Thursday, February 5, 2009

When Will We Ever Learn?

I read this on Mark's blog and just had to put it on mine. I hope so much this time will come.

Andrew M. Manis is associate professor of history at Macon State College in GA and wrote this for an editorial in the Macon Telegraph.
When Are WE Going to Get Over It?

For much of the last forty years, ever since America "fixed" its race problem in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, we white people have been impatient with African Americans who continued to blame race for their difficulties. Often we have heard whites ask, "When are African Americans finally going to get over it? Now I want to ask: "When are we White Americans going to get over our ridiculous obsession with skin color?

Recent reports that "Election Spurs Hundreds' of Race Threats, Crimes" should frighten and infuriate every one of us. Having grown up in "Bombingham," Alabama in the 1960s, I remember overhearing an avalanche of comments about what many white classmates and their parents wanted to do to John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Eventually, as you may recall, in all three cases, someone decided to do more than "talk the talk."

Since our recent presidential election, to our eternal shame we are once again hearing the same reprehensible talk I remember from my boyhood.

We white people have controlled political life in the disunited colonies and United States for some 400 years on this continent. Conservative whites have been in power 28 of the last 40 years. Even during the eight Clinton years, conservatives in Congress blocked most of his agenda and pulled him to the right. Yet never in that period did I read any headlines suggesting that anyone was calling for the assassinations of presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, or either of the Bushes. Criticize them, yes. Call for their impeachment, perhaps. But there were no bounties on their heads. And even when someone did try to kill Ronald Reagan, the perpetrator was non-political mental case who wanted merely to impress Jody Foster.

But elect a liberal who happens to be Black and we're back in the sixties again. At this point in our history, we should be proud that we've proven what conservatives are always saying -- that in America anything is possible, EVEN electing a black man as president. But instead we now hear that school children from Maine to California are talking about wanting to "assassinate Obama."

Fighting the urge to throw up, I can only ask, "How long?" How long before we white people realize we can't make our nation, much less the whole world, look like us? How long until we white people can - once and for all - get over this hell-conceived preoccupation with skin color? How long until we white people get over the demonic conviction that white skin makes us superior? How long before we white people get over our bitter resentments about being demoted to the status of equality with non-whites?

How long before we get over our expectations that we should be at the head of the line merely because of our white skin? How long until we white people end our silence and call out our peers when they share the latest racist jokes in the privacy of our white-only conversations?

I believe in free speech, but how long until we white people start making racist loudmouths as socially uncomfortable as we do flag burners? How long until we white people will stop insisting that blacks exercise personal responsibility, build strong families, educate themselves enough to edit the Harvard Law Review, and work hard enough to become President of the United States, only to threaten to assassinate them when they do?

How long before we starting "living out the true meaning" of our creeds, both civil and religious, that all men and women are created equal and that "red and yellow, black and white" all are precious in God's sight?

Until this past November 4, I didn't believe this country would ever elect an African American to the presidency. I still don't believe I'll live long enough to see us white people get over our racism problem. But here's my three-point plan: First, everyday that Barack Obama lives in the White House that Black Slaves Built, I'm going to pray that God (and the Secret Service) will protect him and his family from us white people.

Second, I'm going to report to the FBI any white person I overhear saying, in seriousness or in jest, anything of a threatening nature about President Obama. Third, I'm going to pray to live long enough to see America surprise the world once again, when white people can "in spirit and in truth" sing of our damnable color prejudice, "We HAVE overcome."

5 comments:

Berry Blog said...

Oh yay yay yay...it needs to be said, it needs to be repeated, it needs to be embraced.
Mark's youth was my youth too, and I find myself in the same state of fear and disgust i felt back then.
He struck a chord with that old sunday school song...red and yellow, black and white...which still rings in my head in the middle of nowhere doin' nuthin special.

#Debi said...

...And then there are those of us who couldn't care less if Obama was green with purple freckles, we just hate his policies. That man is running this country down the tubes even faster than I had thought possible, with his cabinet full of law breakers and his wanting to take control of private businesses. I'm just praying that he gets a clue--soon.

Joy said...

How can you tell?

ell said...

I think he hit the nail on the head with his observation of ". . . bitter resentments about being demoted to the status of equality with non-whites.The concept of "less equal" is still alive and well.

Jazzy said...

Bravos for Andrew M. Manis!!!

Hmmm, so far I've only seen and heard positive solutions to a major problem that President Obama inherited from the previous 8 years. Wonder what I'm missing?

Thank goodness I work with people who are and all my friends are educated and knowledgeable along with being liberal in their thinking. I have not heard any of the remarks mentioned and hope I don't in the future.