I’m a White dude — pure bred Cracker of Scots-Irish, Swiss origin. I think…that’s what legend tells me.
I’ve been subjected to racism. For instance, I was jumped by 8 Black guys when I was in the Army in Baumholder, Germany. I was one of four separate victims that night.
I never once used “Race” or “Color” to stereotype Black People. I don’t see life in binary colors.
I’ve had Black, Hispanic, Asian and, yes, White friends for as long as I can remember. I lived on Pope Street in Louisville, Kentucky. One street down the hill was Williams Street — home to the Page brothers who were pretty good boxers. We lived in the shadow of Muhammad Ali and we grew up believing him to be a larger than life hero.
I once walked into a room full of Black guys about half of whom were my friends. Jack, the guy who looked a helluva a lot like Ice Cube, yelled; “Hey fuckin’ Cracker! What the hell do you want?”
I answered; “Nothin’ Nigga!”
And the whole room cracked up laughing.
I’ve always had excellent relationships with anyone who wasn’t an ass.
I never really cared about the whole color thing on an individual level while simultaneously being fascinated by cultural differences.
Where I work now, my Boss calls me “White boy!” and I laugh and rejoin with “Nothing’, ya fuckin’ racist bastard.” And we all laugh.
I fully realize that my being White has contributed greatly to the ease with which I interact with and benefit from/with people and those who have hired me and for whom I have worked — Black, White, Hispanic, Araba, Asian and any other race you can name.
I know for a fact that being White has granted me access to places, events, people and things all over the world.
In China and most of Southeast Asia, people are fascinated by my “Whtie skin.” Asia has a “White is beauty, Black is ugly” dynamic that is, quite frankly, appalling. My girlfriend of several years used to tell me that she was Black. She’s approximately the color that most White girls aspire to when they are tanning. And when she tans, White women are jealous of it.
Strange, I know.
I constantly tell my girlfriend that she is beautiful. “Black” skin and all.
In Afghanistan, the Afghan Officers with whom I work told me that my girlfriend looks African and is too dark and that I should find a nice White woman and then show me photos of Iranian women who are only slightly lighter skinned than my girlfriend.
Skin color is confusing. The slightest shades make huge differences to people.
In Egypt, I was granted access to touristy places that were shut off to most because the strange tourist officials wanted to take pictures with the big white guy whom they kept calling Hercules. They virtually ignored my friend Humberto who was also American of Mexican origin because, well, he looked like them.
I have benefited from my skin color. I’ve also made great sacrifices to get to where I am. I’ve risked my life and taken chances that most Americans could never dream of.
I have helped many, many people along my journey. Some White, Some Black, Some Arab, Some Asian…Muslims, Christians, Atheists and Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu.
If I thought helping them would not come back to bite me in the ass or, more importantly, hinder me in helping others, I help others. I turned down my own White cousin when she asked for help with a recommendation and I told her the reason. She had a poor track record and I didn’t want her quitting on me and ruining it for some other who deserved the assist. She understood and we are still quite close.
I say all of this not to say that I’m a good person and not racist. I fully recognize that every human has built in and learned prejudices. I am not a good person. I’m not a bad person. I’m simply a human being who tries, sometimes fails and sometimes succeeds in treating others as I would like to be treated.
When “People of Color” (such a silly term…as if we aren’t all colored uniquely) make blanket statements about White people or White Americans, I get a bit touchy.
I’m a White person. I fully realize that racism exists and I have spent my life actively fighting it. I’ve called White and Black people out on their Bigotry. When a White friend used the word “nigger” in the privacy of our barracks room, I ripped him a new one. When a Black friend said all Afghans are “worthless raghead pieces of shit,” I ripped him a new one. Likewise when folks act foolishly and stereotype all Thai people when they’ve been insulted or in some way wronged by one Thai person, I refute their lunatic assertions that all Thai people are this, that or the other.
There is no such animal as a “person of color.” There are no two people on this planet that are the same color. “White” people are not bereft of color. I know White people who grew up in predominantly Black neighborhoods who “act Black” and cannot code switch to “Whitey-eze.”
I know Black people who cannot speak urban slang or “Ebonics.” I know 2ndGen Colombian-Americans who do not speak a word of Spanish and I know Mexicans who can barely speak English.
To portray all of any people any thing is an injustice. Constantly reading articles by “People of Color” and “Allies of People of Color” (I’m not ever sure what the hell that means…) telling me that “White people are…..” or “Why White people freak out when told they are racists” and other inane articles without an ounce of nuance irritate the shit out of me.
I cringe. Why? I know the reaction to these articles is nothing more than tens of thousands of minds slamming shut!
I know that if I made a stereotyping statement about any group except for “White” people, I would be branded a racist by those of you who wish to pretend that the world is divided between “people of color” and White people.
I know that I have seen Black people treated worse in Africa than I’ve ever seen them treated in America. I was born in 1968. I know that one of my good friends holds a hell of a lot of anger because of his upbringing in South Carolina and his Grandfathers treatment at the hands of White Southerners.
There is much injustice in America. There always has been. More than likely, there always will be.
There is racism, bigotry and discrimination in America. I know this for a fact.
None of these things will be solved…ever…if we do not learn how to have real, honest and open dialogue.
White people can experience bigotry including racism.
If any American ever stopped to think about it, Europeans (i.e., White People, Crackers, Whitey) are the minority on this planet. Europe began its ascendancy geo-politically a mere 400 years ago. Prior to that, the largest “White” Empire was Rome. There is much evidence that Rome was much more ethnic than the European Colonizers would have us believe.
At some point, we must begin to be honest with each other. We must be open. We must stop accusing all or none. We must accept differences. Not tolerate but ACCEPT and we must do so in an open manner.
I have seen this work.
I have always been accepted for who I am and have always accepted folks for who they are. I fell into it. I was lucky. I learned to look past differences early on in my life. I have been rewarded countless times for this fortunate accident.
It is…unfortunate that we can’t all simply accept differences and move on together.