An Open Letter To Indiana Republican Legislators “Concerned” About Education

An Open Letter To Indiana Republican Legislators “Concerned” About Education

We know who are you.

You are the sons and daughters of men who called black people by the n-word.  You are the grandsons and granddaughters of men who wore white robes while ruling Indiana as a Ku Klux Klan fiefdom.  You are the great grandsons and great granddaughters of men who passed a state constitution that made it illegal for blacks to enter the state.

You are not fooling us with the language of Indiana Senate Bill 167 and Indiana House Bill 1040 which you have mockingly entitled “Education Matters.”  Since the days when you passed the property tax cap, you’ve systematically defunded education in Indiana.  These new laws have nothing to do with education and everything to do with your continued hatred and resentment of black people.

You say you’re trying to combat the excesses of Critical Race Theory and Anti-Racism.  The first you simply do not understand and the second you have always resisted.  You say you want to protect children from being emotionally damaged by being shamed for the color of their skin.  You should know how ridiculous that sounds coming from men and women with your lineage and history.  This is only a concern because you worry white children might be rightfully ashamed if they learned of the vile deeds of you, your fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers.

We know who you are.

Do not pretend to be protecting the feelings of Indiana children.  Though your laws use neutral language, we all know these are laws to protect the feelings of WHITE Indiana children and their racist parents.

How do we know this?

We have raised three children in Indiana public schools.  The two oldest were white.  Never, not once, not a single time did our white children come home and report incidents, activities, lessons, or experiences that made them ashamed of being white.  It never happened.

Our youngest daughter is black, adopted from Ethiopia.  In her first fourteen years…

  • We’ve have had a school principal escort us to the Special Needs class – a class full of children of color – when we visited a school prior to enrolling her in kindergarten.
  • We’ve had a first-grade white student refuse to sit next to our daughter because of the color of her skin.
  • We’ve had another principal tell our daughter it was inappropriate for her to ask why – after a school fight – her black friend was expelled but her white friend was not.
  • We’ve had our shed painted with racist graffiti and a bullet shot into the hood of our car because we dared to have a “Blacks Lives Matter” sign in our yard.
  • We’ve had a history teacher give a lesson that required students to read out loud the words of a Confederate politician who used the n-word repeatedly.

In each of these situations, our daughter’s feelings were hurt because of the color of her skin.  Yet you are suddenly deeply concerned about students “feeling discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race.”  You are about 160 years too late in expressing this concern.  That you finally find this important when some “hypothetical” white child is discomforted is repugnant.

You want us to believe that passing laws that make it nearly impossible for Indiana teachers to address past and present examples of racism is protecting our daughter’s feelings?  You claim you want lessons on racism to be neutral, inoffensive and positive.

How white of you!

We cannot stop you from passing these ugly and racist educational policies.  As it has always been, Indiana is ruled by white supremacist men and women.  But we will not let you pretend that you give a damn about the education or feelings of our daughter.  Because of the color of her skin, she does not matter to you.

We cannot stop you, but since most of you also claim to be good Christians, we can remind you of what your Lord and Savior once said…

“Woe to you, Republican legislators, you hypocrites!  You write laws about freedom, equality and color blindness.  You say, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have used the n-word, or wore white robes or prohibited blacks from living in Indiana.  So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who did such things.  Go ahead, then and complete what your ancestors started. You snakes! You brood of vipers!”  (Matthew 23:29-33)

Of course, we don’t expect you to care about the words of Jesus either.

Everything about you is hypocrisy.

(This past Friday, the Senate leaderships announced that Senate Bill 167 will not go forward.  Unfortunately, House Bill 1040 is still alive.  Hoosiers, continue your efforts to oppose this ugly legislation.)

What The Insurrectionists Really Fear

What The Insurrectionists Really Fear

A recent University of Chicago study of the persons arrested for their participation in the insurrection on January 6th, 2021 revealed some interesting facts about the make-up of the mob that day.  Most of them were not bison capped, face painted nutballs.  Indeed, ninety percent of them had no history with any political fringe group.  They represented a wide spectrum of America, with many business owners and white-collar professionals.  They came from 44 different states.  In many ways, they were a cross section of America, except in three important categories.

First, they were 95% white.

Second, most of them lived in counties experiencing rapid demographic change.  According to the study, “the greater the decrease in white population in a county of origin, the higher the rate of sending insurrectionists.”

Third, while the insurrectionists believed a wide variety of conservative opinions and in a variety of conspiracy theories, the opinion they most shared was the “great replacement theory.”  This theory – popular in white supremacist circles – argues nefarious forces (Democrats, George Soros, Jews, elites, etc.) are working to replace white people with non-white people in the United States.  Proponents of this theory do not see this as an organic demographic shift, but as an intentional plot to replace white people and destroy their Anglo-Saxon, Christian culture.

None of this should be too surprising.  At Charlottesville in 2017, the white supremacist marchers repeatedly chanted, “You will not replace us!”  What should be disturbing is how little attention continues to be given to the racial resentment of a large portion of the American population.  The University of Chicago study estimates about 21 million Americans share the opinions of the insurrectionists and support the use of violence to oppose this “replacement.”

Republicans and conservatives consistently argue the protests in Washington DC on January 6th were about election integrity, economic frustrations, concerns about socialism, and the devaluing of traditional American values.  When progressives suggest racial resentment is a major component of this movement, conservatives are quick to decry the “playing of the race card.”  Unfortunately, according to the University of Chicago study, what these white people fear most is not stolen elections.  They fear a level playing field where non-whites have the same advantages and rights as they do.  They fear competition.  They fear losing that competition.

This is an age-old fear.

It was this fear that led white nations across the globe to boycott trade with the nation of Haiti when it became the first Black democracy in the world in 1804.  Though Haiti was one of the wealthiest regions of the world in early 1800s, white nations refused to allow this Black republic to compete on the world stage.

It was this fear that united poor whites and those who enslaved humans in the American South in the 1860s.  Poor whites were warned that the freeing of enslaved Blacks would mean their diminishment.  Blacks would take away their livelihoods and compete with them for land and jobs.  After the end of Civil War, Jim Crow laws were designed to make certain Blacks could not compete with whites.

It was this fear that led to the race riots in New York City in 1863 where the poor Irish population turned on free Black residents, murdering hundreds.  Politicians convinced them that while they were away fighting in the Civil War, Blacks would take their jobs.

It was this fear that led to many lynchings.  Indeed, the surest way to become a target of a lynching in United States was for a non-white person to become too successful.  Time and again, successful non-whites were lynched and their possessions taken.

