I’m White, And I Hear What White People Say When Black People Aren’t Around

(I wrote this in response to the earlier vent about tragedy and racism. It is awfully long so I removed it from the comments and sent it instead.)

I disagree. It is both a human tragedy AND a race tragedy. You don’t see crowds of white people protesting out here! Because whites are too comfortable, whites are too lazy, and whites are too quick to blame the black boy (who MUST have been a thug) instead of the person with the actual power in the situation! Whites have FAILED the race test!! It SHOULD be about humanity, common decency, ethical behavior by those with power, constitutional rights and how much we value them in society, foolish young adults who do not “fall into line” and don’t do “everything by the book” (wait a minute, what country/century are we in again?!), and SHOULD be about what a tragedy it is that a young man died only days before he was to be starting college. 

Instead, WHITE people got all mad and put out FAKE pictures of the kid, INVENTED a later proven fabricated criminal history, and blew up a possible (not convicted, obviously) shoplifting case (under $50) to a robbery! They call him a “thug,” and they say he shouldn’t have done all kinds of things (No trial. If the cop is innocent until proven guilty, then the kid should be too. But try telling one of those frigging idiots that). And the kicker is, THE DETAILS DON’T EVEN MATTER! A KID DIED IN THE STREETS! We should ALL be up in arms. The white people don’t seem to care, but we are sure quick to complain when someone else has the nerve to stand up for what they believe in.

And yes, I’m white. I am ashamed of the things I am reading out here in cyberland, in newspapers–and, unfortunately what I am hearing in gas stations and grocery stores. Very humbling. Racism is alive and well. It is all around. It is real. Admitting a problem is the first step. Sometimes “pulling the race card” is “telling the truth.” Whenever white people don’t want to acknowledge a problem that aligns itself with racism, they call it “playing the race card.” Which is racist, in itself.

The boy was black, the cop was white. Fact. Black men, boys, and children are killed by police more than any other group. Fact. Put the two together, you get riots. Fact. Instead of putting the officer on trial, the outside community came together to shield the officer from a trial whilst deploying hundreds of militarized police (and even the National Guard) to the area, while restricting constitutional rights to the area and restricting journalists’ entry to the area, up to and including restricting air space. Fact. The officer has made over $500,000 dollars (I believe it fair to presume most, if not all, from white people). Fact. According to the newly released court transcripts, the officer “couldn’t remember” quite a bit, and was given over four hours to clean up and to “bag and tag” his own gun, before being questioned–and didn’t write an incident report, which is standard procedure normally. Fact.

And I’ll tell you what. The fact that I am white gives me the inside scoop on racism. I hear what white people say when black people are out of earshot. White people think it’s safe to be racist in front of other white people. But you’re wrong. You are showing me exactly what kind of person you are, one syllable at a time. And there are an alarmingly high number of people who are covertly racist. I’m planning on moving to another part of the country. It’s that bad here in Missouri. YOU may not experience racism where YOU live, but I grew up around here. St. Louis is the epitome of inequality, and Missouri has to be one of the worst states in the country when it comes to racism. And all you have to do is go to ONE THREAD about the Michael Brown shooting, and see for yourself. False “facts” are thrown around freely, and the word “thug” will most likely be in the first comment thread, followed by increasingly offensive and cold-hearted comments toward a dead barely-adult. It’s heartbreaking. And it’s not JUST Missouri. It’s everywhere, whether or not you acknowledge it. Ignoring it has not made it go away yet, and ignoring it isn’t going to start working today.

image: Nicoleta Wagner