The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed before I was born. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed when I was a couple months old. I've lived my entire life under legal equality of the races, and in many cases race relations have gotten worse instead of better. And it's always my fault, because I'm white. I'm tired of it.
Last week I attended a professional development training day which I disparagingly call "hate whitey" training. I have no doubt that that was not the intent of the training, but as I look across the titles of the training sessions, and as I look at the pictures of the dozens of workshop presenters, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that I, a white male, was to be talked at and not talked to. Rather than going to racially oriented workshops, I chose to attend some GLBT workshops. They were overflowing with people. I honestly believe that part of the reason so many people attended those particular workshops was because straight people don't fear being attacked for being straight at a GLBT workshop, but whites can immediately be under fire in a racially-oriented workshop by being told to "check their privilege" and to "understand and accommodate" socially corrosive behaviors by students whose only reason for such understanding and accommodation is the color of their skin. The so-called social justice discussed in several of the workshops is not what I would consider justice.
I state categorically that race relations have devolved in the last eight years, and the lion's share of the blame falls on the shoulders of the president. Oh, he talked a good game during the campaign, but he's been nothing but the divider-in-chief since--from the Cambridge (MA) police department's acting "stupidly" before he was in possession of the facts, to having a son that would look like thug Trayvon Martin, to encouraging the racist Black Lives Matter movement, to refusing to allow his Justice Department to go after the New Black Panthers when they intimidated voters at polling stations, and the list goes on and on.
I'm tired of talking about race because I don't see any benefit to doing so. Today we're told that trying to live up to Dr. King's colorblind society is a farce because of course you see race--as if seeing race is the same as treating people differently because of race. It wouldn't be the first time I've been accused of being old fashioned, but I still believe in the opinions of Dr. King and Thurgood Marshall. We all know Dr. King's quote about judging people by the content of their character, but let's read what Thurgood Marshall said:
"There is no understandable factual basis for classification by race...."
--brief for the NAACP in Sipuel v. Oklahoma State Board of Regents, 332 U.S. 631 (1948)
I have many more quotes by Marshall, and commentary about discussing race in education, in this 2005 post. As you can see, I myself have been discussing this a very long time.
So what set me off on this topic? This article and video, with the following headline:
This Funny And Awkward Video Reminds Self-Righteous White Allies To Watch Their Hypocritical Asses
Delve into the story a bit, and you find this nugget:
Hey white people, did you know that many black people aren’t even sure they want you to be an ally? There’s a strong argument for getting white people out of the way to enact real change, especially with Black Lives Matter actually getting attention now.White people can't win for losing, it seems. And when attitudes like this are as prevalent as they are today, I see no benefit in engaging people on the subject of race. If you don't like it that I treat you as a person as opposed to a member of a racial group, tough. I'll claim Dr. King and Justice Marshall as my fellow-travelers and be more than satisfied with the quality of those ideals I espouse. I refuse to apologize for holding such values so dear.
On the other hand, there’s also the argument in favor of white allies. It’s widely accepted that people are often better convinced of things — like thinking a little deeper about what a racist stereotype actually does — by people who look like them. Black Lives Matter specifically asks “white allies to use their privilege, influence, and wealth to talk about white supremacy and state violence against Black people. We urge them to show deference to Black people when doing so, to support black-led organizing.”