Tolerance… Not! Race

Because of the profound effect that this issue has had on me personally, deciding how to tackle the subject of racial intolerance has been a difficult task. Growing up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s as the offspring of racially mixed parents has provided me with more than a little experience with racism. So much so that I hardly know where to begin. But I know that in order to give this issue a fair and rational review, I must be willing to set aside the emotions evoked by it. As one who suffers from depression, brought on in part by my experiences in this area, I hope that you can understand why this is difficult for me. I’m certainly no Mr. Spock, but I do know how to use reason and logic to get at the root of a problem.

The first thing to be done is to untangle of all the imagery and confusion that any discussion of race is bound to provoke. Now everybody knows about America’s history involving the enslavement of Blacks. And while there is absolutely no way to excuse that, it is helpful to remember that Blacks represent just one case in a very long history of similar travesties committed by Man. In fact, I think you’d have a hard time finding any group that hasn’t been similarly mistreated at one time or another. Next we must realize that many acts considered to be racially motivated have actually been motivated by what is commonly called peer pressure. I call it collectivist politics.

Anyone who has spent much time with other people, and I’ve had just about enough, has to have noticed that a person’s behavior can be profoundly influenced by those around them. Only an idiot actually believes that a person deserves to be mistreated because of his skin color. But even an idiot knows he can be outcast if he doesn’t get with the program. This same logic applies whether the issue involves race, religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, or the side of the tracks one was born on. So you see the real issue is not racism at all. This is behavior motivated by collectivist politics – the evil acts of one group against another as justified by the mere fact that the first group is stronger and the second group is ‘different.’

When I was a little kid in Charleston, West Virginia, the police would routinely conduct these brutal sweeps to clear the streets of my neighborhood. All of the cops were White. All of those arrested were Black. I’d like to believe that this was done to keep homeless drunks from causing trouble, but that could just be wishful thinking. During this same period I was often the butt of jokes about how I would eventually try to pass myself off as White. As you can probably imagine, discovering that people thought that way about me was not only confusing, but damn scary as well.

In 1965, during a car trip back from spending Christmas in Florida with my father, I got locked inside a White owned restaurant in Georgia. Being a naive little boy, I had run ahead to be the first one inside. I was so busy spinning on one of the bar stools that I didn’t even notice that the doors had been locked after I came in, to keep my dad and his girlfriend out. Because of my appearance, no one inside realized that I was with them until I ran to the door my dad was pounding on. I’m not sure if I was more afraid of being locked inside or of what my father would do if they didn’t open the door. Those poor fools had no idea of the kind of man there were keeping from his son. Fortunately, an apologetic waitress let me out and my dad’s girlfriend was able to talk my dad into just leaving.

In 1966 the country apparently went nuts from all the racial tension. Because I still had a small shred of innocence left in me, my first knowledge of this came when my Black friends decided that we should leave our elementary school in protest. Unfortunately, the only White friend I had at the time had been assigned, as playground monitor, to prevent kids from wandering off. Because I was so desperate to be considered genuinely Black for a change, I allowed myself to be pressured into being the one to remove ’the White obstruction to our freedom.’ He was just a good kid trying to do what he was assigned to do, so he refused. It was then, out of embarrassment and frustration, that I committed one of the most shameful acts of my life by punching him in the stomach. I was so disgusted with myself that I couldn’t even leave with the others. I’m not sure why he didn’t report me, but I lost a good friend forever.

In 1968, while living in Los Angeles, I was jumped by two Black kids because according to them, and unbeknownst to me, their classroom was at war with my classroom. That got me started on the path from being the sixth grade salutatorian to being one of the world’s worst truants. When Dr. King was murdered a few months later, I was terrified at the prospect of looking so White while living in an all Black community. This was because there were rumors about Black gangs venting their wrath on Whites.

In 1969, while I was riding a bicycle a few blocks from home, some Black people sent their dog after me. When they discovered that they actually knew me, after I had fallen and broken my arm, they said that they’d only done it because they thought I was White. After that I went almost nowhere, let alone to school. With truancy being such a big issue with the government, and with my attitude turning more negative by the day, I became more ’trouble’ than my Sister wanted to deal with. So she shipped me back to my Mom in Ohio.

