Why I’m a Racist…

IMG_3037I am a white american male. I’m married to a beautiful blond-haired green-eyed woman and have two amazing blond-haired blue-eyed boys.  I was a blond-haired blue-eyed child who grew up in suburban New Jersey in a solid family with a mother, a father, a brother and two dogs. I lived a life marked by opportunity and forgiveness; and while I may not have always had “much”, I have always had the benefit of the doubt.  I was raised to treat everyone equally, regardless of race, or any other demographic for that matter. And while my town may have been predominantly white, I certainly didn’t grow up isolated from other races and cultures.  But even with the upbringing and exposure I was blessed with, I’m probably still a racist.  I don’t mean racist like a hate filled bigot who dehumanizes and devalues the lives of others based on skin color.  I mean that I am uncomfortable with, ignorant of and distant from racial inequalities that exist in my country. It is okay for me to admit this.  It doesn’t make me evil, it makes me ready for change.  This admission took two things: research and honesty.  Over the last couple of years I have read, watched, listened to and participated in countless discussions on the topic coming from a broad range of sources.  Through this process I was able to realize the aforementioned realities. Which is great for me, but for purposes of this post, let’s unpack them a little.

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I am uncomfortable with racial inequalities that exist in my country. I live my life day in and day out and only rarely am I forced to confront these realities. Certainly the media, social and otherwise, shine a light on the issue, but that is not what I mean.  Reading a powerful blog post or an inspiring tweet does not constitute confronting anything.  What I mean is that when I get pulled over, shop in a store, go for a job interview, meet a new person for the first time, etc… I expect to be judged by who I am.  Yes, I am tattooed and bearded so I’m sure that on occasion someone generalizes about me, but I don’t worry about it because I know that once they get to know me they will move beyond those judgements. And I assume that they will eventually get to know me, because even with their judgement, they will give me the benefit of the doubt.  I live my life benefiting from other people’s glass walls.  That is simply not true for people of color.  They are forced to confront it every single day.  Perhaps not in an overtly bigoted and hateful way (although I’m sure that happens too), but in the “deficit of the doubt.”  The security guard that makes a mental note that they are there, the woman who locks her car door as they walk by, and yes, the times they get pulled over for driving while black. (No matter how much or how little you think that happens, we all know it happens.)  So you see, while I am very uncomfortable when forced to confront a terrible reality that I can generally avoid, my friends and neighbors of color are forced to confront it every day.  Consequently, they have formed a thicker skin to the subject and are more free to discuss it.  This can easily be misunderstood as being rash or aggressive because it creates an uneasy feeling in me. Let me put it this way: we all have that person in our lives who always manages to say the one thing that makes everyone in the room uncomfortable. Maybe it’s a friend or coworker, maybe it’s your cousin or your sister-in-law; whoever it is, our attitude is generally that it is their problem.  We feel like they are doing something to us, because we are feeling uncomfortable with what they are saying or doing, rather than taking responsibility for our own feelings.  Until I can acknowledge that I feel more uncomfortable talking about racial inequality than people who have been forced to deal with it every single day of their lives, I will never be able to get over myself enough to be a part of the solution.  And if I’m not a part of the solution, I’m a part of the problem.

I am ignorant of the racial inequalities that exist in my country.  I was recently watching a Sunday service from North Point Church.  In the service the lead pastor, Andy Stanley, invited two African American men who were also christian leaders to be a part of a discussion about recent events and racism in general in this country.  They both explained the reality that they were taught how to behave if they ever got pulled over by the police. wallet They talked about it as if it was just another part of growing up.  An obvious lesson like don’t drink and drive or always pay your bills.  This may not seem so strange until they described exactly what they meant by “how to behave if you ever get pulled over”.  One of men relayed that he was taught that you never reach for your wallet.  Now, I understand that if you are being addressed by a police officer you don’t want to be erratic or make any sudden moves, but the degree to which this lesson was ingrained in him as an African American young man was startling.  It ran so deep in his heart that when he heard about recent events he admitted that there was a part of him the thought to himself, “Why’d you reach for your wallet? You know you’re not supposed to reach for your wallet.”  I will teach my boys to always be respectful of police. I will teach them not to resist or run if addressed by police and to always be upfront and honest, but I will not have to teach them not to reach for their wallet.  I cannot imagine feeling like I have to teach my children how to protect themselves from the people who are meant to protect them.  If ignorance is defined as lack of knowledge, education or awareness then I most certainly ignorant of the racial inequalities that exist in our country.  The beautiful thing about ignorance, though, is that it is easily remedied; but not without willingness and intention.  There is a video that has been circulating recently showing several people sitting in a diner, all of whom are white except one.  The waitress comes out and brings all the white patrons pie.  The African American man then asks the waitress, “Where’s my pie?” to which the other patrons respond, “Why are you making such a big deal? All pie matters.”  It is meant to illustrate the tension between #blacklivesmatter & #alllivesmatter.  I think it is an excellent illustration except that it misses one of the most important factors.  It would have been for more accurate if the white guys who had received their pie were blind-folded.  Because whether or not we mean to, most of us are blind-folded to the things that people of color deal with every day.  That is not our fault, but whether or not we stay that way is on us.

My discomfort and my ignorance can be attributed primarily to one thing: I am distant from the racial inequalities that exist in my country.  I live in New Jersey.  I am not someone who has gone their whole life without interacting with people of color.  I am not someone who is solely informed by the media in regard to cultures and races outside my own.  I have friends, coworkers, neighbors, mentors and family members who are people of color but I am still distant from the racial inequalities that mark their lives.  I have never made it a secret that I was a “rebellious youth”.  And by that I mean that I was a criminal.  I made very bad decisions and did a lot of awful things.  Some things that I will never be able to fully make amends for.  I have, however, never spent more than a weekend in jail.  I have always attributed the reality that I am a free man to God protecting me and allowing me to learn my lesson without prison time.  I still absolutely know that to be true.  However, I have to acknowledge that my “get out of jail free cards ” came, at least in part, due to my ability to catch a good sunburn in 15 minutes.  I also regularly share with people how grateful I am for all of the opportunities I have been given to do things I really wasn’t qualified for.  I have been allowed behind the scenes in a lot of situations that shaped who I am and developed me in my field with no explainable reason.  While I will never really know for sure, I have to wonder if my experience would have looked the same way if I didn’t.  The “deficit of the doubt” that people of color experience throughout their lives is something that I am only beginning to understand.  And that understanding is really only an intellectual one.  It is often said that the greatest distance in the world is 18″, the distance from your head to your heart.  I will always remain distant from the deficit of the doubt until I allow it be hit close to my heart.  The question then is: How?

Know someone.

I don’t mean know someone in that way that white people tend to reference when racism comes up in conversation.  That, “One of my best friends is black” way.  I mean I have to enter in.  I have to make it my business to overcome my uncomfortability;  I have to be intentional about educating myself and raising my awareness so that my ignorance can diminish; and I have make it personal.  I need to let my heart break at the fact that there are people in this country who do not receive the benefit of the doubt, ever.  I need to care enough to do something.  Something more than just write a blog post or share a powerful video clip.  I have to build genuine relationships with people of color and stop the whole ridiculous “I don’t see color” BS.  I need to see color and learn to appreciate it for what it is.  I need to allow myself to participate in and grow from and enjoy a culture that is not my own.  One that has its pluses and minuses like all others.  I need to be willing to get close enough to applaud when there is a victory, mourn when there is a loss and call it out when there is a shortcoming. I need to actually see my brothers and sisters of color as family.   I have a certain degree of power and privilege because of my skin color.  That is not something I need to feel guilty about.  I didn’t ask for it or seek it out, but I have it.  The responsibility for having it isn’t on me; but the responsibility for what I do with it is.

 

 

 

 

380 thoughts on “Why I’m a Racist…

  1. CreatetheLife

    I type this with sadness, anger, and incredulity. I appreciate your honesty and self-reflection that got you to this point. The white Christian community has been unsurprisingly silent, and I believe hard-hearted about race relations in this country. I have heard white people say that they are tired of hearing about race. It is my reality, I am black every day of my life, and some white people don’t let me forget how they feel about my skin color. They think that they know me because my skin is brown. So to those of you who say you are tired of talking about race, and racism, I wish that you could wear my skin for a while. The author of this story gets it right, white people have the option of stepping away from those things that make them uncomfortable about issues of race, and making it a black person’s problem. I make a joke with my black Christian friends that white Christian folk are in for a huge surprise when they get to heaven. It isn’t going to be segregated by race. That heavenly mansion your soul is looking forward to occupying? I just might be your neighbor!

