I’ve been through the mill with racism. When I was a child I was taught that there were different races and that some were superior and other not. Well, yes, Blacks were at the bottom of the natural order and whites were at the top. Asians were perhaps just below whites and then there were Mexican and other groups. We hadn’t learned to hate the Arabs yet but we were coming to understand that the Japanese weren’t all that bad as races go. It was debatable where they were superior to the Chinese but that was really a matter of preference. Meanwhile the Russians were suppose to be white but their own populations in Siberia were the lowest form of Asians. You can see where this is going. Much of our assumptions were not really challenged until the late sixties. On the other hand you could have read a few anthropology books on the subject and found that the academic world was starting to challenge its own closely held prejudices. Of course Jews have always been subject to racial slurs and when we get to the Eastern Europeans we find a great deal of prejudice as well. And if we are truthful we can say that the mainland Chinese believe they are the superior race and all the white devils are inferior. Of course for the Chinese in China, even Blacks are greatly undesirable. And if I go to Nigeria and talk with Blacks there they think American ?Blacks are stupid and lazy. I even remember working for a department store where on of the shipping clerks was Jamaican. I’m a Black man, I ain’t no nigger. I’m a Jamaican Blackman. That was 1965.
Yes, I’m white, so what of it? I lived the controversies of the fifties and sixties. I’ve worked in the poorer sections of town for a church that asked its members to volunteer their time to help other repair, refurbish, and stock with good used appliances and furniture apartments, townhouses, and cottages for those individuals who were Black or Puerto Rican. I know what the slums, that is what we called them then, were like. I even marched when the time came in the city near my hometown. It wasn’t until my time in the service that I became aware that there really were no real differences between people of color. In the service one is often placed in contact with other people one would not normally associate. Of course my experiences were varied as individuals often have their own problems and prejudices, be they white or black or somewhere between. There is literally no such thing as color when you are in that foxhole, assuming you had time to dig one, when you are up to your rear end with Charlie, better known as VC or NVA.
My association with people of color came on my Aunt’s farm in Texas, near Houston. I remember Ira, a Black man and his wife, Elizabeth. Ira was an easy going guy, easy to like and slow to take offence. Ira taught me quite a bit about what we called Colored people. He taught me that they were just like us. If you think about it, that is a very powerful education and I thank you Ira to this day for that lesson. Elizabeth, on the other hand, taught me that there were Colored people by her attitude. Well, I suppose one can’t have everything. But Ira’s lesson stayed with me. It followed me to the Philadelphia area where racism was the norm. I never met so many racist people and there was that social strata that defined one’s relationship in the community. White Protestant were at the top. White Catholics and Jews were the next group. Then came the riff-raff like those of Polish extraction. Italians were on a par with the Poles, but Puerto Ricans were just one step above Blacks who occupied the bottom of society. I kept hearing how racist the whites in the southern states were but I never met such a racist group as those in the northern cities. I had grown up in Texas and Georgia, and to tell you the truth I never encountered the type of Nigger Haters that every one up north loves to point out. Perhaps I missed it all. Not that the southern states were without racism. That much I knew from the way I heard adults talk.
Of course I’ve seen racism all over the country. I lived far a while in Cincinnati and saw it first hand there. I’ve lived in California, which loves to pride itself on being so liberal and modern and non racist and I have seen it there as well. The problem with California is that their brand of racism is so well disguised. See, it’s not really racism. ?these people really just lack the education needed to be productive members of society. And this from those who blatantly call themselves liberals. Of course you have many that are branded racists who are little more than bigoted and crass in their manners and speech. Like those kid in the fraternity in Oklahoma, they are racists, they are bigots. But news sells when you use the word racist. I think the one time I was just slapped in the face was in Pittsburgh when I had to interact with a truck driver and his family. I remember the son, an all American who played on a university team with black men. He, like his father, his mother, and his sister, were racists of the rankest kind. It was more sobering to me because he was an elementary school teacher. I mean, that was 2005, not 1958. And I don’t mean these people were simply bigots. They were racists, meaning that black people are subhuman. Yes, these people exist in modern America.
But Starbucks wants to have a dialogue about race. You know, most white people I know are not racists nor are they bigots. They want to accept Blacks into their circle of friends but guess what? So many Black people are racist or at least bigoted. I have run into that Black attitude of your fucking white people owe me and mind and your bastards are no good and racist and we hate all of you. Now if you think I am over reacting, just walk into the nearest Black church and start attending services and see what kind of reception you get. Go to the nearest Black community center and see how you, as a white person, is treated. I have had a number of what I would call Black acquaintances but I was never allowed to be their friend. People I worked with, accepted as equals, stood up for, went the extra mile for. Yet I was always kept at a distance. So you tell me, Starbucks, what happened to the suppose dialogue. What I hear is a one way conversation that is filled with complaint after complaint. I reach out everytime but you, the Black man refuse to take it. Why? I have accepted you, always have for the last forty years or so, as an equal, as no different from myself. Yet you treat me as a racist. Why? Don’t you wish to be treated as an equal, as someone whose color is not foremost in my mind? What’s the problem? Do I offend you by not treating you as a member of an injured class? Should I get down on my knees and kiss your behind? You tell me. I’m tired of guessing what you want. In fact, I no longer care. Let me know when you want to get on with living in the world. I’ll still be here, I’ll still extend my hand in fellowship. But I’m not going to kiss your rear end. It’s not that whites don’t care about racism, we’re just tired of listening to every charge of being racist when we have been trying to befriend people of all colors. To tell the truth, we’re just tired of your attitude.