White Privilege & The Bush Era Blacks
White folks in America should be mad. Hell, I’m mad right along with you. But I’ve been mad at the treatment minorities have received in this country for most of my life. Now, many of you know what it feels like to be treated like a second-class citizen and manipulated by your government.
You see, when the big boys decided to start stealing: not millions or billions, but trillions; they needed a larger pool of people to victimize. There was not enough wealth in the minority sectors, so they turned their corporate and political pit bulls loose on middle and working class white America. A whole new second-class segment of Americans was created, thrown into the new colorless landscape of unimportant, unsubstantial target victims. The “Bush Era Blacks” were born and delivered helplessly in chains. These are white Americans who would be ruthlessly stripped of their privilege, their livelihoods, along their wealth and dreams. They never saw it coming…
I am not completely sure what the idea of “White Privilege” is really supposed to mean. Since I’m not white, I can’t imagine why anyone would assume any such social or emotional entitlement. I do believe, based on personal observations and experiences in the professional world and otherwise, there remains a problem with racism against blacks in this country. One only needs to look at the response to the election of our President to find clear evidence of overt hate. It exists; seen almost daily in the media at a pervasive level beyond anything I could have ever expected to see. But in truth, there is racism in certain quarters of most every ethnic group.
The recent comments, and the associated firestorm, following the anti-affirmative action comments by Senator Jim Webb, (D) Virginia, on the heels of the fallout from the flashpoint firing of Shirley Sherrod from the USDA, are simply additional logs on a fire that has been burning across this country for the past year and a half like a flaming cross on the lawn of America. The Sherrod tragedy came when the national media, the USDA and the NAACP were duped by a racist coup, orchestrated by one of the right wing lunatic fringe’s leading protagonists. What may come to be known as the ‘Web Tragedy,’ came when a certain self-proclaimed Democrat, turned opportunist, played the race card for political security and expediency.
When I think of the concept of ‘White Privilege,’ it would seem to be nothing more than the original concept of Affirmative Action. This action, in effect, is giving someone who is not necessarily proven or perhaps even deserving, an advantage because they are white.
I use Senator John McCain as my foremost example of this. Here’s a guy who was an average high school student and because his father and his grandfather were admirals in the navy, he was given admission to the Naval Academy. So essentially, he took another deserving applicants slot. H-mmm, sound familiar? Then, although he tried, he was not kicked out of the Naval Academy when he deserved to be for both his behavior and academics. Good ol’ John was graduated from that proud institution second from the bottom of his class. Then, the poor student and poor sailor that he was, McCain somehow gets a primo assignment to fly jet aircraft, once again taking the slot of someone more deserving. Do you see a pattern here? The assignment to jet training was, of course, arranged by his Admiral of a father. Then young John goes on to crash an aircraft like he was in the funny papers. Don’t take my word for this. I’m no Brightbart (that is Andrew Brightbart). Look it up.
The point here is that the “McCain Model” for white folks has been in existence since this nation was founded. I don’t know if white people have a name for it. I do know that this special privilege still exists in many aspects of this country’s business and professional worlds. It looks just like affirmative action to me, or at least, it looks like that cultural advantage that affirmative action was created to dilute. You see, the “McCain Model,” whether you call it “White Affirmative Action” or “White Privilege,” remains a long standing social nuance of privilege in America.
As far back as 1865, General William T. Sherman’s Special Field Order No. 15 spells out a remedy for former slaves, as well as the provision of forty acres and a mule as a reasonable start for a family. This was Sherman’s way of leveling the social field to some degree. Perhaps this was also his form of repentance. Of course, this practice was halted and ultimately, all lands (I don’t know about the mules) previously issued to blacks were eventually returned to the original white owners. Nonetheless, there has been an understanding and a discussion about providing some reasonable level of unencumbered opportunity for Black America since the emancipation proclamation.
The fact is that nothing we have done in this area as a nation has been either effective or adequate on a grand scale. In the clarity of hindsight, it could be that we might not have had the need for affirmative action or this discussion about the orders of General Sherman would have taken root. We could now be pointing at a tangible remedy that was undertaken by our government, reasonable, adequate or not. Who knows? At least we could have pointed to something.
I have never enjoyed any benefit of affirmative action, or at least I can’t recall any such necessity or opportunity. Even so, I do recognize that those who are socially or economically disadvantaged do need a hand up (not a handout) at times. Blacks have had such a hugely disproportionate segment of their total population (socially, economically and intellectually) constrained from slavery, through “Jim Crow” and into the present, that a hand up is not an unreasonable consideration for me. But let’s also consider the poor white American who comes, as Senator Web pointed out, from generations of poverty in Appalachia. Don’t deserve a hand up as well? My answer would be yes. Absolutely!
With this in mind, I do not believe the termination of assistance through social programs that benefit the underprivileged, under the guise of racism against whites, is the answer. I don’t believe a termination of assistance is a sincere or truthful argument. Interesting and inflammatory? Yes; but also completely unreasonable. It is the expansion of such assistance to those who are socially, economically and intellectually constrained, regardless of race, that is the true remedy that we need in this country.
There are poor people across this nation in virtually every known ethnic group who are starving, unemployed, uneducated and angry, perhaps more now than ever. The real answer lies in the despair that was crafted by the economic horrors of the Bush Administration and an inept Congress. They raided the National Treasury and drove Americans into an abyss of debt, unemployment and uncertainty. They green-lighted the banking, housing, insurance industries, as well as Wall Street, allowing them to steal from us all: regardless of color and without impunity. They sent our sons and daughters off to die in needless wars to bolster the military industrial complex and to make their ego-driven marks on history. They did so, knowing ‘full well,’ that primarily the white middle class and the working poor, would be further substantially victimized.
In my view the term “Affirmative Action” represents a dead concept. We have so many people of all colors in this country who are in desperate need of help that you could not possibly pick and choose a few from any given ethnic group to give a handout or a hand up. Right now we don’t need Affirmative Action, we need American Action! America, the desperate masses, need their jobs and their dreams back, FIRST and foremost. THEN we can sort out which ethnic groups need our assistance and how best to equitably provide it.
If you lost your home, perhaps you lost it more than a year and a half ago, or you saw it coming. The same applies if you lost your job. The same applies if you were ripped off by a bank, or Wall Street, or your insurance company. You saw this coming before this President took office, and it happened to you white people right here in America! This is the same country that was sky bombed on 9/11 when the man who kept you safe was in office. Confused? Don’t be. George W. Bush created and adopted “the New ‘N’ Model.” He revoked white privilege and made sure that, save his wealthy cronies, all Americans were ripped off treated like trash!
So keep listening to Fox and their friends. The right wing lunatic fringe created that network just for you. Fox is the new ‘N’ News Network, employed only to keep you thinking that because you’re white and things are so bad, somebody of color must be out there taking what’s yours. The black people and Mexicans are not coming to get you. What Fox and Friends are not telling you is that you were thoroughly scammed by the “Government and Friends.” Never in the history of this country have blacks ripped off the majority white population. Instead, you were ripped off in a plot crafted by two of your own kin folk and I hear tel’ th’are holed up down thar in Texas. Mission accomplished!
Much of Black America has never known life without social and economic struggle. And remember that Black Americans never even got their forty acres or the mule. And although you worked hard for yours; a lot of you white Americans have recently had yours stolen. This time, being white did not get you the special treatment to which you may have been accustomed. So welcome to the neighborhood white folks. “Black is beautiful.”
L. A. Walker