August 05, 2010

Emancipating The White Man Part 2- Where Do We Go From Here?

How Whites Were Harmed By Slavery And Racism

Yes, you are reading the headline correctly.

I have already gone into much detail about how slavery and racism has impacted black people. However, if we are to be fair and demonstrate true spiritual enlightenment then we cannot claim that slavery and racism is so poisonous to the human spirit its ill effects can manifest through generations, then not also admit that it has negatively impacted white people as well. Of course it has

A poem about a white supremicist. It takes a strong, forgiving and empathetic soul to delve into the mind of a racist and see the real human insecurity and suffering inside the harsh exterior as this brave female poet did here.

This essay is especially for the poor white man . You see, the Rich White Man has a lot invested in securing the poor white man's undivided support of the systems that keep the Rich White Man on top. The poor white man has been convinced that he will somehow get a preferred seat at America’s table ahead of anyone else just because his is Christian and white. The poor black and brown man is being used by politicians as well with the same "We'll take care of you," speil because you are separate and a “special case” from the poor whites. The truth is, both poor, working and middle class blacks and whites are in the same basket. They all need help affording education and health services. They all need to have gainful employment and despite not being wealthy are no less deserving of clean air, water, healthy food and a life affirming existence.

Preventing the lower classes of various cultures from uniting and stirring up revolution has been fundamental aspect of Western civilization after several “ruling classes” fell to revolution and communism. One of the easiest ways to “manage the poor” is divide and conquer. In Trindiad and Tobago it is Poor Rural Indian against Poor Urban/Housing Development Black. In the USA there is also one political party for the poor white man and one for the poor black man to prevent them from coming together and comparing notes. It worked for a while too but finally, the poor white man and the poor black man are comparing notes. They are realizing they have been merely voting for politicians who feign similar values just to keep those mercenary bottom lines healthy for a hierarchy that has no intention of ever letting the table get too crowded, even by those they claim are ‘their people’.

So which do you prefer? The vampire who makes an effort to seduce and lull with pleasure before sucking or one who just brutally and boldly sinks his teeth in? Or do you prefer to be free and independent of vampires altogether?

The meaning of the words of the late Martin Luther King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” cannot be lost on anyone. Any system that seeks to deny anybody social justice, equal rights and equal opportunity cannot be trusted with your rights, even if it seems to favor “your kind of people” today, the fact remains, the system itself is innately corrupt. The time will come when you too will become “those people” on the outside. For many Americans, that time is now. They have suddenly found themselves outside the “Keeping up with the Jonses, upper middle class-happily heterosexually married, Christian” circle and they do not know what to do!

Some of course, have reverted to the same old blame game and are falling right into the hands of politicians. Don't people realize by now that the only difference between the Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives is in their preferred methods of pacification while they engage in vampirism and faithful service to the same boss for the same bottom line?. The Democrats play on the “underdog” mentality and actually try to make its victims feel tangibly “taken care of,” and able to get a sense of self-validation while being sucked dry by the same expansionist hierarchy. The Republicans play into the Way of The Bully, a more upfront approach. We’ll destroy all too weak to fight us off, join us and maybe we won’t pick on you right now.

The Effects Of Walking The Way Of The Bully For Centuries

The Way Of The Bully The ability to feel self-esteem only by robbing a weaker person of theirs has become a deeply ingrained trait in American culture. There is very little “honour” in the approach of many to American Dream, just personal profit and self preservation by whatever means.

Can we agree that it is unhealthy to be raised with even the slightest inkling that you can more or less expect to be treated as superior and have any injustice you commit excused either by blaming a weaker person unable to defend themselves or taking advantage of someone powerless to fight back? Not all people are honorable enough to resist that tempting and comfortable stance. Can we agree that over time, it can become a powerful source of false entitlement? Can we agree that once generationally ingrained it can be just as difficult to root out as the feelings of disempowerment and despondency that plagues many poor black communities who continue to be bullied?

In the days of Jim Crow, many whites who had nothing else going for them could always fall back on merely being white as their only source of self-esteem. A fat, harangued white woman who lost all her good looks and was stuck in a bad marriage could still get a little boost when more attractive beautiful Nubian princess was walking down the street. The unattractive, doughy white woman could still take pleasure in forcing the black beauty to humbly get out of her way and walk in the drain…or else. The poor white man who was too unattractive to get a lovely, white woman and saw a strapping, good looking black man being admired by scores of black women could call him "Boy" and put him in his place.

No matter what ailed the fragile ego; jealousy, family strife, economic hardship, sickness or gross misdeeds it could be alleviated by infringing on someone else instead of learning more enlightened coping skills through intellectual, emotional and spiritual development. This is what many Americas learned from infancy- your well-being hinges on another’s deprivation. You cannot truly enjoy “having” unless you know someone else is being excluded and is a “have-not” and you can laud over them. Only then “having” becomes extra special. This is not a phenomenon only among white Americans, the post-colonial African Diaspora have also learned this as well and it results in the “crab in barrel” counter-productive attitudes we display to one another. It makes black communities implode with sabotage, it's not like they can take it out on anyone else. However for many centuries we have proven that white people can take it out on whomever they want. They just have to be rich or connected enough and have enough self-serving sycophants to justify and perpetuate the bullying whether against Native Americans, third world countries or the working class American auto-maker.