It was this fear that spurred the race riots in Tulsa and East St. Louis in the early 1900s.  In Tulsa, it was resentment over the obvious economic success of Blacks in what was being called “Black Wall Street.”  In East St. Louis, it was the influx of Black workers in the steel mills and the competition for jobs.  In both riots, white people stole Black people’s property prior to burning their homes to the ground.

It is this fear that inspires anger and violence from whites whenever non-whites succeed and flourish.  While conservatives love to talk about the United States as a meritocracy, many of those who think white people and their culture superior also seem deeply afraid of competing with non-white people and their cultures on an even playing ground.

In every instance listed above, this fear has resulted in acts of violence by white people.  The Insurrection of January 6th is simply the latest example of this practice.

Historically, we also know that every one of these acts of violence was followed by the changing of the laws in a way to disadvantage non-whites.

When Blacks revolted and took over Haiti, white nations signed treaties pledging to boycott this new nation.  After the Civil War, laws were quickly passed across the South to relegate Blacks to second-class citizenship.  After the race riots in New York City, laws were tightened to ban Blacks from many jobs.  In Tulsa and East St. Louis, laws made it nearly impossible for Black populations to legally recoup their losses and rebuild.

Though the insurrection failed to keep Trump in office, it did accomplish a more subtle goal.  It spurred Republican legislatures across the United States to pass voter suppression, anti-critical race theory and anti-protesting laws designed to make it more difficult for white people to be replaced or challenged   While the Black Lives Matter supporters may have chanted “Defund the Police,” actual funding for policing in America is on the rise. In Indianapolis, the latest graduating class of police officers was almost entirely white men – the very constituency most represented in the insurrection.

While I support the work of the Select House Committee investigating the events before and during the insurrection, I fear we are looking at the symptoms rather than the disease.  I understand the call by many to defend our democracy, but worry that too many don’t understand that democracy, fairness and equity are not the American values the insurrectionists were defending.  They were defending a way of life where they can expect the system to protect their privileges, status and alleged superiority.  This is what they found so attractive in Donald Trump.  This is why Donald Trump seemed so envious of leaders like Putin.  For all of them, democracy is a threat rather than a value.

For at least 21 million white Americans, democracy and its promise of a level playing field where each person is judged by their individual merits is not the highest value.

Whiteness is.

I Was Racist and Ignorant

I Was Racist and Ignorant

Note to my white self…

Eleven years ago, when you became a white father to a Black daughter, you were racist and ignorant.

You know that now.

Back then, you thought of yourself as educated, informed, and progressive.  You would have been offended if someone had accused you of being racist.  You would have told them you had a Black daughter.  Pretty embarrassing to think about.

Do you remember telling your new bride, “I’ve raised five children.  Raising Ella will be easy?”  You didn’t understand that raising a Black child in America is vastly different than raising a white child.  You learned of your arrogance quickly.  Remember the first time you took a three-year-old Ella to the grocery and several white women touched her beautiful natural hair without asking your permission, something that had never happened with any of your white daughters?

You were so naïve.

Gradually, you realized how little you knew about the Black experience, African history, Black enslavement in America, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movement, and systematic racism.  You discovered how completely you’d been indoctrinated into a white supremacist society.  Your ignorance was intentional, designed by society to protect you from any feelings of embarrassment, remorse, or responsibility. You’d been trained to be an oblivious and happy racist.

In the last eleven years, you’ve tried to rectify that.  That task has required tons of reading, many conversations with Black friends and acquaintances, openness to critique, and an abandonment of your tendency to take such critique personally.  Time and again, you’ve reminded yourself, “Know better; do better.”  You still have a lot of work to do, but I’ll give you a little credit.  You are less racist and ignorant than you used to be.

You’ve also discovered you are not the only racist, ignorant white person.  There are millions of us.  Remember your surprise when some family and friends were not nearly as excited as you about what you were learning.  How some of them refused to even read your blog.  Remember your shock at the attacks you experienced from other white people.  Back then, you thought education was all that was necessary to end racism.

You still haven’t abandoned that hope. You think the list below – of your many ignorances – will change someone’s mind and heart.  You still believe white people are more likely to hear a challenge from another white person.  I like that about you – that optimism.  Though I also wonder if that optimism is just another one of your white privileges

Here’s the truth you resist.  Most white people won’t read your blog.  Facebook algorithms will keep many from seeing it, even a lot of your friends.  Many of those who do encounter your blog will only read it once.  It will make them too uncomfortable or angry.  They like being oblivious and happy racists.  You think you’re helping them.  They find you irritating.

So go ahead and share your discoveries – what you didn’t know. Just don’t think this is how the revolution occurs.  If the white supremacists have their way, it is far more likely these words will land you in jail than open up the jails.  Maybe you’ll help a few white people become a little less racist and ignorant, but don’t count on it.

Think of this as an exercise in humility – a chance to realize how racist and ignorant you once were.  At the very least, you’re reminding yourself of how little you once knew.  Who knows, maybe someone will actually click on a few of the links.

You didn’t know…

…how differently your society viewed your daughter than how it viewed you.  When I Knew

…how white privilege works.  Never, Not Once

…how silly the whole idea of color blindness is to most Blacks.  Color Blindness Is A Disability

…how often your compliments of Black people were derogatory.  When Compliments Are Racist

…how poorly you understood your Black “friends.”  Misunderstanding My Black Friendships

…how you and other white people have been taught to use white code to express your racism. I Know White Code

…how you were taught to respect historic white figures who were ugly human beings. My Racist Infatuation With Robert E. Lee

…how Gone With The Wind got everything wrong.  Whitewashing Slavery

…how the South lost the Civil War and won the Reconstruction.  A Splendid Failure

…how the enslavement of Black people did not end with the Civil War. Worse Than Slavery

…how quickly white people want to blame anything other than racism to explain the economic and social disparities in America.  Anything But Racism

…how resistant white people are to the facts about racism.  Just The Facts

…how little white people really know about the opinions of Martin Luther King, Jr.  My Apology To Dr. King

…how inadequate the traditional definition of racism has been and how vehemently white people defend that definition.  Who Gets To Define Racism?

…how often white people have destroyed black communities without any consequence or historic memory.  Another Bloody Outrage

…how common the lynching of Black People was during the days of your grandparents. Avoiding the L Word

…how the sexual assault of Black women was justified and excused for hundreds of years in America. When Rape was Legal

…how important the role of Black women has been in fighting racism.  The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

…how resistant white people are to the idea of paying reparations for the deep trauma still plaguing Black families in America. How To Tell If Someone Is Racist With One Simple Question

…how often it is black children who have their feelings ignored in America’s schools.  The Feelings of A Black Girl

—how systemic racism works. How Systemic Racism Works

…how persistently white people have excluded Black people from voting.  One Person, No Vote

…how much you need to listen to the voices of Black people.  I Need To Listen

…how difficult it is to explain racism to white people who don’t want to understand.  One Last Try At Explaining Racism To White People

…how stupid some white responses to racism sound.  Dumb White Responses to Racism

…how poorly white people apologize for their racism.  How Not To Apologize For A Racist Slur

…how being less racist isn’t enough.  Are You Anti-Racist?

