Friday, November 28, 2014

Looking For Some Good White People (Memories Of A Black Girl)

Written by Azizi Powell

I wrote these two comments as part of a discussion thread on an astrology forum in which some of the comments were about the non-indictment of Darren Wilson for shooting to death the unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown, Jr.

Comment #1: Azizi, November 27, 2014 at 10:19 pm
...When I was in my teens (in the mid 1960s), I went through a time when I was desperately looking for some good White people. By “good White people” I meant White people who weren’t prejudiced against Black people and other People of Color. Of course, it shouldn’t have been that difficult to think of examples of good White people, since there were White people who helped with the Underground Railroad, and there were men such as Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman who were killed along with James Chaney because they were trying registering Black people in the South. President Obama just posthumously awarded these two White men and one Black men a medal of freedom.

But I only knew a few White people who I was sure weren’t prejudiced. I’ve known more since my teen years, but it still helps a lot to read comments on this blog from non-Black people who “get” how AWFUL the continuous murder of Black males and the lack of lawful redress and accountability is. And because this issue affects us all, it’s good to see White people joining in peaceful no justice no peace & Black lifes matter/All life matters marches throughout the USA and elsewhere.

Here’s a link to a post that I wrote about a part of Darren Wilson’s testimony to that Grand Jury: What Did Darren Wilson Mean When He Said That Michael Brown Jr Was Like Hulk Hogan?
Although the wrestler Huck Hogan is White, his ring name “Hulk”, comes from the comic book character “the Hulk”. And Wilson’s comment that he thought that Michael Brown Jr was “bulking up to run through the bullets” is very similar to Hulk Hogan’s term “hulking up”.

In my opinion, when Darren Wilson’s referring to Michael Brown Jr as “it” and a demon, and saying that Michael Brown Jr reminded him of Hulk Hogan, he raised centuries old stereotypes of Black males as devil, animals, buck, and brutes...

Thanks again.

Comment #2: Azizi, November 28, 2014 at 8:35 am
"Thank you Anne’s Aunt, Lorrie U, and shoalsister for responding to my comment, and sharing your personal stories.

My search for “some good White people” was so that I wouldn’t believe that all White people were bad (i.e. not only racist but also evil). I may have started that search after realizing that I wasn’t told the whole story about “how the West was won” and instead learned that scalping was started by some White folks and other White folks gave Indians blankets with smallpox or some other disease. My search for “good White people” really became critical when I was 14 years old in 1963 and 3 Black girls my age and a Black girl 11 years old were killed when racists bombed their church. [Read the story how the police didn’t pass on tips and at first the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover refused the case saying that winning it was remote:
It took 37 years to bring to justice those KKK members who planted that dynamite under that Baptist church

My three sisters and I attended a Baptist church every Sunday – so I could really relate to those girls who were killed.

I recall that in 1964 my pastor, a woman active in the church, and I were part of a weekend integration project in the Newark, New Jersey area. We lived in Atlantic City. The purpose of that project was to provide opportunities for Black people and White people to talk to each other and share everyday experiences – Black people staying with White families overnight, and (at least presumably, White people staying with Black families. Also, Black and White people attending sessions together and Black people attending a White church, and White people attending a Black church for their Sunday morning service.

During the drive to that weekend project I recall my pastor and the church woman sharing their memories about growing up in the South. I particularly remember both of them saying that they had played with White children until a certain age, and then those children refused to play with them anymore, and began treating them badly. (My experience was different than theirs. I didn’t have any White playmates, and didn’t go to school with any non-Black people until junior high school (around 12 years old).

I also remember my pastor’s and the church woman’s concern about whether it would be safe for us to sleep overnight at a White family’s house. And I recall them saying something like we would leave or we could leave if things got bad. The woman and I stayed in one home, and the pastor in another home. I recall sleeping in a pull out bed and eating some food that I wasn’t familiar with, and didn’t really like.

But I particularly remember being in a gym with a few White teenagers and casually talking about our experiences growing up (This was when the adults were in another room, presumably doing the same thing.) I also remember attending the church service at a White church. I admit that I liked the music in my church better, but I preferred the way the minister preached. I even remember that the sermon was built around the Edwin Markham poem:
“He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.”
That poem was written in 1913, and I first heard it in 1964. I remember that date because the next year I enrolled in a college in a city that was right next door to Newark, New Jersey.) In retrospect, that experience with that integration project, may have been the reason why I chose that college and not another one that I had been accepted to...

But decades later part of the problem between people of different races, ethnicities etc is that we usually don’t share experiences, and don’t really talk to each other in anything but surface, proscribed manners.

In a small but still meaningful way, exchanges like these on this forum help to bridge those communication/experiences gaps.

-end of comment-

I don't want to give the impression that after my teen years I stopped looking for some good White people (people who aren't prejudiced against Black people and other People of Color.) I'm STILL looking, and I've certainly found some.

And some White people who grew up not knowing any Black people are probably searching for some good Black people. But I think that for them "good Black people" are likely to be those that don't act like the negative stereotypes that they have consciously and/or unconsciously been taught. In my opinion, the difference between that and my search (and probably other Black people's searches) is that we're not trying to refute stereotypes of White people. We're trying to find examples of White people who don't kill people and discriminate against people, and shun people and otherwise mistreat people just because of their race.

But personal racism is only a part of the disease that threatens to destroy the United States [and other nations]. Both the root cause and the manifestation of that disease is institutional (systemic) racism such as that found in Fergurson, Missouri and throughout much of the United States.

I'm not going to repost the comments from the bloggers that I named in my second comment. However, I definitely believe that those comments are worth reading.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

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