All of these things can be attributed to racism, and it’s clear to me that the stupidity operates in all directions. However, they can also be attributed to collectivist thinking motivating a desire to impress one group at the expense of others. That was certainly the case when I punched my friend in the stomach.

If you’ve read my Opening Rant article, then you’re familiar with my belief that each of us thinks and acts according to the personal philosophy we have chosen to guide us – whether we’re conscious of that choice or not. And Collectivism is the most dangerous kind of philosophy precisely because it’s so nebulous and unspoken – exactly what appeals to the masses who can’t be bothered to look beyond the moment. Simply stated, Collectivism allows that anything is okay so long as it can be justified as ’necessary’ by those powerful enough to impose their will. While it has been used historically to dominate Autocracies and Theocracies, it’s most commonly found in the form it takes in today’s so-called Democracies.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I believe that democratic rule can be the ideal form of government. But we’ll never achieve that ideal so long as the majority simply bow to collectivist politics because they’re too stupid or too afraid to object. Let’s take a look at where this type of thinking as gotten us so far, shall we.

Apparently, just about everyone said the Hebrews were inferior.
Voila! Hebrews were persecuted for many, many years!

The Romans and the Jews said the Christians were dangerous.
Voila! Christians were persecuted for many, many years!

The Christians said the Holy Land must be purged.
Voila! We got Crusaders!

The Muslims said the Holy Land must be purged.
Voila! We got Jihad!

The Whites proclaimed Manifest Destiny.
Voila! Ethnic cleansing of Native Americans!

The Whites said that Blacks were inferior.
Voila! 400 years of Black enslavement!

The Nazis said the Jews should be exterminated.
Voila! Fire up the ovens!

During WWII, the majority said we just can’t trust them slant eyes.
Voila! Americans in concentration camps!

After WWII, the majority said that the Jews deserve their promised land.
Voila! Israelis in, Palestinians out!

Muslim extremists decided to attack The Great Satan.
Voila! We got 9/11!

The U.S. retaliated for 9/11.
Duh? We go to war in Iraq? Doe!

And let us not forget those ’special’ cases where those imposing their will didn’t seem so dangerous.
Voila! We got Rioters, Bombers, Snipers, Terrorists, and School Massacres!

Now just in case you thought there were none, let’s now take a look at how this kind of thinking affects the economy.

The majority said the wealthy should pay more taxes.
Voila! We got a progressive tax scale!

The wealthy hired lawyers to fight against excessive taxes.
Voila! We got tax sheltering and tax evasion!

The majority said the poor should pay less taxes.
Voila! The primary users of government services pay almost nothing for them!

The majority said we shouldn’t use ’illegal’ drugs.
Voila! We got ourselves a drug war on all fronts and a prison system bursting at the seams – very expensive!

The majority said we should unleash the power of Wall Street so everyone can pay less taxes.
Voila! We got economic disaster!

The majority screamed, “DO SOMETHING.”
Voila! It’ll take generations to pay off all this debt!

If you were to ask anyone in the majority if they were wrong when these decisions were being made, the response would almost certainly be a resounding “Hell no! Just ask anybody!” Those who suffer from these ’high minded’ decisions would of course be dismissed as ignorant scum who’s opinions don’t count anyway. And most of them were usually too ignorant or too afraid to speak out anyway. Remember the little boy who dared to ask why the Emperor was naked? The sad fact is, if you searched through all of history, you’d have a hard time finding a single man-made disaster that didn’t have some sort of collectivist rationale behind it.

As far as the treatment of Blacks in America is concerned, our great leaders – the Black leadership as well as the federal government – have merely tried to replace one collectivist nightmare with another. It must be remembered that every one of the state and local governments that looked so bad during the civil rights movement were financed by public funds. But instead of passing – and enforcing – laws that would have made it impossible for them to use tax money for racially biased policies, our leaders – with complete approval from the majority – have simply instituted a racially based ’quota system’ in it’s place.

