When I was growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, I was awoken by one singular task from my mother. “Get out of South Carolina,” she would sermonize. This would be repeated to me regularly and in different ways. “Get out of South Carolina and don’t come back.” Sometimes she would say, “Don’t get trapped here.”
There is something far deeper going on here than racism, though it is a factor. Compare this latest incident with the Birmingham church bombing in 1963. The perpetrators then made an effort not to be caught. Here the pathetic and twisted young man made himself known before murdering his victims, surely understanding in the recesses of his sick mind that he would be caught, seeking the notoriety that is the common denominator of all of our quotidian massacres. James Baldwin, perhaps our wisest writer, put it this way: “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” We are a nation in tremendous pain, black, white, all of us, and the most troubled turn this pain into violence. Racism may have been a factor in this latest horror, but the roots go much deeper. Only a revolution in values will save us.
You are mischaracterizing the problem of racism. While simple bigotry may come from parents, racism is a property of a society, not an individual, and only a white person would pecieve racism as “subtle”. The problem is not just a problem of different people “getting along”. The problem is white racism which in integrated into the mechanics of a society providing privleges to the white person no matter how much the white person protests against racism. For example all the protests against racism by myself will do nothing about the way my house maintains its market value because everybody for several streets around is non-black, nor stop the plummeting of that market value once the neighborhood becomes 15% or more black.
Anti-racist South African martyr Stephen Biko, in a 1970 essay that is still stunningly relevant today 45 yeas later and in a different country 10,000 miles away, said: “Those who know, define racism as discrimination by a group against another for the purposes of subjugation or maintaining subjugation. In other words one cannot be a racist unless he has the power to subjugate.”
I’ll post a link to Martyr Biko’s essay presently - it is incredibly relevant to much of the Common Dreams readership.
This essay by the anti-racist Martyr Stephen Biko regarding white liberals and racism incredibly relevant here in the USA today (and still, in South Africa too, where the same racism continues):
I think it’s important not to lose sight of the PARTICULAR, long-entrenched and insanely cruel pain projected onto the Black Community when you (or anyone else) speaks of the more universal pain.
The fact that our nation’s leaders make war under the guise of spreading peace and have left millions of persons homeless, orphaned, widowed, and in despair is awful karma and it does rebound back at its hosts.
The type of misogyny also being taught is equally cruel and vile.
The spiritual precept that we are all part of the ONE, a universal essence that allows each its individual qualities within this vast incomprehensible whole is a far more enlightened view than that which looks only to skin color, gender, class, race, ethnicity, etc.
Still, many who want to retain the Dominator Society speak as if the distinctions between persons were meaningless or immaterial. They are not.
A useful analogy is that of the rainbow. When all colors are vibrating true to their essences, the miracle of white light occurs. But this light is not based on wiping out differences. To the contrary, it’s the product of a symphony of glowing resonances.
When Blacks, Latinos, Women, Indigenous Americans, Muslims are told that they are lesser, and everything that they do reinforces that assessment, the LIGHT that these groups bring to the great Totality is dimmed.
It’s said that within the Original Tribes of the Americas, if an individual demonstrated ruthless self-interest, greed, or a lack of concern for others, that he would be shunned. Unfortunately, in the paradigm that Mars (god of war) and Mammon (those who put the love of $ first) built, selfish, ruthless persons are presented as leaders. And what they do, does in fact, trickle down.
Earlier I heard Obama on the radio speaking of this nation not tolerating the kind of violence that broke out in this latest massacre. How can he divide his mind and speak with such a forked tongue when HE is at the command and helping to mastermind impossible policies of death, destruction and despair?
It’s important that dots be connected. Otherwise, in political shows of equivalent schizophrenia, a president can speak with seeming concern about violence breaking out inside the Homeland while at the same time ensuring precisely this sort of thing through violence practiced on a daily basis (over a decade, unceasingly) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, possibly Syria, and elsewhere.
Things ARE insane. And Earth Mother’s uptick in storms, droughts, volcanoes, heat waves, etc. is proof positive that She feels the chaos and through human aggression, spreading imbalances in the natural world. These are escalating. (Yogananda spoke of this link at the U.N. back in l949. It’s still true, real, and relevant.)
The place I live (not out of choice) is very much The Old South and there are leagues of people fighting to keep it that way. It is a very oppressive community, and dialog is difficult. Blacks are so guarded that they don’t want to talk about racism when broached by a white person.
The racial tension here is palpable.
I am half Cherokee but have light skin - I am considered Caucasian though I don’t identify with that side of my ancestry.
My mother grew up in what was then called the “Negro tenements” due to racial discrimination. As I child I often thought my grandfather appeared black, but he swore he was Cherokee. I researched by ancestry and found out about “the dark branch” - and my great-great-grandmother, who was widowed, and escaped deportation on The Trail of Tears by marrying a white man.
There are gradations in the race, and in the place where I live this sort of “pecking order” is more pronounced. Many blacks in this community automatically assume I am racist because I am light skinned, and I am often a scapegoat to their anger. Incidentally, I have to admit I resent the way I have been treated by “the whitest of the white.” However, I cannot say that I have experienced racism at the same intensity as African Americans. But I do sympathize with them. I do try to make peace with them, but at the same time I can very much understand why they hate me.
Racism hurts, and what is worse is being caught in the middle.
I wish everyone peace, love and understanding.
I think you are confusing hate with righteous defiance. Only some living is privilege and comfort can be confused in this way.
What you are describing is called simple bigotry. Racism is a different and far more pernicious thing. The sullen cry of “whitey” to the man with his boot-heel on your neck is never a manifestation or racism - the boot-heel is!. How can the epithet “whitey” be racist? It has none of the power of social institutions of privilege behind it! And that definition of racism is more than just the late Bikos 45 years ago, it is the working definition used by most sociologists.
Ultimately, the problem seem to be that US liberals tend to view humans jsut as the Ayn Rand or (“There is no society”) Thatcher did - as just self contained atoms totally unaffected by social forces - and are totally blind to those social forces.
Did you real all of Biko’s essay? I also recommend the works of Tim Wise - who is doing exactly the sort of white anti-racist work that Biko recommends.