FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

I May Be White, But I’m Not Stupid

The vigilante murder of young Trayvon Martin and his legal lynching in the courtroom is producing a valuable conversation about racism that is probing deep into the very heart of our country.

Hopefully, it all will lead to an honest and frank examination among the white population.

So far, the intense discussions unfolding on virtually every media outlet expose the baseless racist argument as pathetically shallow and empty, none more so than the charge that somehow Trayvon Martin was responsible for his own death.

This preposterous allegation belongs in the dustbin of history along with defense of America’s ugly legacy of slavery and segregation.

Certainly all the main racist arguments of our sordid history have been repeatedly repudiated but they continually get regurgitated as in re-circulated and re-packaged.

Right-wing commentators, for example, deny race was a factor in George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin. What? Trayvon was absolutely targeted because of his color. That is what originally aroused the biased fears of Zimmerman. Can any reasonably thoughtful person deny this?

I may be white, but I’m not stupid!

Another one of the favorite tactics of these throwback commentators is to rapidly shift attention away from an examination of Zimmerman’s actual stalking and profiling of Martin. They change the subject and attempt to shift blame onto the Black community by citing crime statistics in large cities like Chicago.

Of course, crime in Chicago has nothing to do with the facts of Trayvon’s murder. Plus, a genuine discussion of crime cannot possibly be separated from a discussion of how the enduring legacy of racism and poverty tears apart the social fabric of a community.

But that’s not their purpose. The whole premise of conservatives is to suggest that Blacks, as in their fabricated example of Chicago, are responsible for their own self-induced plight, thus tying into the twisted notion repeatedly mentioned that Trayvon himself was responsible for his own death. This is abhorrent nonsense.

I may be white, but I’m not stupid.

To further buttress their retrograde prejudices, these bloviating loudmouths cite the judge prohibiting mention of race in the trial, Sanford police and FBI reports rejecting race as a factor and the prosecution team still insisting post-trial that race was not a factor.

But these denials by almost all the powerful government institutions and their representatives that race did not play a role in Trayvon’s murder does actually reveal an important point, but it’s the opposite one intended by the reactionary race-deniers.

Prosecution: Not So Much Incompetent as Unfair

Racism in America not only exists, it is excruciatingly deep, seeping not just into personal consciousness but into the most powerful institutions of our society.

For example, a criminal justice system that prosecutes on a federal and local level more Blacks, imprisons more Blacks and sentences more Blacks to longer prison terms than whites with similar charges cannot be relied upon to change its colors and vigorously and thoroughly prosecute a racist crime like Zimmerman’s.

Recognizing racism as Zimmerman’s motivation would challenge the documented long-standing biased assumptions of Sanford authorities. Their history explains why Zimmerman was at first promptly released without charges.

The local prosecution was, therefore, not so much incompetent as it was unfair. It’s the only way to understand how the extremely experienced legal team, among other numerous failings, refused to challenge their own police investigator testifying he “believed” Zimmerman.

Blacks are treated differently by cops and courts all across this country. It’s obvious and it’s on the record.

I may be white, but I’m not stupid.

Why Racism Persists

The dominant culture always controls the message and spreads its biases everywhere.

For example, none of the monumental civil rights reforms won in this country started at the top. All were jump started by massive movements from below, outside of and often against institutions of power.

But besides persisting inside government, police and courts, racism goes even deeper into the very fabric of our society. For instance, among employers, there is money, lots of money in discrimination.

The undercurrent of racism, never openly stated these days, crudely portrays Blacks as lazy and violent without any aspirations to succeed. Similarly, sexism portrays women’s role primarily as caretakers for children, another prejudice seldom expressed openly.

In both cases, these false stereotypes create social stigmas that in the workplace appear to justify lower wages, benefits and opportunities for advancement. The more Blacks and women, for example, are socially compartmentalized into these false categories, the more it appears as an acceptable rationale for their lower status in the workplace.

Untold billions of dollars accrue to businesses each year paying less to Blacks and women, particularly Black women according to statistics, for comparable types of work performed by whites with less education and skill.

This is fact, this is the record. As long as businesses profit from discrimination, there exists a huge incentive for it to endure.

I may be white, but I’m not stupid!

How to Fix It

I am particularly inspired by the words of leading abolitionist Frederick Douglass. He continually agitated for building mass protest movements. “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are people who want crops without plowing the ground….,” he famously said.

And he urged people to become active in liberating themselves. “I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs,” the escaped slave wrote so vividly.

I always understood his powerful words to mean that the harsh realities of prejudice had to be clearly recognized and directly confronted before racism would ever take a backseat to reason and humanity.

In other words, people will repudiate racial attitudes after they embrace a social consciousness that understands the vast racial problems in our society are not personal excuses and not self-induced but, instead, actual harsh conditions imposed on people of color by powerful entrenched interests who benefit and profit.

It is this progressive social awareness, once embraced, that promotes more humanity and more activism, a powerful combination that has in the past and can once again literally change our world.

Of course, most of us prefer to be loved and, in particular, respected, but we can’t really control how we feel about each other. But society can control how we all are treated and in that regard, we must act to make sure everyone is treated fairly. Taking a cue from whistleblower Edward Snowden, “that’s the society I want to live in.”

I may be white, but I’m not stupid!

Carl Finamore grew up in the all-white, working-class northwest-side neighborhood of Chicago in the 1950s. The civil rights movement showed him people had to “fight the power” to win freedom. He now lives in San Francisco. He can be reached at local1781@yahoo.com

More articles by:

Carl Finamore is Machinist Lodge 1781 delegate, San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO. He can be reached at local1781@yahoo.com

April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail