Shawn Maxam wonders if there’s a difference between white and White.
The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.
I Hate You So Much Right Now
Often when I’m around other black people they complain about white people. There is a frustration in their voices about the basic inequity between the racial groups. A few examples include the over-representation of people of color inside the prison system and poor educational opportunities for minority groups.
When people of color are complaining, venting and discussing their anger about white people I believe they are really complaining about White People. What being white represents in this country. The years of privilege and complicit oppression built upon whiteness. They are combining the macro aspects of whiteness with the micro aspects of whiteness.
Those Chinese People
American citizens do the same thing when we talk about the Chinese surpassing America economically. We aren’t talking about the rural Chinese farmer or the Chinese factory worker. We are referring to “that group” of 1.2 Billion Chinese people. It’s a weird kind of othering that is happening in our minds. The difference is that China is literally a world away. We don’t have to confront our encounter the boogeyman Chinese person in our daily lives.
Black people have to confront institutionalized racism and microagressions everyday. Black people encounter remnants of this historical othering all the time. Artifacts of slavery and Jim Crow are ever present. We constantly see our sons and brothers being imprisoned, killed and other systematic injustices. When most Black people live in predominantly segregated communities how are they suppose to separate white people from White People?
The late great comedian Patrice O’Neal said every group needs a villain when they suffer oppression. He specifically cited Adolf Hitler for Jewish people and the Holocaust. Germans have a complicated relationship with that aspect of their history but they themselves and the rest of the world can point to Hiter as the ultimate bad guy and responsible party. O’Neal said Black people have no such bad guy.
Jefferson Owned Slaves Too
In America the Founding Fathers who owned slaves are revered. I’m not saying Jefferson and Hitler warrant comparison. I’m pointing out that as a nation Germany doesn’t suffer from the cognitive-dissonance that America does when it comes to ultimately attributing blame to what happened to African-Americans or Native-Americans or Japanese-Americans.
So if there isn’t a villain for Black people to focus their anger, rage, disappointment and sadness on then modern white people become the stand-in for White People. White People are the historic and institutionalized group that perpetuated the atrocious acts against my ancestors. It’s not an easy conversation to have and I don’t have any answers but it is a question I believe that is worth asking.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
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