AFRICANGLOBE – “I have never thought much of the courage of a lion tamer. Inside the cage he is at least safe from other men. There is not much harm in a lion. He has no ideals, no religion, no chivalry, no gentility, no reason to destroy anything that he does not want to eat.”
— George Bernard Shaw, writer, Nobel laureate (1856-1950)
We need to go into this discussion believing that “white privilege” exists, and that it gives white people, in a general sense, a leg up before the race starts. White privilege is summed up in this video shown below.
The video is about a Black woman and her half-white, half-Black sister-in-law, who looks white (she has blue eyes and is described as “undeniably white-looking”), going into a supermarket. In the checkout line, the white-looking woman is first in line and is greeted with friendly chat and banter by the strawberry blonde clerk as she writes a check for her groceries and moves on.
While she waits for her Black sister-in-law, who is next in line, prejudice raises its ugly head. No idle chatter, a demand for two forms of ID, and then a cross-check on the “bad check list” in front of the others in line, resulting in a humiliating experience, while the Black woman’s impressionable 10-year old daughter watches in utter dismay. What happens next should inspire you, but first it should make you think and understand that America has a long way to go.
With a Black president, and a woman competing for the prize, we might be premature in giving ourselves a back-slap. It has taken a long time for both of these to occur and one need only look back to the 1970s when women weren’t allowed to run the Boston Marathon to realize how tenuous this is.
The appeal of Donald J. Trump seems squarely based on taking our white privilege up a notch and to the next level; upping the ante on prejudices and an America that profiles and deports its immigrants, builds walls, and takes us backward to the 1960s and 1970s, when social unrest began to be replaced by an America that was for all the people, not just the chosen few. Sounds like a police state is on his agenda.
This is where common sense should find a seat at the table.
It is easy to understand that white men (and women) don’t want to give up the power, but it should be also understandable that keeping the power by building walls and insulting and excluding millions of Americans isn’t the way to achieve and maintain power.
Trickle-down doesn’t work. Giving people just enough food, just enough freedom, just enough “stuff” to quell them is not a long-term solution.
It is a “trickle-up” philosophy that will best fit the common sense parameters. When a strong middle class has money to spend, the top also benefits. So if lowering taxes on the middle class generates more disposable income, and the result is the upper classes paying a little more, it should be part of the plan; the middle class will spend more and a vibrant economy helps all classes thrive, including the top 1 percent, including the top 10 percent; they will benefit more than anyone as the economy strengthens and business prospers. This is “trickle up.”
What prevents this from happening is the same thing that has prevented growth for centuries: fear of losing one’s power.
What is counter-intuitive is, that is not what happens; when we share our power, it empowers others and that only helps lift us. Picture a well with water that doesn’t reach the top. Nobody can get out. Now, add some people and the water displaces and lifts the people inside the well to the top. When the balance is correct, the top person can climb out. They then have the ability to give the next person a rope and help them out.
When we do this, we lift us all. When we decide that enough people are out of the well and it is in our best interests to walk away and let those still in the well perish, we lose. It becomes less about balance and more about greed.
It goes back to a saying that goes something like this: “Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours shine brighter.”
White privilege certainly seems like something a white person wouldn’t want to give up, but it makes more sense to work toward a world where everyone is given the benefit of a doubt, regardless of the color of their skin.
Back to the video; when the “white-looking” sister-in-law steps in, it makes all the difference. As the Black woman states, if she had stood up for herself, she would have been categorized as an “angry Black woman” with perhaps some other derogatory terms added. Instead, when a white (looking) woman jumped to her defense, others in line were able to support this attack on racial profiling, and progress was made.
As a society, we must create strategies, and make sure that when we have the chance to promote equality, we do it. Dividing our country only works to unify people who live in a world ruled by fear and not love. Certainly a Trump mandate is “divide and conquer,” and the belief that this is leadership on display, while trying to convince his followers that only he can fix this mess.
Fear and prejudice will only win if the other side quits and gives up on the values that are at the core of our country.
Giving up our white privilege is simply not only the right approach, it is an approach that will lift us all.
It is about the “cut the cake” theory: cut a piece of cake in half and offer the other person a choice and you’ll learn what that person is made of at their core. More often than not, you’ll end up with the bigger slice.
To get love, you must give love.
By: Reade Brower