Imagine the shock to the system when this bullying source of self-esteem was first challenged. Imagine how racists feel when it continues to be challenged and suddenly they are being demonized (rightfully so) by what appears to be the entire nation, even Conservatives are denying any association to them. To make matters worse, they have never learned how to sustain their ego by any other means and nobody is interested in rehabilitating or showing them how. They cannot even turn to their religion for guidance.

The neglected message of love, forgiveness, compassion and the Golden Rule is one of the ways politics stemmed from racist objectives has hurt many white Christians in America who have so much anger and discontentment rotting their insides, it seems not even Jesus can heal it.

Remember, true Christianity- the rejection of hatred, materialism, status , judgment and grasping for political power in favor of love, non-vengeance, forgiveness, heavenly reward, brotherhood and charity taught by Jesus has never been something embraced by the Rich White Man’s circle ever! Greed is and always has been their main motivating factor. They were instrumental in getting white Christian people to harden their hearts and agree to slave labor, exploitative labor, Jim Crow and racial discrimination while hypocritically trying to represent Christian values. So it should come as no surprise when today many white people and some self-hating or stupid black and brown people too, do not even know the difference between the teachings of Christ and the highly politicized Capitalist Dominionism that passes for Christianity in America today.

The Conservative Rich White Man needs the Poor White Man to engage in a paradoxical spiritual self-delusion and willingly accept that Government support of unbridled capitalism is more Christian than any form of social caring, inner contentment and environmental conservation..

America is now full of people who are still unable to cope with the reality that their life is not supposed to be better simply because they are white and “Christian”. No time does this hurt them more than during an economic crisis when competition is fierce for even the most menial jobs. Klan and anti-immigrant activity spiked during the Great Depression and we should not be surprised by the increase in racial hostilities at this time, especially the irrational distrust expressed by certain fractions of white America towards the bi-racial President to fix the economic mess he inherited from a President who they more or less allowed to run amok. Their racism does not manifest as lynching and burning crosses.

Those who have always felt, they were losing their rightful place in America since Harry Belafonte’s televised duet with Petula Clarke and Brown vs. The Board of Education have long changed stratagem. They replaced “white” with “Christian” and “patriot” and now hide behind the cloak of “Religious Right” and Conservative.

Apathy, Numbness, Blindness To Injustice

Still think slavery and racism has not adversely affected white people? There is a deeply ingrained legacy of avoidance of anything potentially unpleasant known as WASPish behaviour and it is extremely unhealthy. Indeed many White Anglo Saxon Protestant people descended from the more affluent colonials were raised to turn a blind eye; don’t get involved even when they have the opportunity to do the right thing. This coping mechanism and fear of being bullied by ones’ own became necessary in order to ignore the tug of their conscience while people are being enslaved, sold, lynched, raped and sent to prison for crimes they did not commit. I call it the “monkey see no evil, Marie Antoinette ” phenomenon.

For years whites who grew up with Jim Crow or Apartheid cultivated and passed down to their children, a filter of fear; fear to speak up or cause a confrontational row, most of all, fear of being cast out of the privileged circle. They developed and passed along the ability to not only ignore atrocities and injustice but excuse them, often in ridiculous ways as Barbara Bush demonstrated when she said that Katrina (predominantly poor, black) victims should be happy to be in a football stadium rather than their slums.
This fearful paralysis often leads to total apathetic blindness which is exposed in social experiments like ABC’s What Would You Do. One episode revealed how long it took people to notice and confront racism happening right before their eyes. A scenario was set up where a “nice” white, female, mature, real estate agent was denying non-whites access at an open house in a predominantly white suburb. The most immediate and most vocal confrontations of the racist came from you guessed it, another minority as well as women. In the end, the report revealed that only a paltry one third who saw the incident actually spoke up. Most were too afraid to do anything or were perhaps complicit with the racist sentiments being expressed. Many are content to say,” I know I am not be racist but that does not mean I am going to get personally involved in those people’s problems!”

Bill O’Reilly said on an internationally available network in prime time that he was shocked black people actually used knives and forks when he visited a black-owned restaurant in Harlem. He is representative of many who continue to assert they not personally stained by racism while saying things that are blatantly racist all the time.

The ingrained after-effects of “monkey see no evil Marie Antoinette” method often gets warped into a form of angry defensiveness, like Saint Peter angrily denying Christ out of fear of being associated with him and victimized as well. This is combined with a desperation to belong to the privileged club often makes many seem soulless, callous and lacking any kind of moral fortitude. Some white people, especially from the younger generations, become so embrarrassed and disgusted by their own people, they reject their European heritage completely and adopt the culture of those they consider the noble victims. It is similar to how some black people become racist against other blacks because of disenchantment and embarrassment with the behavioural ills rampant in their communities.

You Cannot Forget What Is Yet To Be Forgiven And Fixed

Since the 1950s, it has become necessary for the Rich White Man not to totally alienate minority voters. In this aspect the Democrats who represent their set of Rich White Men, have been first out the gate in winning minority hearts and minds. Now the Conservatives are realizing they cannot protect their Rich White Men without also reaching out to minorities. There is just one problem, their bullying legacy, Jim Crow, the Sothern Baptists enforcing segregation.

