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The Problem with Black Lives Matter
Your assessment of the way you were treated is fair enough, but you are equating the cause of your mistreatment to the cause of mistreatment of blacks in America. They are not the same. Black individuals mistreating you or your daughter is not the same as law enforcement habitually misusing their authority to harass and kill black people. As horrible as their treatment of you was, it wasn't institutional racism based on their power over you. It is a reaction to the institutional racism they have to experience every day. The higher power did have something to do with the way you were treated. The white power structure has made black people feel that no white people can be trusted.
Senan wrote: but white people have had the voice and the authority to both prevent discrimination against themselves and promote it against others.
And yet I was completely powerless against the treatment I received or the treatment my daughters received. There was no authority given or used. No method of righting that wrong. I was a white female attempting to sit at a different race's table despite the schools full and complete efforts to encourage student communion.
And yes. White's have held high positions here in America. I could debate with you as to why that is....But ill not bother My point is. Those higher powers has nothing to do with my experience and the experience of many common children no matter the race. If you are the odd sheep you will be treated as such. Period.
Empathy, by its very definition, cannot be forced. We cannot make someone share the feelings of someone else. It has to be practiced willingly. It is also not about actually experiencing the feelings of another, but to understand and share similar feelings that we have had ourselves. We also have to recognize when we have no experience of our own that would allow us to truly empathize with someone. I can empathize really well with anyone who has lost a grandparent. I know how that feels. I can't empathize very well with someone who has had a gun pulled on them by a cop. I can only imagine what it would be like, but that doesn't mean I truly empathize.
Senan wrote: It absolutely should be our goal. It is called empathy. By trying to identify with and understand the experiences of others, we learn to show compassion. Even if we can't directly experience what others do, we should do our best to try. If you ignore or marginalize the experiences of others, you are saying that only your experience is important. This selfishness how discrimination starts in the first place.
Empathy is not the same as forcing one to experience the pain of another. Empathy is the ability to relate to emotion it causes and coming to an equal understanding. I can empathize with being mistreated, even if that mistreatment isn't the same it is still harmful.
And empathy is not enough if it does not result in compassion. I can empathize with you over being mistreated by black people, but if I show no compassion toward you about how that mistreatment made you feel, then my empathy is wasted. People in power, of any race, religion, or politics, have a bad habit of feigning empathy for those they subjugate while showing no compassion for the actual plight of those people. As a straight white man, I can empathize with minority communities all day, but if I'm going to deny the underlying causes of discrimination or always place blame elsewhere, then empathizing with them means nothing.
BLM is an expression of the shared empathy among black people who have experienced many of the same things. They have organized under a banner because they have recognized common trends among their experiences that do not apply to other races. As a member of the "other", I can't pretend to be a part of BLM. What I can do is listen to them and see if I recognize the trends they do. Currently, it seems there is a trend of negative encounters between the black community and law enforcement. As the white guy, it is my turn to do what I can to address this issue from all sides and work with people to fix it. When the NRA completely ignores the shooting of a responsible and legal gun owner because he is black, it does the opposite.
This video from Trevor Noah on The Daily Show is the best summary I have seen so far: http://www.cc.com/video-clips/y4vxwt/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah-the-truth-about-the-philando-castile-verdict
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Its difficult to understand what is going on over there, because the situation seems quite different here. We don't seem to have the same level of group identity here as you do in the US, and to the extent that we do, group identity is more split along religious and socio-economic lines, rather than racial groups.
Discrimination on the basis of skin colour seems to me to be as crazy as discrimination based on hair colour (being ginger - I know how crazy that is). I guess that makes me 'colour blind': the colour of someone's skin has absolutely no influence over what I think of them as a human being. My colour blindness is probably going to offend some people - and for that I apologise. It will also probably lead me to ask some ill-conceived and naive questions.
Can someone who understands the situation better than me, explain why Stacey Dash and Morgan Freeman are wrong when they suggest the following:
Is this ex-marine wrong?
Is Clarence Mason Weaver wrong too? Does the BLM movement reinforce the concept of white superiority?
I'm not advocating anybody here but in order to achieve equity of opportunity (equity of outcome is impossible outside of a complete totalitarianism - which can never be achieved in real life) surely we need to be breaking down racial barriers - not strengthening the lines of division?