Again, it must be remembered that the majority of Whites were actually behind the civil rights movement, even if many were too afraid to show it. Laws that would have taken away the power of local government to enforce the ’peer pressure’ of a powerful minority on them was all that they needed to speak out. But instead of actually leveling the playing field by guaranteeing the individual’s right to decide who deserves his or her support, the federal government has wasted many billions of dollars on a collectivist bureaucracy founded on institutionalized racism.

A good metaphor for how we’ve dealt racism in this country can be found in The Trees by Rush.

The bottom line is that what we call racism is only one of the countless faces of collectivist politics. And if we want to have better relations between any of the various groups on Earth, we’re going to have to rid ourselves of the profound stupidity that stands in the way: Collectivism. If President Obama is as smart as he seems, he’ll focus the spotlight on the real issues and not allow it to be pointed at something so trivial as the color of his skin.

After all, everyone will be nicely tanned in the future. Deal with it!

I want ice water.

See more from the Tolerance… Not! volume

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “Tolerance… Not! Race

  1. As a young woman of mixed race, I am touched by your poignant, candid retelling of your own experiences. Racism is still prevalent – no doubt about it. The power lies in the ability of the individual to speak out. This is great.

    Like

  2. this is an excellent article, white I may be and I’m always a ashamed of myself when entering a bus and realising that my thoughts do wander sometimes when I see 4 black guys in hoodies sitting in the back, my first thought is ‘dangerous youths’, if I would see same guys but white guys with hoodies, I don’t think the same. In that retrospect I am a racist. Still I got too many black/asian plus now with spraytan, orange mates that I know I’m not a racist either, if they are fun, intelligent people I really don’t care.

    Talked to one of my black mates about this and he laughed his head off since if he has to choose on a seat in the bus, one seat free on each side, one with a white guy sitting and one with a black guy, he would automatically sit next to the black guy so he also said that in a sense he is racist as well.

    Still I think that the world now is better off than before, there are still gonna be assholes from any race/colour/creed but we just have to deal with it…

    Like

    • Thanks. You’re now amongst the very few that know this blog was originally classified as a philosophy blog. 🙄

      Myself, I’m more comfortable sitting on the bus next to the ones that look like illegal aliens! 😆

      Like

  3. Hm… You mentioned that you experienced lots of racism as a child, but you went on and on about black people discriminating against you because of their experiences with whites. Yet you never mention a bad thing about whites when talking about your experiences. Black people did this to me, black people did that to me. I’m sure it was hard, but think about WHY they were doing it to you and what racism actually means. To be racist, one has to have power over another. If someone has their boot on my neck and I call them a son of a bitch, am I not justified? No one should call anyone names, but I think you could understand why I would call that person an s.o.b., right?

    When White people discriminate against us it’s because of their beliefs based on nothing. We are afraid of them because they will kill us, rape us, take our money, etc and have been doing it for thousands of years. I think you should take a look at who you’re pointing the finger at. It’s not right for anyone to sick his dog on a child. It’s wrong. It’s more than wrong. But let’s ask ourselves what heinous thing would provoke this.

    Like

    • My hopes for this blog have always been that it would be a source of inspiration for those willing to look “outside the box” when it comes to examining the problems of our world. In particular, the posts in the Tolerance… Not! volume are intended to provide an alternative look at the causes and consequences of the “us against them” mentality that is so rampant in our world. Having said that, and considering all the thought and work I put into this post, I must say that I am greatly disappointed that you were able to get so little from it. I don’t know what I could have said that would have made my thoughts more clear, but I am sorry that you did not gain from it what I intended.

      Like

      • Your post was quite clear. Just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I didn’t understand it. Essentially though, you were blaming black people for racism that whites put in place. Why do you think there was so much anxiety about you being light skinned? Light skinned slaves got better treatment. After slavery many light skinned black would try and “pass”. And even now light skinned blacks are considered more beautiful because they look more white. Racism is not an intra group problem it is white oppression, and I’m sorry you can’t see that. Black people have been told to shut up about race so much (mostly by white people) that we don’t feel comfortable blaming anyone but ourselves. Why would we? Everyone else certainly blames us, let’s join the club, right?

        You say “us against them” like it’s us against anyone else? Is the entire black population holding itself down? Maybe you subscribe to the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” maxim, in which case we have little to discuss.