…how you would be attacked for believing your daughter matters.  My Daughter Matters

…how hard it is to become a better white person. Nine Hard Steps To Becoming A Better White Person

Have you had enough?

You were really racist and ignorant.

No wonder Black people have struggled so long and hard for equality and justice.

If you are a representative of a 21st century American white person, that struggle is far from over.

Get back to work.

Why Do So Many White People Resent Black People Using The N-word?

Why Do So Many White People Resent Black People Using The N-word?

Jonah Goldberg is a smart guy.

He is one of the more principled conservative pundits on the right.  He proved this recently when he left Fox News because of what he called “a culture of lies.”  Goldberg, who was a national editor for the National Review, isn’t a fan of Donald Trump or of the present Republican party.  For all these reasons, Goldberg has been the conservative I read most often.  Though we still disagree often, I find him helpful in understanding what is happening with conservatives.  All of which makes it maddening when Goldberg makes a stupid and racist argument.

In a recent podcast, Goldberg argued, “I have zero problem with the cultural prohibition of the n-word. But two things need to be said about that. First, there’s a consensus about that. Second, it’s worth noting that blacks have largely exempted themselves from this prohibition. You can argue whether that’s right or wrong, but I don’t see how you can argue it’s not a form of cultural privilege.”

According to Goldberg, using the n-word is a black privilege.

Seriously?  Do you really want to argue the right to use a racist and inflammatory word coined to denigrate your race is some kind of societal reward?  Sorry about hundreds of years of slavery and racial discrimination, but – hey – at least you get to call yourself the n-word and we don’t.

This white resentment about the “double standard” around the n- word is odd to me.  A privilege for one person always involves a loss for another person.  You are a member of the club with all of its benefits and someone else isn’t.  A white person can expect the respect of the police, but a black person can’t.  When it comes to policing, this lack of privilege results in blacks being pulled over, arrested, charged, prosecuted, sentenced, incarcerated, and killed more often.  That is a significant loss.

Mr. Goldberg, what do you lose by not being able to use the n-word?

Or, maybe more importantly, what do black people gain by getting to use the n-word?  It doesn’t get them more respect from police, better housing, less discrimination, higher employment and wages, or greater societal credibility.  All it seems to get them is the irritation of white people like Mr. Goldberg who resent them getting to use a word which was once powerfully wielded by white people.

Indeed, even fifty years ago, white people knew that directing the n-word toward a Black person was a vile reminder of their tenuous societal rights and protections.  Its use was often quickly followed by white threats or violence. It was a terrifying word.  Sadly, for too many white people, there is loss in not being able to use the n-word freely to denigrate and terrify others.

While I won’t accuse Mr. Goldberg of missing this power to terrify, I fail to see how his life is diminished in any way by not being able to use the n-word.  Which makes his claim that Blacks being able to use the n-word is a “cultural privilege” puzzling.  In a society where white privilege – by Mr. Goldberg’s own admission – is still an issue, why make such a stupid and racism claim?  He must know many of his conservative readers will find such a claim justification for both discounting white privilege AND for using the n-word.

Mr. Goldberg is a smart guy.

Unfortunately, I’ve realized intelligence does not protect us from racial bias and prejudice.  I was racist and ignorant even though I had multiple academic degrees.  Thomas Jefferson was one of the most intelligent men of his generation and he still held, abused, raped, and sold Black human beings for his own financial benefit.  Racism is so embedded into our hearts and mind that most white people live, speak, and write out of that racism totally unaware.  We make assumptions about both Black and white people that are completely wrong.

Consider Mr. Goldberg’s claim that there is consensus that Americans – especially white Americans – shouldn’t use the n-word.  This is the same kind of wishful thinking that allows Mr. Goldberg to think systematic racism and white privilege overblown.  It simply isn’t based in reality.

In 2018, polling found 58% of Trump voters said the n-word was not offensive and only 18% of Trump voters thought its use by white people was an indication of racism.  Even more shocking were the numbers for Democrats where 35% said the use of the n-word by white people wasn’t racist.  Another study found about a third of all white Americans admitted to using the n-word at least once in the last five years.  Two thirds admitted to knowing white people who regularly use the n-word.

This reality suggests a completely different explanation for both why Black people use the n-word and why they want its use by white people to be taboo.  For many Black people, using the n-word isn’t a privilege – it’s a tool.

Using the n-word is an act of cultural subversion.  In taking this derisive word and making it into a term of friendship and solidarity, many Blacks are challenging the white usage of the word.  As Ta-Nehisi Coates and other have noted, this is a common device used by marginalized groups.  He notes that his wife uses the b-word with her friends, but she would be outraged if he called her one.

This exclusivity in the use of a word also serves as an important tool in recognizing allies and enemies.  By defining the n-word as unacceptable for white people, Blacks have an easy tool for identifying those who still consciously or unconsciously see them as inferior and – therefore – as legitimate targets for hate, discrimination, and abuse.

Blacks know the 58% of Trump voters who said the n-word was not offensive are their enemies.  They are the ones who – when they say “Make America Great Again” – really mean make America a place where we can treat Black people as we once did.

While Mr. Goldberg clearly doesn’t fit in this group, he is hardly an ally to Black folk.  Those – Republican and Democrat – who seem to resent Blacks using the n-word represent a different and in some ways more dangerous group of white people.  They represent those who find the use of the n-word by Black people irritating because it is a constant reminder of the past and persistent racism of our nation.  They are the ones – like Mr. Goldberg – who want us to think racism isn’t really a problem.  They seem more concerned about Black people having the “privilege” of using the n-word than that more than half of white Americans still don’t find that word offensive.

Mr. Goldberg said, “I don’t see how you can argue (Blacks using the n-word) isn’t a form of cultural privilege.”

That racist blind spot is the problem.

The Founding Fathers Were Raging Racists

The Founding Fathers Were Raging Racists

Conservative politicians, pundits, and strategists have spent the last year actively attacking Critical Race Theory, anti-racism, and the 1619 Project, passing legislation full of half-truths and outright lies. At the heart of their indignation is a fact.  These movements do describe the origins of the American nation as racist. Conservatives, enraged by this claim, argue this is revisionist history, obscuring the high morals and ideals of our founding fathers and giving our children an unjust and negative view of our national origins.