When it comes to the Police there are more than enough needless, tragic deaths to say that there is a big problem which has a toxic racist element. That must be addressed. But we can't tarnish all cops and all people with the racist tag - that will not provide solutions. What is also certain is that we can't fight racism with more racism - that is just crazy.
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Further, there's a difference between racism and institutionalized racism. The latter has massive power structures and momentum thrown behind it, and it's very difficult to consider it on the same level as individual racism.
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Trevor Noah made a profound and disturbing point earlier this week on the Daily Show that really stuck with me. He pointed out that even cops who aren't racist are trained to see certain people as a threat. They approach the situation expecting a confrontation and they are starting from a place of fear. Philando Castile and his girlfriend were both cooperating with the police officer, even stating that he had a legal firearm in the car. Both adults in the car were polite and respectful. Neither had a criminal record and they were pulled over for a broken taillight. For some reason, (I would say it is his training and acquired racial bias) the officer still perceived him as a threat and began shooting when Castile reached for his wallet to take out his ID. Were it me in that situation, I don't believe the officer would even have his gun drawn.
Whether the officer or Castile did something wrong will always be up for debate and a jury had to make a very tough decision, but what Trevor Noah points out is that the whole situation started because despite the perfectly reasonable and polite behavior displayed by Castile, the officer still saw him as a threat. Considering the evidence, Trevor Noah concludes that the only reason the officer perceived Castile as a threat was because he was black. There was no other reason to fear this man.
I don't believe the officer set out to kill a black man that day, and I don't believe he considers himself racist. You can tell by his immediate panic and emotion after the shooting that he was frightened and not acting rationally. Instead, I think the institution of law enforcement is training officers to be suspicious of certain people based on skin color and this has officers on edge all of the time. To be fair, there are people of all color who will shoot at police, so it is already a difficult job to begin with. The institutional racism present in the training just exacerbates the problem. Likewise, the citizens interacting with the police know this institutional racism exists, and so they are nervous and suspicious also. It creates an atmosphere of high tension where things can go wrong very quickly.
What is most disturbing is that a jury of Castile's peers also demonstrated this institutional bias ingrained in all of us. The verdict essentially justifies the fear of black people for no other reason than that they are black. It is one thing to say the police are institutionally racist, but when a jury demonstrates the same bias, the real depth of the problem emerges.
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As for the idea of a academic class, we can teach children about the past and these topics (as a teacher) the problem though remains the same as most out of school problems, and that's parental involvement. I am a firm believer that children are a blank slate, they pick up what their parents act and say but these ideals are furthered by life experiences. In general the growth of the next generation of children being exposed to more racially opened parents is in fact going to help the problems pushing forward though lies in several places, IMO.
First, we have the negative social factors, I.E. we still see each other as separate peoples. There is no doubt that there is significant cultural differences in communities based on racial divide. To explain (take this with a grain of salt) I think of myself as relatively accepting, now if I see a well dressed person of any race I am less likely to have the subconscious defense outlook on them. However, on the flip a person dressed in gangster style is more likely to put me in that mode before I consciously recognize it and realize I am prejudging. Let me say this applies to all races. If I see a Latino wearing LK colors I am also going to be weary even though the style of dress is mostly cultural and the actual percentage of shady characters to those with the look is significantly in favor of the people just wearing the look. That's just the cultural difference, so I think there is one thing is not to judge based on looks without on some level trying to understand the culture that spawned said look.