    Liked by 14 people

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    1. WB Derby

      There is a story about Hitler’s after-life. He opens his eyes and sees he is in a town. He looks around and sees, “Issac’s Clothing Shop” next to “Goldsteins Bakery” and a huge synagogue with crowds of people wearing yarmulkes. Scanning the crowd he sees his former Field Marshal Rommel. What is this? What is going on here.” “Don’t you know?”, he replied. “This is the heaven of the Jews. You can’t leave here until you stop thinking about them completely.”

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    2. Craig Tappe

      While we are on that subject, when we both get to heaven–you will realize the truth of what I have known all along. There will be no race there other than the human race. That will not be a surprise or a new thing to me. How about you?

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      1. Goblinrant

        But while we are here on earth, we can be like Christ and acknowledge that there are powers and principalities that are human systems of sin: racism, sexism, bigotry, xenophobia, abuse, bullying, etc. and while we are Christians here on earth, we need to reach out to those that are oppressed and downtrodden by a sinful and flawed human society and stand with them and fight the very systems that hurt and harm fellow human beings.

        Liked by 4 people

    3. John O

      I think that it is terrible, deplorable, and unacceptable that too many people on this planet have to confront, conform, and concede with the the clear and undeniable biases and bigotries in racial, demographical, political, & economical situations.

      It is sad, pathetic, and offensive that there are thoughtless & willfully ignorant (STUPID) people Of Privilege out there that CAN’T THINK LOGICALLY!!! If your mummy & duddy can pay for your private school tuition, private tutors, any your IVY League college tuition, You ARE Privileged because you don’t have to pay the hundred$ of thousand$ in tuition and interest for The Rest Of Your Life!

      I’m a white male. I grew up in a lower-middle class family in a nice in-city neighborhood (yes, predominantly white) and was educated in private institutions, pre through highschool, then 1 year at state college, and finished with an AA degree from a local Community College.

      I was raised in an environment that provided me open options and potential opportunities. They weren’t just handed to me, and I wasn’t silver=$poon-fed, but the options were there. I’m not stupid: WAS Privileged! I was raised in a stable environmeny. Any white person raised in a similar env./setting as me was privileged to some extent!

      Message to ALL Humans (that is, ALL groups of people): “privileged” doesn’t mean “silver spoon-fed!!!” I had options; more than others, and that made me privileged.

      For all of you who have seen & experienced white privilege first hand, I apologize for the ignorant & stupid white people who don’t understand their advantage, no matter how small it was/is. I FEEL for you! I empathize!

      It’s Stupid that those who are privileged (not All are privileged, but we had/have advantages) refuse to learn this: to observe, assess, analyze, and conclude this fact!

      Liked by 5 people

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    4. cathy venter

      One problem, there IS only one Race, the Human Race. The Last time there was another race on this Earth was 10,000 years ago when Neanderthals existed. The only way another Race could be on Earth today, is if a Spaceship lands and an Alien walked out of it.
      White people ARE Black people, as are Red People, as are Blue People, as are Yellow People….
      No matter how you spin it, Racism is, in the least, One person looking down their nose at another person for Cosmetic Reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Adrian

        Due respect, but that’s fortune cookie bullshit. I’d like to believe that this is true, but it’s not. This simply isn’t the case with “God’s people”. I’m mixed, from a distance you can’t tell if I’m Black, Hispanic, Indian but I have a couple of stories of being pulled over by the police and being treated with hostility until they realize I’m a soft-spoken individual. And that’s only because the officer realizes I’m not Black, if I was, I can’t actually imagine how I would have been treated.

        You’re part of the problem if your response to this article is your fortune cookie nonsense. It unfortunately runs much deeper than your “we are the world” attitude, Miss Venter.

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      2. cryohydra911

        While I agree with your sentiment and viewpoint wholeheartedly Cathy, the harsh reality is that many people do not share this viewpoint. Telling them ours is not going to advance theirs in any way, until we meet them where they are and see their perspective. Only by reaching an understanding of “why” can we help them attain new ideals and dismantle the old thoughts and systems that are supporting such a flawed and biased society.

        As much as we might not want to, we all have to put in a hand and see the symptoms along with their underlying causes to heal the hurt. That means stepping down from our “‘we are the world’ attitude” as Adrian put it, to see it how others do, and then we can step back up and take everyone with us into a new paradigm. One without all this bullshit.

        That means researching historical roots and reasons. That means changing ourselves to see what is AND what we want so we can model it for everyone. That means self awareness as well as outer awareness. That means changes in what and how we educate the coming generations and one another.

        Telling someone who lives on the receiving side of the endemic racism, or someone who is delivering it – saying that we are all one race, that there are none, it simply won’t fly. It isn’t true for them. Hence why we need to be able to see their perspective, and understand the fundamentals behind it, so we can all change those underlying issues into something more positive where we can eventually see one another without irrational bias.

        Especially now, because this issue is blowing up in everybody’s faces. People who want change are tired of waiting for someone else to do it. People who have been sitting idly by can’t do that anymore, because now everyone is involved, and that’s been made painfully clear. People who don’t want the change fear it, because it will shatter their current reality and bring something new.

        But my hope is, once we can all make this transition complete, it will be a much better and happier world. THEN we can say, “we’re all one race.”

        Liked by 1 person

      3. michelle wilhelm

        In theory, and technically, yes. BUT!!!!!! Because of the perception of race, we DO have prejudice, elitism, segregation, exclusion, inclusion, bigotry, stereo-typing and ALL kind of societal mental(ity) diseases. It is wonderful to wish and dream that there is no race, just the human race, but doing so is to stick your fingers in your ears and yelling ‘blah blah I can’t hear you’ at the top of your lungs. Of COURSE it’s cosmetic. Of COURSE it’s ignorant. Of COURSE it’s morally reprehensible, hypocritical and irrelevant. It still exists

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    5. FaithStJules

      I cannot tell you how touched and affected I was by your words. Being African American with quite a lot of white friends, many of which have been silent to my pain, I just want to say thank you. Your post is so honest and understanding, not many of those who call themselves my friend have moved beyond their discomfort to just understand where I am coming from. I have realized that when I was am jovial and bubbly, and I did not act or talk like “one of them,” it was easy to be my friend. However, when they noticed that I was really a “black person” with the same struggles as other people of color, those loving friends started to show their true faces. Again I say thank you for being so humble and outspoken, we could use more of you out there.

      Liked by 3 people

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    6. Maurice Riley

      Its people like you that these so called racist dislike..those who wish to remain blind to the fact there is no such thing as racism,The word was simply attached to the oldest tactic in history,the divide conquer tactic used for centuries to keep people divided..Just imagine if everyone stops thinking racism and began thinking and realizing devide and conquer..this is America’s greatest fear that white people will one day wake up and realize that they have been just as hoodwinked.bamboozled.and miseducated as we have..Thank you dear sir.you have alot of insist and your honesty is very refreshing..the bottom line is the one percent of the worlds population that control in excess of 85percent of the worlds wealth.is laughing at us all.

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  2. David Gooner Kuti

    It is extremely important that this level of consciousness is rising and spreading. this is not the first article of this nature that I have read this week. whoever reads this should share it because it will enlighten you and whoever reads it from your post. this is something we can all do. the killing has to stop otherwise we will descend into a police state faster than you can think. use your time wisely. use your communication wisely. I am sick of seeing people of all colors dying all over the world.I am a 2nd generation 59 year old dual heritage man born in England. My father Nigerian and my mother Italian (not mixed race since there is only the human race). Am I Black? am I white? do I know and understand my culture? am I accepted by all, do I want to be accepted by all? . None of this matters to me I have left this behind I refuse to be drawn into a world of hate which in my younger years did so much psychological damage to me that it left me in a constant state of shock, The racists have a word for this state of being it was labeled MALADJUSTED. yet inside me there was a constant right and wrong that was my guide, that was my rock, my foundation. I have seen, experienced racism with violence, filthy verbal attacks directed to my family and myself but I will not allow it to make me hate. What it has done is fight a fight first from within, it has given me resolve, it has brought me to the stage of realisation that in order to change this world it starts with you and me, as individuals, to live as you desire. to promote love, to live by the code of love. to accept that this world is how it is and know that it will change through you and every other human being who decides to live by love. it will raise a consciousness that will connect us and through this, (you and me) change will come but it will only work through unity. there are so many factors that need to be addressed for this to work and they would all fall into place without people even realising. it starts at home, in your home, my home, our homes. Teach truth, respect, patience, reasoning, self discipline, how to research. teach how to teach oneself. pass knowledge on. we have the tools but only a few know how to use them. this post is one such tool. read it. share it. use it. absorb it. To the author thank you and to the people who are picking this post apart why are you here why post comments when you clearly don’t see the post for what it is. or is it that you can’t allow yourself to question yourself because of your bigotry. You can only see black and white instead of the full spectrum of color. life. people. truth. the concept of love, real love for there is only one love there are no aspects of love. I suspect that what too many people believe to be love are confused with what love really is. Peace.

