I know there are a lot of white folks in the fight for justice, but largely it is seen as a “Black Issue”, just as the ERA was seen as a “Women’s Issue”. But what I wonder is when will most white people realize that true equality, in access, in justice, in every form, for every person is not only a benefit to the minorities who are the direct beneficiaries of having their rights extended and respected, but more importantly, for the long survival of our society and our economic stability, these rights and accommodations are important to ALL of us.
The same case can be made for immigrants, but the key to the situation with Black Americans, is they ARE Americans, they have been Americans for hundreds of years, even in slavery, with basically NO rights, they were still Americans. For over 150 years, for longer than there was slavery, we have been in a post slavery America. Yet, too often, even today, the path to leadership, the path to productivity is blocked or greatly hindered because of race.
In no part of America is this not true. From Jackson, Mississippi to Boston, Massachusetts, with all the efforts that have been made by governments and good intentioned organizations, a white person still has a million advantages over a black person. In the short run, this system helps a white person. If I am white, I have a much better chance getting a job in the market place, if I am white, unless I am acting very strange, no one confronts me, follows me, or makes it a point to interfere with me. “I am white, I must be doing what I am supposed to be doing.”
The problem for white people is two-fold (as opposed to the obvious and myriad problems it presents for black people) is first the crippling effect this has on white people. In sports we understand, that if we all have to compete on a level playing field, not only do we get the best (this is the second issue), all of the competitors get better. In track, a faster leader means the second and third place guy runs faster, too. We even have an expression for this, this fast person is a “pace setter”.
For too long, in the world of business, arts, science, education, in short, all fields, we have ALL been deprived of a fair playing field where everyone can compete. Can you imagine a track team assembled, not by a stop watch, but by interviews conducted by the coach over dinner with his family? If the runner was charming and fit in, he/she made the team, if the coach didn’t like that person, they were not on the team. One would end up with a slow team whose members looked a lot like the coach’s family, in fact, maybe some of the team members would BE his family!
This is America today. This is a world where white people continue to hire white people, so some of the best “runners” never even get on the “track”. In sports, for the most part, over the last 50 years, we have come to see the folly of this. But in the rest of our lives, we are still stuck at Mississippi State, 1950.
So, we don’t even have the best white people have to offer, and white men, in particular. In two of the largest companies I have ever worked for (I will not name names), neither blacks, nor women were generally considered to be hired for anything above the lowest levels of unskilled positions, and then only if white men did not apply. From what I can gather, this is not uncommon, even in 2018, most hiring personnel are white, and are biased towards white men, either on their own, or through spoken and unspoken directives from senior management.
If we end up with weaker performances, because the guys know they are only competing with 20-30% of the entire workforce, how hard to they push to be the best, to innovate, to create new and better opportunities?
Secondly, we as a society, at large, and thus each of us individually suffer from a loss of benefits. The benefits a wider based workforce and social leadership, a wider and richer culture. Think of food, if all we allowed in America were American Diners, we would miss out on Japanese, Chinese, Greek, Mexican, Cuban, Thai, Indian, and 100s of other food experiences. It isn’t the American food is bad, at least not all of it, but we are richer because we have so many choices, even if over half the choices do not appeal to any one of us.
The same with the abilities of Blacks (and other groups), whether they directly impact you (and many of them do, whether you realize it or not), allowing every little black kid to get a decent education, and then, most importantly, allowing that black kid to grow up to have access to job opportunities where they are treated fairly, promoted fairly, and given the opportunities to compete fairly on EVERY playing field. It is inconceivable that we are better off with half the population locked out of being as productive and contributing as much as possible.
The problem of race is personal and dangerous to every Black person in America. But it is also crippling every white person in America. White people need to be enraged when an unarmed black person is gunned down by a white cop, but they also need to be outraged when HR doesn’t even consider a Black person for a “public position” in a firm, (“not because we are racists, we are not! But because our customers won’t like a black face, as the face of our company.”) I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that argument!
Its time for you to get a new customer base, if your clientele doesn’t want to have a black person around, or better yet, you need to come clean and deal with the fact it is you, mister or missus hiring person/owner who is a racist. We white people cannot afford this foolishness any longer. The ship is sinking and we wont let the black folks help solve the problems, yes, they will drown, too, but so will we white folks.
Ending racism, and I don’t mean papering it over and pretending we are “post Obama, post racial.” I don’t mean just getting rid of the KKK jerk who is in the White House, now. I mean a real deep and honest fix. First let’s start with justice. Let’s make sure EVERY cop knows its not okay to murder Black people (and yes, it is murder, and yes, you and I have given that officer permission to kill black people. We have been approving of it ever since Jim Crow), lets make sure we don’t lock people up, because they are black, especially if they are poor and black. We need those people in the workforce, contributing to building the nations wealth, contributing to finding answers to today’s problems, and getting a big enough piece of the wealth they create to raise and educate their own family to contribute in the future.
If you are tempted to fight for the survival of the “white race”, you need to start by fighting to make sure every person, no matter their gender, no matter their color, no matter their sexual orientation or identification no matter their religion, are given a chance to be all they can be, if not, if we continue to block so many paths, especially the blocks we throw up for black people, white people will become a pointless dying shrinking part of the world, forgotten by time and ignored by the billions of non whites who bypassed us.
No one should be fighting harder for equality and justice for Black people than White people, think about it!