Now is the time for the difficult family discussions about race white families have had the privilege to ignore. We are witnessing a militarized resurgence of a white supremacist movement. Don't let your kids become victims to the false narrative of deserved white rage. Let love lead your discussions about race so we can finally stop white supremacy.
Malcolm X’s Autobiography should be standard reading for every Anglo adult. Nothing against Spike Lee’s awesome movie, but we white folks need to invest in reading the whole book. Malcolm X’s full story dispels more false histories than could possibly fit into a 3-hour saga.
Before reading his book, I’d been under the impression that Malcolm X was some physical threat to white people; that he wanted us dealt with “by any means necessary.” After reading for myself, I realize that the only threat Malcolm X represented was to a beheading of the racist establishment that, to this day, keeps We The People separate and apathetic. Blown away is the slanted history of Malcolm X I inherited in high school and fully expanded is the sensationalized version I got from Spike Lee.
Not a good substitute for reading with your own eyes, here are four personal insights, among many, from Autobiography of Malcolm X that this nice white lady hopes my people would get.
Ending racism depends on white people.
Malcolm X’s views about white people evolved over the course of his life. Fresh out of prison where he was first introduced to Nation of Islam teachings, he spoke of white people as ethnically tarnished from the perversion of white supremacy - forever tainted by our own racist cultural inheritance. He taught that whites working towards black liberation diminished black people’s efforts towards empowering themselves.
Almost a decade later, after his second visit to the Islamic holy land of Mecca, he returned home with a different message about white folks. His final writings declare white Americans vital to the goal of black liberation.
“I knew, better than most Negroes, how many white people truly wanted to see American racial problems solved. I knew that many whites were as frustrated as Negroes. I’ll bet I got fifty letters some days from white people.”
Where white people must work towards black liberation, Malcolm X said, “is out on the battle lines of where America’s racism really is - and that’s in their own home communities; American racism is among their own fellow whites…The well-meaning white people…had to combat, actively and directly, the racism in other white people.”
He also encouraged us, “…to approach the black man’s struggle against the white man’s racism as a human problem, that we had to forget hypocritical politics and propaganda…both races, as human beings, had the obligation, the responsibility, of helping to correct America’s human problem. The well-meaning white people…had to combat, actively and directly, the racism in other white people.”
White people should support non-white peoples’ organizing. White people must advocate for equal representation of non-white peoples in all forms of governance.
My white brothers and sisters - Can we please face the fact that white people don’t have the answer for everything? Can we please understand that supporting black lives does not diminish white lives?
Malcolm X writes, “I tell sincere white people, ‘Work in conjunction with us - each of us working among our own kind.’ Let sincere white individuals find all other white people they can who feel as they do - and let them form their own all-white groups, to work trying to convert other white people who are thinking and acting so racist….we will meanwhile be working among our own kind, in our own black communities - showing and teaching black men in ways that only other black men can - that the black man has got to help himself. Working separately, the sincere white people and sincere black people actually will be working together.”
Non-white people doing great work must be given power and autonomy to solve issues that impact them and their communities like only they know how.
Groups of white men can not continue to make decisions for everyone else. Why do we have groups of white men right now deciding the fate of women’s health care and considering how to create law and order in the inner city with no one from the inner city seated at the table? White folks can help elect diverse voices, support non-white groups doing great work, and include non-white people in community problem solving.
Religious freedom matters.
Spiritual, physical, and emotional health are related. Oppressed peoples must have access to a healthy spiritual practice, as does all people, for physical and emotional health to manifest. For Malcolm Little, pursuit of a better life came from the Black Muslim teachings of the Honorable Elijah Mohammed. A painful childhood filled with interventions from small-town, Christian white folks in Michigan, left teenage Malcolm belittled, physically separated from his impoverished family, and feeling his only opportunity was to create a good hustle. Hustling resulted in jail time where Muslim teachings offered fresh insights and his first glimmer of real hope.
Mr. X’s religious beliefs morphed over the course of his life and became the cornerstone of his liberation and nationalist teachings. Strict Black Muslim codes to clean living mandated physical health and provided a community to support his family’s health, which in turn provided emotional health.
