Do you think we all have some kind of blind spot? That we are all shaped, for better or for worse, by our own education and our environment? That we sometimes see things through an imperfect lens? And can you point out many blind spots among those whose beliefs and ideologies you reject?
white If so, maybe we can explore some of our own blind spots here, and in this case, by “we” I mean we who are white Americans.
Truth be told, all of us, of all colors and backgrounds, are much more prone to seeing other people’s blind spots, pointing out their biased thinking, convoluted logic, limited knowledge, and flawed arguments. But how often do we examine our own perspectives through this same lens of critical thinking?
A few years ago, after months of discussing race on my radio show, I put forward a simple thesis: White Americans often do not see racism when it is the. Black Americans often to do see racism when it is not the.
Some, of course, found this thesis offensive. Many others, however, warmly accepted.
I suggest we test it here.
As white Americans, when we watch the video of George Floyd’s tragic death, do we see this as race-related? For many of us the answer is no, even though we see it as an act of unwarranted police brutality, worthy of a conviction under the law (as the court ultimately ruled).
As for black Americans watching this video, it was yet another example of white brutality against an unarmed black man.
In response, we say, âBut look at the facts. Look at the statistics. Only a dozen unarmed black men are killed by police each year. You must stop listening to crooks.
In response, our black friends say, âHow many times have you been the victim of racial profiling? And do you need to have âthe conversationâ with your boys when they become teenagers, urging them to respond to the police with the utmost respect lest they get shot? Or do you think we are just imagining the pain we feel for the business? “
To be clear, and to reiterate what I have written and said elsewhere, I oppose the dangerous and anti-white curriculum that is emerging in schools across our country. And I will continue to speak out against the bogus accusations of “white supremacism” that are leveled against us white conservatives every hour of the day.
At the same time, I must ask if we really want our children to know the painful truth of American history, a truth often more sordid than we would like to admit.
I was reminded of this while reading Charles Love’s new book titled Race Crazy: BLM, 1619, and the Progressive Racist Movement. Love is a conservative black American who appeared on Fox News and is an opponent of CRT in our children’s schools. Thus, he is the opposite of a radical and racist progressive.
Yet in discussing one of the 1619 Project essays, he asserts some of the gruesome realities of our past treatment of black Americans, as reporter Trymaine Lee pointed out, realities that still affect many black Americans today. . (I remind you once again that one of the purposes of Love’s book is to expose the dangerous biases of Project 1619, but here are some facts he had to assert.)
For example, Lee points out that on average, whites have 7 times the wealth of blacks in America. Love then writes (agrees with Lee): “For the first seventy-five years after slavery, it was almost entirely the government’s fault, either through racist laws or negligence – taking no action while whites stole, killed and terrorized blacks.
To illustrate this reality, Lee tells the story of Elmore Boling, a wealthy black businessman from Alabama who was murdered in 1947 by white men angered by his success. White creditors then took his money, leaving his family and descendants deprived of his wealth. Yet 1947 is not that long ago, and the effects of Boling’s murder and financial rape are still being felt by his grandchildren today.
Love then writes: “Armed whites stormed the prosperous black majority in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898 to murder dozens of blacks, force 2,000 off their property and overthrow the city government.” . During the Red Summer of 1919, at least 240 black people were murdered across the country. And in 1921, in one of the bloodiest racial attacks in U.S. history, Greenwood, a thriving black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was burned down and looted. It is estimated that up to 300 black people were murdered and 10,000 were left homeless. Thirty-five square blocks were destroyed. No one has ever been convicted of acts of racist violence.
âThese were obvious acts of terrorism, but the government also played an active role in suppressing economic opportunities for black people. . . . “
I can assure you that I never learned any of this when I was a kid in school (at least, to the best of my memory).
Does this mean that today’s white children should feel guilty about the past? Absolutely not! Unless, of course, they’re racist themselves, in which case they should be ashamed of themselves.
Does this mean that white children are to be identified as the oppressor class? No no no.
Does that even mean white Americans should pay black Americans reparations? Love himself writes: âI want to make it clear that I believe reparations were the appropriate response to slavery; I just think the payment time is up. So today we need to address the remaining inequalities in a more practical way.
So what good is it for me to share all this? It’s just that our black friends want us to listen and learn. They want us to understand their point of view. They want us to address our own blind spots. They want us to know our history better than many of us, not only by praising past American exceptionalism, but also by mourning past American racism.
As a black on-air caller once told me, âI don’t want you to do anything about the pain we’ve been through. I just want you to listen.
It is the least we can do.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationwide Line of Fire radio show. His latest book is Awakening or death: a great awakening is our only hope. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.