White America, It’s Not Always About You
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Feb 9, 2016
It’s Black History Month again, and this is the first post on this blog where I’m mentioning it. It might be the last; it might not be. Doesn’t really matter since I’m liable to talk about race relations and diversity issues all times during the year. It’s time to talk about it now; let’s see how many people I scare this time around.
As most people know by now, one of the performers at this year’s Super Bowl was Beyonce. As always, it was quite the performance, a great routine with background dancers, and along with Bruno Mars and a group I’d never heard of called Coldplay, they all made halftime pretty enjoyable.
Then came Monday morning, and, in my opinion, the most irrelevant man in America who keeps saying some of the stupidest things, especially as it relates to race, had to have his say; to whit:
“I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive,” he said. “What we should be doing in the African-American community, and all communities, is build up respect for police officers.”
No, he wasn’t kidding. On his own, he was able to take a dance routine and turn it into a racial issue and, of course, an attack on the police… again. He keeps doing this sort of thing, as he had something to say about the #BlackLivesMatter campaign when it formed in Ferguson MO and once again when an unarmed black man was killed in NYC. It’s never the fault of the police; it’s always the fault of black people in his eyes.
About 5 1/2 years ago I wrote a post here titled It’s Always About Race. In that article, I said that all one had to do was search Google for the phrase “it’s not always about race” and you’ll find that every entry was written by someone who’s not a person of color. I’m not sure if that still true today, especially since I mentioned it in that post so it has to come up somewhere along the line (it actually comes up at position #57).
So, if it’s not about race then why is it only white people are writing about it? For that matter, why is it that every time they start writing about it they have to mention their “black friend”? If it’s not about race, isn’t it just another friend of theirs?
It’s probably been said by others already but it’s now my turn to say this; white America, it’s not always about you. This article is only partially about you, but it’s mainly for you on purpose. Let me educate just a little bit if I may…
When the musical The Wiz came out last year on NBC, I was watching it while participating on Twitter using the hashtags #TheWiz and #BlackTwitter. Overall we were enjoying ourselves. Yet we kept getting interrupted by stupid statements that kept bordering on this: “How come there aren’t any white people in The Wiz? Isn’t that racist?”
Really? Folk wanted to call out The Wiz for this false thing known as reverse racism? Did black people complain when there were no minority faces in Sound of Music? Were there a lot of black faces in last week’s Grease, or any at all (I ask since I didn’t see it)?
When the nominations for the Academy Awards came out, there were a lot of complaints about the lack of diversity in them. People came out of the woodworks to have their say, and some people were using as a defense “You have the BET Awards that never have anyone white nominated.” That turned out to be untrue because not only have white acts been nominated but have often won.
Once that argument was lost it switched to “well, you have BET.” Let’s see… there are 2 channels geared towards black people in America, both of which are owned by white companies. First of all, there are more channels in the states geared towards Asian and Hispanic viewers than black people, though I don’t know who owns them. Second, combine all the networks in this country geared towards minorities and it still comes to less than .5% of the market. This is something to complain about?
Back in September I wrote a post talking about what I called guilt by word association, where I talked about the concept where people read or see something, assume it’s about them, and feel compelled to argue against it by saying they’re not like that when all they had to do was ignore it if it had nothing to do with them. I often feel the topic of race is the same.
Look, I’ll own up to the fact that everyone reacts to things that may not have anything to do with them at one time or another. We either react to the way something is written if it’s written badly or we have our own interpretations of what we’ve just seen.
I remember my first day at the high school in the town where I now live, starting my junior year after moving here from Maine, and having a kid call me a “brownie”. After I went after him and a bunch of other kids grabbed me to keep me from hurting him, the explained what that meant at that school; not a racial term at all… for them. I learned over the next couple of years that this school used a few other terms that I knew were racial epithets elsewhere, but at this school they had totally different meanings and none of the kids knew the other meanings.
That’s what can happen when schools, or businesses, aren’t diverse enough to know better. Yet, when you bring it up, instead of folks understanding why they maybe should think about their choice of language, they turn it around and blame you for instigating things. Absolution of guilt by making yourself the victim… ties back in to Guiliani in my opinion.
Let me try to clear this up before I go. The #BlackLivesMatter movement isn’t about white people. The protest against the Oscars isn’t about white people. Beyonce’s dance wasn’t about white people… or even cops! Muslims trying to live in peace or, gasp, who might decide to run for political office isn’t about white people. Undocumented aliens coming to this country looking for work that, strangely enough, white people don’t want, isn’t about white people. Refugees fleeing countries that are at war that, gasp, turned out to NOT mainly be Muslim, isn’t about white people.
None of it is about you. Please, PLEASE, stop making other people’s problems about you. If you want to help, do so. If not, don’t. Just stop protecting yourselves from something that has nothing to do with you. Might it affect your life? Probably not unless you’re on the lowest rungs of society already.
If a minority gets a job you didn’t, it’s possible that they were just a better fit or candidate than you were instead of “trying to hold the white man down”, as someone who was part of a crew doing work on my house happened to say without realizing I was in earshot. Someone who happened to be part of a crew of 7 young men… all white.
But I didn’t complain…