Without freedom of religion, Malcolm X may have very well stayed a hustler. Instead, self-imposed studies and interactions with different religions from all over the world revealed to him deeper meanings among humanity. “True Islam taught me that it takes all of the religious, political, economic, psychological, and racial ingredients, or characteristics, to make the Human Family and the Human Society complete.”
The fact is, one religion does not offer enlightenment to all people and even the holiest disciple can become perverted by fundamentalist intolerance. The freedom to pursue one’s own spiritual quest and experience the empowerment that comes from robust physical/mental/spiritual health should be encouraged. We must protect freedom of religion.
Any non-white people holding racism to the fire will be labeled “extreme.”
Towards the end of his life, Malcolm X said, “Sometimes, I have dared to dream to myself that one day, history may even say that my voice - which disturbed the white man’s smugness, and his arrogance, and his complacency - that my voice helped to save America from a grave, possibly even a fatal catastrophe.” Never was it Malcolm X’s desire to hurt white people but to startle us from a privileged slumber. And still today, even silent demonstrations from a black person about equal rights will earn an “extreme” label, not much different than it did in 1963.
In his life, Malcolm X did not agree with all contemporary black liberation strategies. After discovering that orders had been put out for his assassination he reflected, “The goal has always been the same, with the approaches to it as different as mine and Dr. Martin Luther King’s non-voilent marching, that dramatizes the brutality and the evil of the white man against defenseless blacks….it is anybody’s guess which of the ‘extremes’ in approach to the black man’s problems might personally meet a fatal catastrophe first - ‘non-violent’ Dr. King, or so-called ‘violent’ me.”
Malcolm X’s overt strategies made MLK’s sit-ins seem more middle-ground but moderate Civil Rights activists ended up dead too. White people today can go deeper than history class to become familiar with ranges of voices on the front lines of anti-racist actions. We must re-learn the histories of plenty civil rights strategies. We should question all images and stories fed to us about those fighting for racial justice now.
Even as I write this, recent events flash through my mind: Colin Kaepernick, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, the rise of Donald Trump, fuck the police, the shooting of police. Malcolm X’s words are poignant 50 years later. Still potent - they could lead to action among white people. I do not agree with everything Malcolm X said or did over his years but at least I am not operating under false assumptions about what he stood for.
We whites seem pretty fired up lately. Let’s venture into our own communities, families, and minds armed with essential Malcolm X insights; “Raw, naked truth exchanged between the black man and the white man is what a whole lot more of is needed in this country - to clear the air of racial mirages, cliches, and lies that this country’s very atmosphere has been filled with for four hundred years.”
Grace. Respect. Reverence. Humility. These are traits that caucasians can employ to explore our own histories. Exploring our racist roots can help us stop perpetuating racist systems. Accepting guilt by racial history is a necessary step forward to heal the injustices from our past.
I may not have pulled the trigger in our country's war against First American people, but my ancestors did. My relatives helped displace and relocate First Americans from South Carolina. We took native lands by force so we could profit off slave labor growing tobacco for the English Crown. The attempted genocide of First Americans by my ancestors can no longer be pushed under the rug. I continue to benefit from my inherited economic stability just as Native people have inherited poverty and systematic neglect.
Facing my ancestor's participation in killing and pillaging Native peoples is more important than ever. White folks must learn from the indigenous cultures we tried to obliterate. A war waged with muskets against native people may be over, but rubber bullets and water hoses, systematic oppression, flailing education systems, and a strangling of native people's natural resources are still underway; and are still normalized within the racist system that built reservations.
Indigenous values of honoring and protecting water, land, and air is the only way to heal our poisoned planet. My people have much to learn about how to behave in a respectful way towards the earth. Profit and greed are not sustainable. If we continue to embrace the capitalism-based values that slaughtered native people and enslaved others with regards to nature, we will continue to pillage the earth. "The land does not belong to us. We belong to the land."
Here's to an uncomfortable but necessary first step as modeled by our veterans. Thank you. May my people finally look to learn from those we have tried so hard to kill.
The myth of 'reverse racism' does need to stop. Right now Caucasian people in Hawaii need to stop claiming that the pressure they feel from being White on Islands where the illegal overthrow of the Native Kingdom is still hotly debated is a form of Hawaiian racism.
Just because there used to be "kill haole day" in most public schools still doesn't mean Whites living in Hawaii are forced to live in a racist state.
