Dear white people
First of all, I want to assure you that my dislike of you isn’t because of the color of you skin. It’s the “people” part. I really don’t care much for people, regardless of the skin color, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, religious or economic background or national origin. Most of you are just too predictable, too willing to believe anything as long as it fits your preconceived notions. And you wear those preconceived notions on your sleeves, telegraph them with your eyes and reveal them in the patterns of your speech.
And yes, I have noticed that I am a people too. If I weren’t me, I probably wouldn’t like me either. But I’ve been with me for several decades now, and while I don’t always trust myself, I have come to an understanding that keeps me from shuffling off this mortal coil for some trivial reason.
How I came to that understanding was simple, although it took a fair number of those decades to really comprehend. It’s just this: I ask myself every day, several times a day, one little question: What if I’m wrong?
It keeps me humble, this realization that I could be wrong. It also keeps me from buying into everything that’s thrown my way, even if it agrees with my way of thinking, my ideology, if you will.
Ew. That’s a Darth Cheney phrase. And by the way, I’m well aware that I’m generalizing here. But I’m trying to make a point. If none of this describes you, terrific. If any of it does — or if you find you’re getting angry with me for saying it — take a deep breath and think long and hard before you respond.
Anyway, because I know that I could be wrong, I want to check out everything I read, see or hear because I’d like to minimize the chance that I am wrong. I don’t like to be wrong, but sometimes I am, and when I am, I want the harsh truth shoved into my face so I can admit it and go on about my business.
Too many people — and white people, you are some of the most egregious offenders — can’t conceive of the possibility you might be wrong. But I suspect that way deep in your minds, you fear you might be, but can’t ask the question. So you surround yourself with other people who believe what you believe and will assure you of your correctness.
I gotta tell ya, that ain’t no way to live.
Look what happens when you live like that. You listen to bloviators, watch news shows with a clear agenda, read blogs and books and newspapers that offer no space for an open mind. So when Fox News tells you that a guy named Van Jones, who is the White House “green jobs czar,” is a convicted felon who spent six months in jail for something vague having to do with the Rodney King riots, you look at Van Jones and you believe it. You don’t question it, not for a moment, and you join the rowdy cacophony calling for his head. And, Van Jones — who has never been convicted of a crime or spent a day in jail and is imminently qualified to guide the administration’s strategy to create environmentally sound jobs — loses his. And you cry “Victory!”
And when your news sources tell you that an organization called ACORN is involved in massive voter fraud and even stole the Minnesota Senate election from Norm Coleman for that socialist comedian Al Franken, you look at the leaders of ACORN and call for their heads. And when your news sources play videos that seem to show an man and a woman outrageously dressed as a pimp and a prostitute getting advice on running an underaged whore house, you look at ACORN’s employees and you go absolutely berserk. And ACORN — which has never been charged with felony voter fraud (some of its registrars, generally poor people they hire in various locals to register people to vote, have been charged with voter registration fraud) — loses its federal funding and is forced to shut down. And again, you cry “Victory!” even though the videos you saw were heavily edited, the couple never appeared to ACORN employees dressed as a pimp and prostitute and every single investigation of the matter completely exonerated the group.
Then your news sources tell you about the very scary New Black Panther Party, which was charged with voter intimidation in Philadelphia only to see the charges dropped by the Justice Department, which is, of course, absolute proof that the Obama administration won’t pursue charges against black people. You looked at the New Black Panther Party and screamed “Racism!” and your news sources pour it on. But they don’t tell you the truth about the New Black Panther Party, the charges against them or the Justice Department. The New Black Panther Party, which has no connection to the original Black Panther Party (whose members have strongly condemned it and even sued it), is an offshoot of the Nation of Islam. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, which monitor such things, have labeled it a hate group. And the voter intimidation? One armed member of the group showed up at a polling station in a heavily black precinct in Philadelphia and was escorted away by the police. Because the incident was videotaped, the Justice Department filed charges and investigated, finding that no one filed a complaint charging voter intimidation and the deluded idiot thought he was there to “protect” the black voters. A career attorney — not a political appointee — made the decision to drop the charges. But you look at Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama and keep crying “Racism!” because there’s no way Fox News could possibly be wrong.