Their solution?

Use scary homosexual nupitals to get homophobic minorities to find common ground with them. Trot out the few minority spokespeople they have who found more personal validation in The Way of The Bully than the lonlier and less financially viable Way of the Warrior. Most of all, remove all potential unpleasant historical reminders of the inhumanity and injustice their Right Wing fractions supported back in the day and way before that.

Texas Board of Education have revised their school curriculum and text books to change the name of the Slave Trade to the Atlantic Triangular Trade and emphasize the positive side of expansionism over the negative. FOX News had the gumption to call it a more "patriotic" syllabus.

Economic-driven politics and religion are interfering with America’s healing process from slavery and racism. We see the result in black Americans who cannot speak frankly about of racism without the FOX News and radio bigots feeling overly affronted. They wish to erase all memory of slavery and any mention of current racism faster than an unfaithful spouse afraid of alimony wants his reconciled wife to forget his indiscretions. They just want the betrayed black and brown American wife to unconditionally trust them and willingly reopen her legs without requiring them to undergo any counseling, STD tests or even use a condom. However the effects of hundred years of violent, systematic disempowerment followed by another hundred plus years of terrorism, segregation, injustice and discrimination, some of which still continues even now cannot be so easily forgotten and those who wish to trivialize it end up coming across as even more racist as a result.

It is almost hilarious when whites representing Conservative issues suddenly choose to become forgetfully noble, incredibly naïve and irrelevantly idealistic about race just when it suits their objectives. Case in point is Affirmative Action.

Conservatives love to go:
“Why do we need Affirmative Action? If you are truly exceptional at what you do of course you will succeed black, white, red or green! By giving minorities an extra consideration aren't we now discriminating against white people? Two wrongs do not a right make!”

At first this sounds so noble!

On deeper examination, you realize it is bullshit.

The fact is that America is a nation of C-Average students. In fact, in any country, the truly exceptional- the geniuses and super athletes usually comprise a small top percentile and require a fair amount of privilege or luck to be identified early and subsequently nurtured and rightfully rewarded for their genius.

The vast majority of us however are B & C-Averages. Now, here is the catch! No black person with a C average from an inner-city school could EVER dare dream of being the CEO of a blue chip company.

How underperformance of poor inner city schools has been handled in America before standardiztion, reflects the "monkey see no evil" on both political fronts. The Liberals lowered the standards so black children could get an A when they should really be getting a C. The Conservatives kept the standards the same and cut back spending on social programmes in inner city neighbourhoods. They then use the resulting underperformance of the predominantly black students as a way to tout how inferior black student is, completely free from any context. Both methods are inherently racist and insulting. Neither approach addresses the systematic racist approaches by the establishment to black neighbourhoods resulting in disenfranchised, dysfunctional, dangerous, disempowering households and communities that produce students who are unable to learn at school.

As a black female friend of mine, working for a media company in New York put it,
“Unlike my white work colleagues, I cannot get away with being AVERAGE. I have to be exceptional. It's called the "black tax" or "black insurance". When they take sick days, I am at work. I cannot relax for a second. I know I am fighting an uphill battle doubled for being a woman and re-doubled for being black. I need that little extra MBA or CEO recommendation. I need to constantly put my white boss at ease that I am not going to use his million-dollar company budget to buy Kentucky Fried Chicken and crack!”.

Now I do not believe that an unqualified or even under-qualified person, black or white, male or female should be given a “pass” simply because of a quota and take the place of a more qualified candidate. I also totally disagree with solving the underperformance of schools in poor districts by lowering standards instead of improving the level of teaching and innovative solutions to the unique social challenges that stem from growing up in poverty. However, it is highly “monkey see no evil" behavior to think that without being mandated, the educational, private and public institutions will allow C-Average minorities an equal chance to even get their foot in the door and prove their ability as university students and employees.

We continue to reward “what name and money can buy” instead of what true character can accomplish. Anyone with average intelligence and minimum self-discipline who is coddled the right way by the best learning tools, best supervision and best extracurricular activities money can buy can get an A Grade. But not everyone can turn out a C-Average while dealing with community and domestic issues stemmed from poverty that would even make most people resort to violence, drugs or suicide. So until the same, exceptional opportunities are afforded to all, then “exceptional” in the mouth of a Conservative against Affirmative Action is just a code-word for “exceptionally privileged” which in most cases in America, still means white.

It is "Marie Antoinette, let them eat cake” mentality to somehow not see that a C-Average by anybody (Black, white, Asian, Mexican) who obtained it under exceptional circumstances like poverty, warding off gangs, working to help the family, dodging stray bullets in shootouts, living on a malnourishing inner city diet, with a single parent, few role models and constant reminders of failure and hopelessness all around is a far more exceptional measure of brilliance compared to an A-Average coaxed out of a privileged student (black, white, Asian or Mexican) through private tutoring, supportive home environment, safe neighborhood, world travel, personal computers and home libraries and a choice of self-esteem, brain power boosting extracurricular activities at a pristine, well-funded school with teachers who can afford to pay individual attention to students.

