A couple of days ago, I read a thought-provoking article by Ezinne Ukoha, an eloquent writer on Medium. It was, Who Can Save White Men From The Danger Of Being Held Accountable? It was about double standards, racial disparity, and accountability. A highly critical comment of the article made me ask the commenter the following question: Do you think white men in this country get away with murder? Especially when the victim is Black?
What do you think? Take a moment!
How did you interpret the question?
I bet many responded literally to the question. Much likely many thought my question harsh and borderline violent. ‘Getting away with murder,’ still is a common expression. Growing up the expression described a person who got away with things others didn’t. The phrase described children and adults alike. In its cultural context, my question implied familiarity and comfort.
Surprisingly, what appeared to be the angry white man understood the question and responded honestly. Not at all defensive as he initially came across to me. My question was a test on many levels. Had he not been familiar with Black culture his response might have been different as the literal meaning would surely rankle him. He might have become angry as he already appeared or further offended or went on a rant using one of Trump’s favorite dog whistle term ‘law and order’ to describe the needs of this country. Fortunately, he was multi-cultural and well-traveled so understood differences in language. He recognized I genuinely wanted to understand his rage. The question made him pause, and his thoughtful and constructive response demonstrated his cultural awareness.
Culturally evolved people understand culture is a portal into a broader and deeper appreciation of our earthly experiences.
Do White men get away with murder in America? Before responding to the question one should consider, would there be substantial racial disparities in economics, healthcare, housing, justice, incarceration, law enforcement and on and on if the answer was no?
Are the reasons for the gaping disparity due to the perceived genetic superiority of White people? Why?
Or are the disparities the result of double standards coupled with the deliberate limitation of access that target specific ethnic cultures? Why?
Can you think of other reasons for racial disparities across the board?
We live in a society where painting ethnic groups with broad strokes seem as reasonable as rain in the Spring. The strokes painted without effort or thought scapegoat and stigmatize entire communities and affect their lives. They have harmful consequences; the problem is most people who paint other groups with broad strokes know that. The strokes are like branded scarlet letters targeting specific cultures to be objects of hatred, including self-hate, and live in fear. Presenting groups of people, especially Black people, as monolithic predatory groups, contribute to violence in communities of color.
What percent of professionals and public servants hired to serve impoverished, marginalized communities appreciate cultural differences among Black people?
Cultural awareness and respect are not only pivotal to communication but are also part of the process of building trust in any community. Impoverished or marginalized ethnic populations often cast as predatory groups, or a drain on hard-working white taxpayers need public servants who embrace multiculturism. Police brutality and its persistence in law enforcement are symptomatic of systemic cultural insensitivity. Disparities in arrests, sentencing, and mass incarceration are neon clues pointing to evidence. Almost instantly before saying a word, people who look different from White men are categorized and judged based on stereotypes. Communication differences compound the likelihood that preconceived stereotypes will lead to fatal misinterpretations, stolen lives and an ever-larger cycle of worsening distrust.
Are Black people the promiscuous, lazy, welfare-collecting baby mamas with different baby daddies as portrayed by most traditional “#FakeNews” (per #POTUS) media outlets?
Understanding how the system of structural racism enabled a culture of labels, systemic discrimination and white nationalist ideologies to flourish is to see those systems at play in our daily lives. Racial disparities result from racially biased systems that let white men get away with murder and to a lesser degree white women.
Readers might wonder, so what? The world was never a fair or a just place. Further, blogging is not going to change the world. One person with limited reach can’t stir the public pot or affect policy. The thought of failure or wasting my time lack relevance because blogging is a labor of love that gives me purpose. I enjoy and learn much from writing and reading blog posts. I believe following your passion is the way to accomplish what seems like the impossible dream.
To many, this may not seem obvious, but America was built on a foundation of racism. The Declaration of Independence stated all men were created equal so Black men were declared 3/5 of a man. The Constitution guaranteed specific freedom, yet its loopholes allowed the kidnapping and purchasing of groups of African people as property of servitude. I knew slavery was horrible but hadn’t imagined the unpredictable cruelty or the sadistic torture inflicted daily by slave owners or random White men. The nuances of subjugation and control by ruthless and hateful white men who then preached Christianity must have created cognitive dissonance among slaves. The strategies used to overcome cognitive dissonance may explain Black self-hatred and persistent deference to Whites.
Can you change the foundational mix of a building without the structure falling apart? Or will another foundation be necessary? Race affects my world and almost everything in this world. It will matter until it is no longer profitable! The monetary benefits, a core part of racism, make the 13th Amendment the loophole that gave birth to mass incarceration, aka the New Jim Crow, as well as the amendment that abolished slavery.
The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865, says: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Scholars, activists, and prisoners have linked that exception clause to the rise of a prison system that incarcerates black people at more than five times the rate of white people, and profits off of their unpaid or underpaid labor.
Too many Black people run around confused about their identities and even worse blame themselves for failures or experiences outside their control. It’s hard to reach the finishing line when your starting place is in quicksand, or your ankle chained to a ball, and the track is an obstacle course. When I listen to the outside world, I see myself as irreparably deficient. My future eternally doomed to obedience and servitude of a system of white supremacy. I write to remind myself of the daily struggles of family, finances, relationships, etc. and the insidious trauma of chronic discrimination that shackle people who look like me. Our ‘bad luck’ is often a product of chronic discrimination and not a curse for some unknown sin.
The pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness shouldn’t be a race-based façade easily ripped away on a moment’s notice from people of color. The #MAGA Dream is a system of ‘law and order’ that rewards the criminality of white men who prey on people of color. For POC, rejection or failure should be a badge of honor for trying and not seen as a character flaw or a deficiency. There are forces at play that have nothing to do with merit, skill or knowledge, and everything to do with skin color. Let that be a challenge to work together and make racism unprofitable.
As multicultural human beings, culture separates and unites us.