sexual liberties with enslaved women, and rewarded obedient behavior with favors, while rebellious enslaved people were brutally punished. A social hierarchy among the plantation slaves also helped keep them divided.
At the top were the house slaves; next in rank were the skilled artisans; at the bottom were the vast majority of field hands, who bore the brunt of the harsh plantation life. This helped keep them divided and less likely to organize against their masters.
With this tight control there were few successful slave revolts. There were several, though not very successful to freeing themselves, and causing more hangings instead, though some whites were also killed.
Although Northern businessmen made great fortunes from the trade of enslaved peoples and from investments in Southern plantations, slavery was never widespread in the North. Remember, Northerners held themselves above the Southerners, considering themselves more educated, refined and open-minded.
Laws known as the slave codes regulated the slave system to promote absolute control by the master and complete submission by the slave. Under these laws the slave was a piece of property and a source of labor that could be bought and sold like an animal. The slave was allowed no stable family life and little privacy. Slaves were prohibited by law from learning to read or write.
During the American Revolution, some 5,000 Black soldiers and sailors fought on the American side. After the Revolution, some slaves—particularly former soldiers—were freed, and the Northern states abolished slavery.
But with the ratification of the Constitution of the United States, in 1788, slavery became more firmly entrenched than ever in the South. The Constitution counted a slave as three-fifths of a person for purposes of taxation and representation in Congress (thus increasing the number of representatives from slave states), prohibited Congress from abolishing the African trade of enslaved peoples before 1808, and provided for the return of fugitive slaves to their owners.
In 1807 Pres. Thomas Jefferson signed legislation that officially ended the African trade of enslaved peoples beginning in January 1808. However, this act did not end of slavery. Rather, it spurred the growth of the domestic trade of enslaved peoples in the United States, especially as a source of labor for the new cotton lands in the Southern interior. Increasingly, the supply of slaves came to be supplemented by the practice of “slave breeding,” in which women slaves were raped as early as age 13 and forced to give birth as often as possible.
Individual resistance by slaves took such forms as mothers killing their newborn children to save them from slavery, the poisoning of slave owners, the destruction of machinery and crops, arson, malingering (which may have led to the belief that Blacks were lazy), and running away.
We know of the Underground Railroad, and Harriet Tubman, a former slave who on numerous trips to the South helped hundreds of slaves escape to freedom. Imagine running for your life, meeting Harriet and knowing you must trust this woman that you do not know. And all the others along the railroad. Must have been frightening…and exhilarating. Freedom finally, after all that you have been through, you see the end….and a new beginning.
By 1860 there were almost 500,000 free Africans and African Americans (those born in America)—half in the South and half in the North. The free Black population originated with former indentured servants and their descendants. It was augmented by free Black immigrants from the West Indies and by Blacks freed by individual slave owners.
We know they were only technically free, however. In the South, where they posed a threat to the institution of slavery, they suffered both in law and by custom many of the restrictions imposed on slaves.
In the North, free Blacks were discriminated against in such rights as voting, property ownership, and freedom of movement, though they had some access to education and could organize. Free Blacks also faced the danger of being kidnapped and enslaved.
Did you know that there were Black slave holders? Well, they were free Blacks who often reunited family by purchasing them. One way of getting around the master’s keeping families apart.
In Dred Scott v. Sanford, in 1857, the Supreme Court denied citizenship to all slaves, ex-slaves, and descendants of slaves, and denied Congress the right to prohibit slavery in the territories.
Historians and judicial scholars regard the Dred Scott decision as “the worst decision ever.”
Free Blacks were among the first abolitionists.
By 1830, African American leaders began meeting regularly in national and state conventions. But they differed on the best strategies to use in the struggle against slavery and discrimination.
Some thought to revolt and overthrow their masters. Others proposed that a major modern Black country be established in Africa. Supported by the American Colonization Society, whose membership was overwhelmingly white, African Americans founded Liberia in West Africa
However, most Black leaders then and later regarded themselves as Americans and felt that the problems of their people could be solved only by a continuing struggle at home. Maybe the beginning of the Civil Rights movement.
The preservation of the Union, not the abolition of slavery, was the initial objective of President Lincoln when it came to the Civil War. He initially believed in gradual emancipation, with the federal government compensating the slaveholders for the loss of their “property.”