Ryan Williams, a fellow of the conservative think tank Claremont Institute, offers a prime example of this perspective in his Newsweek opinion piece, “America Was Not Conceived in Racism.”  He argues the “America’s Founders thought slavery was a violation of divine and natural law that needed to be placed on the road to extinction.”   He notes, correctly, that Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Ben Franklin, and James Madison all wrote of their opposition to the enslavement of other humans. He argues they could not be racist if they opposed slavery.

Opposing slavery is not the same as being anti-racist.

Indeed, if you dig more deeply into the opinions of the founding fathers, you discover many of their objections to enslavement were economical. Northerners believed the enslavement of other humans gave the Southern states an unequal advantage when it came to economic and political power. Southerners thought enslavement could lead to a decline in the economic initiative of white people.  While many of them opposed the brutality of enslavement, their opinions were more akin to those who object to the inhumane practices of the meat industry while still enjoyed a steak. They objected to the approach more than the institution.

Consider these often ignored facts about our founding fathers and their opinions…

  • While some of the founding fathers opposed enslavement in principle, more than half owned humans before and after the adoption of the US Constitution. This was especially true of Jefferson, Madison and Washington. Indeed, much of their power came from profiteering from brutal work camps and human trafficking.
  • Thomas Jefferson, the author of some of our highest ideals in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution also wrote, “Blacks are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.” Essentially, Jefferson articulated the most widely accepted modern definition of racism – the belief in the biological superiority of one group of people over another. He also wrote of Blacks, “Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior . . . and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous . . . But never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration; never see even an elementary trait, of painting or sculpture.”  He argued “Black women would mate with an Orangutan” while raping Sally Hemings.  Arguing Jefferson was not racist is absurd and, as the epitome of American enlightenment thinking, we can only assume many of his peers held even lower opinions of Black people.
  • Some conservatives argue the founding fathers were not aware of the inconsistencies between their high principles and their behavior. They were men of their times and should not be judged by modern sensibilities about enslavement, human trafficking and racism. Yet in 1791, Benjamin Banneker – a free black man – wrote a public letter with these words, “Sir, how pitiable is it to reflect, that although you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of Mankind, and of his equal and impartial distribution of these rights and privileges, which he hath conferred upon them, that you should at the same time counteract his mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren, under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to yourselves.”  The founding fathers were aware that some of their contemporaries considered their opinions concerning Black people immoral. They just didn’t care.
  • As adopted, the US Constitution made enslavement of humans legal and built in protections for those who abused and exploited other human beings. While many conservatives – then and now – argued against Federalism and for states’ rights, the Fugitive Slave Clause of the Constitution made it Federal law requiring non-slavery states to return escaped humans to their torturers and abusers. The laws of states – which made enslavement illegal – were ignored.
  • Ten of the first twelve presidents of the United States owned human beings. Our ancestors saw no issue with their national leaders owning other humans and their often brutal treatment of these humans never disqualified them from national leadership.  Indeed, the economic and social advantages of owning other humans were almost a requirement for political success.
  • Benjamin Franklin said, “In Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russian and Swedes are generally of what we call a swarthy complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who, with the English, make the principal body of white people on the face of the earth. I could wish that their numbers were increased.” To be clear, in 18th century usage, swarthy essentially meant “dark-skinned.”  Franklin was arguing for the superiority and exceptionalism of Anglo-Saxons – the white people – as the primary citizens of the United States. More importantly, what he expressed as a wish very quickly became the law of the land.
  • One of the first acts of the original Congress was to pass was the Naturalization Act of 1790 that clearly stated citizenship in the United States was limited to “free white persons.” In other words, when our national leaders first met, they enshrined and protected white privilege and superiority as one of their first and most important tasks.

The white identity politics the founding fathers invented, institutionalized and protected was built on certain assumptions that any modern moral person would recognize as racist.

  • That race is a biological reality with white skin pigment as an indicator of superior intelligence and character. WHITE IS BEST.
  • As superior, white people have a right and responsibility to subjugate and rule those of “swarthy” complexion. WHITES SHOULD RULE.
  • As the purest form of humanity, intermarriage and integration with people of color is degrading, lowering the strength and cohesiveness of an elite white society. NON-WHITES ARE INFERIOR AND DISPOSIBLE.

By any modern definition, the founding fathers were raging racists.  

In actuality, their opinions about non-whites had much in common to Adolf Hitler’s opinions. They would have seen little wrong in the ugliest expressions of white supremacy today. Indeed, white supremacy was the foundation on which they formed this nation. That this system was so intentionally created should also be a reminder that what was invented can be abandoned.

The essential arguments of Critical Race Theory, anti-racism, and the 1619 Project are…

  • Race is a political construct historically created, promoted and sustained by white people in order to subjugate and oppress others. The genetic differences between people with different skin pigments are infinitesimal and irrelevant.
  • The dominance of white people in government, religion, business and society has nothing to do with superiority or character and everything to do with systems that continue to unjustly favor and reward white people.
  • Diversity, rather than homogeneity, makes for a more vibrant society. Excluding or diminishing the participation of large numbers of people in the political and economic life of society based on arbitrary characteristics like skin pigment is indefensible and counterproductive.
  • Understanding and acknowledging the impact of enslavement and racism in the establishment of our country is crucial if we ever hope to build a more just and equitable nation.

Whenever we hear conservative politicians and pundits arguing against diversity, anti-racism and for protecting Western Civilization, we need to hear it for what it is – a call to conserve white identity politics and white supremacy.  Pretending our founding fathers thought differently only makes it harder for us to deconstruct systemic racism.

Only White People Face A Jury of Their Peers

Only White People Face A Jury of Their Peers

Kyle Rittenhouse was found innocent of his charges by a jury of his peers. That jury was made up of seven white women, four white men and one Black man.

Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan were found guilty of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by a jury of their peers.  The jury had eleven white people and one Black person.

Marcus Wilson will soon be on trial for the murder of Haley Hutcheson, who was killed when Wilson fired into a truck of white people who had allegedly tried to run him off the road. Unlike the McMichaels, Wilson has a strong argument for self-defense based on Georgia’s Stand Your Ground law,  Unfortunately, Marcus, who is Black, will not be given a jury of his peers. In Bulloch County, Georgia, he can expect a jury that is largely made up of white people.

This is a blatant and racist injustice.

In America, people of color almost never face a jury of their peers.

Indeed, if the law required Marcus Wilson be tried before of jury of Black people, many white people would be enraged. They would insist these Black people could not be impartial in their hearing of his case. That Wilson was far more likely to be found innocent by a Black jury. That, if found guilty, he would likely be given a lighter sentence.

They would be right.

We know this because study after study has shown white jurors are not impartial. Blacks tried before predominantly white juries are more likely to be found guilty and to receive harsher sentences than whites accused of the very same crimes. Yet most white people are not enraged by a system that allows white people to judge Black people. Indeed, President Biden and others insisted, after the Rittenhouse judgement, that the jury system works.

