Recently, I made a post on my college course’s discussion board concerning Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter From Birmingham Jail, race relations, and natural law. I brought up how since the Civil Rights Movement, though we, as a country, have made progress, that progress seems to have slowed–to have plateaued since the 70’s. With every step the black community and other communities of color make, it’s like America attempts to take ten steps back. From racial profiling in Arizona due to their SB1070 law on immigration to police brutality in our neighborhoods; from color on color crime to glass ceilings people of color constantly face, it’s like the progress we’ve made, levels out with regression the country has made.
My classmate, whose name will remain undisclosed, happens to be a 40 year old Caucasian women with three kids. She responded to me in a way I found ignorant and borderline insulting.
Have a look below:
Now, I, of course, do not want to perpetuate the “angry black women” stereotype, but for discussion’s sake, let’s just say I’m a bit miffed.
I may or may not have overreacted, which was why I didn’t send it to her. It is an online university classroom setting, and while she did not care to keep it sensible, I prefer to keep it professional. Let’s count this as a letter that was never sent. I’ll let you guys take a look though.
My response below:
I have read your response and taken a couple days to really figure out how I’d like to respond to you.
For you to take it upon yourself to assume or even ask me if I have had any “personal experience” that I can relate to racism in my life, is a little insulting. As a young African-American women, I have had countless experiences with prejudice, but none of them disappointed me more than your statement. This is an Ethics class and for you to insinuate that I am pulling the race card means that you really must not understand the purpose of this class. The purpose of this class is to discuss ethics, moral principles, virtues and to pull the race card when necessary. The discussion was under MLK, Race, and Natural Law, so in this regard, we also have the right to talk about oppressors, the oppressed, and oppression. We have the right to question the lack of ethics behind exploitation of countless races, the tragedy many of them have endured and how it has changed or remained the same today, and you’re saying that we should not pull the race card?
You say that you disagree that colorblindness is meant to increase white privilege. Well coming from an opposite perspective, from someone who does not have the fruitful benefits of white privilege, or the luxury of being “colorblind”, I am here to tell you that it does. You asked why there has to be an emphasis on color… The topic centered around MLK, race, and today’s society. That’s quite a loaded topic of discussion, and there was really no way for me to spare sensitive or stubborn feelings. The instructor asked me to give my opinion, and as I was allowed to do, I gave it while pulling the race card.
You see, when you look at a person, you have the luxury of not seeing color. That, my dear white counterpart, is the privilege of being colorblind. But when I look at myself in the mirror, I am constantly reminded of the limitations that I had no choice in accepting. I am constantly reminded that the system is built for me to fail, and because of that, I choose to succeed. You see, I’m quite a stubborn girl.
The fact that you cannot see that progress for equality has greatly slowed since the 70’s is proof that you are in fact “colorblind”. “We have an African American President!”, yes but we also have 102 unarmed African Americans who were killed in 2015 alone, by the police force. This topic falls under the same category as Martin Luther King’s letter from the Birmingham Prison does, meaning that I had every right to pull in anecdotal evidence. With every step the black community and other communities of color seem to take, America seems to want to take about 10 steps back. This is why our progress with race relations has plateaued as a country. You simply have to pay attention.
Please do not speak for Martin Luther Kind Jr. (may he rest in peace) and call black people racist in the same breath. That would be an insult to everything he diligently worked for.
You think that it is racist for the black community to be gracious and creative enough to create black owned and populated programs? May I ask you why? Because the programs you may be speaking of are black owned, but are in no way black restrictive. There are plenty of white and non-black people of color who receive exposure on black owned programs. Please, never insinuate that African Americans have ever attempted to segregate. Something unfairly imposed, and is still being imposed, on us to this day. When I watched the Oscars some weeks ago, most of the people being represented were white males, and it’s been that way for quite sometime. When you watch most programs, who do you see? People of color barely have representation in the media as it is, unless it is negative, and when they create their own outlets for peaceful expression, you call that racism?
Let me tell you something. People of color, especially black people, can never be racist. I’m here to tell you, that “reverse racism” does not exist. Racism is a problem of institutionalization, where one group (in this case White Americans) has the power to take its prejudices and exercise them with impunity under the de facto color of law. I am troubled when I hear people assert that all White people are racist, because that is far from the truth. But I am even more disgusted when Black people are called racist because of their response to racism.
You see, all white people consciously and unconsciously benefit in minuscule and gargantuan ways from the prejudice in general society. Those benefits include, but are not at all limited to, not experiencing “driving while black”, “shopping while black”, “being educated while black”, “walking while black”, “angry on your front porch while black” kind of attention on a regular basis in their lives.
As Sobantu Mzwakali once said, “A man cannot hate the whip with which he is being flogged but then be expected to love the person doing the flogging. When such a black man, lying helpless bleeding on the ground expresses hate for the white person wielding the whip, it is only reasonable”.
The oppressed can never be racist, because racism was created by viscous oppressors who harnessed their institutionalized power and imposed prejudices and idealities on the people they considered to be beneath them.
African Americans and people of color do not have the standardized power, established over centuries, to enforce their bias on the majority culture.
Because of this, it is impossible for black people to be “racist”, and because of this, Black pain will never require validation from the white man to be considered real. Black people can be heavily prejudiced, but they can never be racist. That, my dear classmate, is one of the limitations I enjoy having.
I think we should focus on improving education, working towards a common goal, improving race relations, and calling out people like you who think it is okay to make statements such as the ones you did. The next time you, as a white person, would like to accuse the Black community of “reverse racism” and unjustifiable anger, I highly suggest you remind yourself what class you are taking, and that you check yourself, and your privilege.
Now, I thank you for listening to my viewpoints.
Too much? Yeah, I think so too, but sometimes people like that need a rude awakening. As I stated before, I did not post this on the discussion board, as I like to keep school strictly professional. I am, though, debating on emailing this to her. I truly believe she did not realize the significance of what she was saying; you cannot mention the amazing work Martin Luther King did for the black community, and in the same breath call the black community racist for creating methods of expressing themselves. Blacks cannot be racist, and I, for one, am happy to have that limitation.
Leave your comments and how you would have responded to her below! School me too, because everyone has something to learn.