But in September 1862 he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all slaves residing in states in rebellion against the United States as of January 1, 1863, were to be free. Thus, the Civil War became, in effect, a war to end slavery.
Blacks were recruited into the Union armed forces. Frederick Douglass declared in his newspaper the North Star, “Who would be free themselves must strike the blow.”
By the end of the Civil War more than 186,000 African American men were in the Union army. They performed heroically despite discrimination in pay, rations, equipment, and assignments as well as the unrelenting hostility of the Confederate troops. Slaves served as a labor force for the Confederacy, but thousands of them dropped their tools and escaped to the Union lines.
As a result of the Union victory in the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution (1865), nearly four million slaves were freed.
Yet the Reconstruction period (1865–77) was one of disappointment and frustration for African Americans, for these new provisions of the Constitution were often ignored, particularly in the South.
After the Civil War, the freedmen were thrown largely on their own meagre resources. Landless and uprooted, they moved about in search of work. They generally lacked adequate food, clothing, and shelter.
The Southern states enacted Black codes, laws resembling the slave codes that restricted the movement of the former slaves in an effort to force them to work as plantation laborers—often for their former masters—at absurdly low wages.
The federal Freedmen’s Bureau, established by Congress in 1865, assisted the former slaves by giving them food and finding jobs and homes for them. The bureau established hospitals and schools, including such institutions of higher learning as Fisk University and Hampton Institute.
During Reconstruction, African Americans wielded political power in the South for the first time. Their leaders were largely clergymen, lawyers, and teachers who had been educated in the North and abroad. Between 1869 and 1901, there were 20 African American representatives and 2 African American senators—Hiram R. Revels and Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi—who sat in the U.S. Congress.
But Black political power was short-lived. Northern politicians grew increasingly conciliatory to the white South, so that by 1872 virtually all leaders of the Confederacy had been pardoned and were again able to vote and hold office.
By means of economic pressure and the terrorist activities of violent anti-Black groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, most African Americans were kept away from the polls. By 1877, when Pres. Rutherford B. Hayes withdrew the last federal troops from the South, Southern whites were again in full control. No African American was to serve in the U.S. Congress for three decades after the departure of George H. White of North Carolina in 1901.
The rebirth of white supremacy in the South was accompanied by the growth of enforced “racial” separation. Starting with Tennessee in 1870, all the Southern states reenacted laws prohibiting marriage between Blacks and whites. They also passed Jim Crow laws segregating Blacks and whites in almost all public places.
By 1885 most Southern states had officially segregated their public schools. Moreover, in 1896, in upholding a Louisiana law that required the segregation of passengers on railroad cars, the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson established the doctrine of “separate but equal.”
In the post-Reconstruction years, African Americans received only a small share of the increasing number of industrial jobs in Southern cities. And relatively few rural African Americans in the South owned their own farms, most remaining poor sharecroppers heavily in debt to white landlords. The largely urban Northern African American population fared little better. The jobs they sought were given to European immigrants. In search of improvement, many African Americans migrated westward.
SO we are able to see the foundation of white privilege and Black suppression as it started and continued through post-civil war.
Next week we look at Black lives since their supposed freedom.
Let’s finish this week with this thought that is relevant even today…and matches our 2nd Principle
“Right is of no Sex—Truth is of no Color—God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren.” Frederick Douglas
Racism & White Privilege, Pt. 2
One Sunday, last summer I believe it was, several of us went out for brunch after the Sunday Service. We met at a local restaurant and waited to be seated. I believe there were 5 of us, both African American and white folks.
When we finally were seated, we were given menus and chatted as we each were choosing what we wanted to eat.
Time past, people came and were seated after us, and were waited on after us, and even served after us.
Finally, as I started up to get the waitress passing us, our waitress stopped by the table. Of course, we all were ready to place our order by then.
That was the first time I had witnessed open prejudice because of race, or at least that it registered as such. Any other time I went to the restaurant, and I favored the place often, I had no problem getting seated timely and waited on quickly.
Up until recently, I had very little experience, directly, with people of color. And as I became involved with my spiritual journey, it has been one more thing that I have had to look at, brutally honestly, I must admit.
