The Mote and Beam of Race in America

If you are a white American, who feels blamed for all that is wrong with America, and you are getting tired of it- I understand. I know that feeling. I get it.

Some of you, or us, might have actually been called a honkie, or a cracker, but most of us have not. Most of us have never been accused of racism, or called a racist to our face. But we get that message on television, online, or in classrooms and books. It is out there. Most of us, with very few and far out exceptions, don’t hate anyone because of their color, and in fact, quite like and appreciate people of all sorts and descriptions. We know who we are on the inside and it is so very tiring to be told by others that we are something different. Something bad. Because we aren’t that.

 

Right.

 

I invite you, us, to just ponder this feeling for a moment. How despite not being directly accused, as in no person has said “{insert your name here} you are a racist and black people have it hard in America because you {insert your name} make it that way”, we still feel that blame. This message in the atmosphere causes us to feel a burden and shame that we either have to reject or bear. It does not feel right and that feeling takes a toll.

 

Now, having pondered that reality and that feeling, I ask you to consider, or imagine, what it must feel like for any average black person to live in America. Imagine being a black American who goes to a school named after Robert E. Lee, or whose neighbor flies a confederate flag, or whose town square has a statue commemorating the confederacy. Perhaps none of these things, or none of the people responsible for their existence, are there calling this black person the N-word, and maybe no one has refused them a job because they are black, but still, there is in this environment, a bad atmosphere. There is, and are, these physical manifestations that might not say “I hate you”, explicitly but rather just celebrate these people, or symbols, or times, that considered you, the black person, less than human. Just imagine how in every history class, on every 4th of July, before every sporting event, or every time you pay for something with cash, there are physical celebrations of individuals and times, that considered you, the black person, equal to animals and property. No one around you seems to care, or even notice.

 

No one is saying to this contemporary black American that they are an animal or less than human- but the face on that quarter said it.

 

Would that get tiring?

 

If you are a white person, like I am, and you feel the pressure or the angst or the frustration of being blamed or defamed, consider for a minute there are no government monuments in your life honoring Farrakhan or Elijah Muhammed. The United States of America has no holiday or currency that honors anyone who expressed an explicit hatred for, or belief in the inferiority of, you.

Nothing in your day to day life, puts you naturally in the position of honoring or paying homage to a person or institution, that explicitly and with federal sanction demeaned you.

 

The more I consider this, the more I think things are not the same. It isn’t an equivalent. I might still have some feelings, I for one have indeed been called all those names and been directly accused (in my mind unjustified), but even considering that I must admit that what I bear is far less significant, or even existent, than what my surroundings say to black people all the time.

 

It is like comparing a wisp of a ghost to the Secret Service. Neither really have anything to do with me or have any direct influence on my life, but I know one exists and can be touched, but I can’t really prove the other. One is obvious and indisputable, even if it doesn’t know me, while the other might just only be in my head.

 

So I, and we, the white folks, have this experience and this feeling, but I urge us to use this feeling to better understand, and perhaps empathize, but absolutely respect, those people, especially the black people, who choose to kneel during the anthem, who ask for statues to come down, who lobby for streets and schools to be renamed, or all of those people who might complain about something that you or we might consider insignificant or imagined, and just understand how big the beam is in our eyes. We cannot refuse or ignore or deride those who point out the tangible, when we ourselves harbor ghosts.

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