        Like

          • Isaak, I love the finality of your last comment!
            But still, the exchange is invigorating to read.

            I think M. Brownie carries a deep grudge and blame, perhaps in a ‘collectivist’ manner you have described. But she doesn’t seem to see herself as belonging to a ‘group’; psychologists call this organizational-group-behavior-dynamic “In-Group, Out-Group”, and it is common everywhere across human society.

            In India, they too have conflicts over the various religions that have swept over portions of their landmass- much less Buddhism today, as it gave way to Hinduism, and a wave of Muslim followers, etc. Their inner and outer conflicts are much like what we experience here in the U.S.A., because of the (mind-blowing) use of Africans as slaves for so many generations.

            I think M. Brownie wanted you to absolutely condemn white behavior and scorn it as the root of all social evil, everywhere on earth…this is a hurt person with a very damaged, limited world-view, I am guessing from personal experience as well as environmental programming, e.g.- parents and family and pastors etc.

            One person, in the process of growing and changing their mind and world view, goes thru a process and much time. AN ENTIRE CULTURE of people shifting views, attitudes and opinions, is taking even longer. But it is happening. And I think it is happening, slowly, because in our modern form of democracy, IT CAN happen. That is something to be grateful for.

            A good read. Thanks for posting your experiences. I see you right in the middle of various extemist views, and taking the high road by using your critical thinking faculties to learn and discern, not spurn and burn!!!

            I read this after making a powerful-tasting shrimp/garlic/avacado dairy-free, gluten-free pizza with a blush sauce…needed a diversion while eating it…very spicey and garlicy. Hmmmm…may need to amend before i post it.

            Like

            • Thanks, Silky, for your very thoughtful comment. I must admit that I was more disturbed by madambrownie’s reaction than I would have expected. After all, that is the same kind of thinking I’ve surrounded by my whole life. I guess I just thought that having the time to fully express my thoughts, as opposed to the very brief opportunities I’d gotten in the heat of past debates, would allow my readers to think beyond their own experiences and gain a wider perspective. But she does sound young, and perhaps her past and present experiences are still too overwhelming to provide her that kind of freedom. By your comments, that’s obviously not true in your case! 😀

              BTW, I just took a look at your “PEPITOS n’ FRUIT YOGURT TREAT” post and found it to be very enticing! As someone will multiple health issues to contend with, I really need to learn more about preparing healthy meals – especially dessert! 😀

              Like

  4. Pingback: A Little Something For MLK Day | I Want Ice Water

  5. Pingback: Black On The Right Side | I Want Ice Water

  6. Pingback: The Circles Of Conflict | I Want Ice Water

  7. Pingback: Rodney King – Dead At Age 47 | I Want Ice Water

  8. This was a very moving post for several reasons. First, you expressed yourself very well but also because my family hails from Charleston, WV and my first thought was “Fuck, what if my relatives were part of what he describes?”

    I also have a mixed race daughter and I watch her struggle to identify herself. I personally don’t want her to feel the need to be “Black” or “White” or even Italian or Puerto-Rican of which she is all four. She is simply herself.

    I do feel that with each generation we get more tolerant, but that many people are blinding themselves to the very real fact that racism exists and you can only tackle a problem if you acknowledge the problem. I am intrigued by your correlation to collectivist politics and I have to agree with you.

    Thank you for expanding my mind 😉

    Like

    • Thank you so much Gillian. Just as we all have our struggles to deal with, I’d also hope that we all take advantage of the insights those struggles can provide. For me, one of those insights, inspired by the time I spent in L.A., has been the similarity between street gangs and political parties – both driven entirely by the philosophy of collectivism. I’ve even said, of the Democrats and Republicans, “They should change their names to Demoplicans and Repubublicrats, because they’re just the two faces of the same ugly coin.” Which is so funny, because Jesse Ventura is now saying pretty much the same thing in his “Democrips and Rebloodicans” book! 😀

      Like

  9. Pingback: Romancing The Phone… | I Want Ice Water

  10. Pingback: Wednesday Wake-Up… | I Want Ice Water!

Express yourself!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s