Just because you feel discomfort with White skin when you go to certain neighborhoods (Read: lower income, mostly Local) doesn't mean Hawaii is racist to Whites.
Just because your children read mo'olelo (stories) or recite oli (chants) or learn proper pule (prayers) in Hawaii's public schools doesn't mean Hawaii is forcing non-Hawaiians to subscribe to values that favor Hawaiians.
Just because a school exists in Hawaii that maintains Hawaiian ancestry as a prerequisite for entry doesn't mean our state prefers Hawaiian people over White people.
The facts remain that more Whites are employed in more higher paying jobs than other racial groups in Hawaii. We own a majority of the land and houses. We operate a majority of the businesses and firms. White people hold the majority of economic, political, military, justice, and social power in Hawaii.
Sometimes folks come to Hawaii, or were born and raised here, and are targeted for Whiteness. This doesn't mean Hawaii is a state that systematically denies Whites access.
I am White and moved to the Big Island with my Oahu-raised husband and Oregon-born, 3 month-old-infant to escape the lack of diversity that helps define life in Oregon. We would rather raise our son to thrive among all kids of people, and risk him getting singled out in a negative way for his Anglo skin, than smothering in a sea of White folks, thought, and privilege where his culture and race goes unquestioned.
I see White folks appropriating Hawaiian values everyday. White folks move here, we take some hula classes, we eat some spam, we learn to say "aloha," and then we think we are Hawaiian. We then try to deny other whites the privilege of living here/moving here/surfing here. Perfectly summarized in this South Park episode [ http://www.hulu.com/watch/414833 ] Ok. So its impossible to link a link that shows the whole video for free. But here is a good summary: http://www.idigitaltimes.com/new-south-park-episode-going-native-mocks-hawaii-locals-review-recap-video-340073.
Whites living in Hawaii own in the best houses, take the best jobs, commandeer the best schools, stake out the best surf spots, and then we complain when we get attitude from local people. Why not try a bit of aloha like white people expect brown people to rely on? What if Whites in Hawaii spent as much time volunteering for local non-profits, growing food, sharing educational opportunities, and working for more sustainable, equitable systems as we do wondering why local folks have beef with us?
I think its easier for my Caucasian brothers and sisters to claim 'reverse discrimination' than it is to actually examine, understand, and relate to the feelings of those whom were stolen from their paradise - largely through racist teachings about their monarchy and lifestyle - so White Americans could take it.
Check out this article depicting the feelings of retired University of Hawaii professor Kenneth Conklin who was so surprised by a 'lack of aloha' he stopped supporting any race-based political sovereignty for ethnic-Hawaiians so 'everyone should be treated equally by the government.' http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120431126
I think he should be saying that to the White-majority, male-dominated, American government, not the Hawaiian systems trying to make up for opportunities still lacking.
The point is that we White Folks need to rest assured that we are still holding United States' most significant forms of power. We run the police, schools, politics, government, media, etc and we still use these institutions to create and maintain power. We aren't victims of the racist institutions we still control.
A White person in Hawaii may get beat up, we may not feel comfortable somewhere, we may not get to go first in line.
But that is not racism reversed.
Wake up White Folks.
I feel guilty. I made a blog to dedicate my efforts and time towards actions ending racism. And I haven't written in it for months. Just like a white girl to drop the ball on ending racism.
I am disappointed in myself because thousands of opportunities to start conversation with whites about current happenings has passed me by.
But to dwell in my guilt is to change the conversation to center around me. And my self pity will not end racism. In fact, self pity is an inherent privilage. Those with time and comfort can allot space for self pity.
So, without further adu, I am back on track.
Watching Straight Out of Compton in the comfort of my police-escort-free local movie theater liberated my blogging stalemate. Issues that have a disproportionate affect on Black Lives have changed little since high school. The Rodney King guilt-free verdict brought police brutality issues to light. The murder of Freddie Grey, resulting protests, and justice review findings brought the issues back up but now they have blended in to many recored police murders since Freddie.
I am keeping on keeping on. Turning my guilt into everyday action. Everyday actions can change anything.
Random Google search of "politically correct" reveal the following conversations:
Politically correct is the ability of whites to put the onus back on marginalized folks when they call whites on our racist or discriminatory bullshit. Caucasians don't have to think about the logic of the other person because the other has no logic - they are just being "politically correct."
