The remedial class

You step into class the first day all excited and shit. At least, this is how my college career started. By day two, I was bored. People where asking questions I felt like they should already know the answers to. Every lecture was filled with old information (to me). People were panicking for tests I didn’t even need to look at the book to get an ‘A’ on. Pass me a glass and a whole bottle of wine…this is going to be a long four years!

This is what Black folks feel like when white people come around asking basic questions ‘bout racism. I’ll be honest, sometimes I roll my eyes at the computer screen. Occasionally, I will ignore an email because “you should know betta.” I will complain about it to my husband later. I will laugh about it when nobody is around. Same college shit, different classroom.

Ignorance is not always bliss. We are in the age of information where you have a wealth of resources about racism available to you all for five easy payments of FREE. Google is having a sale next weekend! However, the kind soul that exist somewhere in me feels the need to help a bit, so…if you’re having trouble as a white person, here is where you start.

Start by realizing that you were raised to be racist. If you are in your 30s like me, and especially if you were born in the South, your parents went to segregated schools. Your parents got to use the “whites only” water fountains. No, they did not have some sort of marvelous epiphany that their way of life way wrong. Children are smart, and all children enjoy special treatment. They were smart enough to understand their place in society as white people and typical enough to enjoy it. Your grandparents didn’t like MLK either: white people didn’t really like him until the late ‘80s and that’s because they had no choice in the matter. When Black folks started getting a little loud about injustice, the white people decided to hail MLK as the negro that did it the right way by using non-violence. All of this means your upbringing was no different from anyone else’s. Nobody taught you to be “colorblind”—they just taught you to control your prejudice in public spaces. I hope you read that sentence again. All these public acts of hate you are seeing lately have always been there…they even exist in you. The difference is that now society feels bold enough to bring it to the forefront. Before recently, white folks just did things like view Black girls as needing less protection than white girls and quietly called the cops on Black people existing. This isn’t new…it’s just being recorded now.

Realize that racism is not limited to just the South and a particular political affiliation. Oregon, for a while, banned Black folks from existing in their state. Chicago was one of the worst areas in the country for redlining. Rodney King. Gentrification. There is heavy racism on all sides of the political spectrum. Yes, President Barak Obama got called everything under the sun by Republicans, but don’t forget that dumb shit Joe Biden said about the man. Wherever white people exist, white supremacy exist.

You have benefited from white supremacy your entire life. From the time you were born and you and your mother survived the ordeal, you have benefited. Even if you were poor, you were poor and still lived in white neighborhood and thereby benefited from the better schools often found in more affluent white areas. See, when affluent Black folks move in, white flight begins. However, rich white people don’t mind trailer parks outside of their subdivisions. There is one outside of mine right this moment. Your name gave you privilege. Being able to see yourself in advertisements and movies as the hero, was a privilege. Being able to buy “nude” anything….is a privilege. This could go on. Whether you consciously knew about it or whether you wanted to, you benefited from being white. Today, you are reaping the benefits of being white. Tomorrow you will reap the benefits of being white. Your children will inherit these privileges. You need to sit with that thought and get used to it because it won’t change until a bunch of you all get together and change it.

Now, I know that took on a bit of a serious tone and I’m even shocked with myself right now. I don’t know what got into me. Maybe it’s all these clothes I have to wash today. Maybe, it’s because I had Korean potato salad last night and I was shocked that it was better than Karen’s shit. It had a few extra things in there, but nothing that didn’t go well together. I mean, I didn’t taste any horseradish or raisins. It was pretty good.

Or, maybe it’s because I finally realized that the Irish were slaves, too (um…kinda) and I gotta start being nicer to some of you. I can’t tell who’s Irish and who isn’t, though.


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8 thoughts on “The remedial class

  1. Funny — yes, the Irish were enslaved but benefited however from their whiteness (even though the toss of their DNA can put them on the darker side but nevertheless it does not count). However living now in Boston — I am beginning to think that the Irish, as mostly Catholic, were/ are used and misused by the WASP powers around here. Beginning with John Adams (of the Boston Tea Party fame) getting them drunk so that they could be blame for his dirty deeds. And more recently blaming the Southie Irish solely for their 1980′ s protest against busing . Reading a most perceptive book on this event within the context of the so devious and ongoing northern racism as seen in Boston, Detroit , Chicago, NYC , etc. A real eye opener totally “outing” northern liberalism . Book details—– Jeanne Theoharis (Beacon Press, Boston: 2018) “A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History”.

    • … however, you do need at least a high school degree, GED in Afro American studies to really get into the essence of Jeanne’s newest !

  2. No! The Irish were never enslaved, not even “kinda.” They were sometimes limited term indentured servants which cannot be equated with hereditary chattel slavery. Great suffering is neither a competition nor is it a zero-sum game. There are affinities between those who endured massive and vicious oppression, as the Irish did. Frederick Douglass and others recognized their plight, from the Great Famine, to their exploitation in this country, including pitting them against free blacks to keep down the cost of cheap labor, but they did not speak of them as having been enslaved. It’s a right-wing white apologist trope that keeps popping up, and solid, first-rate historians, black and white, continue to demonstrate that it was never true. Hope you’ll do a bit more research. Thanks.

  3. A useful article that spells out some of the distinctions between Irish indentured servants and African chattel slaves. Note that all of this took place in the 1600s. In Barbados. It was not a U.S. phenomenon. Note also that at the time, while indentured Irish were often brutally exploited and abused, other Irishmen held positions of highest authority on the island. Blacks had one unique and perpetual status — slave.

    https://www.historyireland.com/volume-24/the-irish-in-the-anglo-caribbean-servants-or-slaves/

  4. Thank you for your information. The above article stated, “Colonial servitude in the Anglo-Caribbean was temporary and non-hereditary, with legal personhood, while chattel slavery was perpetual and hereditary with sub-human legal status. ” In the beginning of the colonization of British North America, the colonists as British subjects were expected to follow the rules of British Common Law. This included the rules of indenturedship …with the freedom of liberty awarded to the servant after a time frame -normally 7 years. However the Boston Puritan’s when composing their 1641, “Laws of Liberty” altered this ruling so that the master/ servant ruling would no longer be applicable to the colored/dark/ black indentured individual ….migrating into Boston, Salem and other port cities. Thus legalizing slavery in the Bay Colony. To quote, “In 1641, Governor John Winthrop, a slave owner himself, helped write the first law legalizing slavery in North America, the Massachusetts Bodies of Liberty, which the General Court passed on December 10, 1641.” Source :http://historyofmassachusetts.org/slavery-in-massachusetts/

  5. Y’all, I promise the ‘irish slave’ comment was pure sarcasm. As a matter of fact, I find that it is my duty to ridicule this notion as much as possible. You should have seen my St. Patrick’s day series.

    • Tiffany— I just wear Orange, British Red or just ignore the whole thing. In Connecticut, the Catholic Church never even thought that much of St. Paddy to begin with. I find it so notable that here in Boston….. the site of the Boston Tea Party and other fete’s ….that led to the independence from the mother lode … that the “Freedom Trail ” is marked by a British Red line . But actually England at that time was much more interested in the control of other dominions than what would become the United States. Besides the Americans did not even win the Revolution ; the French did so at Yorktown and gave the “keys” to us…… a big mistake, for real !

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