    Liked by 5 people

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    1. bettycollier

      As an African American woman I appreciate the attempt of this post on trying to understand and help solve the present state of black Americans, but unfortunately this does not scrape the surface of why our troubles are continuing, We are often told to forget the past and when we speak of it we are frowned upon and told to have forgiveness. it is hard to trust a people that held your forefathers captive and about the civil war , we ask ourselves was it really about the freedom of the slaves or about territory or some other type of power? Because freedom still didn’t come , we spent years in Jim Crow , unequal rights. Still forbidden to move freely and treated like dirt. I remember Jim Crow’ not many decades ago. Again my people was not free to go. and many died and marched to get us out of chattel slavery. Only to still deal with a racist government, a system that is setup for the colonial Romans.and the constant images of whites that is carefully setup to bring a feeling of superiority about themselves. When I as a black woman looked around, I saw black men bowing to white men who had the power of weaponry. I am about the truth. This is not your fault as young whites that you are privileged and free to roam without being suspects. Your forefathers put this in their plans from the beginning and you are reaping the benefits. This is an act of God and only He can change it around. As for love many use that word loosely, love is not imposing yourself on others and forcing them to invite you. God made us different for a reason, that is to learn love by respecting those that differ from you right to live and be let alone. When we pick a beautiful flower from it’s stem just to get closer to it’s beauty. it withers and dies quickly. if we had love and respect for it we would have left it on the stem. watched it for awhile and kept it moving. There are men that hunt to kill not because they are hungry, but because they like it,. there are mad men that like to play God therefore they have No regards for mankind, they roam the world for riches, rob, steal, and kill. Why? it is written. There are a people that see it as a mortal right to protect their race and kill another. This evil will not seize until the coming of the savior. .

      Liked by 3 people

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      1. Wendie Knight

        Do you think this was to help solve or to begin to help move people to a different way of thinking?

        If it’s the latter I think it’s successful. Solving the country’s racial problems would be asking a lot, impossible from one single man’s post aND i don beleven ir was the intention.
        I think scraping the surface is all we can do one at a time. And we must.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Cheryl witte

        The thing is, is that there is probably not one person alive today that held your forefathers prisoners. We had nothing to do with that. We have to stop being blamed for that and move our lives forward.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. SonniQ

        I found this article on huffpo as I’m sure many others did as well. I have 2 blogs here as well and one of them centers on what has been, and still is happening to the black race. This year in particular the amount of writing and the amount of hate has grown so much. I mostly write about our prison system. I’m also currently writing a book about one inmate in particular and what is being done to him and others while being incarcerated.. I am white and I grew up in a very segregated town in Pa. There was literally a line down the center of town. Schools were naturally segregated. I remember as a child, wondering how black skin felt but was scared to touch one. High school was different. It was mixed. I was ganged up on by black students taunted and threatened. Ironically 30 years later the man who created the most fear in me contacted me in another state and apologized. We had grown up. My family never talked badly about black people, but they never said anything at all so I was left to figure it out myself.

        In the past couple years I recontacted many old high school classmates, many who had never left the area.Last night I had a written conversation with a woman I had never really been friends with in school. I lived in the wrong part of town. My parents couldn’t afford to buy me “in” clothing. We didn’t live in a big house. I didn’t rate high enough to be in that circle of friends. But I think, “We’ve aged. No one is the same anymore. Give her a chance. We were young and stupid”. We’re now in our early 60’s. Last night she gave me her opinion of BLM. I have found a majority of white people seen to take pride in deliberately misunderstanding why BLM needed to be formed. Black people should just “get over it” – what has been done to them, their children, their families and learn to behave. She said, “My black friends all obey the law, why can’t they?” What they can’t comprehend is that they will never have to deal with issues that caused BLM. They say, “I’m not racist”, yet cross to the other side of the street because they believe the rhetoric that black people have a criminal gene. Yes, my classmate is racist as well as many others on fb I knew as a youth.

        My grandchildren are mixed. Half black. Two boys and one girl. I fear for the boys ages 7 and 10. The father of one is the man on my blog http://mynameisjamie.net. I don’t make a habit of advertising my blog on someone else’s blog but I wanted you to see it if you wanted. I just got back from a trip to the prison to take my grandson to see his father. White parents don’t have to fear their sons will be shot or beat up or made to look like they committed suicide if arrested for not using a turn signal when changing lanes. These people today who refuse to see reality, will never see it. They don’t want to see it. They enjoy their hate. They seriously think they are better – the chosen ones. A higher form of intelligence.

        I have worked for ten years to educate people on our prison system that is just a modern form of slavery. The black man deserves it, they say, and will never admit they could possibly be wrong. Saying you aren’t racist doesn’t mean much if you don’t back it up. And I agree with your statement – the definition of saying you ARE racist doesn’t mean what this author says. He does say things I agree with, but it doesn’t make him racist in the context of how everyone else sees it.

        Liked by 4 people

      4. wcwinder

        Betty, thank you for your thoughtful post. From reading the comments on several posts on this subject it is clear that some people will never understand or believe the reality of white privilege. They choose ignorance. But there are white people who do “get it” We are out there. Unfortunately people with good intentions tend not to be vocal. Pigs on the other hand are trolling and very vocal. My advice to my black and white children is to seek out the good people, no matter what their race, creed or color. Work with them to change the world. Never let a pig take away your dignity or sense of self worth.

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  3. Jake Snake

    You wrote: “I’m probably still a racist. I don’t mean racist like a hate filled bigot who dehumanizes and devalues the lives of others based on skin color. I mean that I am uncomfortable with, ignorant of and distant from racial inequalities that exist in my country.”

    Whether or not that’s true, it doesn’t make you a “racist.”

    Racism is “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” If it’s good enough for Webster’s, it’s good enough for me.

    Then you write: “The security guard that makes a mental note that they are there, the woman who locks her car door as they walk by, and yes, the times they get pulled over for driving while black. (No matter how much or how little you think that happens, we all know it happens.) ”

    All of those, but especially the second example with the woman, are legitimate reactions to the gross disparity in violent crime among blacks, and especially black men between the ages of 15 and 35. When that crime is interracial, whites are far more often the victims of blacks than the other way around, especially when it comes to rape.

    I would give you the statistical links, but something about the virtue-signaling tone tells me that facts aren’t going to matter here — that they’ll be explained away in some way, shape, or form. If I’m wrong, just let me know, and I’ll be happy to provide the proof.

    Then you write: “This may not seem so strange until they described exactly what they meant by “how to behave if you ever get pulled over”. One of men relayed that he was taught that you never reach for your wallet.”

    The explanation also lies in the gross disparity between rates of violent crime (murder, attempted murder in this case) between black and white. Traffic stops are the most dangerous police interaction — for police — so yes, black drivers will be under more suspicion. That much said, anyone who doesn’t think white drivers have a code for what to do if pulled over is rather ignorant, or dishonest.

    ——-

    Now: Is there differential treatment, even after controlling for high crime rates among blacks? I suspect so. Statistics are powerful tools, but human reaction to them isn’t going to be perfectly proportional. Blacks get treated more poorly by police because they have astronomically higher rates of crime than whites do.

    This is the other side of your hand-wringing essay. You cannot intelligently discuss what you erroneously called “racism” without also discussing the gigantic gap in rates of serious and violent crime between blacks and whites — and without fear, favor, or evasion, which means you don’t (for example) get to blame a black murder rate that’s 7x the white rate on, say, slavery.

