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Healing a Racist USA

I posted on how police who deliberately kill unarmed blacks need to be held accountable if we are ever going to begin to purge this country of racism. George Floyd's death under the knee of a cop spurred protest around the country, and the world, in support for justice. But here in the USA, these peaceful protestors are being infiltrated by white supremacists determined to undermine their efforts and turned the country into a volcano, still happening at the time of this post.


Though the cop has been arrested, it is yet to be determined if he will be acquitted.


My post brought out the comment that racism is systemic in this country and a lot more needs to be done to stop it. I posted the following link I was given. I share it here because I want these efforts to continue: https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234?fbclid=IwAR0ph0JOTlnH6XZVjE44hsZufzmj01zdGOWlsKpX87ceWuoAgOKsfBvPgPk (copy and paste)

 
But one comment made took me by surprise, and is worth further exploration: That I, and everyone else in this country, has benefited from this racism.


Just what does that mean – benefitted? We all know what capitalism is like. We know that the rich get richer off our backs, and we know that they rarely allow new rich to join their ranks. The black population joined the rest of us after the civil war to be exploited as laborers. Many white laborers hated this competition in the struggles to rise above laboring to "make it" and politicians found ways to keep them from mingling. Blacks struggled to make it, too, but our white dominant society made their struggles so much harder. They are, for instance, incarcerated at much greater rates for longer times for lesser crimes. And no president has spoken out against this – not even Obama.


So yes, many things need to change, not just this strike against racists cops. But to date, only one woman cop has been found guilty, to my knowledge. And this cop who killed George already had 18 complaints against him. Why was he still on the force? All polices forces in the USA need to take a good hard look at the records of every officer. This needs to be done today.


What this post on Facebook, where I felt I was being called racist just for being white, made me realize that there really are two different definitions we're talking about. I'm going to share my responses to these comments, but not the original comments as I don't have permission. [] indicates excerpted from another opinion. () is some cleanup and clarification of my posting texts.


**


You blame people for living within a society in which they were raised? [That systemic view of racism] seems kind of unfair. I agree that the more we learn about these issues, the better able we are to deal with them. But what does dealing with them mean? I read every one of those 75 points (shared in the link above), many of which I already do or am involved in. But to blame each of us as individuals for the evils in our society today (can cause) a guilt complex that (some) people would not be able to overcome. And I don't think that would help BLM or any of our black friends one bit. (Would we just give up and say to hell with the help, then?)


When I think back to the '60s and (those attempts at civil rights) it causes a pain that gets harder to deal with every time it hits. So much hope was lost. So much fear rose up in its place.


Of course I blame society. But to blame kids who got a good education and used it to get a good job because that's what society demands of all of us [as taking part in a racist society] just seems a little harsh. To my knowledge I never pushed a minority out of the way for a job that they could have done better. I was born and raised in Green Bay. The only blacks we knew played football. The key is and always has been integration. Until we can truly create a society where all people ARE (treated) equal, and that means getting rid of the people hired to protect and to serve who only protect and serve whites, we can't even begin to get that society.


I am to this day so horrified at how many of my old classmates (in Green Bay) are trump supporters.


You (cannot) think that each of us (today) created this (old system) in our society. I was not in the Civil War, nor were you. We each had to be raised in what our parents dealt with. The main point is how we move forward from here, not each of us taking blame for what our forefathers did. We have to address today. Now. As we tried in the 60s, but so many of our ideals were assassinated. We cannot go backward into fear again. We have to go forward with courage.


I am not complicit. I am trying to change things. I have always been trying to change things. And I will always try to change things. I suggest you, and everyone else, do the same.

 

Don't throw history at me. I know history. (This is where I realize that all my opponent in this debate was trying to do as to get me to see how long the USA has been racist. I'm a historian. I write about these issues. We had been defining racism differently.)


She sees it as part of being human, as in we're all racist, showing preference for whatever system favors us. (If I'm understanding right.)


My definition is simply to apply the word to the more violent among us - those who cannot stand having "others" around them. Those who are willing to act out their hate is some perverse way. And those that think they can get away with it because their dominant society will support them.


Many of us (today) are not racist, but humanist - it's knowing that we are all human inside, despite our differences, and accept being among others as the natural order of things. We still might more overly associate with "our own kind" but that's more a matter of being used to people we understand (not that I understand my husband all the time.) The need in our society is to turn racists into humanists.


And I think we're getting there a little bit more, every day. I am not my grandfather, and my granddaughters will not be me.


(I reject being called a racist because of how I define the term. I would never violate anyone else's space or rights. Because I don't have that right. None of us do.)


But I will make sure I distinguish the difference in the two definitions in my book so I don't confuse anyone. The problem [of systemic racism] is similar to how (some) native American Indians hate ALL whites because they think we're all the same. It's not true, and it wasn't true historically either.


(I err on the side of) how the term racist is most obviously used in the country (today). When we call white supremacists racist, it's a negative. If we call all of us racist, that makes us feel we're all wrong. We're not and believe it or not, our attitude does change things. We are making progress.


I completely understand this history of our racism. I'm talking about the changes that need to be made to address what's happening today. We cannot erase that history. My book is going to show how we got where we are today. And my initial comment on my other post stands. We have to start with cleaning up our police departments. Holding them accountable. Until that changes, nothing changes. (They are our most public servants, paid by our taxes to protect and defend ALL of us. Until we make sure that happens, we can't find that equality.)


You are all right in understanding that our country is white-dominated since its formation. The trick today is changing that. It's not easy. But it can be done, and we can all take steps to do that. That's what this post is all about.


Many of us want our centuries-long system of oppression to end. That's what this is all about. Changing our history. Let's not fight each other but join hands and know what we're fighting for. True equality.


**


So no, I don't feel I've benefited. Like anyone else, I worked to survive, as we all must. But I didn't benefit because all the pain and suffering by other people around me, needless suffering, breaks my heart every time I see it. It's a truly helpless feeling, and not a gift, at all. I speak up against it wherever I can. Whenever I can. But I will not carry a gun, and I will not protest in a pandemic.


I am not happy to be part of white skin history.

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