For whom?

Some may offer the McMichael and Bryan case as evidence of white impartiality. This nearly all white jury found them guilty of the murder of a Black man. Yet the prosecutor seldom mentioned racism and never mentioned the racial epithets the defendants used to describe Ahmaud or the Confederate flag on their vanity license plate. She avoided these things because a jury of peers for the McMichaels and Mr. Byran probably included white people who used those same racial slurs and had that same license plate. Would the prosecutor have been so circumspect with an all-Black jury?

Or consider the defense’s arguments that the McMichaels were right to have concerns about an unarmed Black man jogging through their neighborhood, that they had every reason to fear for the safety of their wives and children. The defense lawyer went as far as to describe Ahmaud’s long dirty toenails, which though completely irrelevant to the case, were useful in painting Ahmaud as primitive and dangerous. Can you imagine her implying or saying such things if the jurors had been Black? The McMichaels and Mr. Bryan were found guilty DESPITE the advantages of a predominantly white jury.

It was still an advantage.

Unless you believe people of color are morally inferior, all-white juries are no more objective than all-Black and all-Latino juries would be.  Yet most white Americans continue to pretend our justice system is impartial. This claim of objectivity is one of the sustaining myths of white supremacy. This lie is propagated by assertions that white people are “color blind.”  This alleged color blindness is evidence that they alone can be impartial. Culturally appropriating the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., many whites claim to be the only ones who judge others by their character and not the color of their skin.

That, of course, is bullshit.

We know it. They know it. Science has proved it.

White people have created a “justice” system where white people are nearly always tried before a jury of their peers, people with all the prejudices, biases, privileges, and experiences unique to their shared whiteness. That the judge instructs them to leave their assumptions behind is irrelevant. Again and again, this system gives white people the benefit of the doubt. When the police officer kills an unarmed Black person, they believe the officer feared for his life because they too fear Black people. When a Latino has a confrontation with a white person, they see themselves in the face of the white person and not the Latino.

People of color are almost never tried before a jury of their peers, people who understand the challenges of being a person of color in America, who have experienced the many injustices of a white supremacist society, who have been profiled or brutalized by police, and who understand how seldom the justice system gives them the benefit of the doubt. Sadly, while people of color are much better positioned to judge other people of color, we have created a system that easily eliminates them as jurists.

If we could dispense with the myth of white objectivity, we could create more representative juries, with equal partiality. In trials involved two men, the jurors would be male. In trials involving two women, the jurors would be female. In trials involving both genders, the jury would be split. In trials involving white people, the jurors would be white. With people of color, the jury would be filled with their peers. When cases involve different races, the jury would be split. When the State prosecuted, the defendant would always face a jury of their peers to ensure the State could not sit an intentionally biased jury.

Is this a perfect system?

Obviously not. Like our present system, it too would sometimes allow the guilty to go free. However, it would be far less likely to convict the innocent. More importantly, it would be far more honest, admitting the prejudice and bias of jurors is baked into our present judicial system to the advantage of whites and disadvantage of people of color.

Is a representative system better than a system where only white people are judged by their peers?

Obviously.

People of color deserve the same privilege as white people.

Let them be judged by their peers.

Thanksgiving and the Theory of Manifest Destiny

Thanksgiving and the Theory of Manifest Destiny

Every time I hear someone argue, “We need to stop teaching Critical Race Theory in our schools,” I want to ask them, “What theory do you prefer?”

The teaching of history always requires interpretation.

There is no such thing as “pure history.”  American history is a series of choices about which stories, events, persons and ideas should be emphasized and which ones should be neglected or ignored. These decisions are always made based on some understanding of what is important and what is not. This was one of the main points of the 1619 Project, which questioned why we make such a big deal about the Mayflower landing the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock in 1620 and hardly mention the White Lion disembarking 20 enslaved men and women in Virginia in 1619.

Why do we emphasize one historic event and not the other?

There is always a reason.

There is always a theory to justify that decision.

For much of American history, the primary theory for making such decisions was the Theory of Manifest Destiny. The Theory of Manifest Destiny argued white Europeans were brought to the “new world” by divine providence to civilize and subjugate it, thereby justifying the genocide of the native Americans, the enslavement of millions of black people, and the expansion of US power across the whole Western Hemisphere.  Only the stories of white Europeans and their “accomplishments” were historic.

Thanksgiving is an example of how historic events are chosen to promote such a theory. Though the historic events connected to this celebration are relatively mundane, this story has gained mythic status. This was not because Pilgrims were the first Europeans to settle on the eastern coast of North America. St. Augustine was founded in 1565. This was not because the Pilgrims were the first English expedition. That was Jamestown in 1607. This was not because the Pilgrims were the most successful settlement. By 1620, the settlement in and around Jamestown already numbered almost 2000 people.

Why celebrate the Pilgrims?

In 1789, when President George Washington first proposed a national holiday called Thanksgiving, the Theory of Manifest Destiny was developing as the primary interpretive theory for American history. What better example of this theory than the Pilgrims who, seeking religious freedom, were guided by divine providence to Plymouth Rock and quickly civilized lands that had been allowed to languish by “uncivilized” natives. Indeed, the Pilgrims were so beloved that even the natives came and celebrated with them.

This is, of course, a very selective telling of the story.

The Pilgrims were largely successful because a smallpox epidemic – brought to the area by European traders – had depopulated most of that region prior to their landing. There was no one to oppose their settlement. They survived that first winter by living in abandoned native homes and harvesting crops they hadn’t planted. Tisquantum, commonly known as Squanto, who allegedly taught them how to plant corn, had spent five years in Europe before returning to America and was probably more “civilized” than the Pilgrims. He had traveled extensively and spoke several languages. Many of the native Americans at that first Thanksgiving feast would later be killed by white settlers.  As to their commitment to religious freedom, that too was largely mythic. These champions of religious freedom would execute William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson, two Quakers who came from England in 1656 to escape religious persecution.

However, the facts about the Pilgrims are largely irrelevant. What they represented was the embodiment of the Theory of Manifest Destiny. By teaching the Pilgrim story to American children, this theory was enculturated and embedded. White Northern Europeans – not those Southern Europeans in St. Augustine nor the possibly cannibalistic settlers in Jamestown – became the national origin story. To this day, in Thanksgiving and other history lessons, we are still being fed the Theory of Manifest Destiny, usually with little awareness or protest.