I would erase ethnicity ENTIRELY from Affirmative Action and make it about favoring those of the lower economic class only. A poor person, black or white who has clearly demonstrated a willingness and effort to succeed despite amazing odds should be encouraged through preferred rewards. Now that is the real fulfillment of the “American Dream”.

Anyone with average intelligence who is coddled the right way by the best learning tools and supervision money can buy can get an A. But not everyone can turn out a C-Average while dealing with issues that would even make the adults in this forum resort to suicide. So until the same opportunities are afforded to all to be exceptional, then “exceptional” in the mouth of a Conservative against Affirmative Action is just a code-word for “exceptionally privileged” which in most cases, still means white. So who are we kidding by trying to pretend the playing field has somehow become miraculously leveled? When did that happen? Who or what made this historic event in America happen? As far as I know, money (and all it can buy), legacy and family name still hold the most sway.

The only change I would make to Affirmative Action is include poor whites as well. If you got your C-Average living in a trailer park with an alcoholic father, meth addiction and violence all around you and you had to work a night job just to feed yourself while doing it, well you DESERVE a chance to show me what you can do with a full scholarship and a healthy, nurturing environment full of mentors and opportunities. If I was poor, white and American that is what I would be protesting about. I would take affront to the fact that a person who grew up with every privilege and opportunity to succeed but still turned in a lackluster C-Average and sucked as the CEO of a company could still dream of being the Leader of the Free World and actually become it.

America does not reward "character" enough and then wonders why it has increasing numbers of spoiled brats in power and too many university graduates who are actually dumb once they hit the real workplace and spoiled slackers who cannot decide what they want to do with their life because for the first time they have to motivate themselves without the coddling of mom, dad and a roster of well paid for educational and extracirricular activities. Many privileged students cannot prove themselves efficient at real-life decisions, they just know the most effective cramming methods for tests. Meanwhile truly talented diamonds in the rough with street smarts, creativity, moral fortitude to endure hardship and the ability to self-motivate and dream from ghettos and trailer parks are becoming too despondent to even try anymore.

Seeing what has happened to Shirley Sherrod this July, we have a long way to go yet. There is far too much milking and applause when a white man coddled by the system, admits his racism and repents. He gets standing ovations and Oscar worthy story-lines. When a black woman who was the victim of racism does the same, she gets raked over the coals by the media. This is just too reminiscent of that scene from the movie A Color Purple set in the 1920s. Sophie (played by Oprah Winfrey) makes the mistake of rebuffing a “nice” white woman who wants to take her kids home as if they were puppies or something. The white woman expects Sophie to be humbly grateful like a good little negro “girl” and be instantly amenable to her request. Sophie isn’t and rudely refuses. A passing white man slaps her for her impertinence. Sophie does the unthinkable and she slaps the white man right back and is promptly surrounded by an entire group of white men, beaten up and sent to prison. In 1920, incidents like these were probably commonplace though unlike Rodney King, there were no video cameras to record the misplaced outrage, defensiveness and overreaction that continues to plague many white people up till now.

How Do We Move On Together?

Freedom from the legacy of slavery and racism for both black and white is within reach. It lies in forgiveness which starts with acknowledging what happened, what is still happening and perhaps most of all, who was truly responsible and its traumatic effects on everyone and what must be done to make it an even playing field again, without infringing on anyone's human rights.

There is no need for white people to overburden themselves with unnecessary guilt and do-goodness or walk around with fearful paranoia of doing or saying the wrong thing around minorities, which often results in a kind of disingenuous political correctness that is actually worse. Honesty is always much better and leads to more meaningful, solid relationships. Trust me, as someone with many productive interracial, cross cultural, cross religious, cross-economic class relationships. You have to have the “unpleasant conversations” in order for your interracial relationships to be valid. Most black people appreciate honesty over the sugar-coated bullshit. Come out and say what you are really feeling. It is a vital part of the healing process.

So get your black friend, colleague, family member and say:

“I was raised to be afraid of black people and I admit it still affects me even though I know better.”

“It is hard to both love and respect my parents and family members and yet acknowledge they were and sometimes still are in many ways, shamefully racist.”

“It is hard being excluded or whispered about by all the people I was raised to think are my friends, fellow Christians, community members and it makes me second-guess standing up for what is right when it comes to race relations. Sometimes I just want to fit in and be accepted.”

“When I watch or listen to historical accounts of slavery or read or see examples of racism today it makes me feel ashamed and guilty even though I did not enslave anyone and I know I am not racist. It makes me feel helpless that I cannot do anything about it and scared minorities might still be angry and take it out on me.”

“Sometimes it makes me angry that certain black people might look at me and just assume I am part of the problem not part of the solution and make judgements about me just because I am white but I feel powerless and frustrated to express how I feel because they always have the biggest victim card to play instead of really listening to my side of the story.”

Hopefully that black friend, colleague, family member close to you has moved beyond anger and is more interested in resolution than playing, “Let me count all the ways I suffer should wallow in my mistrust more than you!” Hopefully the two of you can hash out these things together.

Southern Heritage- A brave and poignant poem about confronting both the beauty and ugliness of one’s heritage.

