A Challenge to ALL White Americans…Can You Handle This?

A black child, Chicago. - NARA - 556138

A black child, Chicago. – NARA – 556138 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Have you ever been singled out because of your race?


I have and perhaps I am one of the few White people in the nation to have had this happen in a clearly noticeable way.  To this day, I recall how uncomfortable it made me feel and perhaps this is why I am as outspoken about racism as I am.


I was in second grade.  We had moved into a predominantly Black part of town and I was taken to the Elementary School.  I always loved school so I was excited to be going to a new one.  I liked meeting new people.  On meeting the Principal, who was African-American, I was taken to my home room.  The teacher, who was also Black, had a couple of students move so that I was sitting beside the only other White child in the entire school.


The year was 1972 and although segregation in schools occurred many years earlier, Louisiana was way behind in getting the memo.


I still do not know why, but I took an almost instant dislike to this girl, preferring instead the boy sitting on the other side.  He and I became friends.  But the girl, I did not like her.


As time passed, I was forced to work with this girl on team assignments.  I asked the teacher not to, but she told me that it was best that I work with someone of my own race.  At the time, I did not know what “race” meant and when I got home that night, I asked my parents, telling them that I did not like the girl and wanted instead to work with my friend.


My father was angry and went to the school to confront the teacher and Principal.  They tried to explain to him that it was in my best interests that I work with someone of my own “race.”  I still did not understand, but my father removed me from that school that very moment.  He did not hesitate and we moved to another part of town that week.


Why do I tell this story?


Because I don’t believe that many White people understand what African-American’s go through EVERY DAY of their lives.  It is a humiliation and it crushes the human spirit.  Such things are a blatant disregard for the principles upon which this nation was founded and should not be permitted.

Also, something I figured out early was that racism and bigotry must be learned.  As a child, I did not have it and certainly none of the kids in that school had the disease, for we all played, learned, and like each other, for the most part.  It was the teachers and Principal who were teaching us to be racist–and they were Black.  But that is what they learned and they were simply trying to avoid trouble (likely from the white population in the city).  Their fear caused them to inadvertently promote racism.   That is what fear does.


I have actually two challenges for anyone who wants to understand.


The first is really very simple.  Go to the mall and ask everyone you see, especially Black people, if they know anyone in jail or prison.   You will likely not have many Whites answer “yes” but undoubtedly, virtually every African-American will.  This is because currently, 1 in 6 Black males have been to prison because of the Drug War and it is anticipated that 1 in 4 will do so at some point in their lives.


This is simply unacceptable and contributes to humiliation and the crushing of the human spirit as sure as occurs with a 7-year-old child forced to befriend someone he does not like, based on race.  Which, brings me to the second challenge.


Find some place where there are only Black people associating with each other, an all-black bar is a great place to try this.  I have done this many times over the years and have gotten the same results again and again.  See what happens.


Here is what happens every time I try it.


First, few will even speak to me unless I speak first and even then, I get the impression that they cannot get away from me quick enough.  After some time, I will be approached by bouncers and asked to speak with the owner of the club.  The owner always apologizes and asks me to leave, offering my cover charge back.  The last time this happened was at Festival City in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  The owner, Tony, said that he was afraid that he could not protect me and it would be best if I left.  I did.


Now, here is what you will learn from this if you are brave enough to try it.  (Of course, I hope you have a different experience, for I would like to think this is isolated to just a few places around the nation)  The first time I went to such a club, I was simply looking for a place where I could enjoy some old R & B, for I love the music (I love all music really).  I was rather nervous, as I was the only White man there.  There were White women, but no men.


However, what I learned was that the people there were more afraid of me than I of them…and I was greatly outnumbered.  Why?


Suspicion and lack of understanding.  People usually react with fear when they do not understand something.  They could not understand what this White guy was doing in their club…such things just did not happen.  The conclusion, as explained to me by Tony, was that many believed I was the law.  And since there was some illegal activity (Blunts were everywhere but none did share) they were understandably nervous.  It never occurred to them that I was there for the music and that ignorance created suspicion–which could have led to unnecessary violence, against me.


So be warned, if you do try this, be ready for anything.  Because you may not be as fortunate as I.


And for those who are going to make some bold claim that this would not happen in a White bar, think again.  Right down the road from Festival City is a club that most Black people in the area know to avoid.  The bigot rednecks will not complain to the management…they will just attack.


The fact is that we have a long way to go yet, but I really believe the first step is in ending the racist Drug War.  All it does is continue a climate of fear of each other.


If you want to know more about how this War is promoting racism in America, Read my book, The Cowards in Charge: “The Whole Problem is Really with the Blacks,” now at Amazon.


And be sure to read The Republican Party’s Assault on Black Communities if you want to understand how some are using race to secure power, to the destruction of us all.