I think it’s awesome to see that more and more people of European descent are empathizing and feeling outraged by the racism against dark skinned people that they are being made aware of. Thanks to mobile technology and the internet, our fair skinned brothers and sisters can now perceive an aspect of reality that has been mostly invisible to them throughout their lives. And those of us who have experienced racism and continue to experience it feel encouraged to see that these issues are now being widely acknowledged. Until this year, stories of racism and injustice against dark skinned people by white people or police were widely ignored, disregarded, or dismissed as something rare or exaggerated. So I’m deeply grateful to see that more and more people are acknowledging how serious an issue it truly is.
With that being said, I can tell by the reactions of many of my non-African brethren that you perceive these events as an indication of what the world has recently become, and as if it’s an issue that has suddenly gotten worse in recent years…a terrible issue for sure, but just one of the many terrible issues that indicate how much our societies have recently declined. In light of seeing many of these responses, I felt it would be beneficial to put your experience of these events in a proper perspective, and for you to understand that the examples of violent discrimination against darker skinned people that you are witnessing are not a reflection of what our world has become. It’s evidence of what the world has BEEN like for darker skinned people around the world for the past 400-500 years. As shockingly new as it likely appears to you since social media has recently brought wider awareness of this issue to your attention, people of African descent have been experiencing violent discrimination and injustice like this day after day, year after year, for generations.
This is probably not known to you, but most of us grow up being prepared for life in a white supremacist society…how to behave and not to behave WHEN, not if, we experience abusive discrimination, not to expect justice or support whenever we do, and not to expect white people to acknowledge or take responsibility for any of it. Every black person living in western society has witnessed racism being experienced by someone we know, and most of us have experienced it directly. And we rarely, if ever, did anything about it. That’s because we are intensely aware that to defend ourselves, to report being discriminated against, to rebel, or to advance too quickly is to put our job, our freedom, our citizenship status, or our life at risk.
In virtually every aspect of our life outside of home, we know that the consequences of not submitting and conforming to white culture are severe. We learn from a young age that we have to know everything about white culture’s version of reality if we’re to have any chance of advancing within society…white religion, white history, white art, white fashion, white music, white politics, white law, white psychology, white etiquette, and white education. We even have to learn how to adopt a white person’s stye of speech and a white hairstyle if we want to work in a corporate environment. Wearing any kind of natural hairstyle or ethnic clothing to an interview drastically reduces our odds of landing a job. Have you noticed the hair weaves, wigs, and braids that most black women wear? They mimic the texture and styles of white hair. It depresses me every time I see it because of the ethnic oppression and unconscious self hatred that it represents.
I imagine that what I’ve just described may appear exaggerated to a white person, but that is because, as a white person living in a white supremacist society, there has never been a need for you to do or learn anything like this unless you have studied anthropology or work in social services. White people aren’t expected to learn anything about black culture outside of a classroom environment. It’s considered inferior by default, and has no relevance or importance in regard to the function of society that isn’t related to poverty or crime. Learning about our cultural reality is optional for you, and it’s highly likely that the only reason why you know anything about our culture at all is because you love our musical or athletic performance.
Music and sports is where we have been allowed to advance and succeed the most, since our performance satisfies any society’s love of great entertainment and presents no threat to the establishment. After all, the owners of the dominant music labels and sports teams in western society are virtually all white, so any opportunities within these industries, the conditions for earning and losing them, the rewards of having them, and the system that governs it all are still controlled and maintained by white people. And if this reality isn’t discouraging enough, our advancement within these industries does nothing to improve the quality of life for the rest of black people living in any given society. As a matter of fact, the kind of music that black artists are most rewarded for producing and performing…the very same music that you probably love so much, actually undermines and degrades our cultural progress and advancement. Most of the music that the owners of record labels approve for heavy marketing and promotion focuses on the worst aspects of our culture, glorifies the worst of our behavior, reinforces negative stereotypes about us, and presents this morally corrupt package of our culture to the world. In the eyes of global society, the cultural dignity, ethnic pride, and modern legacy of African-Americans has been reduced to the degrading image of a culture that glorifies casual sex, drug abuse, violence, and greed.
The worst aspect of this entire scenario is that, over the course of generations, black people have been systematically conditioned to disrespect, distrust, degrade, and devalue one another. Take 10 minutes to read the “The Making of a Slave” by William Lynch, and prepared to be amazed. You’ll easily recognize his legacy in the behavior of many African-American people.
…but you’ll still hear a lot of white people say that white supremacy and systemic racism doesn’t exist, or that it’s exaggerated by lazy black people who are just victimizing themselves and looking for a handout. Fascinating, isn’t it?
This post isn’t a sob story or a plea for sympathy on behalf of black people. In spite of the minority of willfully ignorant people who hold onto the delusion that white supremacy and systemic racism against black people doesn’t exist, it’s very encouraging to see that more and more of our white brothers and sisters are willing to acknowledge and speak openly about this uncomfortable truth. If you are a white person reading this, there is no expectation for you to wear a cloak of shame or guilt. That would benefit no one. I believe that most of you genuinely want the racism and injustice that black people experience to end, and would willingly help if you knew how.
This is simply our story, and it’s a story worthy of being told. It’s a description of our experience of life that is important for you to understand because, whether you realize it or not, our experience of your culture is the most dominant aspect of our reality. We’ve had to learn all of your cultural stories and history and understand your reality throughout our entire lives. Perhaps it’s time that you learn ours. After all, you cannot help us end this injustice and make the necessary changes to our societal structures until you acknowledge and understand the full extent of how we are affected.
I know that most of us wish no harm upon one another. We’d bless each other with peace and abundance if we could, regardless of race or any other superficial difference. We all just want to thrive and succeed in this crazy world. At the end of the day, black or white, we are all in this together.
– Michael Verdun