    I have no illusions about this comment. It directly challenges your core thesis, so you’ll reject it. This is the nature of truly inconvenient truth, as opposed to the parading of virtue that is embedded in every paragraph of your lecture.

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Matt

      Jake,

      I’ll be happy to respond. First, you are apparently ignorant of the concept of unconscious racial bias. Here is a link to a research paper on the subject as it relates to trial judges. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1374497

      Another form of racism is racial stereotyping, which can also be unconscious. Here is a research article finding that racial stereotyping led to erroneous perceptions of the crime level based on the presence of young black men. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/338938?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents. Again, the correlation between the perception that crime levels were higher when more young black men lived in the neighborhood were erroneous, as the study controlled for actual crime rates.

      Also, you have fallaciously conflated crime rates with arrest rates. While it is difficult to compare all criminal activity to criminal activity leading to arrest, a number of studies have been done with regard to drug arrests vs. drug use and possession. Many of them are linked in this article. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/racial-disparity-drug-use_n_3941346.html

      Now, you claimed that the only reason you didn’t provide statistical links was your perception that facts wouldn’t matter. That was a prejudgment, as you hadn’t tried, but made the assumption. In Latin, that would be praeiudicium. In English, it translates to prejudice.

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      1. lhbasden

        The subconscious can be made conscious. I am a racist, although it’s a fight with myself I engage in regularly. I fully support BLM, and I’m always trying to suss out what is me today and what was me a number of years ago. I still carry around a good bit of white guilt, although that seems more of a negative than once it was. I’m imperfect, but by “whatever means (some not) necessary” I am trying every day. I won’t be firing into a pile of folks of any stripe.

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    2. Educated blackmale

      I can appreciate the statistics that you have provided and understand that there is some truth to what you are saying. So where does an educated, non-violent, black male without a criminal record and a 780 credit score fit in your hypothesis. I get pulled over by police at least once a month for doing nothing but being black. I have missed out on promotions, been called the n-word, assaulted, and have children who have experienced the same. So you are saying because I am black I should understand that the actions of a small percentage of people justifies this treatment to all blacks. Should I judge you by what other white people have done. All people should be judged by their own actions, not just white people.

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      1. Mike Hall

        It’s simply impossible to have a constructive conversation with people who outright stretch truths and lie, with people who pathologically exaggerate for the benefit of attention and the gravity such exaggerations exhibit on those who accept them as truth.
        You DO NOT get pulled over ‘at least once a month’ for doing nothing more than being black.
        You know you’re lying, as anyone with a modicum of common sense would be able to figure out.. and since the importance of honesty eludes you, you have absolutely no place in a conversation as meaningful and imperative such as one the concerning racial inequality here in America.
        You forfeit that right… because you lie.

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      2. Jarrod Brown

        Mike Hall – I’m just asking. How can you tell this man his experience is a lie? Is it not possible that he gets pulled over once a month? Maybe you don’t like the time frame, but if you’re glossing over the fact he’s saying he’s been pulled over plenty of times for Driving While Black (Yes, that’s a thing), then the conversation you’re trying to have is impossible because you’re making it that way.

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      3. Mike Hall

        Jarrod, his statement about getting pulled over monthly, because he’s black, while also stating that he’s educated (would have to assume that means college) has a 780 credit score (would have to assume that he has a decent paying job, is obviously responsible and pays his bills, drives a newer car, lives in a average to middle class neighborhood, these assumptions helping to support the first assumption) is non-violent and has no criminal record, which supports ALL my assumptions… means that Educated blackmale enjoys living a decent, law-abiding life and has, to this point, made intelligent and worthwhile decisions about how to live and prosper. All in all, a good man.
        Good men, irrespective of color, don’t get pulled over monthly by the cops.. that simply doesn’t happen in today’s America.
        So, he’s either lying about those personal attributes which I’ve based my assumptions on, or, he’s lying about the frequency with which he get’s pulled over.
        Maybe both.
        Imagine any black professional you may know, I’m sure their personal accomplishments would mirror Educated blackmales, as he’s stated them.
        Do they get pulled over monthly?
        No. Of course they don’t.

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    3. Conway

      I really hoped for a less predictable rebuttal than this as I began reading your comment, but unfortunately it is what it is.

      Yes, statistically there are more occurrences of violent crime by black men, but it is a reality composed of many variables, including a history of being held back, separated, and disenfranchised. This article rightly points out a truth which isn’t easily quantifiable: white privilege. Is it my fault I’m privileged? Of course not. Becoming aware of the fact I benefit because of my skin color? Critical.

      It’s all about humility.

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      1. SonniQ

        What you say is true but it is more than. There will be a higher occurence of crime if one race is targeted -instructed to target – certain neighborhoods over others. What would those statistics be if it had been equal Instead of intentional?

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    4. Citogal

      Discussing rates and frequency of crime by race assumes the criminal justice system treats people of color with the same level of care. For example, in the “Cash for Kids”scheme, we saw a Pennsylvania Judge sentence thousands of black teens to prison by taking bribes from for-profit prisons. Consider cases where death row inmates are exonerated in the nick of time or posthumously. Consider the many videos where we are seeing with our own eyes that SOME (and not even remotely all) police are carrying out summary execution for minor infractions, and are still acquitted or never even charged. Consider who is writing the reports from whence statistics are culled and say for a fact that statistics tell the complete story.

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    5. julvanv

      Jake Snake, I wish I had an intelligent and educated way to refute you and your beyond racist dribble like Matt has. I don’t. But Jake Snake is a fitting name

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    6. Kenndy

      Thank you to the Author of this article for your honesty you get it and have decided to be a part of the solution and Not the problem. Jake based on your non factual response, you are part of the problem. You use social media, News media and articles you get from racist sites to reference your point. How about doing as this author did and actually get to know a few people of color before spewing ignorance!

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    7. Abdul-Fattah Dhondt

      Jake, you seem to be under the impression that statistics justify treating a person differently based on the actions of others. You can rationalize as much as you like, but the idea that each person is only to be judged by his/her own actions seems like a universal moral code that’s hard to deny. And I believe that this single argument defeats your entire post….

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    8. JS

      Jake,

      You so eloquently captured my thoughts and opinions on this. Thank you.

      I’ll go a step further. I believe what has occurred in this country is that politicians, civil rights leaders and the media have effectively painted a narrative that ensures that “Racism” never goes away, by broadening the definition of “Racism” to include basic human instincts. It’s completely natural to have an experience of a race, religion or ethnicity that is bad, and then to judge future events by that experience. In fact, it’s basic learned survival.

      What the new narrative does is paints that instinct for survival as “racist”, thus ensuring that both the oppressed and the oppressors in the schema have no way out.

      The goal isn’t to end this new broad definition of racism, but to use it to control people on both sides.

      It’s sad, it’s pathetic. I’m not buying into it.

      Today we have a black president, a black attorney general, several dozen black members of the House and Senate, black governors, and black members of state legislators, county boards, boards of education, and city councils. Not to mention tens of thousands of black doctors, lawyers, athletes, teachers, firefighters, police officers, astronauts……there literally is no profession that doesn’t have a black presence. AND THAT IS A GOOD THING. But it doesn’t fit the narrative, so it’s often ignored in the context of the discussions, or otherwise dismissed as “Not enough.”

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      1. drewski28

        “First they make you believe in absurdities and then you commit atrocities.”

        As long as Jake and Js view is the mainstream there can be little progress with the marginalization of our
        brothers and sisters of color. To deny that there exixts a problem despite all of the empirical data not to mention the videos documenting policy brutality is to be ignorant to the point of absurdity.

        Violence toward non white folks is as American as apple pie. Our red lining of neighborhoods as constructed de facto poverty centers with little access to schools, libraries, super markets, you name it. This has been going on for over 100 years. It takes a great deal of chutzpah to be so willfully ignorant.

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    9. _hero44

      After this beautiful post of honesty I think your reply was the most offensive thing posted in this thread. Comments like these are why we still deal with what we deal with today.