In Robin Diangelo’s book, “White Fragility – Why is it so hard for white people to talk about racism,” Diangelo looks at how, after the Civil Rights movement, we white northerners claimed a moral superiority over the southerners because we were good moral people who would not treat the Black community in such harsh ways.
We were progressive, educated, open-minded northerners, good moral folks while the racists were bad, ignorant, bigoted, old southerners. That was the thought at the time…and maybe still some today.
To call someone a racist was to insult their character. But instead of reflecting on that possibility, we use that energy to defend ourselves. And THIS is why it is nearly impossible to talk to white people about race.
“If we cannot discuss the dynamics of racism or see ourselves within them, we cannot stop participating in racism.”
If I said I am not racist, then it turns out to not be my problem, and I need not do anything more about it…. simple. But that way nothing gets done, nothing changes.
Is that your way out of looking deeper, not answering the question, Am I a Racist??
And saying you are colorblind is just an easy way out. Making excuses like I was taught to treat everyone the same; I don’t see color; if people are respectful to me, I am respectful to them, regardless of race; our family has multiracial children in it, or I went to a very diverse school or lived in a diverse neighborhood are more excuses to not look within.
How does any of these claims, and there are many more, function in the conversation about race? Do they exempt the person speaking it from any responsibility?
What they do is close rather than open the conversation to any further discussion or exploration.
And without that exploration, we do not change our outlook. And without that change, racism continues.
In reality, we can’t treat everyone the same because humans can’t be 100% objective, so claiming this closes us off again. And since we are born into the racist social system embedded in our culture and institutions, we can’t be brought up racism-free, as many claim.
“We live in a culture that circulates relentless messages of white superiority. And at the same time, relentless messages of black inferiority.”
Thus, white superiority depends on the projection of black inferiority.
We can’t have white privilege without blacks.
In America, black people are, as the Sentencing Project observes, “more likely than white Americans to be arrested; once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, they are more likely to experience lengthy prison sentences”.
And more likely to be killed by the police, too. Yet studies also show that the problems faced by African Americans are not due simply to white people, or even to white police officers, but to a system of justice that is structurally deeply unjust.
White privilege exists because of historic, enduring racism and biases.
When I say white privilege, what do you feel, what do you think? Oh, I wish you were here to have this discussion right now. Please respond on FB or email me.
Although the definition of “white privilege” has been somewhat fluid, it is generally agreed to refer to the implicit or systemic advantages that people who are deemed white have relative to people who are not deemed white.
White privilege is a way of conceptualizing racial inequalities that focuses on advantages that white people accrue from their position in society as well as the disadvantages that non-white people experience.
This same idea is brought to light by Peggy McIntosh, who wrote about white privilege from the perspective of a white individual in “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. McIntosh states in her writing that, “as a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something which puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege which puts me at an advantage”.
Robin DiAngelo coined the term “white fragility” in the early 2010s, later releasing her 2018 book by that title. She has said that “white privilege can be thought of as unstable racial equilibrium”, and that when this equilibrium is challenged, the resulting racial stress can become intolerable and trigger a range of defensive responses. DiAngelo defines these behaviors as white fragility.
For example, DiAngelo observed in her studies that some white people, when confronted with racial issues concerning white privilege, may respond with dismissal, distress, or other defensive responses because they may feel personally implicated in white supremacy.
Elsewhere, it has been summarized as “the trademark inability of white Americans to meaningfully own their unearned privilege”.
DiAngelo also writes that white privilege is very rarely discussed and that even multicultural education courses tend to use vocabulary that further obfuscates racial privilege and defines race as something that only concerns blacks. She suggests using loaded terminology with negative connotations to people of color adds to the cycle of white privilege.
It is far more the norm for these courses and programs to use racially coded language such as ‘urban,’ ‘inner city,’ and ‘disadvantaged’ but to rarely use ‘white’ or ‘over advantaged’ or ‘privileged.’ This racially coded language reproduces racist images and perspectives while it simultaneously reproduces the comfortable illusion that race and its problems are what ‘they’ have, not us.
She does say, however, that defensiveness and discomfort from white people in response to being confronted with racial issues is not irrational but rather is often driven by subconscious, sometimes even well-meaning, attitudes toward racism.
