Posts Tagged ‘white supremacy’

It’s Time to Rethink Thanksgiving

December 3, 2022

I’m changing my mind about Thanksgiving. I’ve totally enjoyed the annual family-and-friends pig-out; the cooking, sometimes communal, as much as the overeating, which was guilt-free—based, as we learned in grade school, on a magical First Thanksgiving in 1621, featuring grateful Pilgrims and their guests, the Indians, sharing the harvest bounty of the land they now shared.

The First Thanksgiving | Creative Commons

But, really, how can it feel guilt-free? Apparently there was some kind of harvest meal that year, and some of the local people, the Wampanoags, were in attendance, but the Pilgrims never saw them as fellow people, and soon enough were robbing, fighting, capturing and enslaving or killing them. Given the whole long history of Europeans’ and then white Americans’ relations to the people who were here first—right down to a current Supreme Court case that has the potential to strip them of their status as nations in the US—it seems to me it would feel more natural to observe the fourth Thursday in November as a day of mourning for all the indigenous people we white people have killed or displaced or enslaved—not to mention lied to, cheated or outright robbed—to secure this land and its bounty for ourselves. Or, if mourning would be hypocritical (they weren’t our people, after all), maybe a day of atonement for those sins. Or, at the very least, a day of reckoning, of somber acknowledgement of what we have done and are still doing.

But too many white people seem unable even to admit, much less take responsibility for what we have done: Our horrendous and unrelenting violence and mendacity toward indigenous people and everyone else we deem to be nonwhite. All that we owe them in reparations for what we have not stopped doing yet. Instead, any attempt to redress the balance, any reparative policy is seen as discriminating against whites. If we don’t have it all, don’t own and control everything, don’t get all the advantages of white supremacy all the time, we throw a tantrum.

Why are so many white people always ready to feel victimized? It’s a hair-trigger over an absolute: we seem to believe that either we have it all or we lose it all; are replaced.

It’s completely crazy.


Why Did White Tulsa Burn Down Black Tulsa?

June 15, 2021

Before its recent centennial, I hadn’t been particularly aware of the Tulsa Massacre, or of the many other, similar events that went way beyond lynching and have been called, I think justifiably, pogroms. Now I know that my ignorance was by design, and Tulsa is part of my consciousness of the long history of white aggression in America against people of color. And, once again, I wonder why we white people seem never to have been able to let other people be.

In case the story doesn’t ring a bell, a quick recap: According to The New York Times, “What the Tulsa Race Massacre Destroyed.” a hapless Black teenage boy apparently stumbled and grabbed the arm of the white teenage girl operating an elevator; black men came out with guns to defend the jailed boy from gathering whites (jailed black people could be dragged out and lynched); a shot was fired.

That same night, white Tulsans destroyed almost the entire 35-block Black Tulsa business and residential district known as Greenwood: up to 300 people killed, almost 1500 homes burned or looted; 8-10,000 left homeless, 6,000 held in camps. In today’s dollars, close to $30 million in property damage; untold millions in future Black generational wealth gone up in smoke. 

The smoking ruins of the Dunbar School.

Is there in this account a provocation sufficient to explain that paroxysm of white rage? Or was, as the Times suggests, white resentment of Black success “one factor” behind it? 

Or, I would ask, were white people simply completely unable to accept Black success?