Whether those protesting Critical Race Theory know it or not, they are not just protesting the ideas of Critical Race Theory.  They are not advocates for some “neutral ” American history.  Many of these white suburban parents are really advocating for the continuation of an American history based on the Theory of Manifest Destiny. In this history, the genocide of the native American was inevitable, a divinely inspired replacement of the savage with the civilized. According to this theory, enslavement was justifiable as the necessary means for White Europeans to expand and dominate the Western Hemisphere. In this telling, white supremacy was ordained by God from the very founding of our nation.  Why should any white person feel guilty for something divinely inspired?

Progressive white voices must speak up in defense of Critical Race Theory. Critical Race Theory is a threat to white supremacy precisely because it challenges the theories that have allowed white politicians, leaders, and teachers to justify, diminish or whitewash the past subjugation and oppression of all non-white groups and its continuing impact on our society. That white Christian nationalism is on the rise should be no surprise. Like the Pilgrims, these defenders of religious freedom have no tolerance for differing opinions. They have no interest in living in peace with non-white people.

Steve King, a former Republican Iowa Representative and conservative leader, recently said, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”  During the 2016 Republican National Convention, he said, “I would ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people you are talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”  King articulates what many conservative white people believe.

When white legislators, conservative leaders and pundits, suburban parents and others work to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory, this is not a defense of their children.  It is a defense of a theory that continues to lift up their children as superior and divinely chosen at the expense of other children.  Progressives must force them to articulate the theories of American history that they won’t acknowledge, theories that support and sustain white supremacy. We must demand they justify histories than ignore the stories, struggles, and continued complaints of non-white Americans.

It is not just the wearing of native American headdresses that is offensive at Thanksgiving.

Little white children dressed up as Pilgrims should also deeply concern us.

Frequently Asked Questions About Critical Race Theory

Frequently Asked Questions About Critical Race Theory

After their successes in the recent elections in Virginia and New Jersey, it is obvious the Republican Party intends use inflammatory and false depictions of Critical Race Theory as a strategy to frighten white suburban parents and play on latent racial prejudices.  We can expect Critical Race Theory to be the boogeyman of the next election cycle.  In order to help anti-racists counter this racist propaganda, I’ve prepared this set of answers to the most common questions and accusations around Critical Race Theory.

What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical Race Theory is a set of ideas about racism introduced in the 1990s and largely taught and discussed in higher education. It contains the following six tenets:

  1. Race is a social construct. There are no significant differences -biologically, mentally or intellectually – between people of different skin colors.
  2. Unfortunately, racism in the United States in normative and continues to be experienced by Black and Brown people on a daily basis.
  3. Racism is systemic and most US institutions – consciously or unconsciously – still advantage white people over Black and Brown people.
  4. Black and Brown people are still culturally defined by negative stereotypes.
  5. All people are part of a multitude of groups and no single identifier can adequately identify them. This is called intersectionality.
  6. People of color have a unique and important perspective on racism and their voices and opinions should be valued.

Is Critical Race Theory being taught in our schools?

Yes and no.

As a theory, most students will not study Critical Race Theory until they go to college. Like with other complex ideas, students are introduced to its tenets when they are sophisticated enough to understand its implications. We don’t teach kindergarteners the theory of relativity, but we do teach them how to tell time.

The basic tenets of Critical Race Theory can and should be introduced to children in simple terms. For example, elementary children SHOULD be taught that the color of your skin does not make you better or worse than anyone else. High school students SHOULD be taught the history of legal and systemic racial discrimination in America.

In addition, Critical Race Theory is vitally important for educators to understand. Teachers SHOULD be taught Critical Race Theory and it should inform their teaching philosophy and classroom content. Understanding Critical Race Theory will make our schools  – which are institutions prone to systemic racism – less racist.

Ironically, the problem in the United States is not that Critical Race Theory has infiltrated our public-school systems. The issue is that it has not.

Is Critical Race Theory or its tenets designed to make white students feel guilty or ashamed?

No.

Like all theories, it is designed to enlighten and expand our understanding of our world. How we feel about specific ideas is more a matter of personality, previous indoctrination, and context. If a white child has been taught that Black people are inferior, learning about the tenets of Critical Race Theory is more likely to make them angry than guilty or ashamed. Their parents will probably want the school to cease teaching these tenets.

However, dealing honestly with issues of racism in the past and present can be very uncomfortable, especially if you are part of the group that has perpetuated this racism. When white children realize that people of their skin color have done horrible things to people of other skins colors, some may feel guilt or shame. These students should be encouraged to take responsibility for how they will think, act and live differently.

What is often ignored in discussions of Critical Race Theory is how children of color might experience its lessons. For them, it can be liberating, validating, and empowering. That the feelings of children of color are seldom considered in debates about Critical Race Theory should be concerning.

Does Critical Race Theory damage Black and Brown children by teaching them that they are oppressed?

No.

It does not need to teach them this. They are already aware. The idea that Black and Brown children must be taught that they live in a prejudiced society is ridiculous.

Indeed, the goal of Critical Race Theory is to help all students better understand the past and present systemic racial disadvantages that Black and Brown students face in our society. For the white child, this is an exercise in enlightenment and empathy. For Black and Brown children, this is validation.

What damages Black and Brown children is ignoring their history, experiences, and frustrations..

Is Critical Race Theory just another name for American history?

No.

American history is a narrative about our nation, informed by documented facts and historic accounts. These facts and accounts are open to various interpretations. For example, the theory of Manifest Destiny was a common and accepted interpretation tool which argued that God had aided white Europeans in subjugating and dominating people of color. The theory of the Lost Cause argued  the Civil War was NOT fought over the enslavement of human beings, but over states’ rights and that the South was unjustly treated by the North. These were obviously theories created by white people to interpret history. They have largely been rejected by historians and ethicists.

Critical Race Theory is another interpretation tool. It is a theory devised by Black people to interpret history. It is an important corrective to previous narratives that largely ignored the perspectives of minorities.

A good teacher will ask their students to both understand the facts of history and critically examine the various ways these facts could be interpreted.

Are Critical Race Theory and Anti-Racism the same?

No.

Critical Race Theory is a way to understand race and racism in the United States. It has been around since the 1990s. Anti-Racism is a newer idea which suggests that there can be no position of neutrality around issues of racism. People are either racist or anti-racist. This challenges the common white idea that people can be “not racist.”  This implies all people in our society have some responsibility to address and end racism.

If Critical Race Theory has been around since the 1990s, why is it suddenly so controversial?

In 2020, Christopher Rufo, by his own admission, identified Critical Race Theory as “the perfect villain” for a crusade against what he considered progressive efforts to address racism.  He said of Critical Race Theory, “ Its connotations are all negative to most middle-class Americans, including racial minorities, who see the world as ‘creative’ rather than ‘critical,’ ‘individual’ rather than ‘racial,’ ‘practical’ rather than ‘theoretical.’ Strung together, the phrase ‘critical race theory’ connotes hostile, academic, divisive, race-obsessed, poisonous, elitist, anti-American.”