Second is Socio-economic, most people do (me included) judge sub-consciously on what type of car someone drives, where they live, what their house looks like ect (this includes all races though it is very prevalent in the Black community as the % under poverty line is higher per capita). Reality is that this actually perpetuates the cycle of poverty. First, this leads to the "unqualified assumption" meaning, should the person not look the part for a job they will probably be passed over. now obviously there are other factors in job hiring too but this does happen. Second, this makes me real sad/mad/I don't even know how to explain it but I see it a lot particularly in Chicago. Due to the socio-economic status of certain areas the actual funding for schools is very very low, this includes inner urban and very rural schools. This destroys opportunity to improve for many. It makes those whom do want to break the cycle have to step outside of the allotted public resources to gain an education of value. Compound this with the fact that if the education in the afflicted area is under-funded and sub-par (bad teachers tend to end up in low salary districts, I hate this because I work in a higher paying one, I like to say it's because it's by my parent's and brother's homes and it is; but that's not the only reason, my position makes significantly less with horrible benefits in Chicago Public Schools as opposed to the suburban district I am in. I know some fellow teachers who volunteer with me during summer school or coaching in the city on the side that's our way of trying to help......but we all know inside that we don't want to end up Chicago's Public School system or rural schools unless we can't pick up a contract out here (Pay), it's sad but that's the truth, I digress sorry) the stigma of being educated is then frowned upon as it takes application of resources others see as wasteful within the given community. A rural child may need to help out on the farm and is stigmatized for being in an after school program during heavy work season. Similarly, a black child maybe stigmatized by their community for being found at the library most days instead of in places the social norm expects them to be. Then education takes one more thing and it's back to parental/role model involvement. If your socio-economic status leaves you working 2 Jobs pulling 16 hour days as a parent how much time can you spend emphasizing education. Also, in that scenario it can show that even if the parents is educated the child will perceive that education can just lead to the same path for them. that's not to say hard work is not important but the child see's this as an example of their parent having to go the extra mile while the folks on TV or in another community are just chilling at 4 pm everyday......What would we make of that as a child? (I remember assuming that I would have to travel all the time work 60-70 hr weeks to get by because that's what my parents were doing, that said they were actually raising our socio-economic status to quite comfortable by the time I was in early grade school (not that I noticed besides moving). It did not make me the most likely to love school or think that education lead down some great and better path). This also applies to rural also, I know many friends from school whom are the outcast of their families for being educated because in the words of my friend Travis's father, "Book learning isn't going to plant the fields or butcher a hog."
I'm going to stop this post here for now because I am losing my train of thought I hope this makes sense, eventually I think it'll come back to me pushing education, education, and education as the solution but I see that as a way to fix a lot of things. I don't mean the very extreme specialization of higher education but the more broad education on the human experience (to be explained once I have words for it....)
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I am proud of my scars and greatful for the lessons.
That's great. But racism and white supremacy, for us, is a harsh lesson that often teaches us the wrong things and is something we rather not go through or have our children go through. Racism hasn't affect me as much as it has many other black people but I'm still vocal about it because I know what it does on a larger scale. If it was simply a few scars from a few bad personal experiences we could all laugh it off. But racism isn't limited to that.
Moral of the story: Being a Bitch dosn't make your actions right or justifiable.
Ahhh, the "bitch table". Okay. One should understand that a black person AUTOMATICALLY feels unwelcomed at the "the table". Black people were literally made to drink from our own water fountains, shop in our own stores, go to our own schools, etc. And if a black person was even suspected of having sex with a white woman they were often lynched and hung or dragged by horses (now trucks). Women would often cry rape instead of being caught cheating on their husbands or boyfriends. This even caused white people to riot and burn down black communities (like the successful "black wall street" in Tulsa, OK) that, again, black people were forced to have because they were literally not allowed to sit at "the table".
And I'm saying "the table" instead of "the white table" so you fully understand that once white people took over America and pushed Native Americans onto reservations (giving them a smaller table of what used to be their table), everything was the "white table". And so when everything is your table there is only "the table". This concept may not be something whites ever think about because you have the benefit of being born at that table; already having a seat. But in order to ensure that you have that seat, other white people made other tables and forced others to eat somewhere else. And even if you have to buy your meal at that table, you don't have to buy your seat. Hence the hidden advantage.
I apologize for what happened to you because what happened to you was wrong. Period. However, I want you to understand and appreciate the fact that you went to "their" table. This was no ordinary table. This was a table created by racism, because they were made to feel like they were unwelcome at EVERY OTHER TABLE. And so what happens when you are unwelcome at every other table and white people start sitting at your table?? For all they knew you had white friends who would want to sit with you and then "their" table would become yet another one of YOUR (white) tables. Can you step into their shoes and try to understand what it's like to have every table taken away from you, and when you establish one or two of your own, they are "INVADED" by the same people who made you feel unwelcome at EVERY OTHER TABLE?? I'm not trying to retroactively make you feel bad. I'm trying to get you to understand that white supremacy created the tables; created even the black table. White supremacy, because it took every other table away, created a black table, for black people. They didn't do that. The system did that because they weren't able to integrate into all the other tables and just be normal regular students. No..... they were forced to be "BLACK" students. And they had to eat at their own table. You, not understanding that, sat at their table. They didn't know you. You weren't cool with them. You had no understanding with them. They didn't know how you felt about them; if you were racist or not. It sounds like you didn't know them at all and didn't even know if someone else was supposed to sit in that seat; someone they knew, someone they were friends with, someone who also shared their experience of being unwelcomed at EVERY OTHER TABLE. They had a shared experience that was caused by the racism against them. They weren't being racist against you. That's what a lot of white people think when they are not included. That's why a lot of white people hate on BLM because they're not included.
