I first wrote this in 2017, this is an updated version of the previous blog post.
I was raised in the 1960s on a farm about ten miles out of a north Arkansas town, and the town was less than two thousand in population. Any town larger was about 40 minutes away, and that town had a population of about six to eight thousand at the time. The region was rural, scrub farmland with more trees and rocks than pasture, and it was almost totally white in the human population. As a matter of fact, I was thirteen years old before I ever saw a black person in the flesh. It was on a trip to Kansas City, arranged by my aunt and uncle who lived in Independence, near Kansas City. My uncle had married into the family and I later came to know him as a bigot because I began to find his comments offensive even before I had ever learned anything about racism. I was most assuredly naive as a thirteen-year-old kid raised in the sticks with only two channels available on our black-and-white TV. If I knew anything at all about what was going on in the country at the time, it was because I happened to see it on the news which I generally avoided, and I certainly did not really understand. The only other person I had ever seen who was of a different race was a Korean kid that a family in my other aunt and uncle’s church had adopted. The visit with my Kansas City aunt and uncle was in the summer of 1968 after the race riots had occurred there in April. Thirty-seven other U.S. cities also had riots in April of that year in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. On a farm in the middle of nowhere, I had been shielded from anything but rudimentary awareness, an eye in the storm of the racial hurricane that was taking place in the 1960s.
My uncle decided that he needed to show me how those black people were so dumb they destroyed their own neighborhood. So, after taking the whole family, which included my three cousins, to Kansas City where I experienced my first taste of pizza, he drove us through the black neighborhoods where the riots had occurred. My aunt called from the front seat for me to roll up my windows and lock the door. Now, in my little part of the world, we never locked doors. We didn’t concern ourselves with outside dangers, so I asked, “Why?” She said, “Just do it.” I rolled up my window when cars of the day had no air conditioning. My uncle stopped at a stop sign, and I looked up to see a little black boy of about six or eight years old leaning out of a second-story window. I smiled and waved at him and he stuck his tongue out at me. My thirteen-year-old naïve mind could not comprehend why my friendliness was met with hostility and it would be many years before I would understand. I never saw another black person, at least that I remember, until I went to college at the age of eighteen, and at least I had a little better understanding at that time. Since the event with the little black boy had occurred and since I continued to see newscasts about racial tensions and hostility, I came to believe that black people would automatically be hostile toward me. Yet, what I discovered in college was not hostility, but congeniality, and I came to know and become friends with several black kids who attended my college.
Although that one uncle was a bigot, my grandparents, who had raised me, were not prejudiced, and I have written about this in other blog posts. They read children’s books to me that were Uncle Remus's stories, and I was raised to respect all races the same. I had never questioned why I was educated about Uncle Remus's stories from an early age, I simply accepted it. It was not until I was almost an adult that I understood why there was no racism with my grandparents even though I had been raised in an ocean of white. Finally, I put two and two together and remembered my grandmother talking about going “to the bottoms” to pick cotton when their children were small. They had raised five children in the scrubland of the Ozarks during the Great Depression. The hill people of Arkansas at the time called the flat lands down around West Memphis “the bottoms.” During the Depression, people did whatever they could to survive, and some hill people would go down to work in the cotton fields in the bottoms of east Arkansas near Memphis where the land was flat and better suited to grow cotton. I concluded that this meant that my grandparents tugged a cotton sack right along next to black people. Therefore, they saw themselves as equals, and I had Uncle Remus stories for my children’s books because of the influence of black culture on my grandparents.