The system of white privilege applies both to the way a person is treated by others and to a set of behaviors, affects, and thoughts, which can be learned and reinforced. These elements of “whiteness” establish social status and guarantee advantages for some people, without directly relying on skin color or other aspects of a person’s appearance.
In her book Privilege Revealed: How Invisible Preference Undermines America, Stephanie M. Wildman writes that many Americans who advocate a merit-based, race-free worldview do not acknowledge the systems of privilege which have benefited them. For example, many Americans rely on a social or financial inheritance from previous generations, an inheritance unlikely to be forthcoming if one’s ancestors were slaves.
Whites were sometimes afforded opportunities and benefits that were unavailable to others. In the middle of the 20th century, the government subsidized white homeownership through the Federal Housing Administration, but not homeownership by minorities.
Whites have historically had more opportunities to accumulate wealth. Some of the institutions of wealth creation amongst American citizens were open exclusively to whites. Similar differentials applied to the Social Security Act (which excluded agricultural and domestic workers, sectors that then included most black workers), rewards to military officers, and the educational benefits offered to returning soldiers after World War II
Thomas Shapiro wrote that wealth is passed along from generation to generation, giving whites a better “starting point” in life than other races. According to Shapiro, many whites receive financial assistance from their parents allowing them to live beyond their income. This, in turn, enables them to buy houses and major assets which aid in the accumulation of wealth. Since houses in white neighborhoods appreciate faster, even African Americans who can overcome their “starting point” are unlikely to accumulate wealth as fast as whites. Shapiro asserts this is a continual cycle from which whites consistently benefit. These benefits also have effects on schooling and other life opportunities.
WOW. I’ve learned a lot about white privilege these last few weeks. Even coming from a very poor background, I know now that my family still had a hand up over people of color.
Next week, we will continue our look at racism from the Black and people of color point of view, or at least I’ll give it a try.
A college professor asked her lecture class to raise their hand if any of them would be ok if they were treated like people of color, blacks and browns, were treated in our country.
No one raised their hand.
Would you have raised yours?
Racism and white privilege
Great morning and thank you for returning to our Sunday Service this morning. We are journeying through a discussion on racism and how it affects both white people and people of color.
Some of you may be saying, wait, how does racism affect white people? We’ll be delving into that subject this week.
Have you asked yourself if you are a racist? Honestly? Or ‘brutally honest’ as Dr. Phil would say. I would believe almost everyone has some racist issues in them. But we would have to be totally honest with ourselves, which may be something we have a hard time doing.
And why is that? Well, my Tuesday class would probably respond, our ego. Our ego wants it to be correct all the time, wants to be in charge. And having ‘you’ be right is what ego wants, even if it is the ego actually making the choice.
Maybe take some time today and the following week to ask yourself those hard questions…starting with, ‘am I a racist?’
I can walk into a room and, except for someone’s prejudice, they would see a now older white woman, with some graying hair, currently walking with a cane. They have no idea if I came from some European country or was born in America, what the economic status of my family was or is, and except for prejudices, what my sexual orientation or gender identity is.
Yet, if I was a person of color, everyone in that room would know that now. Though some people of color can pass for white, most cannot. So, they would have to face any others prejudices right away…without a word passing between each other.
People of color cannot hide that they are black or brown.
Last week, we talked a little about how ‘white’ became the race of power, of rights, of choice. If you were born of the white race, you have some privilege already.
Sure, there are other categories you can be born into that give you a bit more in society:
Citizenship: Simply being born in this country affords you certain privileges that non-citizens will never access.
Class: Being born into a financially stable family can help guarantee your health, happiness, safety, education, intelligence, and future opportunities.
Sexual orientation: If you were born straight, every state in this country affords you privileges that non-straight folks have to fight the Supreme Court for to get and to maintain!
Sex: If you were born male, you can assume that you can walk through a parking garage without worrying that you’ll be raped and then have to deal with a defense attorney blaming it on what you were wearing.
Ability: If you were born able-bodied, you probably don’t have to plan your life around handicap access, braille, or other special needs. After the hip replacement surgery, I have learned about the lack of access for people who are limited in ability. One thing is handicap parking…there needs to be more.