For me and my partner and white friends it was a fundamental part of us bonding. It is a great release for them to be able to speak frankly about their experiences without judgement. It is a great gift to be able to openly acknowledge racism we experience today, call it what it is and then move past it together hand in hand. For my partner and I it was discussing how even in 2010, when we go out to dinner in our touristy island home and the bill comes, the local, black waiter or waitress almost always assumes that the white person will be paying and does not even look in my direction. We take great pleasure in shocking when I whip out the VISA card. We can laugh, pity the fool and most of all live free from personal hurt, guilt, embarrassment and anger.

My partner of 13 years, a Trini of Portugese/Spanish/Irish/Scottish descent once admitted to me how insidiously racism was practiced in the family in the form of the unspoken understanding that the black, Indian, mixed children in Trinidad were okay to play and go to school with but not to date or marry. Over the years, many replaced outright racism (actually calling people “Nigger” or “Coolie” and engaging in discrimination or violence) in favor of subtler forms of social ostracism with euphemistic justifications. They would even vehemently deny being racist and point to all their charity work and casual acquaintances. Fortunately, many in my partner’s generation and younger have been challenging this hypocrisy more directly.

The thorny racial relations that currently plague the United States is evidence that the nation has tried to forget before it truly goes through the real forgiveness process thoroughly and genuinely by an overwhelming majority.

Thank you Teabaggers for bringing the pimple of racism closer to the surface of the skin where it can be squeezed and medicated properly through brutally honest discourse and exposure.

This is why I am strangely thankful to the Teabaggers. The blatant racism of many of their members is showing the Conservative Movement’s true underbelly. They are making the harmful after-effects of hundreds of years of slavery and racism on white people, harder to ignore. Not even the talking heads on FOX News and politicians can hide behind the “monkey see no evil Marie Antoinette” smiles. The puss filled pimple of racism is ripening and moving closer to the surface of the American skin and there exists, perhaps for the first time, a prime opportunity to squeeze it and apply medication instead of just applying concealer.

August 01, 2010

Emancipating The White Man Part 1- How We Got To This Point

First of all, Happy Emancipation Day!

Now on to business…

Why do blacks need special help? How come they are allowed to speak of Black Pride without being labeled racist? How come they are allowed to have college funds to help their young people exclusively? Sure, racism was bad but wasn’t that like hundreds of years ago? Aren’t they supposed to be over it by now? Horrible things happened to other ethnic groups who came to the Americas and Caribbean and they are not as badly off! Why should anyone in 2010 feel responsible for slavery? I did not enslave anyone! Even my great grandfather did not enslave anyone! Why are the black people so angry still?

An example of trivialization of the effects of slavery and continued racism can be found when O'Reilly equated the Black Panthers with David Duke (1/11/99): "You were promoting your people, black people, and he's promoting white people. So what's the difference?"

It is difficult to communicate the complex web of dysfunction that four hundred plus years of slavery followed by another hundred plus years of terrorism, injustice and segregation up to today’s ongoing racism and discrimination has done to descendents of African people.

In a simplified representation, I will attempt this impossible task to help those who still have trouble wrapping their minds around its effects. I call this story:

The Ladders That Built America

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a Rich White Man kidnapped a Black Man from a foreign land and using unthinkable means the Rich White Man forced his captive on his knees and used him as a human ladder to climb a tall wall. You see, on the other side of that tall, thick wall was abundance beyond compare. Back in Europe and in the early stages of arriving in the New World, The Rich White Man had used his own brothers and sisters to access wealth, but his fellow whites had grown increasingly empowered, ambitious and individualistic. They had also splintered away from the great religious empire that once kept them in-check and were challenging the class system. So, it had become much easier to use people who came from lands already weakened and ravaged by tribal wars, enslavement and exploitation. The African territories were such a place.

Suppressing all compassion and teaching his children to do the same, the Rich White Man somehow convinced himself and his children that it was the Black Man’s lot in life. The Rich White Man justified his actions by saying,
“Well, at least he we’ll make him a Christian convert, although not as equal a Christian in the eyes of God as we are.”

They set about turning The Black Man into the perfect human ladder. First, they robbed him of his name, honor, culture and family-ties. They programmed him to be ashamed and afraid of his African roots and be desperate for survival rather than fraternity so he would easily betray his own people. They trained him to be motivated only by fear of punishment and not his by pride and ambitious dreams. They whipped and terrorized all desire to climb the wall and feel deserving of the spoils on the other side. They slaughtered all Black Men who were smart and cunning enough to learn how to read and plot escape and engaged in twisted breeding experiments to build bigger, stronger human ladders.

The Black Man learned that being dumb and submissive meant survival and so he taught his children how to be dumb and submissive too.

Once over the wall, The Rich White Man made himself very comfortable. He also aided his family and friends over the wall using his black human ladder. Eventually they too benefitted from the fertile land, riches and abundance. They in turn helped their families and friends, who helped their families and friends and so on. They taught their children it was their birthright to experience this entitement. For over four hundred years they used the Black Man as their human ladder, they learned how to ignore his cries as his back broke and bones fractured under their weight.