It has always been difficult for me to understand how one race could see itself as superior to another. I understand the ego need to compensate for feeling less than someone else by attempting to elevate stature over another, but the concept of racism doesn’t make sense to me, even though I had dregs of it within my own consciousness due to having been influenced by television, and perhaps by my childhood education. Because I was influenced by seeing news broadcasts about race riots on TV when I was growing up, I had bought into certain stereotypes before I went to college. I didn’t consider myself any better than someone else, but I had been somewhat swayed by general society. More than anything, what I had seen of riots on TV made me afraid that blacks might attack me just for being white. Still, much of what I had seen in variety shows with entertainers like Sammy Davis Jr., Lena Horne, Pearl Bailey, Flip Wilson, and Moms Mabley had been positive. I had even fallen in love with Motown music when I got a transistor radio for Christmas at the age of fourteen, and could tune in to Memphis Motown stations if I sat out behind our smokehouse, and aimed the antenna in the right direction. Yet, the news about racial tensions made me wonder if black people might automatically hate me. I had white fear. There was also a part of me that bought into the prevailing effect of antiquated social ideas that I should resent black people who become wealthy, or more successful than whites. The politics of media was a mix in those days, and I had very little knowledge of other races. When I got to college, my actual experience with black students and other races made me realize that the stereotypes were false. Often, we don’t even realize how much we are influenced by news broadcasts, conversations, and rumors. In this day and age, with the concept of “fake news”, we don’t even realize how much we are being lied to in social media, and a variety of attitudes abound. The politics of media is much more complicated now and is a thicker mix of potential misinformation. With the ability to manipulate social media with bots, and other tricks, those with arrogance, and the illusion of power have much more influence than is reasonable and acceptable. Unfortunately, prejudice is alive and well and living in America, and some have been able to use social media, to play on human fear to propagate it.
One thing I have thought about, as I have watched recent happenings unfold, is that after centuries of so-called civilization, we still can’t seem to grow up as a society. Disagreement is interpreted as disrespect, and of course, if you disagree, then you must be drowned out, and your voice completely silenced. We seem to have stopped listening to each other and instead focus on which faction will dominate rather than living in peace with each other. If one can’t drown out the other by figuratively or literally putting his hands over his ears and screaming, then the other is drowned out by harassment or violence. This is the way children behave on a playground when they have never been taught manners and respect. It is the way bullies behave. It is not the way mature people conduct themselves in civilized discourse. However, at the moment, it appears to be the prevailing manner in which America conducts itself, especially in politics. There appears to be such a backlash after America elected its first black president, and now, after reading Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste, I understand why. The prevailing idea in caste/race culture is that those who are deemed to be worth less than whites should never be able to rise to a position that whites would consider to be above them, and you can’t get much higher than the president of the United States. Now, the pendulum has swung too far back in the opposite direction. As I have watched these things unfold by reading a variety of posts on social media, reviewing the news, and thinking it through, I have come to the conclusion that one of the reasons America is currently divided is white fear. There is currently a vicious effort by the previous status quo of the white establishment to maintain control and authority when it appeared to shift away from them for a time. I use the word, ‘authority’ here, instead of the word, ‘power’ because technically there is only one human power, and we all possess it equally. That is the power to choose, in this given moment, what we will think, say or do, and that’s it. Authority is something that is either awarded by election or appointment, or by seizing control, and it is not true power because it can be taken away. The illusion of power comes when manipulation, intimidation, corruption, and violence are used to control others.
So, while we had a black president, the emphasis was on civil rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, women’s rights, the right to healthcare, and other socially conscious causes. Those on the left might have dreamed of a utopian United States in which everyone respected the other, regardless of superficial differences, and everyone could expect at least reasonable care and comfort, living in peace with one another in a live and let-live world instead of a world in which one faction attempts to control the other. One might have thought that the ideology of “white supremacists” would have been about to become a thing of the past. However, something else was happening. Beneath the surface, there was a festering cancer in America that many did not see. One thing the Obama presidency did to feed that cancer was by daring to challenge the white establishment, even though that was not the intent. The intent was equality. This increased white fear and fed into an undercurrent. Recognizing the need to sell themselves to the general population, white supremacist and Christian extremist groups went about rebranding themselves with different names that would make their propaganda easier to swallow. Now they call themselves things like “Proud Boys,” “Moms for Liberty,” or “Religious Right,” among other polite names. However, to debase the Shakespearian quote about a rose, a turd by any other name still stinks. Putting a polite name on a hate group does not change the hate that drives the group. It only becomes a branding and marketing tool. A turd in a pretty box is still a turd. Poison in a pretty bottle is still poison. Now that the Alt-Right Trojan Horse had gotten into the White House and is trying to get back in, these groups are coming out of the woodwork with the same hate and bigotry they always had, except they now feel freer to express it, and they have a fairly strong propaganda machine behind it. They always had the right to express their beliefs. Freedom of speech belongs to everyone, but because of the lack of popularity, they kept it a bit more under wraps. Because of white fear, hate seems to have become popular again.
