We Did This
I've just finished reading "Should America Pay" by Dr, Winbush, one of the most powerful books I have ever read, one that has impacted my life in ways that are unparalleled. I am a White person, after reading all I want to say to white people in America is WE DID THIS!
For years, white people have looked askew either as institutionalized racism has robbed people of color or potential advantage, or have profited from the disenfranchising of a nation of people of color from their homeland, life, dignity, and basic human rights. We live in a world advantaged by the most egregious crime against humanity; the transatlantic slave trade. Colloquially, we call it slavery in the United States, rather than a crime. White folks feel the debt was settled by the Civil War, when in fact that only increased the debt.
Consider the first crime being the very thought of humans as chattel, the next crime then, a market for human life, and finally, you free what you dehumanized with no resource, or remuneration and then blame the victim for the impaired future. The strange part is that all of this happens in what we feel to be the great bastion of human rights: The United States. At what point are we, white people, truly concerned about” human rights.” It would appear that our , white people, concern for human rights is aroused when we see it externally rather than as a creation of our own.
White people need to wake up, reparation is not about money to people who aren't working or are on welfare or some type of assistance. Statistics show that more white people are on some type of public assistance than people of color. This is also an antecedent a discriminatory system, It is not even about a debt, it is about atoning for a crime that we either participated in through lineage or perpetrated by institutionalization of codes of conduct socially stratified to benefit a segment of the population.
What is it we do owe as white people? We owe those that were cheated, robbed, disenfranchised, and defrocked of human dignity. And when we can't pay the debt to those folks we pay their progeny. In this case, money will only exacerbate the issue and more correctly is truly the easy way out. What is needed is social structures that help people get to the starting line. White people cannot do this, but they must provide the resources for African American peoples to create education centers, grants for correction of historical loss in property, education grants, job and entrepreneurial grants, and grants to writers to create the works that re-write the historical record.
This is not an impossible task. The true shame of this is that African Americans have been forced to take up this cause when it should be white people: reparation is a white issue it is our debt. We ask for a one dollar campaign donation on the IRS tax form each year, we could also ask that each white family also donate one dollar for every one hundred year of slavery per person. A family of four then would donate four dollars per person for a total of sixteen dollars every year for the next twenty-five years. This may not be the answer but we need to create dialogue on how we pay the debt so we can let the healing begin.
We cannot realize or share the dream of Dr. King until we relieve the nightmare of past atrocities. White people must ease the emptiness caused by the imparity of advantage. No white person alive today owned a person, but we enjoy an advantage because other white people did. In many ways, our Congress should be embarrassed to meet in historical building built on slave labor. Congress and the Federal Government wage war against a terrorist regime that was less vile, violent, and inhumane that our own government that permitted chattel slavery.
Maybe we should stop using all words that do not allow us to see the crime: Slavery, lynching, Klan. Let's call it what it is human rights violations, murder, and terrorism. We celebrate Black History Month, maybe what we need is WE DID THIS day every month, where until white people find a solution we set one day each month as WE DID THIS day and think about the crimes that have set the stage for the disadvantages of African American peoples today.
I doubt many white people will ever read this, much easier to call it history, say get over it, and continue the exercise in historical amnesia. I can't I am part of the problem; a white male married to an African-American woman. How do I explain to our son that at one time people that looked like me sold and owned people that looked like his mom? This is an open case for white people. had the debt been paid I could tell our son, that it was a crime against humanity that was and is being paid by various funds, grants and services, and that while those that suffered can never be satisfied, as a society we are doing our best to mend our wounds. But I cannot, because we have done nothing to mend. WE DID THIS and it hurts my heart to know that one day soon I will have to look our son in the eye without explanation, without excuse, and without answers.
As a white person, I'll never understand white advantage because I've never experience white disadvantage. My African-American wife and friends can never enjoy Black advantage because it does not exist. Due in part to the disadvantage of institutionalized racist society, there will always be those that ascent, and in fact in time I'm sure that as a race the condition will improve, but the debt and the lost years will forever dim the bright light of the land of the free and home of the brave. After all how brave do you have to be to enslave a human.
WE WHITE PEOPLE DID THIS and until we pay our debt we will never be able to sit with all humanity, white and peoples of color, and show true empathy, where there is no loss there is no understanding.
About The Author - Charles Dull, MBA, PhD
Charles Dull is the Assistant Director for Information Systems at the Higher Learning Commission, dedicated to serving the common good by assuring and advancing the quality of higher learning.