Monday, November 7, 2016
Drinking From the Same Pool Differently
I have written often about how great I believe that the United States of America is. I believe there has been no greater country than here, but I do know that we are not perfect and have many "black eyes" from our past.
One issue that rises to the level of media coverage from time to time is that of racism.
As a white man, I can only sympathize and explain how I see this issue from my perspective. My perspective is so much different from African-American people and I should never believe that I know more about their lives than they do
But as a history teacher I know that much of this country was built by black slaves.
As a history teacher I know that many of our current race issues go all the way back to theat "peculiar institution".
As white Europeans wanted cheap labor that would be easily recognizable, they decided to work with Africans there to enslave their fellow men and women. When brought here, they were beaten, raped and stripped of their pasts and history, and so much more that I could write books about it and there have been. And after many generations, black people in this country were brain-washed that they were not equal to white people and taught fear to stay on the plantation.
Black slaves were not often chained, there were no fences up on property and they fought to live, yet as not only non-citizens, but as non-humans.
When this institution was ended after The Civil War, black people in the South were freed. Free to do what? They knew nothing but their current surroundings and if they did decide to leave they were entering a depressed economic area post-Civil War with little to no hope for even the local whites.
If they chose to stay on the plantation, they were entered into legal slavery of sharecropping where they went into debt to farm part of the old plantation to never be able to pay that debt off. If they left and went North, they encountered racism there and were often treated as badly as in the South.
Black people in the US were slaves. Once slavery ended, they entered an area with no jobs, entered legal slavery in sharecropping, or went North where they were discriminated against.
As they fought for their rights in the late 1800's and early 1900's, they were jailed, beaten, and murdered. Black men couldn't find jobs, couldn't take care of their families and often turned to illegal ways to make money. If they were caught their punishment was often more stringent than for their white counterparts because of racism.
As the mid-1900's occurred, African-Americans fought for equality and were fought in every situation for their "inalienable rights". It wasn't until the civil rights bill of 1964 was passed that black people here were guaranteed their rights as US citizens, and yet they still encountered severe racism and inequality that exists still today.
What has occurred in the black community is they have been held back economically (every single sociologist will tell you that poverty is generational), educationally and to overcome these struggles, they have little hope to improve their current situation.
Because black people who are struggling economically want to have the rewards of their white cohorts, yet cannot do so (generally speaking), they resort to illegal activity to get the spoils of the Capitalist economy. Because of this, they have more interactions with law enforcement.
This creates mistrust on the part of both parties. African-American citizens feel they are harassed, and police officers feel they are surrounded criminals and the support of their communities of those criminals. (I am not speaking of the clear cut violation of laws by law enforcement that should be investigated and conviction)
I read recently that when black people see that a police officer has killed a black person, they see it as a sign of the system. White people see it as an individual act. Black people see this horrible occurrence and believe that there will be no recourse for the crime that the law enforcement will win more often than not.
Black people grow up fearing the police.
White people grow up thinking the police are here to protect and serve.
So when something happens, it is a divisive issue strictly from the experiences of both parties.
What I don't understand as a white man who has never had issues with the police, never been followed around a store, never been questioned because I "fit the description" is when illegitimate issues occur (there are many legitimate for sure!) that these "criminals" are pushed as some sort of civil rights martyr.
Because we as white people see each situation as individualistic, we don't understand how they can hold someone up to such high esteem. Black people don't see it that way, they see it as the ongoing corrupt system harassing and further violation of laws against black people.
I regret that these conversations cannot be had between our people on a regular basis. That our emotions get in the way of learning why each side feels the way that they do.
Why do black people not seem to get as upset about the systematic destruction of their societies through abortion, drug addiction, crime, and murders, usually by other African-Americans?
I grew up in Henryville, IN.
I was not really friends with an African-American until I started working at United Parcel Service in Louisville, KY, but I did broach some of these ideas then much to the surprise of my new black friends. I did not do it in a way that I tried to tell black people how to behave or how to feel, but in a way that I wanted to learn. I wanted to and still do want to learn and try to understand how black people feel compared to how I feel.
Racism occurs in this country way too often and the only way to overcome it is discuss with an open mind why it still occurs. Why, as the rapper Lecrae has stated, is Sunday the most segregated day of the week? Why can we not step outside of ourselves and try to understand our fellow man?
African-Americans experience an overall lack of better life in our country than white people do and its roots go all the way back to slavery. If you have an open, intellectual mind, you will see and comprehend that.
However, at some point you must take responsibility for your actions individually and as a group.
But what do I know?
I can only speak from my experiences as a middle class, white man from Southern Indiana.
So I MUST listen to my African-American brothers and sisters.
Though I believe that there is still some manipulation of black people in this country of how they think and who they support, they know better about black issues than I or any other white person could ever know and they should be listened to from all different angles of members of the black community.
We owe it to the present, but we must improve this scourge of racism for future generations. We must learn to get along, and Lord willing, love one another.