We White People Need to Own This
We will be deluged by Martin Luther King articles and columns today. Some will be excellent, like the one Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote. But most will be saccharine sweet and not say what needs to be said.
Fifty years after Martin Luther King was killed, our society is still white supremacist, and President Trump is evidence of massive societal failure.
I don’t care who you voted for; we white people made it and continue to make it comfortable for bigots to be public bigots, for ignorant people to be public ignoramuses and for white “leaders” to shuck and jive their way around inequality, inequities and overt bigotry in the organizations they lead.
As a group, we white people are cowards. As a group, we refuse to bear honest witness to reality: Any white person in this country has an unbelievable and insurmountable head start over everybody not white (and Christian, heterosexual and without disability).
Charles Barkley is right — the average white person’s inability to accomplish things in this country is their own damn fault. Mexicans, Muslims, LGBT people, anti-assault rifle people, immigrants — none of that has anything to do with the failure of white people.
It’s just the opposite — companies on our Top 50 list have better stock market records than companies not on our Top 50 list. States that have sanctuary cities have higher GDP per capita, higher education levels and longer lifespans than people in red states that are against sanctuary cities. This isn’t static; the economic gap between red states and blue states has grown in the last 50 years.
White people elected Donald Trump — a draft dodger and a man who cheated on his first wife with his second wife, took the Fifth Amendment 97 times in a second divorce and had unprotected sex with a Playboy playmate and a porn star as his (third) wife was holding his infant son in her arms. A man who has been sued by more people than anyone else I know of — customers, contractors, lawyers, business partners, banks — thousands and thousands of people have sued him to get what was owed to them. A man so morally bankrupt that he advocates for the death penalty for drug dealers after his history of buying full-page newspaper ads advocating for the death penalty for the Central Park five, men who have since been proven innocent.
White people elected him because he speaks directly to ignorant people’s id. “It’s not your fault, it’s the fault of everybody else but you.”
Nah, it’s your fault.
And the irony is that Martin Luther King did more for ALL Americans (who were and are mostly white) than he did for Black Americans.
But white Americans successfully subverted most of the civil rights initiatives of Dr. King’s time, mostly (numerically) to the detriment of poor white people. Schools are more segregated than ever, impediments to voting are more sophisticated than ever, lifespan and infant mortality is segregated, law enforcement is a national disgrace. But look at the dramatically declining statistics for Trumpland; it’s stark, dire and deadly. White people voted against their own self-interests because they were bamboozled by the Mercers, Murdochs and Kochs — and abetted by utterly amoral social media companies like Twitter and Facebook.
Martin Luther King was in Memphis to help striking sanitation workers achieve humane working conditions in a city that treated them worse than animals. For most Americans, including white Americans, racism has made lives more miserable, not less.