It’s been boiling in me for a long time and now I am going to say it.
American racism lies much deeper than skin color, and it is a direct result of the principles on which the country has been founded. It is a very disturbing thing to say, but hello?
There are no words that will console mothers whose sons are gone. Anything anybody says (including me here) just doesn’t cut it.
But for how long are we going to be lying?
Racism is fear of another culture, fear that is being suppressed. Visual cues are obvious to the eye and there is no question about that, but racism is rooted in emotions that run much deeper. Immature testosterone cannot stand being vulnerable OR wrong, so when another culture doesn’t make sense, people who cannot emotionally handle insecurity, punch it in the face, and then find excuses. And then of course, there are always those who know how to play one group against another and use conflict for political or economic advantage.
Fact: The papal bull that justified Native American genocide, the largest genocide in known human history (by the way), is still in effect. Father Serra, a missionary who created labor and death camps for Natives on a large scale (does everybody know that Hitler carefully studied treatment of Indians by American authorities when he was designing his take on world domination?), and who brought deaths to many indigenous men, women and children (the type of deaths that the Nazis have been deservedly condemned for), has just been proclaimed a saint by the Catholic church. WHAT?!!!!
In the minds of proverbial “white people” (although their skin color had nothing to do with it, and that’s important to remember) indigenous people were merely a nuisance, an obstacle between humans and natural resources. Why? Because Native culture was indecipherable to Europeans who by the 15th century had largely lost all ties to similar cultures that existed in Europe back in the day.
African slaves weren’t human, either. Because, their culture didn’t make sense to civilized Europeans. They, just like Indians, were a thing of wilderness. Civilized Europeans-turn-Americans weren’t, and let’s face it, aren’t, too crazy about wilderness. They don’t get it, and they are afraid of it.
A while ago I watched a presentation by an African American woman about racism, and her main point was that white people were afraid of black people. As a white person with a rich bio who is not very civilized on the inside (just ask my neighbors), I can add that proverbial “white people” are also afraid of immigrants, women who won’t shut up, and many other categories of humans.
Let’s not forget, before African slavery, and even before European colonization of the Americas, the British offered a bounty for the ears cut off a dead Irish person (how they verified the ethnicity, I don’t know, and I don’t want to know). The Irish, in the civilized eyes, were crappy humans, too. Too much paganism. Suspicious.
In my home country, slavery played out differently. We had serfdom that was not based on religion or skin color. Some of my beloved ancestors were serfs.
People are strange creatures.
But here in America, it was, and it is a clash of cultures. We can put a bandaid on an ignorant person’s mouth and train him or her to not use certain words, but if on the inside, he doesn’t understand the culture of other people, and their pain, and their fucking right to be whatever they fucking choose, even if it makes no sense whatsoever to the observer, then the bandaid is going to fall off. And the pus that has been collecting in an ignorant mind is going to explode.
I feel bad from my friends who don’t get it. I feel worse for the victims of the the confused fucks’ ignorance.
And no, I am not saying that there is no racism among “non-white” cultures. There is plenty, plenty of racism, and it is ugly, and I don’t want to be anywhere around it. But telling people from the position of power that nobody is preventing them from becoming “civilized”, and that it’s their own damn fault, is just not right. It’s complete blindness, and frankly, it makes me very mad.
It is probably not a perfect speech. As it usually goes, I will wake up tomorrow and find a better way to say this, and fight the impulse to spend half a day editing imperfections. But maaaaaaan. When are we going to remember that we belong to one and only race… human?
By John T. Bledsoe [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
“1888 Ivory Soap Advertisement” by Proctor & Gamble [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Carlisle Indian Industrial School Group Photos [Photographs] via Children and Youth in History
“In Self-Defense”. 1876 editorial cartoon by A. B. Frost.By A. B. Frost [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A postcard of a Duluth lynchings, June 15, 1920, via Wikimedia Commons