June 4, 2020

“Why do they have to be So Angry?” How Racism has been passed down in Today’s White America.

Watch an anti-racism hour with Jane Elliott talking with Waylon Lewis of Elephant, here.

This country was built on the oppression and dehumanization of People of Color.

The capitalism that is so precious to “the American Dream” was built up from slavery—forcibly assuming power over others for financial gain and greed—and the idea that the more profit you have, the more power you have.

For those white people who keep saying things along the lines of: “It’s too bad all those black people are rioting and looting. Why do they have to be so aggressive? That’s exactly why people are racist. It’s just sad.”

Some things to consider:

1. Check yourself first.

There is a lot of footage out there. Branch out from your usual news sources, because there is more to the story. All kinds of people are smashing windows and encouraging others to steal. This destruction is coming from all kinds of different people with different intentions.

2. This narrative that People of Color who want change are more aggressive/angry than others is a lie.

This idea started with slavery—out of fear that the African slaves would rise up against the “master,” white Americans painted this “savage” narrative to justify violent oppression. This narrative and this fear has been passed down through generations, with arguably less consciousness or intentionality.

Almost every social movement, or group advocating for change (i.e. the quarantine protesters) has some members who incite violence (or threats of violence) as a way to be heard. There are angry/aggressive people of every shape/size/color/creed. They all deserve to have their voices be heard.

Why is it the angry People of Color who you fear?

3. People of Color have every right to be angry.

When white Americans feel they have been mistreated, they are given the opportunity to voice injustices, be heard, and often rectify the situation. (Look at how Trump reacted to the quarantine protesters.)

People of Color are not given that opportunity. They are not given space to be angry or hurt. They have been traumatized repeatedly, through generations. Their mothers/fathers/sisters/brothers/grandparents have been dehumanized, even murdered in front of their eyes while people in power do nothing. And the eye-witness accounts of these atrocities are disregarded and discredited if the witnesses are People of Color.

Why? White Americans are intimidated by the bond that exists between People of Color—the bond between people who have been pushed down for too long. White Americans are afraid of the power in that bond, and the power in those numbers. Because of that fear, a narrative of distrust has been perpetuated to keep us from believing their stories.

4. Those stores/businesses that are being looted represent capitalism.

We know that capitalism does not give equal opportunity to People of Color. We know that wealth is held by those who have opportunity and power—two things we are historically afraid to see in the hands of People of Color.

We already know that People of Color have been offered less opportunity, which is why we now have hiring inclusivity/diversity programs, but those People of Color are still paid less than their white peers.

Is it any wonder that people who have been told by the capitalist system that they are less valuable would want to tip the scales? White Americans need to put the greed of capitalism aside for a moment, because material things are ultimately not what is really important here.

Four hundred years of trauma is what America has inflicted upon Black Americans. It didn’t end with the Emancipation in 1863. It didn’t end with desegregation in 1954. Generations of people have been treated as though their lives and their voices don’t matter.

Not only does this need to end, but we need to allow space for People of Color to be angry and hurt. We must give space for the anger and pain or we will never heal. We must have people in power who aren’t afraid to stand for justice. We must have leaders who aren’t afraid to go against the power structure that has ruled this country for far too long.

We must humbly educate ourselves on the true history of this country and the racism it was founded on from the beginning—starting with the displacement and genocide of Native people and the enslavement of African people.

There is so much that they did not teach us in schools. Do the homework now. Unlearn the racism that’s been passed down to you. You owe it to your fellow Americans, to your patriotism, to yourself, and mostly to future generations.

Don’t let this go on any longer.

This is what you can do.


Anti-Racism: Jane Elliott educates Waylon & 8,000 Elephant Readers (& you!)

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