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    10. SonniQ

      Jake, blacks have an astronomically higher rate of crime because they are targeted. And yes there are many statistics that prove it. I’m sure you can find it. So of course it’s going to appear that blacks must have some sort of criminality in them that is so much worse than whites, but it is bullshit – unless you want to somehow prove that writes don’t commit as many crimes. Drug usage is equal among races. That is proven – so why have more blacks than whites been locked up – and with longer sentences? Cops have been told to monitor and raid black neighborhoods instead of white, so who do you think who will be arrested? See, you drank the kool-aid mainstream media has vomited, believed the propaganda and never questioned it. The law has never been fair for blacks. Yes, it started with slavery. Ignoring that leaves out the initial reason for saying they have had enough. They have a right to be angry. Now, if it had changed and blacks had been accepted as equals, if the persecution had stopped, then slavery couldn’t be part of it. But it never stopped. Even in our lifetime with the intentional targeting of blacks during the Nixon admin, creating the phony war on drugs with the intentional imprisonment of blacks and the use of prison labor by ordinary corporations like Eddie Bauer’s jeans and Victoria’s Secret on down to manufacturing dentures and making everything for the military and police force as well as plastic silverware for fast food restaurants, it changed from picking cotton to providing cheap or free labor instead of giving jobs to the private sector. But it is still slavery. You speak like a true white man. I think you need to check your own core thesis and do a lot more research. I’m sure you’ll feel compelled to deny what I say is true. Good luck with that.

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    11. Tina Vazquez

      But then ask yourself why? Why do “blacks” as you refer here have all these higher rates of statistical numbers than others…doesn’t that seem strange to you? Is it because of their skin color or their gene pool? Or could it be there is something bigger at play here in our society? Aren’t you just defining yourself as Webster defines racism by standing on these published statistics?
      The first time I ever recognized racism in our own culture here in the United States was stepping away from it and seeing racism in another culture that had absolutely nothing to do with ” blacks”. “Blacks” were equal to the taller fairer skinned educated folks and the short dark skinned uneducated folks were being treated and spoken about just as you are speaking about “blacks” here in the United States! If you can imagine that the black skinned person stated the same things you did about the darker skinned ” mountain people”! And all I could keep thinking was, “yeah but you’re black”. This man had not been to our country and was prominent in his own. The others at the table had no bias, no predisposition, and agreed with this man!? (They were the fairer skinned educated folks). And guess what? Statistically those darker skinned mountain people had higher crime rates!!! Imagine that!?
      I guess I’d address the elephant in the room first…why do “blacks” have higher statistical rate in the areas you mentioned? Could it be possible that the writer of this original post has a clue when he writes about “always having the benefit of the doubt”? That statement alone explains the core difference between races here…. It’s called white privilege. That’s what has to change and how to change that begins with changing the mind set of how we think about each other and about ourselves both black and white.

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  4. Myokei Shonin

    Loved this piece and I thank you for writing it. For some of the commenters, I would just like to add from the very wise words of Jane Elliot–“prejudice is a commitment to ignorance.” Prejudice exists in all of us and all of us must have the willingness and intention to eliminate it.

    Racism in 21st century terminology is geared toward expressing that it is not an individual phenomenon but rather a systemic one which requires power to enforce. It is truly prejudice plus power. Dictionary definitions do not get at the real issue of present day racism which does not account for advancement on an individual level–we are better than we were before. To blame Obama for the current state is ludicrous–his election and subsequent pushback only served to expose what’s been there all along just beneath the surface–to expose it to light so that it can be addressed.

    I am hopeful because more of us are awake and open to ridding ourselves of ignorance and collectively working to eradicate systemic racism.

    Thank you again for sharing your wonderful journey.

    A deep bow to you.

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    1. Lewis

      The dictionary definition is correct. Race has always been the same and it has always been based upon predjuditial responses to individuals or the group, in response to partially or wholly imagined (or extrapolated) characteristics or tendencies. That it becomes systematized by the group that understand itself as deservingly dominant, is by no means a modern phenomenon. So, calling it modern racism upon that basis kind of dilutes the importance of the relationship between the two. The purpose of institutional racism is to relieve the masses from personal responsibility for “owning” their personal bias. It turn it into a background process, like breathing or blinking. That is perfidious but does not turn the two into one entity. Doing so purpetuates the problem.

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  5. RicRich

    Racism (many people have attempted to define it in this post string) is alive and well in this country for numerous reasons. We spend more time debating the legitimacy of these reasons that we do correcting the wrongs that have existed…and continue to exist…for years. I am fairly confident that we…regardless of color, ethnicity, sexual orientation or political bent…know the difference between what is right and what is wrong. Most of us have allowed ourselves to be ethically challenged for the most basic reason: We are afraid. And in being afraid…we have allowed others to suffer.

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  6. beverlytoney

    WOW! I am an African-American woman who was raised in a predominately white, middle-class area in California. I have tried for all of my 46 years to explain my struggles to my many many white friends. They love me, I know, but they can’t relate. It is very hard to explain, for example, childbirth pain to a man but at least he admits that it exists! I am not here to criticize your post…I am here to praise you for explaining it in a way that makes sense. I am going to ask everyone that I know to read this with an open mind. I wish that your words and understanding could be spread to America…this is exactly what we need. Thank you!

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  7. Tina Jackson-Miller

    Reblogged this on Living With Limited Spoons and commented:
    He speaks from the heart and speaks for me as well.
    I find myself often open-mouthed in front of my laptop at the rude, hateful remarks made my a lot of people on the subject of racism.
    Slavery wasn’t 400 years ago, it was 140 years ago…that’s great grandparents and their parents lifetime. Do you think that families’ thoughts, behaviors and beliefs just magically disappeared after a generation? Think again. It’s better than it was then…but not by much!

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    1. SonniQ

      A correction. Slavery was happening 400 years. It was supposed to stop 140 years ago. It didn’t. It moved to the prisons and people ignored that, but then it was hard to know about because information was controlled

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  8. Mary Willis

    I disagree with some of this. I am white, my husband was white, my children are white. I taught my children to always roll down there window and either leave both hands on the steering wheel or out the window and do not reach for your wallet. Obey all instructions and do not argue. It isn’t about color it is about that police officer not being afraid. I also taught my children to not break the law. Just like there are some “bad” police officers there are some of color who deliberately look for any perceived “discrimination” I am fortunate to live in a smaller (under 50K) community and no one cares what color or sexual orientation you are. Just be a decent person. I work in retail and there are many, many international visitors to our community and I treat everyone with courtesy and respect. I have met many lovely people from around the world. People of all colors, including white, need to teach their kids to be kind and to work hard and specifically to treat others how they wish to be treated. Someday I hope we are all blended enough that we are all a beautiful cream color and we have nothing to fight about.

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    1. Amanda

      No one cares about color or sexual orientation? What a perfect place…. (how naive you are. Did you even understand this piece?)

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    2. SonniQ

      Eutopia. That would be wonderful, but I doubt it will happen. I, too live in a small town and we don’t see much of what is happening in many areas. Your statement -“It isn’t about color it is about that police officer not being afraid.” I don’t understand. It is about color. White people don’t get pulled over in the quantities black people do. Recently my husband and I were pulled over because a tail light was out. He came up with a smile -just to let us know. Never asked us where we were going or even asked for license and registration and then said, “Have a nice day” After he pulled away my husband said, “Good thing we’re white.” Do you honestly think that is what would have gone down if we were black? In addition, our registration was out of date and the out of date one wasn’t in the car. I was late mailing it in.This story would have had a different ending if we were black

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      1. overthissociety

        Funny you should mention that story. I too was recently pulled over in broad daylight “because my taillight was out.” Unlike you and your husband, I am an African woman. I was on my way to work, literally about to make a right turn into the parking lot of my destination when I saw the lights. The officer immediately let me know that my taillight was out and that that is why he had pulled me over. There were very minimal verbal exchanges between us, no disrespect from either of us. I provided my license and registration, both of which were up-to-date/legit/in good standing. The officer went back to his vehicle to run my information. Finding nothing, he came back to my vehicle and handed me my items back … along with a $70 ticket! The whole situation took about 20 minutes, which is a ridiculous amount of time in itself, caused me to be late to work (even though I was right out front the entire time), and NONE of my co-workers (mostly white) could believe that he gave me an actual ticket instead of a warning. But the worst part of it was that they asked me a dozen questions (had I been speeding, was I rude to the officer, etc) in an attempt to figure out “why” the officer felt I deserved a ticket for something so innocent and minor. I know “WHY” and they do too smh

