I knew white Americans were racist – living in so-called liberal New York left no doubt in my mind about that – but I had no idea how deep their racism ran.
I used to think they just did not know any better, that they were brainwashed by a culture founded way back by slave owners; that if they woke up and saw the truth they would change.
I know that the whites who comment on this blog are not the ordinary sort. For example, most of them are race conscious for one reason or another: they are white nationalists, they live in a place where most people are black, they have black people in their family or are even married to a black person and have black children.
But that is just it: leaving aside the white nationalists as being too far gone, they if anyone should know better and yet they do not. Whites who married black or who live in black neighbourhoods do not have the excuse that most whites do: a lack of solid, first-hand knowledge of black people. And yet they are still racist, just with fewer stereotypes.
So then I saw that racism is rooted not in a lack of facts or in bad ideas, as I thought, but in their sense of self-worth.
The truth will not set them free because they are not interested in the truth. They are interested in maintaining their sad, two-bit sense of self-worth, which is partly built on feeling that they are better than black people – and anyone else who is “different”. It is like at the end of “The Bluest Eye”.
Also: They know perfectly well that blacks are getting screwed for no good reason – they have seen the ghettos, they know the numbers – but to avoid a sense of guilt they have to believe that blacks truly are just that screwed up all on their own.
They think like wife beaters:
- making themselves feel good by putting down others,
- avoiding blame for their own actions,
- listening only to their own sad, half-baked lies.
If you point out how off-base they are, they just call you names or think of a thousand and one reasons why you are wrong. Anything but taking a cold, hard, honest look at themselves. Because deep down they know the truth but are afraid to face it.
This sick, insecure frame of mind of white people seems to come from slave days when they had a relationship with black people that was nakedly abusive. They would do themselves and everyone else a world of good if they took the road to health: make right their wrongs and then base their self-worth on something good and true.
Not that I am holding my breath or anything.