Gender identity: If you were born cisgender (that is, your gender identity matches the sex you were assigned at birth), you don’t have to worry that using the restroom or locker room will invoke public outrage. We heard a lot about this as schools were trying to provide access to restroom to accommodate students identified as transgendered.
So, if you are “straight, white, middle-class, able-bodied male, it can be like winning a lottery you didn’t even know you were playing.”
Then why is white privilege so important?
“Think of white privilege as an unearned, almost randomly assigned head start,” explains Mikki Kendall, author of Hood Feminism. “It doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to win the race. It just means that you get to start a few feet further forward. White privilege doesn’t mean you don’t have any hurdles, it just means you have fewer of them.”
White privilege (or white skin privilege) is the societal privilege that benefits white people over non-white people in some societies, particularly if they are otherwise under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.
With roots in European colonialism, the Atlantic slave trade, and the growth of the Second British Empire after 1783, white privilege has developed in circumstances that have broadly sought to protect white racial privileges, various national citizenships and other rights or special benefits.
In the study of white privilege, and its broader field of whiteness studies, academic perspectives such as critical race theory use the concept to analyze how racism and racialized societies affect the lives of white or white-skinned people.
For example, Peggy McIntosh, in “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” describes the advantages that whites in Western societies enjoy and non-whites do not experience, as “an invisible package of unearned assets”.
She lists 50 daily effects of white privilege that she could identify more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographic location.
White privilege denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white people may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice.
These include cultural affirmations of one’s own worth; presumed greater social status; and freedom to move, buy, work, play, and speak freely. The effects can be seen in professional, educational, and personal contexts. The concept of white privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one’s own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal.
Some commentators have observed that the “academic-sounding concept of white privilege” sometimes elicits defensiveness and misunderstanding among white people, in part due to how the concept of white privilege was rapidly brought into the mainstream spotlight through social media campaigns such as Black Lives Matter.
White privilege had been researched for many years before being brought into the limelight recently.
The concept of white privilege is frequently misinterpreted by non-academics; researchers have been surprised by the seemingly sudden hostility from right-wing critics since approximately 2014.
It only takes a few moments to realize that white privilege is real and has been here for decades. Here are some simple examples of white privilege:
1. Your Wages Aren’t Lower Because Of Your Race
Just as there’s a gender wage gap, there’s also a racial wage gap that stems from our country’s history and segregated education and housing systems. According to Bureau of Labor statistics on gender and racial pay inequality, white and Asian men are the highest earners, and black and Hispanic/Latina women are the lowest. The median weekly earnings of a Hispanic/Latina woman are $548, about half of Asian men’s $1,080 and 60 percent of white men’s $897.
2. People Don’t Make Assumptions About Your Intelligence Because Of Your Race
According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, white people subconsciously associate African Americans with lower intelligence. Another study in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences found people hold the same assumptions about Hispanics.
3. You Don’t Feel Pressure to Represent Your Race
I never have to worry that if I make a mistake, people will assume I’ve made it because white people are less capable. On the other hand, President Obama makes a few mistakes, and Donald Trump says another black president won’t get elected. Being white absolves you from this pressure to defy your race’s stereotype so that your mistakes don’t hurt others of your race.
4. Most Products Are Geared Toward You
A white person can go into a store to buy Band-Aids, beauty products, and other items related to skin tone and walk out with something that suits them. People of color at best have a small section of products tailored toward them, reminding them that in the eyes of mainstream culture, they are invisible.
5. Most Media Is Geared Toward You
In addition to knowing I can buy products geared toward me, I can feel fairly confident that I will see people like me represented on TV, in movies, in magazines, in books, and all over the Internet. In particular, I am able to see examples of people like me succeeding, which has given me the message that I, too, can succeed. And rather than seeing my culture reduced to a stereotype, I have been shown a wide representation of people of my race.
Here’s an even better example…Marine Sergeant Jason Thomas, a black man, went directly to the wreckage after the 911 attacks and saved the lives of New York Port Authority officers. But when the movie of this event was made, he was portrayed as a white man.