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      2. SonniQ

        Well of course it had to be your fault, they think. You had to do something to bring it on yourself because that concept they never had to deal with and they don’t know any better. Sadly, people don’t get it, and since this is the first year it has been in the news almost every day they think it is something new. So many have absolutely no idea why BLM had to be started in the first place. My daughter is living with a man who used to be a cop. 2 of her sons are half black – ages 7 and 10 – and one is quite dark. I was visiting them recently to take one son to his his father – no one else will take him and it had been 3 years since i was able to get to tx. The father is the man in my blog, mynameisjamie.net. He has been inside for over ten years now. His son was born after he was picked up. We have a close relationship and I’ve been the only one supporting him. While spending 2 days with my grandson I talked to him about cops and behavior and that there are good cops and bad cops and many of these cops might want to hurt him because he is black so he needed to be careful and always do what he was told. It was “the talk”. He told my daughter what I said and she get really mad. “Don’t you know Mike was a cop! He better not hear you talking about racist cops!” My jaw dropped. She was thinking more about her boyfriend than her son. “Besides,”she said. “I teach my son to be respectful to authority” But who was teaching the authority to be respectful to him? My 19 year old grandson, who is leaving for Marine bootcamp in Sept said that if a cop tells you to get out of your car just do what he says, and if wants to beat you up just let him do it and maybe then he won’t shoot you. I was shocked. I have researched racism and prison issues for a long time, but my daughter says I don’t know what I’m talking about. But then she started screaming I was a lousy mother who never cared about her and it was my fault she was fat because I never let them have junk food growing up. I packed my bag, called my son and told him to get me out of there. It’s impossible to combat ignorance on any level!

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  9. Jason Taff

    I’m not entirely sure I agree with the message of this post. Yes, of course, you’re right that white people can never fully understand how people of color internalize the social structures that give privilege to white people and deny it to people of color. Yes, of course, you’re right that seeking out and trying to understand and empathize with people of color is the only way to individually overcome the blindness that comes with privilege.

    But I don’t like that you call yourself a racist. Not because I try to do those things, too, and *I* don’t want to be called a racist. But because 1) someone who is actively looking for ways to understand and dismantle structural racism, even a beginner, which almost all white people are (me included), maybe shouldn’t be named as an individual with a term that we want every to understand as having a structural meaning as well as an individual meaning; and 2) this sounds like it’s saying to people who don’t understand yet how privilege works, “c’mon, you’re a racist, too…just admit it!” and strategically, I think that those people stop listening when they hear that.

    Yeah, you (and I) benefit from privileges that people of color don’t have, and sometimes we inadvertently or unwillingly contribute to perpetuating a racist social structure. So we do sometimes passively uphold racism, and any white person who can’t admit that is kidding themselves. But I guess I disagree that this makes us a little bit racist. It just makes us “still learning” and “less helpful than we should be sometimes” and hopefully “alert to situations where we might see the humanity of people of color”.

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    1. Roland Richardson

      Welcome to the “power” of labels. Tags hung on the individual – especially those that carry a taint of evil – always chafe. This is ugly basis given to the tag “Black” when attached to an individual that the general populous has no knowledge of other that the physical appearance.

      When in the fullness of time, we may all be “judged by the content of our character” then may be that the only tag ever used is “a good and honest man.”

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  10. Eno Udofa

    First I want to commend you for being honest about the issues we face. While I have read comments by some of us, I will say this: just as the system creates us Blacks to feel the way we do, It also creates Whites who act the way they do. Moving forward, I think as Black people we have to be willing to (be the bigger person) to who ever has a change in consciousness, comes to the realisation that something is deeply wrong and pushes for a change.
    So I won’t say thank you brother, for it is not a favour. I’ll say good on you brother, because you will raise children who will be much better people.

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  11. Strange Geranium

    I think this entire post, is a practice on self congratulatory political correctness.
    It may display a certain level of awareness, on a very real problem.
    There is just one statement that shows how deep this mans racism actually is though, and i believe he is completely unaware that he even displayed it.
    “I have always attributed the reality that I am a free man to God protecting me and allowing me to learn my lesson without prison time. I still absolutely know that to be true.”
    So, basically he is actually saying, God loves me more than Black people. God punished black people by giving them black skin and making them targets of ingrained racism and therefore are more likely to be sent to jail, while he protected me because I am so special and white.
    Personally, I am rather happy I am not a citizen of the USA.

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    1. beyondtheglasswall Post author

      While I wholeheartedly AND respectfully disagree, your comment does demonstrate that you are having a very different experience than me, and I receive that. I feel personally compelled to point out, though, that I am a Christian and Jesus wasn’t a white dude. Even if the clear theological realities that God doesn’t operate that way weren’t so obvious, I would never presume He would be kinder to me because I’m a white guy. I was, in this section, simply acknowledging a power greater than myself who showed me grace. Thank you for taking the time to read this and share your thoughts.

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  12. Zetaslove

    I appreciate the words, inspiring and touching. Coming from a young black woman raising a black man in this world I struggle with what to say and to him. His father and I are from SC and moved to Philly. We know what real bigotry is, although I didn’t spend all my life in the South my father was in the military. I grew up among many cultures, born in England and spent most of my childhood traveling. I was sheltered from hate and racism until my teenage years. I experienced it more as I grew up and went on to college. To read this article and see that someone is trying to understand gives me hope in my Christian faith. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your honesty. It takes courage to stand up against those who won’t stand with you and doubt you for giving damn in the way that you know how.

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  13. jim c

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Recently I have found myself feeling totally frustrated by the events of the past few weeks and the reactions of both sides of the divide. So many white Americans fit into the space you describe. So busy with their lives that they tend to react with annoyance to any discussion of race. Quite often I get exasperated responses when I broach the subject, kind of a not my problem,” why can’t blacks just live their lives”.
    To me this is a problem that can’t addressed without white America’s involvement. A big part of it is an actual urban renewal program. We need to reinvigorate Americas inner city. Until the white gatekeepers decide to make this happen it’s hard to see the cycle of poverty and violence changing.
    Anyway, thanks for your post.

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  14. Dawn Bowie

    I’m 60. I’m a woman. I’m white. I’m an amalgam of white races, some of which (Irish) were once subjected to the kind of treatment that my African American friends face today. But once they got out of the hole of the racism THEY once faced, they learned to do it to others, only worse.

    Same with women. I write with great passion about how feminism has turned into a different kind of gender bias, patterned almost exclusively on what its proponents once called “paternalism.” My term for it is, “the hobnailed high heel.” And in doing so, I become like them. Only a step higher because, of course, I have thought it through.

    I’m smart enough and pretty enough for practical purposes. And I have the blessing of way too much education. Meaning, I’ve learned to rely and depend on my intellect far too much. It’s only been very recently I’ve started to learn about non-dualistic thinking. That’s a big word for how all of us divide ourselves into right and wrong, good and bad. How, as a human being, we ALL divide the world into categories. Here’s the problem I’ve been facing. My brain alone won’t fix this tendency. I have all the best intentions. And then, I find my own way to be “better” than someone else. Usually, for me, it has to do with intellect. I have lived most of my life from the perspective of, “What is wrong with you stupid people, anyway?” Which makes my perspective on life as stupid as the people on whom I look down from my superior intellect.

    Being victimized, as a wise woman recently told me, is not the same as being a victim. Whether you sink beneath the boot or come out swinging, you are still a victim. Practicing indignation and anger only results in more anger and more indignation. Which I’ve indulged in for years.

    I love this post because it indeed speaks from the heart. Which is where everything happens anyway. The heart has neither race nor gender. Overcoming insult, in my experience, is never resolved by self-righteous indignation. It IS resolved by real forgiveness, which is another word for generosity of spirit. When I am able to choose to think the best of another person, in spite of their actions; when I am able to acknowledge that I too am afraid and act out of that fear so I’m not really better than the other; THEN I am able to actually experience forgiveness, rather than trying to manufacture it. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all the other saints had it right. When I am able to gradually allow that generous spirit to manage my thinking superiority, then I find freedom. And unity. We are all different, but we are not all unique. Our human pain is the same. Freedom comes when I am able to empathize with that pain, from my heart.

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  15. emanuele

    Unfortunately, I have to say that you are actually racist. Racism: belief in the existence of races.
    Let’s stop talking about races, and maybe talk about culture, ethnicities, etc.
    If I were born – as a white person – in Africa, it would make me African, as much as a black person born there.
    The concept is really simple. The language is the foundation of a culture. Let’s change it a bit. It would be a start.