And then there was Shirley Sherrod, the state director for rural development for the Department of Agriculture in Georgia. Your news sources showed you a two minute video tape in which Sherrod says she didn’t give a white farmer her “full” help. They tell you this is what the Obama Agriculture Department is doing — discriminating against white people. You look at Shirley Sherrod and scream “Racism!” and Shirley Sherrod loses her job, even though the rest of her 45 minutes speech shows clearly that she was using her personal experience to share a life lesson — that we must move beyond racism, that poverty is colorblind — and that the incident took place 24 years ago, long before she started working at USDA. And you cry “Victory!” even as the administration delivers mea culpa after mea culpa. And you believe it when your news sources tell you that this heavily edited video shows members of the NAACP applauded racism (it doesn’t — but since you didn’t watch the tape you don’t know that) and that it wasn’t about Shirley Sherrod, who lost her job, but about that racist NAACP.
You are angry with the NAACP because your news sources told you that the organization condemned the entire Tea Party as racist. You look at the Tea Party and scream “It’s the NAACP that’s racist!” and you nod and shout some more when your news sources tell you there’s no proof whatsoever that the Tea Party is racist. But the NAACP didn’t do what your news sources told you. They passed a resolution calling on the Tea Party to divest itself of racist elements, to go further than media statements condemning racism and actually remove those elements. But because your news sources have told you that the “racist elements” so visible at Tea Party rallies are liberal plants, you ignore what’s actually been said and keep screaming “Racism!”
That’s what you do, white people. But here’s the thing. Your leaders and your news sources have snookered you, just like they snookered the NAACP and the administration with that heavily edited video of Shirley Sherrod. They are playing on your fears, your distrust of “the other” that comes from both an eternity of human history and a more recent history of America.
And they’ve been doing this same thing for years. Lying to you. They tell you black people get everything and you get nothing. They tell you a gay couple getting married will destroy your own marriage. They tell you the liberals are going to make it impossible for you to worship in your church and possibly make it illegal. They tell you Barack Obama and all liberals are socialists, that illegal immigrants are taking away your jobs and your health care, clogging up the schools and ruining America because they’re all drug smugglers.
They have made you believe that you are a victim. But you’re not. None of those things are true. Oh, there’s a kernel of truth in each one, but it’s nothing like what you’re told.
Black people are hundreds of years behind you, having spent hundreds of years as slaves to your ancestors. No, it’s not your fault. But what little comes to them to help erase centuries of discrimination takes nothing away from you. It is not a zero sum game. A gay marriage changes your marriage only in that it becomes more inclusive, and no, not including marriages between man and beasts or man and children (that belongs to fundamentalist Mormons) or man and man and man and woman and woman and woman. Liberals don’t care how you worship, or that you do, only that you don’t use your religious beliefs to tie the hands of the rest of us. That you see abortion as murder does not make it so. Don’t have one, but leave the rest of us out of it. And we’re not socialists. Well, some of us are. Frankly, a little socialism would do us some good. It’s unbridled capitalism that has cost you your jobs and your bank accounts, not illegal immigrants or black people. And illegal immigrants are illegal because we’ve lost what we once were and it’s too damn hard to be legal. Yes, some of them are drug smugglers, but they’re not the ones mowing your lawn or trying to get their children a decent education so they can earn enough money to live, something that is awfully hard where they come from.
You, white people, you look at all these millions of people and don’t see people. You see “not me.” But you’re wrong. And all the people telling you you’re not are lying to you.
I’d like you all — white, black, Muslim, Christian, etc. — a helluva lot more if you just realized that and stopped listening to the power-mad deceivers who have your ear. I’d even like me better if you did that, because I’d have much less reason to be angry, to worry about our future.
And so would you.