Maybe racism is the AMERICAN CUSTOM. Like cock-fighting in Mexico, Polygamy in Traditional African society, Shark fins in Japan, Dog meat in China, Monkey brain eating in … Somewhere.
Maybe it is custom I must survive but one I may never truly understand. How else do I explain two successive presidents descendants of immigrants who won their platforms on such core divisive sentiments as “anti-racial bias” and flat out “racist recklessness” while both seeming rather immune to the reverberations of their proclamations. Well… not both of them.
My question is… have we become so empowered, enamored, engrossed, consumed by the stories of our immigrant parents and grandparents that we have forgotten the custom of the people who created this “land of opportunity”?
For about 300 years (1500s – 1800s), we saw a nation of people who sought to create a class system that would separate wealth not by labor but by skin color. Not tribe, not specie… skin color! 300 years. 10+ generations of this. It was flawed. And one could say it failed but it left consequences. It left scars. And everyday, we are bombarded with language to get us to look away from those scars. Scars so huge we often do not remember that racism as an operating philosophy has failed America’s promise. There was emancipation. But there was never retribution. No spiritual justice. No OFFICIAL APOLOGY.
300 years is a very long time. Most of the civilizations we study in history, built their core values within the first 300 years of their ascent. Rome, Athens, Byzantine… if they lasted that long. America had 300+ years of an economy, political stratosphere, culture and progeny of racism long before several our parents and grandparents ever showed up to Ellis Island, Florida coast, Washington Dulles Airport or the Great Lakes of the Midwest.
Then came the dreamers of the 20th century… from all the corners of the earth to live out the economic behemoth human plunder had bestowed. The New Immigration. Ellis Island. The people with tribes signed onto the Act without reading the PLAY. All pushing for the Third Act without seeing what happened in the First. They fell for the ploy. Race was a thing. But it was sold as a device of the oppressed who never had a chance to warn of the steep drop at the edge of the stage.
Several of us, descendants of people who came to this nation after 1909. When the die had been cast and the great hoorah of Reconstruction was on the decline as the oppressed had once again lost the rights to their story. The tribalists (under the guise of nations) from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia took on the rhetoric of the RACISTS. They saw the racism but believed the PROMISE and the cries of 10+ generations of oppressed, deferred and ironically resilient people was pushed further from the conversation. Their PIONEER status in the UNITED STATES ECONOMIC EXPERIMENT was reduced to “lacking the equity to buy in.”
And so the custom continued. They suffered Jim Crow, Hero-eradication, Red-lining, Segregated Living, Defunding, and still they fought and had to settle for CIVIL RIGHTS and AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. Something so basic that no one else ever even needed to fight for.
MEANWHILE: Germany, instigator of two successive Global disasters was rebuilding via MARSHALL PLAN.
What is my point? Simple. If you are a descendant of people who arrived this country in the 20th century, whether you are black, white, middle-eastern or Asian, you are either aiding and abetting racism or you are doing everything you can to erase it, but YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO TELL BLACK/AFRICAN-AMERICANS how to feel about this country. You have an imperfect frame by which to measure their participation.
Yes, you have a right to an opinion but you need to get off the stage for the original Jedis and Stormtroopers to duke this out. Matter of fact we need to identify the Jedis and the stormtroopers because so far everyone has the costume but WE DON’T SHARE the mission. The mission to end the wicked racism or to prolong it. The stormtroopers are growing and we need to beware of mistaking virtuosity for virtue and in case you didn’t notice Darth Vader is captain of the ship.
In fact, African immigrants and their descendants, though black should not even be allowed to say the N-WORD (I have offended this one many a time)
None of us immigrant descendants would go to Ireland and tell the Protestants and the Catholics to just “move on”
None of us would go to Israel and tell the Palestinians to just “get over it”
None of us would go to Turkey, Syria and Iraq and tell the Kurds “it’s all in the past”
NONE OF US WOULD USE THE SLURS THE OPPRESSORS HAVE INVENTED.
So why do we do this in America. Why do we think this is allowed in America?
MAYBE RACISM IS THE AMERICAN CUSTOM.