Hello I’m Jerroll Sanders and welcome to The Unwrinkled Podcast: Bringing Clarity Where There Is None!
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself exactly why do so many white Americans get stuck in a position of racial hatred? Why do so many loathe or intensely dislike black people and others who are different than they are? What exactly do they get out of it, you know, hating?
Race, which is at the foundation of racial hatred, is actually a rather recent concept. The word race appears to have emerged around the late 16th Century and it was initially similar in meaning to words type, sort and kind. By the 18th Century, however, race had begun to be used to sort and rank people in the English colonies: Europeans were free people; Ameridians were native Americans and Africans were the people brought to America for slave labor.Today in America we group humans based on shared physical and social qualities that we call race even though most of the people in a racial group are far more different than they are alike. Race is actually a man-made concept that plays a really big role in American society. Perhaps understanding how we use race in everyday life will help us understand why we are so race obsessed as a nation.
The use of racial designations is of greatest benefit to those identified as part of the white race. Why? Because being white entitles a person to all types of privileges and protections that are not granted to people who are not deemed to be white. Despite what many think, race is not about the color of your skin. Even blacks who look white but are identified as black are denied white privilege. Race at its most fundamental level is a human construct; it tells the people in society how they should treat you and whether they should extend to you white privilege or not.
Now white privilege refers to a system designed by white people to position white people as the superior race in society. It involves extending access, preferences and grace so that white people can race ahead of everyone else and be perceived as economically socially and intellectually superior. But true superiority can only be established through fair play and as we all know, in America’s system of white privilege, fair play is nowhere to be found.
The benefits of white privilege are really truly amazing. Being of the white race allows millions of white people who are marginal at best to wear the mantle of being superior irrespective of their personal capabilities or status in life. We have all seen it time and time again: The access that opens the door for the underperforming white to attend an esteemed college; the connection that earns the undeserved white person a job promotion’ the grace that motivates a judge to excuse the criminal acts of a person because the person is white. White privilege can be compared to handing every white person in America a mask that conceals the shortcomings and faults of the wearer. It’s like designing your own measuring stick that includes tick marks that make a 5 foot ruler appear to measure 7 feet tall. Every white person is then allowed to use the measuring stick so he or she can appear much taller than he or she actually is.
Being of the white race also gives a pass to white psychopaths and serial killers who take black lives under the cover of doing good for their white race. If the psychopaths were killing whites, other whites would see them for the despicable individuals they are–no different from Charles Manson, no different from Jeffrey Dahmer and no different from Son of Sam. Since the beginning of this nation, psychopaths who like to murder have tended to operate in groups so they can accomplish together what most of them could never accomplish alone in fair battle. Officer Derek Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd while George lay on the ground in handcuffs is a perfect example. Chauvin presented strength and confidence as he kneeled on Floyd’s Neck, hands in his pocket. George lay pinned to the ground by Chauvin’s colleagues, handcuffed and defenseless and unable to engage in fair battle.
Racial hatred is a disease of the heart and mind and it could not thrive in a race neutral society. In order to dispense with racial hatred, however, we would first have to dispense with the notion of race altogether. Anyone who lives in America knows that race is a permanent fixture in our society: The Census Bureau uses race to capture data and make generalizations about the relative economic position of people within the various races. Congress uses race to gerrymander voting districts. Schools use race to report on the educational performance of students. Marketers use race to identify target markets. Colleges use race to screen applicants. And law enforcement uses race for reporting crime statistics. Given our obsession with race, would banning racial designations altogether move us forward towards a race neutral society or are we just too far in, you know, into that whole concept of race, which is used to target and to defend. Without data by race, for example, we would not know that blacks are three times more likely to be killed by police than are whites or that the average net worth of whites is ten times greater than the average net worth of blacks. Race is a double-edged sword. So is the answer to ban race on some documents like job applications yet allow it on others.
It appears to me that the solution is to simply hit the reset button and start designing new symbols, new systems and new power structures where racial designations are nowhere to be found. Building America into a race neutral society would without question involve a struggle of enormous magnitude and a sweeping investment of time and money. The greatest challenge, however, would involve getting the buy-in of hundreds of millions of white people who are willing to forfeit their privilege and exhibit the moral maturity and spiritual honesty required to confront this nation’s long history of racial hatred and implicit bias head on. Just imagine, just imagine for one moment living in a nation where race no longer matters.