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    1. Bob Clayton

      I had a professor in my black education class (I forget the class title) who had us think on, and discuss, the proposal that any society that distinguishes races of humanity is, inherently, racist. The class didn’t come to any conclusions, but it was thought-provoking.

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  16. Emanuele Michetti

    Unfortunately, I have to say that you are actually racist. Racism: belief in the existence of races.
    Let’s stop talking about races, and maybe talk about culture, ethnicities, etc.
    If I were born – as a white person – in Africa, it would make me African, as much as a black person born there.
    The concept is really simple. The language is the foundation of a culture. Let’s change it a bit. It would be a start.

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  17. Mikhail Alterman

    You know the only racist thing about the author? The belief that bigger government interference is needed for people of color to succeed. It’s as if the people of color can’t compete without more laws, more regulations, more government ‘jobs’, bigger ‘assistance’ checks, etc. BIGOTRY of low expectations.

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    1. jim c

      I’ve never known how to interpret the phrase “bigotry of low expectations”.
      Sometimes I fear it’s used to dismiss any collective responsibility for the problems with education and jobs in the inner city.

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  18. Roland Richardson

    Beyondtheglasswall,

    Thank you. As I expected, the comments were far ranged. Some got it and some didn’t. Your bravery is highly appreciated. Introspection is oft times a difficult mirror to use. When used correctly though creates a marvelous image. I would shake your hand and sup with you and agonize over common concerns with you. The conversations would reveal much.

    When I was a child my father taught me that the “n” word meant “low down” and he also taught me that “low down” didn’t have a color. As a near sixty adult, I’ve seen the truth of my father’s teaching and glad I have passed it on to my own children. It is not a perfect shield, but it does force them to evaluate “character” before “color”. I hear the same teaching in your words. Learn the lesson well and your eyes will always be opened.

    There is the line that concludes, “…. that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” (I Chr 4:10). Many interpret that to mean that I would not be hurt. I have learned to interpret that to mean that I should not have my “advantages” bring hurt to others and I bear the pain for causing it. This is the same “responsibility for what I do”.

    Thank you much! May your journey continue with much prosperity and good success!

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  19. MeganR

    Wonderful post! I find myself in a similar position. And I appreciate the way you explained this. I’ll definitely be sharing. The discussion on your comments has been wonderful as well, which is a truly difficult thing the accomplish!
    I do want to say though, that I wish people would stop using the white women locking their cars when a black man walks by as an example of prejudice. I lock my car if ANYONE is around me (except sometimes women with children), and I have many female friends who do the same. I know that it is my privilege that allows me to bring up such a minor thing, but nevertheless I think the words we choose are important, and have the power to change perception. I dread pressing that lock button anytime the person is a person of color because I don’t want them to feel their skin color is the reason I’m doing it.

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  20. REA in Colorado Springs, CO!

    That is a kind and thoughtful article and good advice for all of us USA Citizens to remember and act on. Thank you, Jeff.

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  21. _hero44

    What a wonderful post to read today! Sir, you have a blessed day. This was on point, honest, and written with compassion and integrity. We need more people like you in this world. Then, slowly our civilization will improve.

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  22. Megan R

    Wonderful post! I find myself in a similar position. And I appreciate the way you explained this. I’ll definitely be sharing. The discussion on your comments has been wonderful as well, which is a truly difficult thing the accomplish!
    I do want to say though, that I wish people would stop using the white women locking their cars when a black man walks by as an example of prejudice. I lock my car if ANYONE is around me (except sometimes women with children), and I have many female friends who do the same. I know that it is my privilege that allows me to bring up such a minor thing, (or perhaps, it is my experiences as a woman that make it a meaningful thing) but nevertheless I think the words we choose are important, and have the power to change perception. I dread pressing that lock button anytime the person is a person of color because I don’t want them to feel their skin color is the reason I’m doing it. In some ways I don’t even want to post this comment, but like I said, words are important.

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  23. SM

    Based on what I read you are very far from being racist. But I think you knew that already. I can only hope that others become as aware and insightful as you when it comes to this subject.

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  24. Jerome

    I am an Black Man that is 49 years old. I grew up in the slums of NYC and have seen it all and done a lot of things that I am not proud of. I have spent 11 years in federal prison and many other years in state facilities. I have finally gotten my life together and on track. While reading the post, it occurred to me that this author is right on point when it comes to “his reality” of the world and the functions and interactions of people. I have always taken responsibility for what I have done and what comes my way. But should I? I have NEVER used my race as a reason why I was in the situations I was in, or the reason why I made bad choices. Granted, growing up around poor people will give you the sense of hopelessness, but its still not an excuse! We, black men and women, need to take accountability for what we have control over. Yes, some things will always be there; i.e., the looks of distrust, not getting the benefit of the doubt, but you know what? Life goes on and I still have to live a productive life for me, my family and my race. I am a master barber and have been for a very long time, but now I work in a mostly white environment and I’ve had all types of racist, derogatory things come my way. I’ve had people tell me that they never had a black man cut their hair or flat out don’t want me to cut their hair. The thing is, I am the best barber in the salon, so I look at it like you missed out on a good cut because of your ignorance! We will all die in some form of our inequities, but race should not be one! While I was not a good example of my race, I feel that I now know who I am and what it is to be a human being. God willing we will all experience something that will shock us into change and finally “see the light.”

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    1. SonniQ

      Jerome – If we could all acquire wisdom in our lives it would make it a life well lived. I have spoken and written to many inmates, almost all are still inside. I see the struggle many of them go through to understand right and wrong and also of being responsible for their actions. Many, because they came from poor neighbors and many went through the foster care system, or their fathers before them were locked up, they didn’t have someone to teach them the things they needed to learn about life. I am currently writing a book about the life of one man in particular. If they don’t find a way to learn things inside, even if they want a better life, when they get out it is often too much for them because although they want a better life they have no idea how to do that before they caught up again. For some I work with, write to or visit, life is sometimes an aha! moment when they realize they have more control over their lives than they thought they had – they just never believed in their own value. If you read this, I would like to talk to you. This is going to sound strange, but I met a man in the desert near Tombstone NM (or is it AZ?) about 2 weeks ago. He lives by himself way out there and comes in occasionally to do laundry. We talked for hours. He told me “Go find the people who understand. They are out there.” I think you do. Follow my picture to my gravatar. You’ll see ways to find me. The best is my main blog. You will know which one.

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  25. Mary

    This is a GREAT Blog post. REALLY great. Thank you! I haven’t read all of the comments yet, but I know they, too, will be thought provoking. I’ve shared it on my FB page, in hopes that my friends will read it… and share it. Especially those who can’t seem to grasp the whole white privilege thing. I hope this goes viral!

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  26. Proprietist

    While I appreciate the recognition that many of us white people don’t understand the shared issues, experiences and perspectives of black people, how does that inherently make one a racist?

    Most people in America don’t know, understand or appreciate the different shared experiences, cultures and perspectives of Hmongs, Japanese, Nigerians, Malagasy, Romani, etc. Does that lack of perspective or experience make one a racist too? If so, how can anyone not be a racist?

    Moreover, we tend to find many practices around the world, from female genital mutilation to eating dog meat to forced marriages and child slavery “backwards.” Do we not have any right whatsoever to comment on these things if we lack the cultural perspective to understand why they happen, or are we being racist in doing so?

    I don’t necessarily understand or relate to the realities of day-to-day experiences of white people who live in trailer parks, or Africa or Russia, or are gay or transgender or women, etc. Do people really see a white person in shabby clothes who doesn’t speak proper English as “privileged”? In fact, many anti-racist Leftists seem to instinctively draw unfair, negative assumptions about them based on past experiences with poor white people.

    There is no reason to keep re-defining words to the point where they become essentially meaningless. Academia has already widely re-defined racism as a term not applicable to minorities (“black people can’t be racist because they are not in a position of power” was the way my white sociology professor put it), while your version suggests essentially every white person must be racist, simply because we have been sheltered and can’t relate to the day-to-day realities faced by racial minorities. I’m not buying either argument. In my opinion, these arguments diminish real racism, either systemic or direct. If you treat people like individuals as much as you possibly can, empathize with peoples’ unique experiences and support systemic changes to combat systemic racism, you’re not a racist. Calling yourself one sounds more like accepting white guilt as a means to soothe your conscience about things that aren’t your fault.