In 2021, Rufo was the architect of a highly successful campaign to paint all attempts to address systemic racism, police profiling, affirmative action, and diversity training as Critical Race Theory.  One of the key elements of this campaign was to paint educators as perpetuators of “white shaming.”  In this narrative, educators are trying to make white student feel guilty for being white.

Rufo also played a significant role in the sudden emergence of state legislation banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory. He helped create the template Republican politicians quickly introduced in many statehouses.  As seen in the recent elections in Virginia and New Jersey, politicians have realized that manufacturing fears about “white shaming” in schools is an effective means of regaining white suburban votes.

Before 2020, most white American had neither heard of nor cared about Critical Race Theory.  Today, most white Americans, including the legislators who passed the new laws, still cannot define Critical Race Theory. Ironically, Critical Race Theory has become a boogeyman to frighten white parents into opposing efforts for truth telling, critical historic reflection and the teaching of anti-racism.

Is Critical Race Theory Marxist or Anti-American?

Yes and no.

Most of those accusing Critical Race Theory of being Marxist are using this term for further fearmongering. There are many kinds of socialism. Bernie Sanders is a socialist and received millions of votes in the Democratic primaries. Democratic socialism is a highly successful form of government in many places in the world.  Calling something Marxist is a common Republican trick and designed to suggest something sinister.

Critical Race Theory does accept some of the insights of Marxist thought, especially those critiques of class, capitalism, and systemic oppression. However, it is not supportive of authoritarian communism. Indeed, Critical Race Theory is built on the assumption that minorities can use democratic mechanisms to change society for the better.

As to being Anti-American, Critical Race Theory is only anti-American when America ignores or abandons its commitment to its founding principles of liberty and justice for all.

Is Critical Race Theory opposed to the Civil Rights movement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and others?

No.

Indeed, if you read the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, toward the end of his life, you will discover many of the same themes addressed by Critical Race Theory. The Civil Rights Movement successfully challenged legally mandated discrimination. However, King and others soon realized there needed to be systemic change. King also saw direct connections between racial discrimination and the excesses of capitalism.

Ironically, many of those who try to pit Critical Race Theory against King and the Civil Rights Movement forget that King was often accused of being both a communist and Marxist by the white establishment of his day.

Critical Race Theory does not believe the Civil Rights Movement was a failure. They simply understand it as a beginning step in addressing racism in America.

What should I do when someone says something untrue or negative about Critical Race Theory being taught in school?

Ask them to define Critical Race Theory.

If they cannot define it, explain it to them.

If they define in incorrectly, correct them.

If they understand it and oppose it, agree to disagree.

Ask them to explain how they think the facts of America’s racial history should be taught.

If they downplay the ravages of enslavement and discrimination, ask why.

If they offer good approaches, agree with them.  Explain that they have the same goal as Critical Race Theory.

If they claim Critical Race Theory is about shaming white children…

Ask them if they or their children ever felt shamed by the lessons of American history.

If so, ask them to explain why.

If a teacher intentionally made them feel this way, admit this was wrong.

If not, ask them to explain why they felt that way.

Talk about your own feelings of deep sadness about how people of color have been treated historically and your desire to see our country do better in the future. Explain that understanding that history is important for moving forward. Ask them how they think children of color would feel if we ignored that history.

The Feelings Of A Black Girl

The Feelings Of A Black Girl

Last week, I picked up my daughter from school and asked – as I always do – how her day had gone. Usually, I get what most parents expect from teenagers, which is one-word answers like “fine” or “o-kay.”  On this day, I got an earful.

My daughter – who is Black – reported that her white AP History teacher had asked the students in his class to pair off and read out loud two statements of opposing views on the enslavement of human beings from the 1860s. The first reading was of an 1860s abolitionist. The second was an 1860s defender of enslavement who repeatedly used the N-word to describe Black people. Hearing other students – many who were white – using the N-word as they read out loud disturbed my daughter. She said, “Lots of white students got to use the N-word today.” She was angry, sad, and depressed.

So were her mother and I.

That night I wrote the following message to the principal, the history teacher, and – the only Black staff member at my daughter’s school – the dean of students:

Our daughter came home today and reported her discomfort with an assignment she was given in our AP History class today by her history teacher. According to her, she and her classmates were put in pairs and asked to read two accounts concerning slavery from the 1800s to each other. One of these accounts used the N-word repeatedly. While she chose not to read that word, she was disturbed to hear multiple people in her class reading that word out loud. As she said, “Lots of white students got to use the N-word today.”

While I have serious concerns about the pedagogical rationale for reading statements in support of slavery, I suppose with careful contextualization that might be appropriate. However, I would hope we could agree that a reading using the N-word in a derogatory manner (without some serious contextualization by the teacher) is unacceptable. And that any exercise which required or allowed white students to read the N-word out loud is completely inappropriate.

Since most white people (myself included) still don’t fully appreciate the issue of white people using the N-word, I attach this excellent tutorial by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO15S3WC9pg

I look forward to hearing some response and a plan for how tomorrow’s discussion in the AP history class will be handling this situation.

The next morning, I received a call from the principal, the history teacher, and the dean of students.  To their credit, they immediately acknowledged the history teacher had erred in this assignment and that he would address all his classes that day to acknowledge this. He would also explain the importance of white people not using the N-word in any situation. They spoke highly of our daughter and her courage in expressing her concerns to us. That day, the history teacher did speak with his classes about the assignment and his error.

But my wife, daughter and I are still angry.

We’re angry no white student that day raised their hand and expressed any discomfort about speaking the N-word out loud.

We’re upset no Black student, including my daughter, felt safe enough to raise their hand and express their anger at hearing that word so casually spoken.

We’re frustrated an award-winning AP history teacher didn’t think about the possible repercussions of his assignment prior to making it.

Most of all, my wife and I are enraged that this happened during a week when thousands of white suburban voters elected or voted for Republican candidates who ran on the theme of protecting white students from lessons on enslavement, Jim Crow and racial discrimination which might make them feel uncomfortable or guilty.

Though Critical Race Theory is not taught to elementary or secondary students and does not focus on creating feelings of guilt, this is what white suburban voters are being fed by Fox News, conservative pundits, and Republican candidates.  They are being told this “White shaming” is happening repeatedly in their suburban schools. This is – of course – a lie. While it may be possible to find a few instances in the United States where some teacher did inappropriately shame white students, this would be extremely rare.

What is not rare is what my daughter experienced.