The White Man taught their children how to ignore and suppress their conscience and justify the injustice using religion, economics and theories of racial superiority based on what they had caused the Black Man to become.

Indebted Labour Force Replaces Slave Labour

Then one day, the Rich White Man decided he did not need his black human ladder anymore. He and the privileged few he allowed over the wall discovered how to build wooden ladders. Not only that, they discovered that if they made these wooden ladders available to others who could afford it, they would make an even bigger profit than if they used human ladders.

A new labour force was now available.

You see, many people now wanted to climb over the wall and would do anything for a ladder- work long hours, vote a certain way, fight in wars for the Rich White Man’s causes, just for the chance. Immigrants began to come from all over the world just to get the opportunity. Besides, the Black Man’s complaining and suffering was tiresome and it did not help that the whole “human ladder” thing was falling out of favor among the growing humanist, intellectual elite who were currently the most innovative and promising group poised to usher in the rapidly approaching 20th Century. The Rich White Man wanted to gain access to their brilliance and most of all, to be accepted and perceived as one of them.

So one day, The Rich White Man told his black human ladder,
“Hey Black Man, I’m setting you free. Maybe what I did to you over the last four hundred years was kinda unfair to you, but hey, at least now you have your freedom, not as much freedom as I do of course, but sufficient enough for your kind. Hey, at least you are a Christian now. Just stay on that barren side of the wall with the poor whites and recent arrivals to America! This side with all the abundance is for people like me who arrived on the first set of ships and our descendents!”

You see deep down, the Rich White Man was and still is fearful of retribution. He feared what would happen when the Black Man had children and grandchildren. So he spends a great deal of time trying to “manage” this threat.

“Now don’t let this little bit of freedom go to your head. Remember your place Black Man and be submissive and obedient or else we can lock you up and force you back into slave labor in chain gangs for the slightest hint of disrespect.” Slavery may have been over but for generations more, the oppression continued.

His fears however are proven unnecessary for the crippled Black Man was grateful just to be free for he was broken and worn down from being stepped on. For a while, freedom alone was truly enough and he and his children stayed on the barren, stagnant side of the wall without much complaint. After all, the Black Man was never paid a cent for being a human ladder far less dreamed of climbing a wooden one. All initiative, ambition and individualism was bred and beaten out of him and he in turn had beaten it out of his children and they beat it out of their children, “Know your place! Be grateful you are at least free!” they chastised their sons and daughters who asked why they are not allowed to approach the wall let alone climb one of the new wooden ladders.

Meanwhile the Rich White Man decided that he will open up the accessibility of ladders just a smidge. This coincided with his discovery of profitable ways to mass produce and sell ladders in an efficient way. He opens up ladder opportunities to Merchant Class White Men, Poor White Men and eventually even Immigrants. He provides them with Ladder Loans that offer one rung at a time and many took advantage of it. They work hard for the Rich White Man and the conditions under which they suffer are almost as horrible as those suffered by the human ladders who paved the way for all of this…with one big exception.

Unlike the Black Man’s Children, the Children of the Poor White Man and Immigrants actually saw examples of their people actually making it over the other side of the wall and helping their family and friends over. In fact, this is what inspired many of them to come to America. Their parents were laborers, farmers, tradesmen and were also excluded and exploited by the privileged Rich White Man’s circle in their European countries for years. They too had their share of hardship, potato famines, religious persecution, class entrapment and clan feuds in the Old World which were notable. However, in this New World they found not only a sliver of opportunity but a new hierarchy.

No matter how badly the Immigrants and Poor White Man’s Children had it, they were bolstered by the knowledge that unlike their European countries, they were not dead last in line for a ladder. In this new land of opportuntiy, The Black Man’s Children replaced them at the bottom, along with the Native American Indians and Mexicans. For while the Rich White Man’s system discriminated on social class, national heritage and religion, those on the privileged side of the wall actually felt more comfortable and less fearful of vengeance around someone who shared the same complexion rather than the same Christ.

Even though the Poor White Man and Immigrant had suffered, they never lost their family ties, cultural and racial pride, sense of ambition and individuality. All of these things had been systematically stamped out in the Black Man’s Children in addition to something far more important…real hope of actually making it or at least their Children making it within a generation. They took out Ladder Loans, worked hard and repaid the Rich White Man in exchange for one ladder rung at a time. Some even managed to pay off the loan in their lifetime and truly enjoy the riches on the other side of the wall. Some used military service, intelligence, innovation and their talent to find their American dream.

Water fountains in an American Court of Law back in the day. Imagine the effects on the very psyche of a people raised generation after generation to know they are lower than second class citizens.

While watching all of this, the Black Man’s Children realized that it was their parents’ sore muscles, broken family and broken bones that in fact helped the first Rich White Man climb over the wall and made all of this opportunity for his Children and others possible in the first place.