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  27. definitelylorna

    This is a wonderfully honest post. The same problem applies to Africans too from the African continent. Of course we feel it when we hear of racial stereotypes and profiling directed to people of African heritage but we don’t really know the reality of it. Mostly because quite a number of us have grown up in a predominantly African environment.
    When Lupita Nyong’o shared a status update on her facebook wall empathizing with the families of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling, I was appalled to see a couple of Kenyans comment in the comment section on other non-related things concerning kenyan politics instead. As a result of being largely sheltered from racism, we tend to be many times insensitive to what our brothers and sisters of the same skin color are going through in other parts of the world.
    I’m not implying I’m perfect but i’m slowly starting to pay more attention to these racial profiling issues. Do pass by my blog and read http://www.definitelylorna.wordpress.com/the-day-we-decided-black-lives-dont-matter

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  28. Nunya

    Maybe you don’t understand the meaning of the word racist. The word can be used as a noun or an adjective. As a noun it means a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another: As an adjective it means showing or feeling discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or believing that a particular race is superior to another, e.g. “we are investigating complaints about racist abuse at the club”. The way you’ve described yourself is not racist. I write to educate you on the meaning, lest you inaccurately label someone else racist.

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  29. Akili

    I had a conversation with my coworker who is a white guy and he told me when one of his sons was younger, he got into legal trouble. He and a friend forged some checks and stole a few thousand bucks. He told me he negotiated and offered to have his son work to reimburse the money in return for no record. This young man grew up to become a productive tax paying citizen. I wonder how many people on here who refuse to see that the treatment of minorities by our justice system is a tragedy think this kind of courtesy would be accorded to anyone. Maybe I am a closet racist black guy because my first thought on his experience was thank heavens you are white in America. I don’t know, somehow, someway, we’ll get there as we really have no other choice.

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  30. Way2Real

    Not many ppl have it in them to confront things that make them uncomfortable. But once one does, the result is often amazing. One might come out realizing that the exercise can actually be productive and will likely repeat it. There people, is where the strength to start questioning things and asking tough questions and even arriving to conclusions, which at times are unpopular but yet makes sense to one begin.

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  31. Tin

    The article made me realize that blacks are denied one of their BASIC human and constitutional RIGHTS: presumption of innocence. They have to prove innocence, while we (whites) just have to avoid selfincrimination. Why isn’rt more of the debate centered around this?

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  32. Gayl

    Good beginning. I have two questions for you: what makes you think people of African descent don’t get sunburned? And: racism is learned behaviour; it will stop when we stop inculcating the next generation with racist attitudes. What are you teaching your children?

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    1. beyondtheglasswall Post author

      Well played on the sunburn point. In terms of the second, we teach our kids that ALL people are created in the image of God. Even though we may look a little different, we are all valuable because God made us. We also encourage them not to be afraid of differences but to appreciate them.

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  33. Jae

    Blond? Huh? Is that photo supposed to depict a blond woman and two blond kids? Or is it a mistake? I see a brunette woman, a brunette kid, and a blond baby. Perhaps your issues with color are deeper than you think.

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    1. beyondtheglasswall Post author

      You may wish to ask yourself why THT is your take-a-way. And FYI- the picture I used was taken in a dark room with a cell phone. I assure you, even though I cannot believe I have to, that in real life they are all blond. Darker blond for sure, but none of that was the point anyway…

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  34. Stacie Browning

    Thank you so much for your bravery and truth. I truly pray that many other white people come to the revelation that you have to. We, as black people in America, are not looking for favoritism or preferential treatment, just the same “benefit of the doubt” as you put it. Thank you and God bless.

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  35. Jenny

    I appreciate that you said, “I have a certain degree of power and privilege because of my skin color. That is not something I need to feel guilty about. I didn’t ask for it or seek it out, but I have it.”

    I think for many white people this is a point of tension and keeps us from discussion. It’s awkward. We didn’t ask for the privilege. It’s subtle and we don’t necessarily enjoy it because we don’t notice it. It’s just life for us. But some of us feel like we’re guilty for having it.

    We can’t shed that privilege any more than our black brothers and sisters can shed their color. So we feel awkward and hopeless in finding a solution. Nobody likes to feel hopeless and unable to “fix” an obvious problem. We can only fix our own thoughts and actions. So we work on that and are able to see the problem as “out there in the world.” And again we’re back to having the privilege of seeing the problem as someone else’s.

    I’m not trying to make excuses. I’m just sharing what it feels like to want to get to the other side of this invisible divide and not know how to get there and stay there.

    I also appreciate that you pointed out that healing can be found in relationships where truth can be spoken and accepted. Where differences and disagreements are part of what endears us to each other because those challenges are part of being a family.

    The limitations of relationships are that they only bring healing and unity to those inside that relationship. That’s why there’s the temptation to mention our inter-racial relationships when racism is being discussed. It’s because there isn’t universal healing between me and all black people. But we wish we could transfer the wholeness and goodness of our relationships with black friends and family members and apply it across the board. But we can’t, because healing and relationships must be individualized.

    We have to keep growing. Grow in our communities of friends and family and continue to learn what love is asking of us.

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  36. Jarrod Brown

    This!! So. Much. This.

    I applaud you for being so candid, vulnerable, and open about this subject. This is what we need to move forward in the discussion. In fact, we all need to do some self-reflection to see where are biases lie. Understanding goes a long way. Sadly, reading some of the comments lets me know we are a long ways off from fixing this problem. However, it starts with one post, and I appreciate what you wrote, Matt.

    I’m a black male that has grown up around predominantly white people. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything else. Growing up that way, and having my parents explain these things to me, helped me to see how I am viewed in society. I’ve had purses clutched and mother’s shield their kids from me by the time I was 11. An eleven year old is someone to fear? A couple of years ago, I went to visit my mother who was working in a department store. She had her back turned to me as she was speaking with one of her co-workers. I walked do the isle towards them, and this lady went pale in the face. She had a horrified panicky look on her face. My mom turned around, gave me a hug, smiled, and introduced me. The lady was obviously flustered (not in a good way).

    Stuff like that has happened to me countless times, and I know it’s because I’m black. However, I understand it’s my duty as a person not to judge all white people on the basis of a few negative experiences. If I don’t like when it’s done to me, then I shouldn’t do it. We definitely need to understand each other more.

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  37. Barbara Fisher

    Reblogged this on Musings and My Two Cents and commented:
    This is the first time that I am reblogging a post but this post presents so eloquently our need to move to breaking down the racial barrier by stepping out of our comfort zone and getting to know, listening to – without our preconceived ideas in place – to people, someone that does not look like us.

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  38. tnae

    I have not met a non black person and even some blacks who are comfortable with talking openly about racism. When I say something that indicates its really about my race, people become uncomfortable, and its “whats your problem, jeez already” knowing that a non black person can speak openly that they know racism exist and that they can understand makes a whole lot of difference. It means we are getting help in levelling the playing field.

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  39. Corey Wesley

    As an African-American in this country, it’s refreshing to read an honest perspective about racism. It’s a difficult subject but if we continue to share, stop judging and listening we might be able to change a reality sadly ignored. Thank you for attempting to invoke change.

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  40. David Samuel

    Thank you so much for your honesty,my brother. I’m from a different country and have been living here for twenty five years. My daughters were born here and I try every day to teach them the tolerance that it is going to take to survive,even after daddy is gone. Those kids are my life so you sir totally understand why I’m scared and concerned! The whole thing about racially inequality is so prevalent and present and twisted that it is going to take strong willed and present minded individuals like yourself to stand up against it. Make no mistake!! You will be tested. Small minded individuals will test you. I’m confident however that you are equipped to handle this. When I was growing up in my native country,I always heard my dad and his friends and acquaintances refer to each other as MEN!! Never a black , white , yellow. Just a man. I realised as soon as I came here that I was a BLACK man. So I embraced it. And am proud of it. I am never scared to leave the house,go for a walk or anything like that. I’m proud of who I am and my accomplishments. Fear however is not ours to deal with. It is the person doing the oppressing. That small minded,greedy,hateful individual who hates himself so much that it’s too much for him not to share. Remember the person who plays the submissive is always the strongest. The opposite is always the belief. Stay strong,sir.

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