Let’s face it, the driving force behind hate and anger is always fear. Anger is the emotion we choose when we don’t want to feel, or admit to feeling, some form of vulnerability. Acting on that anger gives the illusion of power to those who actually feel quite vulnerable. The race riots of the 1960s were about the experience of multiple years of oppression and enforced vulnerability of black people. The anger then was about wanting the oppression to stop. The country had reached a breaking point at that time in which black people were standing up and saying, “Enough is enough!” White fear, on the flip side, is essentially the terror of becoming a minority, and if the Devil has tools on earth, fear, and the ego are his best.
There is actually a legitimate reason for whites to have fear. First, it is not a matter of if, but when whites will become a minority in America, and it will be soon. European whites only make up 8% of the total world population as it is now. Whites of European heritage make up 62% of the current population of the United States, but projections say that by the year 2065 that will fall to 46% of the population. Whites will be outnumbered, and outvoted by what has previously been oppressed minorities. One of the greatest fears of whites is that those minorities will unite against them. What if, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and LGBTQIA+ come together as a unified force? They could take over! Oh, no! Currently, over half of school-aged children from pre-K to the eighth grade are minorities. Since 2010, there has been up to a 20% drop in white populations in 46 states. Hispanics and LGBTQIA+ are getting the brunt of the current attacks on minorities. However, they are merely the current scapegoat. The idea is to divide and conquer and if enough fear can be generated that Hispanics are going to come across the border and take over America or that gay people molest children, this serves the agenda of the Alt-right. It matters not if it is false, it can still be used as propaganda to influence those who don’t take the time to think it through or educate themselves about the truth. As well, there are those who defend their ignorance and refuse to even listen to the truth. At the present time, there are more foreign-born Hispanics in the United States than Hispanics who were born in the United States, and the numbers are rising. Illegal Hispanics come here and have babies, the babies are automatically U.S. citizens, and this plants the seeds for a takeover of America by Hispanic populations. This scares the hell out of the American white establishment. Never mind that what is really going on is a refugee crisis when people are willing to take their families across thousands of miles in the hope of having a better life because life in their own country is a hellscape. Yet, at the present time, there are still ten states in America that are about 90% white in population. Those include Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Iowa, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Kentucky, and North Dakota. The region I came from in the Ozarks is still about 92% white, and I am one of those whites. As a matter of fact, my DNA report said, “White, whiter, and whitest.” According to that, there is not a single DNA molecule in my body that doesn’t fall under the category of European white, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with being proud of who you are and being proud of your heritage, no matter who you are. It is okay to be proud of being white, but it is not okay for any race or factions within that race to oppress another.
So, why does white fear exist? There is a fear, and many Alt-Right and white nationalists have expressed this, that a movement is underfoot to wipe out European white heritage in America. It doesn’t matter if it is not true. Since fear is a fantasy that something bad is going to happen, it is never rational. In my opinion, this fear relates to something my Grandmother used to say, “Turnabout is fair play.” Another old parable is, “Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” Whites are simply afraid that the tables will be turned, and they may have a good reason for that fear. There are already some whites who are reporting that they have experienced prejudice and discrimination, and in fact, hate crimes against whites rose 27% between 2020 and 2021. Thankfully, hate crimes against African Americans rose only 14%, but if we were actually a civilized society, no hate crime against anyone would even exist. I have heard it said that white men are now the most oppressed group in America. Excuse me while I call bullshit and let's look at the actual statistics. Between 2020 and 2021, hate crimes against gay males rose by 41%. Hate crimes against LGBTQ in general rose by 70%, but hate crimes against Asians rose by 167%. Can you say COVID, boys, and girls? If you consider that only a portion of the hate crimes against whites are against white men, then the actual percentage of hate against white men is not up all that much. Yet, hate crimes are always perpetrated by the ignorant. For instance, how was it that American-born Asians, many of which are not even Chinese, were somehow to blame for a virus that started in China and had no racial discrimination at all about whom it infected? Yet, Asians got blamed for COVID even though they had absolutely nothing to do with it. Strange how that works. Humans seem to always need a scapegoat, someone to blame, even if the ones being persecuted were not to blame at all.