“Certainly, if these people can do it, we’ve earned a chance to go after at least one rung of the ladder,” they reasoned.
So the Black Man’s Children who were raised to never dare ask for anything, timidly approached the Rich White Man for a Ladder Loan
“Sorry Black Man’s Children,” said the Rich White Man’s Children who had already developed a cold-hearted immunity to noticing injustice, “but you are not a desirable Ladder Loan candidate. You lack steady employment,”
So the Black Man’s Children asked for a job to obtain a ladder, one rung at a time.
“Sorry Black Man Children,but you do not have sufficient education to get a job,”
So the Black Man’s Children asked for special consideration to be educated given his unfortunate set-backs.
“That would be unfair,” said the Rich White Man’s Children “If I give that to you, why not give it to everyone?”
“But you did unmentionable things to our parents’ and are still treating us unfairly!”
“Yes, unmentionable is the operative word here. C’mon, get over it already! Okay, you are good at being a human ladder, so I will give you as close to a human ladder job as I can find for you, how’s that?”

So it was, the Black Man’s Children accepted the most menial tasks, just for a distant hope of affording a ladder one day. It is not long however, before more of them realize that even after fifty years of working they would never save enough to buy a single rung on a ladder. Many of dropped out of the race. Many fell to desperation and despair. However a few toiled on and placed hopes on their children seeing the other side of that wall. They called it, “The Promise Land”.

The Effect On The Children

Unfortunately, The Black Man's Children were unwittingly affected by human ladder indoctrination. They may have never felt the lash but they were born with the welts and were uninspired by the hopelessness in menial toil. In them, the seeds of despondency bore bitter fruit. Yet despite this, there were glimmers of hope. They had slowly coalesced as a community around an almost forgotten African spirituality mixed with the New World Christianity and the musical rhythm buried deep in their heart. The native spirits and native wisdom had not been entirely destroyed and gradually the crippled Black Man’s Children began to break out of their human ladder paralysis.

Somewhere between inventing gospel, the blues, jazz and calypso, they began to dream of doing more than just surviving and raising children to subsist their way through life while working in dead-end menial jobs. They decided in earnest that the strongest among them will try to be a human ladder for their brothers and sisters until they could obtain wooden ladders for everyone. On their impoverished side of the wall, they formed their own community, hoping one day, they too could climb over the wall and help their brothers and sisters over as the Rich White Man did and the others were currently doing.

It would not be easy. There was now stiff competition not just for the ladders but a spot on the wall to place them and climb up. The Children of the Poor White Man and Poor White Immigrants were now scrambling in vast numbers to get over the wall. Some did not even bother to use a ladder but drilled holes into the wall and made their way using bootleg booze, gambling, vice, extortion and various scams. They would discover that great crimes could lead to great fortune. In the end, The Almighty Dollar, not some form of Christian morality was the ultimate God of this New World.
But why didn’t the Poor White Man’s Children, Immigrants’ Children and Black Man’s Children not see their shared struggle and common oppressor? Why didn’t they unite and help one another climb over the wall?

During times of economic depression, racial violence against blacks would spike.

They might have come close a few times but then a Great Depression made everyone go “every man for himself” and “to each his own” and there arose great resurgence of terrorism against the Black Man’s Children as even the most menial jobs were now desired by the Poor White Man’s Children who had fallen on desperate times. After the Great Depression subsided, next came the new threat of Communism. The Rich White Man’s Children took great pains to stamp out any talk of “sharing wealth” and “brotherhood” and so it made any who wanted to unite be fearful of being labeled a Bolshevik.

However, that was not really the most powerful reason why. The real reason why the common struggle did not unite the lower classes, black, white, immigrant is far more depressing and so typically human.

Many, particularly among the Poor White Man’s Children and Immigrant’s Children who had experienced exclusion and persecution from the Rich White Man, decided to regain their self-esteem by victimizing others in turn. They derived great pride from not being dead last in line for a ladder according to the Rich White Man’s ranking system and became virulently preoccupied with all the reasons why they were still “better than those niggers!”

The Effects On The Grandchildren

Times were changing though. The Black Man’s Children had multiplied and were mobilizing and demanding equality. What aided their cause greatly was the love affair America now had with the musical magic they had spawned that now filled the airwaves with jazz, soul, blues and rock n roll (the slang blacks used for making love). The feelings aroused and the integrating nature of the rhythm instantly put those who had appointed themselves “Protectors of White Progress and Virtue” on edge. Watching their sons and daughters gyrating to the devilishly pagan drums of “negro music” was the start of them using “morality” as a code word for “race”. Jazz was evil. Blues was evil. Rock n Roll was evil because it was negro-derived. It would not be the last time “moral values” was used a code for “white”.

The orgins of the Religious Right in America are closely linked to racism. Anything that threatened integration of white and black became a crusade for the racist whites who euphemistically called themselves the "Morality Police" who sought to have it outlawed on equally frivolous grounds- marijuana, Jazz, Blues, alcohol, Rock n Roll, and yes, also integrated education.

Despite the protests, increasing numbers of the White Man’s Children, rich, poor and immigrant including some in the echelons of power began to soften and notice the marked injustice being done to the Black Man’s Children. It soon became more important to their image, political and economic interests to demonstrate humanitarianism and reconciliation towards this abused and neglected group.
The Poor White Man’s Children could not believe it! Their response was swift and violent, especially in the South. So it was, yet another generation of the Black Man’s Children experienced a further set back of crippling disenfranchisement, terrorism and discrimination. However, a hope was slowly dawning with the birth of the Grandchildren. It was into a world where blacks and whites and everyone else danced to the same soundtrack. In addition, more of the Black Man’s Grandchildren inherited the collected savings of lifetimes of menial work. By pooling resources together the Black Man’s Grand-children finally got enough money to afford one rung of the ladder. With each rung, came enough courage to attempt to climb for the first time.

