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A White Man’s Fear in a Frightened America


A White Man’s Fear in a Frightened America

Frank Nuessle

Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ new book, “Between the World and Me” about his experience of being black in White America has touched a place of deep-seated fear and unacknowledged anguish buried deep inside of me.

Why would I, a sixty something, tall, blue eyed, well educated, white man who has lived a privileged life in White America, be so afraid?


Humanity struggles to "innovate" hope and change only to have the wheel of history roll back over. I may have read that in a fortune cookie. I'll give Lao Tzu a ring to check it out


Mr. Nuessle is to be commended for attempting to see beyond the blinders of white male identity; but his analysis remains largely locked into it.

After all, all of those unexamined beliefs are the product of the Anglo-European culture. Its conquistadors came to this "new world," swords in hand to wipe out any Voice and vision of reality inconsistent with their own.

In the same maniacal manner by which today's often Christianized soldiers are seduced into fighting a new Crusades, yesterday's conquistadors had the church's blessing in wiping out "the savages" that knew how to live WITH the land as stewards of the Great Spirit's bounty.

"Rather than a national dialogue that simply pits one utopian based ideology against another, America needs to find a new conversation, a new story, a new narrative, that is based in a grounded reality. "

The belief in linearity--that time marches ever onward towards a progressive new future destination--discounts the greater truth: that all things (our planet and thus basis for the context of time) circle.

My point is that it's not necessary to conjure new stories as much as it is vital to listen to the wisdom teachings that were so senselessly tossed aside, degraded, and discounted.

The Truth has always been "out there," but it didn't coincide with the vision of the (mostly) white male dominators who wanted to do to Mother Nature and the living world, what they did to women and persons of color: conquer, control, possess, exploit, use and discard... sans any sense of the sacredness of this other, their partners in Creation.

It is time for MAN to listen to Woman and for the white race to HEAR and recall why and how it is that Black Lives (and all lives) matter. This, by the way, includes the lives of animals and plants and ecosystems whose essences transcend what science can measure or understand. Too often science is used to discard what is known by Mystics, Indigenous medicine men and women, shamans, and others who work with forces that science--in its dense insistence upon MATERIAL proof--cannot fathom.


Your glib one-liners constantly TRIVIALIZE the issues that the articles address. By making light of these matters, you pretend that they don't matter. And I think that's why you are here.


And Lao Tzu is not a person's name. The author of the Dao de Jing (the old spelling is Tao te Ching) wished to remain anonymous so he signed his writings as Lao Tzu which may be translated as old man or old sage.


Just to say, the article is better than a lot, but your post balances it well, IMHO.


I wonder how it took so long to see the bloody obvious! In a world intent on destruction, the US wins every time.


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So, what is(are) the fear(s) that underlie American style denial? What is so terrible, what abuse have we suffered, that we, as a nation of people, use denial as a central organizing principle for how we see the events of the world around us?

The primary answer is that the abuse we have suffered is actually the abuse we have inflicted on others; our trauma is the indigestible fear that those we have abused might, with legitimate reason, turn on us with the same unreasoning cruelty that was inflicted on them. As a people, White America both realizes at some level and traumatically fears that, especially though not only, Black America will rise in righteous anger for slavery, murder, rape, family destruction, torture, social and political marginalization and just plain-old brutality; this is, a return in kind for all the things that were done to them historically and that continue on into the present as a result of our ‘white’ denial.


i believe that the author is saying, quite correctly, that the American standard of living is dependent on an extremely unfair allotment of the planet's resources, but he also appears to dismiss the socialist alternative. And by socialist, I do not mean the narrowly domestic social democratic version of Bernie Sanders - welcome though that is. A century ago, the socialism articulated by most of the parties going under that name looked beyond national borders to see a world united by a vision of our common humanity. The horrors of the First World War and the betrayal of the dream by the Bolsheviks has caused a long forgetting of the vision, but it can and must be recovered if we as a species are to survive.

The writings of Thomas Piketty point the way forward for this century, as those of Karl Marx did before he became an icon for tyranny - and I recommend that Piketty's important work be studied closely by all who share the old and noble hope for a better world.


Brilliant, refreshing analysis. Let's here more from this author!


Wonderful, gracious and illuminating! Thank you lovely Siouxrose!


So he sees himself as the old sage he will ring up? Seems so.