So, the tables may be turning, but turning the tables is kind of normal in human behavior. For example, when I was a kid, my Uncle Ray used to abuse and mistreat me. That went on until I grew into my teens, at which point I turned on him, and beat the crap out of him. It is not uncommon for abusive parents to have abuse turned on them by their children after those kids grow old enough to have the ability to dish it back. In extreme cases, children of abusers may actually murder their abusers. I eventually forgave my uncle, but he had already learned not to mess with me again. Those who have been bullied are likely to turn on and reduce their bullies to victims once they have gained enough strength to do so. Yet bullies having a narcissistic bent, play the victim and gaslight when their abusive behavior is confronted. History shows that oppressed cultures in revolution are often quite cruel to their former oppressors once they gain control. Since some of the biggest oppressors in history have been European whites, there may be good reason to fear.
If you look at the history of whites, you have to consider imperialism. The British, in particular, did it very well. There is an old saying that the sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire was the largest empire in the history of the world. The British tried to take over every part of the globe. At one point there were British colonies and settlements in every hemisphere. The British were able to do this as a minority in the world population because they got to the technology first. They had weaponry available that many of those who were oppressed did not have. America is a bit of an anomaly in the British efforts of imperialism. America presented a situation in which the British were turned on by their own, and the American colonies were the first to break away from British rule, not because the indigenous people rebelled, but because the colonists themselves rebelled. America initially set about establishing something which was practically the polar opposite of imperialism. The United States Constitution has nothing to do with imperialistic ideals. However, the lust for wealth and authority managed to ignore parts of the Constitution. India is actually the only country ever to break British rule without going to war with Britain, and that was accomplished primarily under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi who advocated the principle of passive resistance. The French and the Spanish, not wanting to be left out of a good deal, went about attempting the same imperialism as the British and the British had simply copied it from the Romans, Persians, Greeks, and Mongolians who went before them. More recently Nazi Germany and Japan attempted to establish an imperial rule which brought about World War II. However, one must not overlook American imperialism which was a bit more insidious. American whites went about genocide more slowly and stealthily, but on a scale much greater, in the long run, than Hitler’s attempt at exterminating Jews. Some estimates indicate that the populations of pre-Columbian indigenous peoples in the Americas could have been as high as between fifty and a hundred million. Yet today’s population of Native Americans is only around 5.4. million. Today, the United States possesses several territories that are part of, but not quite included in the United States. Puerto Rico and Guam are examples. The United States also has a finger in the pie of multiple countries all over the world and has done this for more than a hundred and fifty years.
The basic philosophy of imperialism is to take from others and give to yourself. Build an empire, and you build wealth. Steal lands and goods from those who aren’t strong enough to oppose you, and create the dependency of those countries on the mother nation. If you think about it, this is just gang mentality on a much larger scale. Countries still compete to control world wealth, and there are ongoing resentments of and challenges to American domination and interference. Even though the United States was formed as a backlash against British imperialism, and was set up to establish democracy and freedom, we didn’t quite follow the Constitution our forefathers had established. The lust for imperialism found its way into our culture. Perhaps it was due to having been part of the British Empire. We (my ancestors) pushed Native Americans off their lands and took it for ourselves. We regulated Native Americans to reservations and attempted to turn their minds white while never accepting that they could be equal to us. Whites have always been arrogant. Hitler is just an extreme manifestation of that. Our white ancestors hauled slaves from Africa and treated them despicably even unto the resolution of the Civil War, and after. Many whites have problems accepting that other races could be equal to us, especially after they had been delegated through slavery to the basic status of cattle. Old turds decay slowly, and so the white consciousness continues to contain insidious dregs of racist ideology based on having had to give up slavery. Yet, even after slavery was abolished and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, whites could not bring themselves to believe that those whom they had previously considered to be like cattle could actually be equals or even human beings. So, there became a different kind of oppression after the Civil War, and the goal was to make sure that former slaves never got a chance at white wealth. After all, if they were the status of cattle in the minds of whites, they didn’t deserve it. It took the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement to even make a dent in oppression toward black people, and more dents need to be made. Then, after having had an Ivy League educated, Magna Cum Laude, Harvard-trained constitutional attorney as president, who also just happened to be black, it shook the core of the illusion of white supremacy. Too many whites still buy into stereotypes and still consider themselves to be somehow superior to other races. Some whites just can’t seem to get it through thick skulls that the only real difference between one race or ethnic group and another is skin color and cultural heritage.
