The Growing Problem

I don’t even know what to say anymore.

This country has been a political shitshow for a while now, and this weekend’s catastrophe was another dollop on the pile. But it’s more than just that. The white nationalist rally that occurred the other day is upsetting, not only because people were killed and injured, but because it’s 2017, and the fact that such an event even happened is despicable and embarrassing.

And there are people actually defending the white nationalists and neo-Nazis involved in the rally. While I am understanding of the fact that people should have freedom of speech, it still sickens me that that is the issue that people want to speak up about – that there are still people in the world that have hatred in their hearts for people not like them, that there are people who look at the color of a person’s skin to determine their value.

The very definition of white nationalism clashes with the ideals that the United States strives for. And yet a good portion of the United States still pushes against those ideals. America still has an underbelly of racism, and every time it rolls over – no matter how much people insist that we have outgrown racism – we see once again that it’s just been covered up.

In 2006, Fox News’ John Gibson did a story about the rising numbers of minorities in the country – the statistics showed that nearly half of the children under five years old in the United States were minorities. Gibson’s response to this was a call to white people: “make more babies.”

What a bizarre speculation. If minority groups really are rising in numbers, what’s the big deal? Why do we need more white people than other races in this country? It can’t possibly stem from a fear of dying out – white people are still well over half of the American population. It’s a power thing: we want to still be able to call minorities “minorities”. Power in numbers. We love that idea. If you’re concerned about whites becoming a minority, you’re basically concerned about whites losing their power over other races.

There is absolutely no reason why whites must remain a majority. In no way are people saying that whites are going to be stamped out of existence. You are just mad because diversity means you are losing control.

BUT YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL. Your actions prove this. Yes, white people have privilege… We have more available to us, and more opportunities, than we could even imagine. And yet, white people still attack people of color every day… For what? To prove our power? To remind ourselves that we still have one up on the minorities around us?

Listen, people. The color of your skin is the most ridiculous thing to find pride in. Being proud of your skintone doesn’t make any sense – it’s not something you chose, it’s something you were born with. Sure, you can be comfortable in your own skin – and I hope that you are – but you can’t see it as a personal conquest if your skin has less pigment than others’.

With the continuing growth of the Black Lives Matter movement and slogans like “Black and Proud” at the forefront of today’s society, obviously a distinction must be made… because I know a lot of white people will complain that “black people get to be proud of their skin color, but white people can’t.” But here’s the thing: black skin is almost inextricably tied to heritage. Because of this country’s history, most black Americans share the same story: if you go back only a few generations (sometimes even less), you hit slavery. Being “Black and Proud” is saying that you are proud of the struggles that your ancestors have been through, and the way that they lifted themselves out of racist constructs and carried on, creating a new life. It’s speaking out against the burden that history still places on skin color, and the racism and bigotry that entrenches them daily.

White people can be proud of their heritage, too. But their heritage is not “white”. Their heritage is Swedish, or British, or Ukrainian. Your heritage dictates from where you came. You can’t come from “white”.

This is a tricky thing to talk about as a white person, because so often I forget to include myself in the conversation. I catch myself referring to white people as “them”, maybe because subconsciously I don’t want to admit that I could be grouped with people who have these biases. But this is something I have to embrace. I can’t just separate myself from the problem and make everything better; that will only make myself feel better, and do nothing to alleviate the pain being inflicted on the people around me. I have to take responsibility: I have a responsibility to keep people accountable, and give my support where needed; and, I need to understand that there will be times where I won’t see my own bias, and say or do something that is racist, because I do come from a place of privilege.

If I don’t take this responsibility, I will become like those from who I want to separate myself. Racism is ignorance that has been allowed to grow. And the only way to curb it is to be aware and available.

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