When America black and white began dancing to the same soundtrack, one that originated with the black rhythms, it was a sign of change to come.

It was not easy trying to purchase a rung. Often, the White Man’s Ladder Store refused to sell it to them or would only do so at a higher price and only if they stayed on their side of the store. The Black Man’s Grandchildren decided to pay the higher price. It was also not easy getting a spot on the wall to place the ladder as they were often pushed away and ganged up on. They were undaunted though.
“Once we get over to the other side to the Promise Land, we can at least help our brothers and sisters over the wall too,” they kept on saying and it gave them strength.

So they contentedly paid the added “Black Man’s Tax”, swallowed their pride, held themselves to a higher standard, did everything to set their white neighbors vying for a spot on the wall, at ease. They minded their manners and acted diplomatically. They hid the hurts and offense. They groomed themselves in a way that soothed the Rich White Man’s Grandchildren’s fears of anything overly African, nappy or vengefully angry. They pretended to forget there was any reason to feel hurt or have a grudge. In this uneasy and unconfirmed forgiveness, the Rich White Man’s Grandchildren and Poor White Man’s Grandchildren convinced themselves that the Black Man’s Grandchildren had “gotten over it” and they could breathe easy. They became gradually comfortable with the occasional token black who managed to secure a ladder and somehow learned how to climb it even though “it was not in their nature” to do so.

It is hard for many to understand the level of self-hatred inculcated into the Black Man’s Children and Grandchildren and how the White Man's Children and Grandchildren are unaware of how they still contribute to it. One way of summing it up can be found in the experience one of my black sisters who decided to choose to wear her naturally kinky. She worked in upper management of a large bank. The manager called her into his office and asked whether or not she could get a more “corporate hairstyle”. Thankfully, the young woman had rediscovered her pride and replied, “If I were to apply harsh chemical relaxers and painful weaves a French Poodle’s hair so it resembles a Maltese’s or Afghan Hound’s long silky hair everyone would consider it animal cruelty and disrespectful to their breed. Funny isn’t it how when it comes to dogs, we accept and celebrate their differences and still see them as beautiful in their own right and yet cannot even do the same for ourselves.”

When the miniscule number of Black Man’s Grandchildren climbed over the wall, they exclaimed,
“But there has always been more than enough for everyone!”

They felt such humbling gratitude to have made it over because many of their brothers and sisters still had not and many more they knew never would. It became an urgent mission to provide ladders to their people and teach them how to climb and protect them as they did. However, it would be harder than they had anticipated. The bitter fruit of despondency fallen from consecutive generations had now fermented and their people were drunk on it. The Black Man’s Grandchildren had grown so pessimistic and desperate they had begun using their brothers and sisters as human ladders, pimping, addicting and killing them in order to escape their misery.
“We are already too late!” the few successful Grandchildren of the Black Man panicked. “How are we going to repair this tragedy? We cannot do it alone!”

Fortunately, there were Liberal Grandchildren of Immigrants, Poor White Men and even some Rich White Men who were touched by their efforts and whose hearts had not completely hardened despite being raised to turn a blind eye to injustice. They actively disagreed with their parents’ fear, avoidance and racism. They admitted the truth: All of America on the privileged side of the wall had profited and benefited from the Black Man serving as a human ladder while his own Grandchildren had not received one percent of the rewards of his labor and were still being stymied by racism. For them it was an expression of humanitarianism, gratitude and resolution to assist those disproportionately disenfranchised.

Imagine the courage of the first black people to cross the wall. Courage that is needed even today for many who try to break barriers of race.

Together they marched with the Black Man’s Grandchildren for integration and equality.
“But we thought they were happy and contented! What the hell more do they want?” screamed the Conservative Grandchildren of the Poor and Rich White Men.
They unleashed their dogs and hoses. They accused those who demanded an equal place of Communism. Among those very unhappy about this development were the Poor White Man’s Grandchildren who were still holding on to the assurance that, “We were supposed to be next in line for a ladder over the wall, not those niggers!”
“Reverse racism!” they cried.
They pointed to the fermented, poisonous fruit growing in black communities not as proof of the atrocious seeds that were sown by their forefathers but as proof of the Black Man's Children's current unreservedness. Every time there was a crash in the economy, their cries would grow louder.

Some of the Rich and Middle Class White Man’s Great Grandchildren took offense as well. All the increased talk of “sharing” also bothered them tremendously.
“Why can’t the Black Man’s Grandchildren climb over on their own merit? Cause that is how we did it! Totally free from hand-outs, entitlements, and special privilege at someone else’s expense!Right?....RIGHT?"

Everything I just wrote, captured in a concise little cartoon!

And there you have it! A synopsis but I want to delve even deeper in a rather unexpected direction. I am going to do the unthinkable and explore…

How slavery and racism has damaged the psyche of the White Man's Children, Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren and why resolution is being made so difficult between black and white today.