Long, long, long ago the Negro’s, and others, marched on Washington to obtain something as basic as civil rights. Every liberal living today will claim to have been there on that very warm August day. Our forefathers sought to claim basic human rights; among which were relief from poverty, educational equity, voter registration rights because frankly many were not allowed to vote. As the 1960’s progressed those fighting for civil rights knew that the ways to achieve those goals were through education. So they organized and established ethnic studies programs to promote racial pride. This surely seemed reasonable when you consider the conditions of the time were not that much different than the Apartheid system in South Africa.
I want to say before you read further that I was motivated to write this post because I read an article today on CNN.com. I will use and quote some of the article as reported. The premise was the new face of racial oppression in the nation is white. The first thing that got my attention, other than the headline, was this statement attributed to Charles Gallagher, a sociologist at La Salle University in Pennsylvania who researches white racial attitudes and was baffled to find that whites see themselves as a minority.
He says, “We went from being a privileged group to all of a sudden becoming whites, the new victims”. He went on to say, “You have this perception out there that whites are no longer in control or the majority. Whites are the new minority group.”
The article added that a growing number of white Americans are acting like a racially oppressed majority and adopting the language and protest tactics of an embattled minority group. Scholars and commentators point to these signs of racial anxiety. I have quoted the article by bullets:
• A recent Public Religion Research Institute poll found 44% of Americans surveyed identify discrimination against whites as being just as big as bigotry aimed at blacks and other minorities. The poll found 61% of those identifying with the Tea Party held that view, as did 56% of Republicans and 57% of white evangelicals.
• More colleges are offering courses in “Whiteness Studies” as white Americans cope with becoming what one commentator calls a “dispossessed majority group.”
• A Texas group recently formed the “Former Majority Association for Equality” to offer college scholarships to needy white men. Colby Bohannan, the group’s president, says white men don’t have scholarship options available to minorities. “White males are definitely not a majority” anymore, he says.
• U.S. Census Bureau projections that whites will become a minority by 2050 are fueling fears that whiteness no longer represents the norm. This fear has been compounded by the recent recession, which hit whites hard.
• Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh argued in a radio show that Republicans are an “oppressed minority” in need of a “civil rights movement” because its members willingly sit in the “back of the bus” and “are afraid of the fire hoses and the dogs.”
• Fox talk-show host Glenn Beck led a march on Washington (attended primarily by white people) to “restore honor,” and once called President Obama a racist with a “deep-seated hatred for white people and white culture.” He later said he regretted making that comment.
• Conservative news outlets ran a number of stories last summer highlighting an incident from the 2008 elections, in which activists from the New Black Panther Party appeared to be intimidating voters at a polling place. Those claims were never proven.
The tactics of the new face of oppression being used; Mass rallies in Washington, voter intimidation at the polls, creating ethnic studies programs at colleges to promote racial self-awareness; sounds like a script from a civil rights documentary. With the rise of the Tea Baggers and the National Citizens Councils, more commonly known as the GOP, could it be that this perception was perceived after America elected the first black president?
One of the people quoted in the article said, “…Americans deserve praise for looking past race.” As proof she cites the rise of more interracial couples. She went on to say “When I grew up, it was incredibly rare to see interracial couples… People would turn their heads on the streets. Now it’s so common that no one notices it anymore.” And this is the best she can do!
I will agree with Tim Wise, author of “White Like Me”, also quoted in the article: “economic anxieties are feeding those racial fears… the recession hit blue-collar, white Americans hard, financially and psychologically… Many white Americans have lived under the assumption that if they worked hard, they would be rewarded. Now more white Americans are sharing unemployment lines with “those people” — black and brown”.
I think Mr. Wise is on point when he says, “For the first time since the Great Depression, white Americans have been confronted with a level of economic insecurity that we’re not used to… It’s not so new for black and brown folks, but for white folks, this is something we haven’t seen since the Depression.” The face of America is changing, says Wise, author of “White Like Me.” American culture has become so multicultural that many of the nation’s icons — including celebrities, sports heroes, and other leaders — are people of color.
“The very definition of being an American is going through a profound change,” Wise says. “We can no longer take it for granted that we (whites) are the dictionary definition of an American.” This racial unease is more pronounced among older white Americans, who grew up in an era where America’s icons were virtually all white, Wise says. “The idea that we’re losing our country is something that’s not going to have a lot of resonance for someone under 30… “These are white folks who don’t remember the country that their parents are talking about”, Wise says.
For many decades, white people saw themselves as individuals, not as members of a race, says Matt Wray, a sociologist at Temple University in Pennsylvania, who writes books about white studies. “We are often offended if someone calls attention to our race as shaping how we view the world,” says Wray, author of “Not Quite White.” “We don’t like to be pigeon-holed that way. Non-white Americans are seldom afforded this luxury of seeing themselves as individuals, disconnected from any race.”
During segregation I can recall how whites worried about blacks they labeled as “uppity Negroes” referencing their racial anxiety. Peter Brimelow, author of “Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster,” asserts that much of white America’s anxiety derives from living under a black president and changing demographics. It is important to note that Brimelow’s website, VDARE.COM, has been described as a hate site by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks extremist groups in the U.S.
Brimelow cites as proof the rise of the Tea Party movement and the racial makeup of Beck’s march on Washington. He says more whites recognize, even if it’s only on a subliminal level, that they have common interests to defend. “Of course, they would deny this, quite sincerely, if you put it to them because the idea of whites defending their interests as whites is quite new,” he says. “Americans are trained to think that any explicit defense of white interests is ‘racist.'”
James Edwards, host of the “Political Cesspool” radio show, isn’t shy about naming those interests. He says white Americans have become the “dispossessed majority” and that coming demographic changes may turn the United States into a “Third-World flop-house.” Edwards, who is considered a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, says whites must organize like other stigmatized groups. “There is nothing wrong for Jewish organizations to promote the self-interest of Jews or black organizations to promote the interest of blacks,” he says. “There is no organization to stand up to advance the interests of the dispossessed majority.” Now whites are victims of pervasive racism, Edwards says.
There was so much craziness contained in the article that I just wanted to share the most disturbing aspects from an African American perspective or as I always say from a Thought Provoking Perspective and their perspective is pure “BS”. When you consider statistics: Whites are the majority – fact. Unemployment in the African American community is near 20%, our mortality rate is double theirs, more likely to die of illness because of no health insurance, two out of four African American children live in homes below the poverty level – I say again pure “BS”.
I feel that all Americans — white, black, or others — should be concerned about the future and deal with the reality of life and one which was mostly created by those in powerful conditions. It just happens that laws have made American just a little more equitable and some now cry what they once decried. Every other minority has had achieve a place in America. Is this what is meant when they say, “We Want Our Country Back”? Less not forget, Mr. Obama is the President of the United States and not of Black America, and that’s my truth!
Dick Gregory apologizes to the first Black President