Indeed, in her ten years of schooling, she has already had five or six situations at school where she experienced anger, sadness, depression, and discouragement in response to what teachers, administrators and other students said about or to Black people. These were situations where the racism was blatant and obvious. There are also the countless micro-aggressions that she and we have tolerated over those years.

Yet conservatives would have us think that the feelings of white children need to be protected.

In all my schooling, I never experienced any negative statements about being white.

With my four white children, I never had to address a situation where they were diminished for the color of their skin.

This isn’t new. For the past two hundred years, the American schooling system has been designed to pamper, nurture, protect and enhance the lives of white children. That same system has done everything in its power to exclude, discourage, inhibit, and damage the self-esteem and worth of millions of children of color.

When any white parent complains that a discussion or lesson about racism is hurting their children, I want to scream.

WHAT ABOUT MY DAUGHTER?

They remind me of the white parents who supported laws that segregated schools in America and refused to provide Black children necessary resources. Those parents thought they were protecting their white children.

They remind me of the white parents who screamed racial slurs at six-year-old Ruby Bridges when she had the audacity to enroll in a white school. Those parents thought they were protecting their white children.

They remind me of the white parents who moved to suburbs in droves when city schools were integrated. Those parents thought they were protecting their white children.

They remind me of the white parents who paid to have their children attend parochial and private schools to avoid their children sitting next to a Black student. Those parents thought they were protecting their white children.

My Black daughter has never had the luxury they insist on for their children. Her feelings are never valued or protected. She is not allowed to pretend our society is colorblind, that racism is largely a thing of the past and that she need not feel angry, sad, or depressed about our racial history.

Here is the irony.

There is one place my wife and I agree with those white parents concerned about their children’s feelings.

We are both enraged about something that is not being taught in our schools.

They are enraged about Critical Race Theory, which is not being taught.

We are enraged about the lack of anti-racism training, which is not being taught.

So, when to comes to the teaching of our racial history, you can pardon me for not giving a fuck about the feelings of white suburban children.  At my daughter’s school in 2021, not a single white student had their feeling hurt by hearing or using the N-word in class during a lesson on enslavement. It was my daughter and her Black classmates who felt disregarded, diminished, and objectified.

Of course, like millions of white parents before them, too many white parents don’t give a damn about that.

How Systemic Racism Works

How Systemic Racism Works

This is how systemic racism works.

When your company has hardly any non-white employees and announces that you “promote from within” and “reward loyalty and seniority,” you are part of a system that keeps white people in the majority, in leadership and in power.  The only way a company will become more diverse is if it recruits people of color and intentionally and quickly moves them into positions of authority, bypassing white people who have been there longer.

When your organization does not obscure the names of applicants for jobs, you are actively participating in a process which eliminates people of color from consideration.  Study after study has shown that when white interviewers are shown identical resumes – one with a white name and one with a non-white name –those with non-white names are 25%-50% less likely to receive an interview.  The only way your organization will interview more people of color is if you remove names when vetting resumes.

When your business has hardly any non-white employees and interviews a person of color, suggestions that the person of color “is not a good fit” is simply code for they are not white.  Any company serious about diversifying their workforce must decide to intentionally hire more people of color.  Being a person of color has to be valued. “Hiring the best person for the job” when everyone in your business is white suggests “white” is the chief qualification for being the best.

When your university, which has a long history of mostly white graduates, gives special consideration and scholarships to the children of alumni, you have designed a system to keep your university predominately white.  This is white affirmative action.  The only way a university will become more diverse is if that university intentionally diversifies its student body by recruiting students of color.  You cannot pretend to judge applicants by merit if their parentage is a consideration.

When your company says it is difficult to find qualified candidates of color for job openings, this is a lie.  There are more qualified people of color in our workforce today than any time in US history.  However, recruiting qualified candidates of color requires paying them more than a white candidate in that same position.  If this seems unfair to you, remember that study after study finds black employees working the same jobs presently make about 13% less. If your company considers diversity valuable then that value should be represented in the compensation being offered to people of color.

When your hospital says it cannot find black physicians and surgeons to hire, this is statistically correct.  Black physicians and surgeons are underrepresented in the US workforce.  However, when your hospital system has complained about this shortage for 40 years, this is an excuse rather than a complaint.  Your hospital has no real interest in breaking up one of the whitest clubs in American – physicians.  Forty years is plenty of time for any hospital to go to local high schools and support talented students of color with scholarships, mentoring and promises of future employment.

When your political party has trouble finding people of color as “good” candidates for public office, you aren’t trying very hard.  Many people of color – as victims of oppression – become activists.  They organize, advocate, recruit and protest.  They connect to people and speak with passion.  That you do not consider these people “good” candidates suggests your party is only interested in sustaining white supremacy and electing people of color – should you find them – who will not challenge the status quo.

When your club or organization does not include many people of color, it is probably a club or organization designed to sustain white supremacy.  Regardless of its stated mission, it was originally organized to give white people (usually white men) advantage and privilege.  Most of today’s most respected clubs and organizations once had rules banning people of color from membership. Such clubs and organizations should not be respected.  They should be disbanded.  If their stated mission has merit, they should be reorganized by a group with equal representation of white and non-white leaders.

If your church is predominately white, you should leave it.  Like the clubs and organizations mentioned above, it probably once banned people of color from attendance.  American Christianity was one of the primary supporters of slavery, white supremacy and racism in the United States.  Sunday is still the most segregated hour in America.  Those serious about loving their neighbor should seek out neighbors of color and build relationships with them.  Giving your time and money to the most segregated institution in America is poor stewardship.

If your neighborhood or subdivision originally had a covenant banning the selling of homes to people of color, you need to move.  You live in a neighborhood intentionally created to exclude diversity and protect white supremacy.  The white families in this neighborhood were given governmental subsidies to help them acquire generational wealth denied to families of color.  That your neighborhood no longer legally enforces this covenant is irrelevant.  Continuing to live in that house, even if you put a “Black Lives Matter” sign in the yard, is to benefit from the injustices of the past.

Unless you live in a rural setting, your children should not be attending a predominately white school.  Schools socialize children for a specific culture and worldview.  Schools without diversity are designed to promote a homogeneous view of the world.  White schools enculturate whiteness.  When these schools are given far more resource than diverse schools, this is an intentional decision to sustain white supremacy and inequity.  Sending your children to an all-white school because it is a “good” school means you equate white and good. Parents who send their children to such schools when there are more diverse options, regardless of their stated views on racism, are actively perpetuating white supremacy. 

This is how systemic racism works.

White people design, sustain, promote and defend systems that were created to exclude people of color, thereby giving white people advantages.  Most of these systems have bestowed these benefits for generations.  Most of these systems still control much of our society.  Most are still predominately white and controlled by white people.

Systemic racism is still the bedrock of our nation.