Calling All White People, Part 51
TODAY’S EPISODE: This is exactly who we are
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the whole entire concept of “rock bottom” and “acceptance” and all that when it comes to addictions or problematic personality traits. You know what I mean: A person who is alcoholic or has serious anger management issues, for example, will not begin a path to recovery and betterment until they acknowledge they have a problem to begin with. Sometimes they have to reach a crisis point to realize it; every so often they simply have an epiphany of a more subtle kind.
But when the problem lies within and is deeply embedded in our behaviors, our worldviews and our routines, there is no healing without personal buy-in.
Which is why it is so self-destructive—and why it makes us part of the problem—when we say things like “This is not who we are” or “This is not what my country stands for” or “This is not what the United States was founded on.”
Any time there is discrimination or casual violence against the populace or hatred of any given group that isn’t the “mainstream” kind or “the norm” (i.e. white)—that is exactly what this country was founded on.
I see people do this again and again, even some of the most liberal/progressive people I know who would never call COVID-19 the “Kung Flu” or use the n-word or misgender/deadname a trans person.
“America is better than this.”
No it isn’t.
This is a country that is based on nothing less than stealing land from the indigenous population, enslaving Black people, exploiting the workers and the poor, putting profit before people, putting wealth before welfare of the citizenry, and waging war for profit and gain.
Sure, we’ve had a few blips here and there when we did better or make a nice bit of social progress, but our foundation is built on all that bad stuff. We continue to do most of that bad stuff.
That’s why when a pandemic rolled across the globe, hatred ramped up against Asian-Americans just because the contagion began in China. Did it matter whether Asians targeted for mean stares, hateful comments, discrimination or violence were Chinese? Nope. Not that hating on Chinese-Americans would make any more sense, but none of that mattered.
All that mattered was that you were of Asian descent. And suddenly you were the problem. You were filthy or dangerous or evil. And when you consider that often in this country Asian-Americans are among the “model minorities” it shows how broken we are societally all the more.
For whiteness, acceptance as a “proper” American is always, always, always conditional.
Getting to be mostly free of racism or exploitation is a privilege that can and will be revoked at any time for even the most ridiculous of reasons.
And so we see hate crimes against Asian-Americans rise following the start of the pandemic. We see eight people killed—six of them Asian—in a spa shooting and law enforcement explain the shooter “had a really bad day” along with suggestions that the shooter was motivated by feelings that Asian women were some kind of temptation that had to be dealt with.
I’m harping on the hatred of Asians a lot here because it’s easy here at BGIM Media for some people to get the wrong idea that it’s all about Black people in this space. It’s true that Black and Indigenous people are hardest hit, but everyone who is non-white, non-cis, non-straight, non-Christian and/or non-male is at risk of having their safety and liberty revoked at any time.
That is the United States.
That is what America was founded on.
That’s what we have always been.
To suggest otherwise is to deny reality. It is to deflect. It is to say the problem isn’t fundamental or systemic. That it’s just a blip. An aberration. But the truth is that it is all too normal and status quo.
We need to embrace the painful truth that hate is at the heart of this nation (and many others). We need to accept that we (especially and mostly the white people) are responsible for it, even if our own hearts are in the right place and even if our actions are anti-racist and anti-hate.
If we keep convincing ourselves and trying to convince others that the United States—as it has existed historically and as it is built right now—is “better than this” then only one thing will happen.
We will continue to be even worse.
To find other installments of “Calling All White People,” click here
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