Those of you not following me on Twitter may think that Trayvon Martin’s murder doesn’t matter to me. But I’ve been retweeting links from other writers as the story plays out. I’ve watched in horror as white reporters ask blatantly racist questions to a grieving mother, as a white police chief erases the racism of the murderer to try and make a bullshit claim of self-defense, and as thousands of white people downplay this as “a black problem.” And I recall how right after Obama was elected, many of those same white folks declared that we were all over race, and clearly we don’t need to discuss it anymore.
But race is not a topic that can ever go away, because all it takes is not talking about it for a few years before white supremacy takes over again. And the sad fact is, whites don’t perceive granting equal rights to other races as equality, but rather as a loss of their position in the world. Enforcement of white supremacy is so important, white people will belittle every black issue and ignore reality whenever they can. So even though Trayvon was a good student with better grades than I ever had, his value as a person is limited by the color of his skin.
And to give you an idea about how fucked up some peoples’ priorities are, There’s mass outrage from white gamers over the ending of Mass Effect 3, which has resulted in Amazon issuing refunds for the game being “defective.” (Which is bullshit, but this is so not the right time for that rant.) So white gamers can generate rage over a game not ending well, but they can’t generate much give a shit for a child murdered by a documented racist and white supremacist, a man who had formerly assaulted a police officer, and who shouldn’t have been allowed to carry a gun, or to appoint himself as a vigilante of his neighborhood. But Zimmerman can do whatever he wants, because he’s white.
Y’all remember when I bitched about race last time? Y’all remember white people coming out to lecture me that because white people had poor people too, they couldn’t think of the blacks’ problems at all? Remember how they told me that because I could think of black people, it meant I had no sympathy for their white plight? Remember how a white trans reader pulled moral superiority games by suggesting that she was more charitable than me, and that I had “abandoned my sister”? Well that’s the problem with a lot of whites. They claim to be open-minded, but it’s just a lie to hide the fact that they’re still racist, still sexist, and still bigoted. They won’t take the first step in admitting their ignorance, and will instead claim that they don’t have to think about race because “we’re past race.”
No, we are not past race. Yes, white people are still predominantly racist, and so long as they refuse to talk about race, they and their kids will continue to hold ignorant notions that the loss of the privilege to oppress equals the loss of freedoms. But this is why the internet explodes in outrage over gay sex and bad endings in video games, and not over a Florida police chief covering up the murder of a black child as a favor to a middle-aged white vigilante with a history of violence. Because by acknowledging the inequity of the system, they might have to shut the fuck up about their first world problems and think of someone else for a change. (And really, no one is saying they still can’t have their first world problems, just that they might have to devote 1% of their me time to something more important than “defective” writing.)
White parents, talk to your kids about race and racism. Do not assume that they have black friends and know what’s up. I’ve often mentioned this story, but years ago, in my teens, I tried to talk to my cousin about racism. He listened to rap music and watched NBA with a passion, being a huge fan of Michael Jordan. So I felt that he could see where I was coming from. But my cousin met my comments with the assurance, “I’m not racist. I don’t have any problems with niggers.” And that opened a chasm between us because I realized I could never get him to see how he was still racist, even if he was willing to listen to rap or watch black basketball players. The town he lived in fostered his racism and encouraged it, and any attempts at real education would be rebuffed as unneeded, because real racism no longer exists.
And so long as white people insist that we’re past race, we will never reach a state of true equality. It really is that simple. I’d open comments and encourage discussion, but I’ve already been burned too many times by ignorant people. So take this post as your inspiration to move the discussion to your own private space. If you’re a closeted racist, blog about how I just don’t understand the white need to dominate. Out yourself as a racist to your readers, by all means. Or maybe try something different and admit that race still matters, and that we all need to discuss this to end the constant devaluing of others at our privileged expense.