6. Beauty Standards Aren’t Rigged Against You Because Of Your Race
The rigid beauty standards depicted in the media harm all women, and that harm can be due to factors other than race. But at least white women don’t usually feel pressure to have lighter skin, differently shaped eyes, or thinner hair on top of everything else. Due to racist beauty standards, one third to one fifth of women in Seoul, South Korea have undergone plastic surgery, largely to make their eyes look more like white people’s, and black women get fewer replies on OKCupid than women of any other race.
7. Jobs Won’t Discriminate Against You Due to Your Race
In an Auburn University study, researchers sent out identical resumes with white-sounding and black-sounding names to different companies to see who would get interviews. Black applicants got called in for interviews 15.2 percent of the time, while white ones did 18 percent of the time. Some white people might complain that diversity efforts lead people of color to be hired over them, but it actually works the other way around.
8. People Will Trust That You Deserve to Be Where You Are
When a white person joins a company or goes to college or wins an award, people will assume that they deserved it. When a person of color does, people wonder if they were chosen to fill a diversity quota. The reality is that people of color have earned just as many of these opportunities but aren’t getting them, which is why diversity efforts are necessary.
9. The Police Are Looking Out for You
Of the 3,000 uses of Tasers in Maryland over three years, 64 percent were used toward black men. And according to The Counted, which tracks deaths of Americans killed by police, Native Americans are killed by police nearly 2.4 times as often as white people. Blacks and Hispanics are also killed more often than whites and Asians. Racial profiling isn’t just in people’s heads; it’s very real, and it means that while white people may feel they can turn to the police for help, people of color are often targeted by the very group meant to protect them.
This is just a small example of what white privilege means if you aren’t white, if you are on the wrong side, shall we say, of the privilege track.
Remember what we said last week, equality means the quality or state of being equal the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.
We have been reminded for centuries, what is ours to do…it’s found in
“The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’.
Race and White Fragility
This morning I’d like to start a discussion on race. Not just Black or African American or Latino, or any other race or culture of color, but also how the white culture factors into the discrimination against these races and cultures. There are two sides to this dilemma, and we will look at both these next few weeks.
We’re starting a series on this topic using two books: “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi and “White Fragility – Why is it so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin Diangelo.
The timing is appropriate. There has been and continues to be so much going on across our country and even in some other countries, about the actions and reactions of people, of both white and black races, as they respond to police shooting and sometimes, strangling, Black men and women, often unarmed.
We see all to often, another shooting of unarmed Blacks, especially, that it is just too commonplace.
But this discussion goes beyond the shooting of people of color. There is more to it.
So, let’s take a look at some history, some facts and set the stage for some discussion…yes, it is my hope that these Messages, just like those we presented in July with Leroy, Carolyn, Diane and Angela, will foster discussion around the dinner table and the conversation circles in homes across our area.
The most recently available Census statistics show that income inequality in America, as of 2018, is at its most extreme point in half a century. Access to a quality education remains heavily shaped by ZIP code, while access to a safe place to live remains heavily determined by wealth. Change is still undermined by the difficulty of voting. Even the water that comes out of America’s taps is unequal.
The pandemic has simply brought the disparities between whites and people of color to the surface even more.
“For every tortuous inch gained,” TIME declared when Martin Luther King Jr. was named Person of the Year for 1963, “there are miles of progress left to be covered.”
That statement is no less true today, unfortunately.
So, let’s start by defining what racism is: in “White Fragility,” it is defined as intentional acts of racial discrimination committed by immoral individuals, or a racist is someone who holds conscious dislike of people because of race.
Think on that before we go on.
This is not prejudice. According to Diangelo, “Prejudice is pre-judgement about another based upon the social groups that person belongs. It consists of thoughts and feelings, including stereotypes, attitudes, and generalizations that are based on little or no experience and then are projected onto everyone from that group.”
As a gay woman, I can relate somewhat to this. I, and many of my friends and acquaintances have been the subject of prejudice. And we learned from the Black community how to fight for equality through peaceful protests…and still are fighting.
We all have prejudice; it can’t be avoided. And its not a bad thing. It’s when we put action to those thoughts and feelings that discrimination happens.
If we deny that we have prejudice, Diangelo suggests we are ‘demonstrating a profound lack of self-awareness.’