The term first used in prevailing current sense 1970; abbreviation P.C. is from1986.
[T]here is no doubt that political correctness refers to the political movement and phenomena, which began in the USA, with the aim to enforce a set of ideologies and views on gender, race and other minorities. Political correctness refers to language and ideas that may cause offense to some identity groups like women and aims at giving preferential treatment to members of those social groups in schools and universities. [They Nguyen, "Political Correctness in theEnglish Language,"2007]
Conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated. (merriam-webster.com) What is it about this phrasing that makes it sound uncool?
Also, PC or p.c. is "Showing an effort to make broad social and political changes to redress injustices caused by prejudice. It often involves changing or avoiding language that might offend anyone, especially with respect to gender, race, or ethnic background. For example, Editors of major papers have sent out numerous directives concerning politically correct language. This expression was born in the late 1900s, and excesses in trying to conform to its philosophy gave rise to humorous parodies. (dictionary.com)
Only pathetically weak people that don't have the balls to say what they feel and mean are politically correct pussies."
So if you think someone is a spic you should say it? If you think someone is a fag you should say it?
I prescribe to the World View of controlling my thoughts and words so the vibe I put into the world is positive or at least benign. What gives a White person the right to speak their racist beliefs? Or a homophobe to infuse their fear/hate of gay people into their everyday speech and attitudes?
Privilege. Because a logical white adult can certainly reason that not all words we speak must be spoken. And that words have power. So a refusal to consider another person's feelings or social situation before speaking is just another school yard way of saying, "nana nana boo boo." Instead it says "Fuck you. I don't have to think before I speak. I don't have to consider the thoughts of the brown or fat or black or gay person/people in said conversation. I don't have to use my language for anything I don't want to. My people have been rolling this way for centuries and I an not changing now."
So go ahead white guys. Lump your repression and refusal to expand your thinking onto the shoulders of the politically correct people you refuse to consider. They are used to it. But don't blame your lack of mental flexibility on concepts like politically correct.
I think the video is an interesting rhetorical strategy that is bound to get people thinking, maybe even talking. I stopped dropping F-bombs when I became a mommy and I didn't want my son to have one of those toddling potty mouths. But I always encourage thinking and talking amongst Americans. Especially White Americans.
Its the comments that offend me. Many comments were made by White Folks offended by the exploitation and brainwashing of the children involved.
Uh. Yeah. Because the children in the video looked like they had no choice in the matter; like they were enslaved and downtrodden to speak with zealous defiance against the White Confederate contingent.
They looked excited and engaged to be speaking with words I hear every day in school (I am a teacher) about issues that matter to them; issues that must seem to many in upcoming generations like simple common sense. The kids in the video are saying, "Of course we shouldn't support a flag that is so obviously racist through it's very fiber. We will employ curse words to gather people's attention and keep it so they will learn about the racist background of the Confederate Flag. End debate."
Again, my Caucasian brothers' and sisters' comments make the issue about them. Their own sensibilities are offended by such vulgar terminology but the same sensibilities are not near as sensitive when we are talking about a flag used to celebrate racism and White Power.
Comments that claim kids shouldn't be cursing because F-words sound unintelligent or something like that may be legitimate but to say the kids are prisoners in their participation demeans the intent behind a powerful strategy. The video is obviously successful in being powerful.
I overheard a conversation between two five year old boys the other day. All of them were Caucasian. One of them was sitting up on a low branch of a tree. The other one climbing on top of a wood picnic table and jumping off. I was unseen and the kids were chit-chatting like boys do.
"The worst word is the F word."
"No, my daddy said the worst word is the N word."
"The N word isn't as bad as the F word."
"Yes it is worse way way worse. So is the S-H word."
"The N word is so worse that my dad said he would be sad if I ever said it. I am not ever going to say it."
And the conversation changed to the butterfly that flitted by. I am still not sure if either boy knew what actual words the F word or the N word are but the debate gave me hope.
At least the upcoming generation is talking. Really talking.
The confederate flag is fucked up. And the N-word is fucked up. And its fucked up that some of my people don't think its fucked up. What's not fucked up is the rhetorical strategy that may get a needed conversation underway or the kids that obviously get the educational strategy of said chosen rhetoric.
Hey White Folks! Let's stop racism
…with healthy dialogue and education.