The Right to Be White

Posted on March 8, 2021


Throughout the Trump administration, Life in the Boomer Lane couldn’t make sense of what appeared to be groups of polar opposites who both thought that Trump was oh-so-swell-in-every-way. There were the educated, middle and upper middle class professionals who invested in the stock market, dutifully paid taxes, sometimes played golf and belonged to country clubs and spent time evaluating what would be the right school for their kids. Then there was the other group, not-so-much educated, blue collar or below, probably didn’t have an excess of funds to either invest, play golf or join a country club. They loved their kids but school selection wasn’t a high priority.

Then one day the light dawned. Each of these groups shared one overriding mission in life, one great passion that drove them on: the right to be white. If you were white and middle class, you most likely had inherited some form of wealth. It’s something most people don’t talk about. But even in modest white families, in the absence of trust funds and stocks and jewelry, houses are usually passed on. And they are houses that have gained a lot of equity over the years. In non-white homes, there are either no properties to pass on or the properties that do exist have been in areas of little or no appreciation. In the other group, there may not have been any kind of wealth, but there was a belief, passed down through the generations, that being white afforded a dignity in the social structure. And that, in the absence of anything else, became everything.

Both groups understood very well that life in a truly egalitarian society would mean a sea change in their own lives. For those with money, it would mean losing the edge in jobs, in educational placement, and in the ability to purchase real estate that would rise in value. For those without money, it would mean being in the lowest rung of the caste system in this country. And without voter suppression or gerrymandering, the political landscape would change dramatically. For both the haves and the have nots of the white population, the losses would be profound.

The end of slavery did little to lesson the divide between blacks and whites. For the next hundred years, inequality reigned in education, economic well-being, employment, voting rights, and social acceptance. In the 1960s, the modern Civil Rights Movement began. Black and white activists, known as freedom riders, took bus trips through the American South to protest segregated bus terminals and attempted to use “whites-only” restrooms and lunch counters. Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama stood in a doorway at the University of Alabama to block two black students from registering. Approximately 250,000 people took part in The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Martin Luther King gave his “I Have A Dream” speech as the closing address in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

The results of all of this were predictable. Freedom Riders were beaten, intimidated, killed. A bomb at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama killed four young girls and injured several other people prior to Sunday services.

On July 2, 1964: President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, preventing employment discrimination due to race, color, sex, religion or national origin. The following year, black religious leader Malcom X was assassinated.

On March 7, 1965: 600 civil rights marchers walked from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery—the state’s capital—in protest of black voter suppression. Local police blocked and brutally attacked them. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday.” After successfully fighting in court for their right to march, Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders lead two more marches and finally reached Montgomery on March 25. On August 6, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prevent the use of literacy tests as a voting requirement. It also allowed federal examiners to review voter qualifications and federal observers to monitor polling places.

This Sunday was the anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Just as the end of slavery did not mean the end of racial discrimination in the nineteenth century, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s did not bring about racial parity in the twentieth. And it it is ironic that on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the bi-racial woman who was very recently a Princess of the British Empire, came forward and revealed that the British Royal Royal Family, leaders of a huge commonwealth of countries comprised of dark-skinned people, had concern that her son would be born with dark skin. She was told that her son would not carry the title of “Prince.”

The right to be white dies hard. It’s road is paved with the countless men, women, and children who have been lynched, shot, beaten, raped, humiliated and have had their most basic human rights denied by this great and amazing country. LBL doesn’t know how long the tragic disparity of wealth and human rights will continue between black and white. She doesn’t know how long this country will be deprived of the intellectual power and capability that isn’t encouraged. She does know that as long as we continue to deny the potential of all of us, we will only get the opposite.

One small victory: On Feb 27, 2020, the  Democratic-majority House of Representatives overwhelming voted to make lynching a federal hate crime in the country. ·It only took 157 years and thousands of black lives.

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