america

An Open Letter to My Fellow White People

handsupTo my white friends: we need to wake up! Racism is real and is directly impacts black people EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Let’s start here: White privilege is real, and we experience it every day. Like when we write a nice white-sounding name on a job application, we know that we’re going to be judged only on the experience listed on the resume, and not a proven prejudice against “black-sounding” names. Racism exists in our every day lives. We need to acknowledge that.

But is *not* a two-way street. Racism only goes one way: white to black. From the descendants of slave-owners to the descendants of slaves.

We need to stop pretending that everything is equal. We need to remember that until only 150 years ago, in modern human times with electricity and cars, white people OWNED black people. (Sorry for the caps, but this needs to be done):

WE USED TO ENSLAVE HUMAN BEINGS AND FORCE THEM TO DO WHATEVER WE WANTED THEM TO DO.  WE MADE THEM PICK COTTON AND FARM AND DO OUR BIDDING 24/7! AND THEY DIDN’T GET TO GO HOME AFTER WORK OR EARN ANY MONEY– THEY WERE ENSLAVED. THEY COULD NOT LEAVE THE PROPERTY WITHOUT PERMISSION. WE WOULD WHIP AND BEAT THEM TO KEEP THEM IN LINE.

This was NOT that long ago.

Until even more recently, we lived in a segregated country!

YEAH! We need to talk about how even after we “let go” our human being toys, we didn’t let them go anywhere. People could say “no blacks allowed” and that was enforced by the law! We, white people, need to acknowledge that the Civil Rights Act *ONLY* became the law fifty years ago.

From Wikipedia: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (known as “public accommodations”).

We need to remember that for 64% of the 20th Century, we didn’t let black people go to the same restaurants, schools, bathrooms, bars, anything. Many of the racist former slave owners stayed rich and powerful enough to influence laws. For 100 full years after the Civil War, in modern times. So in that nice, idealized, beautiful, simple world that we so like to dream of in the past, when our white families would gather round the TV and watch “I Love Lucy” and eat apple pie, even having these illusions is white privilege. Because in these picturesque “good old days,” things sure as shit weren’t good for black families! Watching “I Love Lucy” at the end of a day filled with not being able to go to school or work where you want kind of loses its charm. And baking that nice apple pie gets more difficult when a black mother could be prohibited from shopping at a bakery because of the color of her skin.

And it continues today. We are still killing them! Why do so many of us deny that this is a problem? So many young men and women are having their lives taken away from them for having toy guns, or just being too scary looking.

I was about the same size as Mike Brown was when he was executed. I guarantee you that if I did the same exact thing to Officer Darren Wilson, I would have gotten yelled at and maybe fined.

NOT. SHOT. FUCKING. DEAD!

Because of the color of my skin, my life is valued more than someone like Mike Brown. A cop would subdue and apprehend me. But because Mike Brown was big, black and scary, he was put down like an animal.

Every American should have the right to their own life. We need to acknowledge the gross inequities applied to skin color in this country, today, in 2016.

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The oppressors oppress the oppressed. It does not go the other way around.

“Reverse racism” is not real, because we don’t get discriminated against. We don’t get shot when we get pulled over for a broken taillight. My dad just drove 300 miles through New England the other day with a busted taillight, and his absolute worst case scenario was *maybe* getting a ticket. At worst.

Phil Castile is dead because of a busted taillight. A nice man, a cafeteria worker who knew all of the students’ food allergies. An American. A human. Executed in a car. That is wrong. This happens too often. 

So, please, my fellow white people:

We really need to wake up. We did this. We caused these problems. But we need to acknowledge this truth if we are ever going to fix it. We need to get woke. If you don’t know what that means, just take note of the past tense. Because once you’re up, you’re up. We need to stay woke. We need to pay attention. We need to shift perspectives, realize the truth, and become more aware of our privilege. We need to become more aware of what other people go through. We don’t know half the awful stuff they go through, because we aren’t subjected to it because we are the majority.

Admitting this doesn’t mean that you are a bad person. It’s simply an acknowledgment of the world we live in, an acknowledgment that not everybody is given a fair chance. Some people, by virtue of the color of our skin, are born with a stacked hand. WE HAVE A SYSTEMIC ADVANTAGE. We need to wake up, acknowledge the truth, and try to get more white people to admit that institutional racism is real and wrong and hugely detrimental to the lives of our friends and neighbors. We can do better. We owe it to all of those young men and women whose lives were stolen from them because of the color of their skin. Racism is America’s original sin, and it is still destroying lives in 2016.

Oh and one last thing:

All Lives Matter is a racist statement. It dismisses the perils and disadvantage that black people have to face. It ignores the fact that black lives are under attack. It ignores the fact that in many ways today, black lives do matter less. They are less valued by law enforcement. They are taken away freely and without consequence.

That is why we need to say that Black Lives Matter. It needs to be said, because right now we don’t treat them like they do.

 

With love and gratitude,

 

Chuck