If there is anything that prejudice is about, it is about arrogance and fear. It is about a sense of entitlement that is allowed to override justice. It is about the exploitation of those who have less authority and control, and it is the sociopathic arrogance that says it is okay to take from others in order to profit for yourself. It is anything but, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all are created equal.” It does not ask if we truly believe in our own Declaration of Independence or our Constitution. It would seek to ignore the Fourteenth and Nineteenth Amendments of the Constitution if not ignoring everything except the Second Amendment, because how will we keep our imagined superiority without guns?
Mature ethics and morality do not allow for the kind of thinking that generates prejudice. It does not matter which ethnic group or race is in authority, the phenomenon of prejudice can still occur. It is not necessarily a white thing. The aphrodisiac of the power illusion is something that many succumb to, and once they have it, they are terrified of letting it go for they know what atrocities they, and their own committed in order to keep it, and they assume that others, if in authority, will do the same. It is human nature to project onto others that which we most despise within ourselves, and to assume that others, given the chance, will behave as we behaved. Projection works like this: If I am a liar, I assume others are liars. If I am greedy, I assume others are greedy. If I victimize others, I assume others will victimize me, at least if they get the chance. White fear is the fear of being treated as we have historically treated others.
There is another way, but the history of human behavior would indicate that it is a long shot. That way would be for minorities to forgive those who have been their oppressors, and instead of emulating their behavior when at last their authority wanes, treat them and others who are not in authority with compassion and respect, simply because they are fellow members of the human race. Perhaps we might try to live up to what President Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” That is much easier said than done, but it is much better done than to fall into the mire that others attempt to drag us into. This concept is characteristic of a leader, rather than a ruler. There is a great deal of difference between leaders and rulers. Leaders inspire and motivate. Leaders respect their followers, even if they disagree, and treat them with compassion and understanding. Rulers dominate, expect orders to be carried out, even if they are tyrannical, and take whatever steps are necessary to maintain authority even if those steps are unethical. It is possible for rulers to hand down their rule in one way or another to like-minded predecessors, and it is possible for those who once did not have authority to succumb to the same aphrodisiac of the power illusion that previous rulers were addicted to. It is possible for leaders to become rulers when the temptation of wealth and the illusion of power is high. This is the greatest fear of white establishment America: that those who have been oppressed and marginalized will turn on us, and treat us with the same oppression as we have treated them. The logic is that we must, therefore, maintain authority at any cost, and this, I believe, explains the current backlash that is going on in America.
The time will come when American whites of European heritage will be a minority, and those who were previously the recipients of our prejudice and oppression will be in authority. Whites fear, that the previously oppressed will do to them what whites have done, and this is certainly a distinct possibility. However, if South Africa is an example, the opposite is true. In general, oppressed people want equality more than they want revenge, at least if they don’t have to take it by force. What would revenge accomplish anyway? As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye would leave the whole world blind.” One option that whites have, instead of continuing to engage in bigotry, hatred, and control, would be to embrace those whom we have oppressed, cease oppression and prejudice, and show compassion to those who do not yet carry the torch of authority. One option would be to get down off our arrogant high horse and recognize that every heart pumps blood that is red, and there is no such thing as anyone who has less worth than anyone else. As well, there is no one who has any greater worth. If we truly believe “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all are created equal,” and that this principle is what our forefathers intended, then there is no room for prejudice and bigotry. We are all of equal value despite our perceived differences. There is no room for clashing over color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, nationality, or any number of other things. There is no reason to assume that a position of authority authorizes taking advantage of those who are not in authority. There is no room for infighting in a family, the human family, that must live together. We all share the world, we all have the same Mother—Earth, and we all deserve our place on Mother Earth. For goodness sake, if your momma didn’t teach you to share, she should have. More than anything, we all need to divorce ourselves from fear, especially of one another, and come together as a unified humanity with the goal of creating the best we can for all our human brothers and sisters. We are not here to be selfish or greedy. We are not here to take from others and live at the expense of others. We are here to share in the bounty of a world that is plentiful enough for all. When we stop fearing and start respecting one another, peaceful existence with one another is an obtainable goal, but we cannot get there with the assumption that anyone is worth less or deserves less than ourselves.