I grew up with a hatred for white people. I blamed them for everything that went wrong in my life, especially if it had to do with a job or some opportunity I did not get. I was fired at several jobs, and I attributed the reason to me not being white, and they being racists. It was an easy conclusion, and, in my limited perspective, the truth. All I had to do was ignore the fact that I had a bad attitude, that I did not do my job as expected, or that I felt I was exempt from having to meet the same criteria as everyone else around me.
On one job, I constantly butted heads with other employees. I was constantly being corrected by my supervisors, and I took the other employees reactions to me as though it was a coordinated attack on me. When the job finally fired me, they called me to a meeting where the company manager, and two lawyers, were in attendance. They presented me with a long list of complaints and problems regarding me, as well as all the times I was warned or reprimanded. Since the Manger and the lawyers were white, I decided that their reason for firing me was racism. I ignored the fact that there were other employees, brown and black person, who were not being fired along with me. But in their case, I just assumed that they were complicit with the white people (you know, House Negros), and that this was why they were able to stay.
I have grown up since that time. I still acknowledge that racism exists in these United States, but I no longer ignore reality. I am conscious of how I choose to relate to others (of any race), and completely accept responsibility for myself and my life. But, it got me thinking on how I got to the point that I saw racism in the actions of whites, just because they were white.
I remember a conversation with a black friend of mine, about thirty years ago. He and I were of the same mind that white people controlled everything, and so we didnt have real chances for success in life. He made one comment that has stuck with me until this day.
We were speaking of how racism affects black and white people, when he suddenly blurted, Whoa, black people cannot be racists!
I was not sure I understood his claim, so I asked, Are you saying that blacks cannot be racists?
Yes, he said, We cannot be racists because we are not white, and we dont control the system.
I thought on his statement for a moment, and asked, So youre saying that not even one single black person hates white people, just because theyre white?
No, he argued, I am saying that you have to be white to be a racist.
So, I said, If a Chicano or black person hates white people, we are not being racists?
Right, we are just reacting to their racism, he said proudly, If white people did not exist, there would be no racism!
I stared at my friend for a moment, stunned that he believed this obvious lie. I hated white people, back then, but I in no way believed that only white people could be racists. I had, unfortunately, known Latinos who had voiced racist statements about blacks. I knew the slang terms that some Latinos use regarding blacks. Was what these few people did racism, or were they just reacting to the white peoples racism?
In my capacity as a member of the Brown Berets Organization, I went to Jackson, Mississippi, with a group of Dallas Chicano and black activists. When we finally arrived, I learned what culture shock meant. Everywhere we went, the first two days, we saw only black people. Being from Dallas, Texas, I had always been used to seeing a fair number of white people, and of course blacks had always been around, in my life, since childhood. The sudden lack of white people seemed strange.
Even though the blacks from Jackson, who were involved in the movement, were cordial to the Chicanos in our group, that seemed to be mostly because we showed up with a contingency of Dallas black activists. When we ventured out into the city, the Chicanos among us found that things were different. The neighborhood we found ourselves was primarily black. To me and the other Chicanos this was nothing new. We had spent much time in Dallas black neighborhoods, when coordinating activities and events with the Black Panthers, SNCC, and other black activist organizations.
When we (along with the Dallas blacks) went to a local restaurant, we became the objects of sneers and rude comments about whites showing up in their neighborhood. It got the the point that the Dallas blacks instead decided that we go to the white area of the city to get lunch and work on our plans for the weeks activities and meetings in Jackson. No one reacted negatively to us (Chicanos and blacks) at the restaurants we did go to the rest of the week, which were primarily in the white neighborhoods.Brown Berets Sababu
What is it that I am NOT saying? I am NOT saying that all blacks in Jackson were bad people or that they all conspired to be mean to a small group of Chicanos from Dallas. I AM saying that those particular blacks who were rude and scornful toward us, were doing so because they decided that we were white (just because we were not black), and they had no problem showing their racism against us. Yes, those few blacks were racists.
So, back to the topic at hand, whats wrong with being white? I not only believe that some white people are racists, but I have been on the receiving end of racism at the hands of some whites. On the other hand, I know too many white persons who are no more racist than I am. Their concern in life is to live well, earn money, pay the bills, succeed as they are able, raise their families, and live freely in these United States. But then, this is also true of black people, and Latinos as well. White people, just because they are white, do not want anything different from life in comparison to any other race. In fact, history has proven that most whites have fought for and demanded fair treatment of all peoples.
The majority of the people who fought in the civil war, against slavery, and for freedom for blacks, were white. Whites have been a powerful force for equal opportunity in the US. No laws that were passed in favor of people of color, and other minorities, were passed without the votes of white people. In fact, any law which must be passed in the future to cause or bring about needed and necessary laws will need the white vote to win. Because of the population numbers, if every white person of legal age were to vote, they could pass laws without blacks, Latinos, and other people of color needing to vote. But the contrary is not true. Latinos, or blacks, or other people of color, could not on each races sole votes alone, vote anything into law at the national level. Even if all blacks of legal age had voted for Obama, their votes alone would not be able to elect him as President. The majority of the votes for Obama were from whites. So then the question is, Were they being racists, or were they voting the way they really wanted?
Lets not attack white people just because they are white. Lets not accept when someone from our racial group attacks ALL whites as being racists. In fact, lets us, Chicanos, blacks, and other people of color, make a public outcry when ALL whites are lumped in together under the label racists, just as we do not want any other races lumping all of us in with the actions of a few stupid people of our race.