Of course, we would have to admit to that, be aware of it, to be able to move on is self-awareness. We all know that self-awareness is needed to connect to our inner Christ.
The opposite of racist is ‘antiracist,’ one who endorses racial equality.’ They see the root of problems in power and policies.
Kendi states a racist is, “one who endorses the idea of a racial hierarchy; they believe problems are rooted in groups of people.”
Kendi continues, a racist is one who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inactions or expressing a racist idea.
And antiracist is one who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.
And what is a racist policy? It is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups.
An antiracist policy, then, would be any measure that produces or sustains racial equity between racial groups.
Policy is defined as written or unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations or guidelines that govern people.
That’s a lot of information, but it gives us some groundwork to base our discussion upon. And we will use that foundation for our continued discussion through the following Sundays.
The Declaration of Independence tells us: all men are created equal.
And if we believe in that document, then where did we go awry?
THAT… goes way back.
I recall a Bible history I was studying when I was still in Unity Licensing classes. The history of the Near East, according to this is very interesting.
This is before the time of Abraham and Isaac, when the communities you would come across were matriarchal, the women were the leaders, taking care of the homes and crops and the spiritual welfare of the village, while the males hunted.
These were people who worshiped their Gods through nature Their main God was a Goddess.. The Head Woman was the representative of the Goddess
All was good.
Then they were invaded by an aggressive culture from the north, that believed in force and violence to conquer other cultures.
They tried to force their God onto the Goddess believers and but they met much resistance. The only way was to marry the Goddess representative and melt the cultures as best they could.
Of course, that meant that the males dominated the females. And as they came in contact with other races, the ‘whiter’ races determined in their minds that they were better, smarter, stronger…and therefore the leaders.
And so, begins, briefly, the history of how white became the skin color of choice. Arians coming from the north made a determination that their race was best. Sound familiar?
Hitler had the same idea.
That story or something similar, depending on who is telling it, was brought forward century after century. Time and again, the oppressed fought against their oppressors and time and again, the oppressed were held down.
It’s hard to get back up if you are continually pushed back.
The Declaration of Independence sounded simple enough: all men are created equal. For nearly 250 years, the U.S. has leaned on that founding principle. In theory, its meaning is clear. In practice, battles have raged—often times literally—over what it means, not just for American government but for American life in general.
So how would you define equal?
The dictionary defines it as: being the same in quantity, size, degree, or value; a person or thing considered to be the same as another in status or quality.
If this is what we base our constitution upon, what’s the problem? How could we get so off course, if ALL persons are created equal?
Of course, in the eyes of God, and supposedly, all God loving people, we ARE all equal.
But that is and has not been put into practice by all, for all.
The utopians might respond that prioritizing this supposed equality results in the very inequalities that they question: racial privilege, elite colleges, losers, sexism. They would argue that true equality requires taking from some and giving to others, to even out the differences. And so, equality seems absurd. Either it doesn’t exist or, if we claim it exists, it seems to defy reality. But Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were not fools. They were neither cynics nor utopians.
For clarification, we should return to Abraham Lincoln’s subtle and profound teaching about equality, at a moment when that foundation was threatened by a form of inequality everyone today condemns, slavery. He once gave an instructive exercise in trying to prevent civil war.
In opposing the recently announced Dred Scott decision, in which the Supreme Court deprived African Americans of not only citizenship but of human dignity, Illinois Senate candidate Lincoln parried the vicious racial demagoguery on the part of incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas.
When Douglas accused him of being in favor of inter-racial marriage, Lincoln acknowledged that most of his white listeners opposed “amalgamation” with black people. Keep in mind, Illinois prohibited slavery but also discriminated against black people in innumerable ways.
Lincoln’s explanation defends liberty for all and justifies equality as an ideal. Just because he did not want to enslave a woman, he said, did not mean he personally wanted to marry her. “In some respects she certainly is not my equal; but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands without asking leave of anyone else,” he went on, “she is my equal, and the equal of all others.”
It is important, as white people of America, that we fight racism by learning what it really means to be white and how that identity operates in the world.
We will look at both what it means to be a person of color and a white person. I hope you will follow our series and use it to delve into your own beliefs on race and maybe, if you find some racist beliefs within your heart, to let them go.