Black People Have a Right to Be Angry
White People Should Stop Being So Power Hungry
Posted December 19, 2014
Those in power don’t care if thousands of people disagree with the Brown and Garner verdicts as long as white supremacy remains intact. Peaceful protests mean that rich white people will continue to live comfortably. Marching and lying down in the streets does not change the system. Change will occur when the lives of white people are disrupted. If the rioters had destroyed affluent white neighborhoods, the “conversation on race” might have led to some action. When black people destroy their own communities, those in power get their goals met without having to do the dirty work themselves. The changes I’m recommending do not require violence. A psychological shift in the mentality of the majority is needed in order for lasting change to occur.
The President can’t speak his mind because he’s a pawn in a system run by white people. He’s smart enough to know that the protests were about more than two trials. African Americans lag behind whites on every quality of life indicator and have been dealing with oppression since the country’s inception. If the President admits it, white people won’t vote for his party in the next election. Worse yet, he realizes that black leaders who call for change, and even white leaders who seek to balance the power structure risk losing their lives. Although the costs are high, it would be nice if political decision-making could for once be motivated by humanity rather than greed.
Black people have a right to be angry and frustrated. Although white people think racism is a thing of the past, ethnic minorities (African, Latin, and Native Americans) disproportionately live in poverty. On average, they earn 20-35% less income than whites, receive an inferior education, are more likely to occupy dangerous jobs, and live in polluted, run-down neighborhoods. They have worse health outcomes, higher incidence of disease, and they die younger. Ethnic minorities know they live in a racist system but lack the power to change it on their own.
It’s time for white people to admit that they benefit from racism. They have benefitted in many ways throughout history such as profiting from minority exploitation, receiving a superior education, being allowed to purchase homes, securing loans at lower interest rates, being able to vote, and being granted citizenship when other racial groups could not. They haven’t had their families torn apart through slavery, unfair imprisonment, deportation, violence, or murder at the same rates as blacks, if at all.
There are too many instances of people being killed when they speak about racism. Everyone knows the famous examples such as Abraham Lincoln, MLK, and Malcolm X but community activists are targets too. A couple weeks ago, after watching a documentary called “If These Halls Could Talk,” I learned that a California State University student, who had openly discussed racism in the film, was murdered. Certainly there are thousands more examples that haven’t been covered by the national or even local news. I learned about the CSU student because my colleague had heard about the incident through a friend.
Overt discrimination, such as Daniel Pantaleo killing Eric Garner, is not as common as the implicit mechanisms used by a majority of Americans such as doing nothing. Although peaceful protesting may offer psychological comfort to whites, more is needed to affect change. Establishing an equitable system will require white people to give up the privileges they’ve been granted simply by being born white. Structural pluralism must be used to promote ethnic minorities into positions of power. Each person, irrespective of race, should recognize his or her role in maintaining the current system and commit to changing it.
Malcolm X said, “I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation." It is important to assess which side you are on—equality or oppression—and if equality, take steps to make it happen. My career affords opportunities to address racism such as writing this post. I also teach a university course in which I discuss oppression and injustice and encourage my students to affect change through voting, running for office, mobilizing their community members, blogging, and joining clubs to fight racism. Given your position in society, what can you do to make it happen?