But you have EVERY OTHER TABLE. THE TABLE.... is your table. That's White Priviledge, whether you are conscious of it or not. You could have been welcomed at any other table, but by virtue of the color of their skin, they were not. You had options. They did not. That's the difference. And most black people will not explain this to you. They wont beat you over the head with their experiences. They will simply suffer in silence and hang out with others who share their experience and who they know they can trust not to judge them based on something they have no control over. Well... I shouldn't even say that because there are now black people who are BLEACHING their skin. What psychological devestation must the human mind endure to attempt to slowly erase one's color? And yet, this is the extent some go to because of how society looks at them and judges them. You have every other table. The standard of beauty is generally set by your culture. The standard of who's educated is set by your culture. The standard of who's successful is set by your culture. You have it made and you don't even know it. You have every other table. And yet you still remember one time in which you were denied a seat. Now imagine having that feeling your entire life as a constant shadow following everything you do and constantly wondering whether every white person you come across is going to treat you as a human being or is going to reject you arbitrarily because you don't look enough like them. Sometimes that one bad encounger is enough for a white person to have future negative reactions to black people in general. I'm not saying you. I'm just saying it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility for any person in that experience. ONE bad encounter. We have many because we've learned our lesson. We've gone to enough tables to know that we'll never be as welcome and as comfortable and as safe and as secure and as understood as we will at our own table. It is by virtue (and I'm speaking metaphorically if anyone thinks I am preoccupied with tables like "why is this dude so hung up on tables?") of every other table being a "white" table that we have been forced to have our own. And even if you don't realize it, by a white person sitting there, it is a THREAT to said ownership of that table.
We should treat each other as individuals, sure, yes, that is the reasonable thing to do; by the content of our individual characters.
But black people aren't stupid. When white people came to America they were coming to someone else's house and eating at someone else's table. They even showed white people what to eat and how to survive here. They treated whites individually with kindness and brotherhood. The concept of land ownership was not their way or their culture. We know the rest of the story. When whites wanted labor for their newly owned fields they didn't individually go to Africa to capture and/or buy slaves. We know the rest of the story. And when a white officer gets off for killing an unarmed black man with his girlfiend and her 4 year old daughter in the back seat its not a single individual that protects that officer and defends the verdict on TV. The truth is that we do not know what white people will do to us next. We really don't. We can only trust those who, for some reason, have shown that they are different. Different... It's sad to even say that. While white people fear black people because somehow we're all criminals until proven otherwise (sans hoodies), black people fear white people (in general) because somehow you all seem to be racist until proven otherwise. And that's not fair, but again, the only reason black people have that fear is the same reason we have that table. And it's not because you were born with all the tables. You took them. And now that you have them, your society (white society), defends their ownership/possession of said tables. We end up in jail because of that defense. We get denied for better housing (which comes with better schools) because of this. We end up with bad credit because of this. We end up with lower income jobs because of this. We flock to Jesus to save us because of this. Higher education for many of us is unaffordable because of this. We are more attracted to illegal activity in order to survive because of this. White women are taking minority opportunities because of this. We're twice as likely to live in poverty because of this. Our survival as a collective group is constantly threatened because of this. The effects of racism aren't simply bad feelings so no whites who feel rejected are not feeling racism. You can always just go to a different table. We get told (frequently) that if we don't like it we should go back to Africa-where Europeans tried to colonize, literally bringing racism to Africa. And even if there were some haven somewhere on Earth where White supremacy hasn't touched and stolen countless resources, we couldn't even afford to relocate. The best thing we can do is try to establish our own table so at least we have "something".
You... have... every... other... table. And even if it's not printed in bold lettering we get the hint that so often it says "No Coloreds Allowed".
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