The African American Reality: A letter to my white friend.
(ThyBlackMan.com) Me and a white friend of mine were having a conversation over lunch the other day. The topic was world peace. All he wanted was for past wrongs done to African Americans to be forgotten, and everyone to just get along. I explained to him that this isnt the way the real world works, especially when those past wrongs are still affecting many of my people today. He claimed I was playing a victim. that I was giving in to a self-loathing over a past situation; one which I didn’t even have to experience. of course he was referring to any type of racism demonstrated from slave ships to the Jim Crow Era. But i assured him that those past situations lead to our present predicament in race relations, and my feelings were not unique to just me. It was one of those conversations where you just want to lay it all out on the table, booming with a voice as articulate as Malcolm, and Ringing with the passion of Martin. But all that came out was “Man you just don’t get it, you have to first see the world through my eyes“. I told him I would write something down to articulate to him the reality of the situation.This is a letter to my white friend.
Peace is the goal. Yes, peace is the goal for most of humanity, but in order to achieve peace amongst groups of people who are of different shades of skin, we must first fix the biggest problem that faces us today. Many Americans would like to believe that there is no problem, and that only by introducing, and re-conjuring up an issue do we create an obstacle towards peace. Unfortunately this is not true. Just because one doesn’t experience the issue as severely as others, doesn’t mean the issue doesn’t exist. The world doesn’t just disappear when you close your eyes. No, we must recognize, and accept the problem in order to ever work towards the solution of peace. Because logically, one can not properly fix a problem unless they have clearly identified the problem first. So what’s the problem?
It is as simple as this: people do not see each other. People do not see each other for who they are. Instead, people categorize themselves based off of physical characteristics, and then place attributes on anyone fitting that physical description – we choose not to see each other. Most would be more satisfied knowing my skin color than knowing my favorite color. We rather guess my annual income than ever stop to learn what values I hold true. This backwards way of living will not due. We need to begin to understand one another, you and I. And that is going to take accepting, and respecting some hard truths about reality from all sides. To begin, I will share life from the perspective of an African American male in the south. For that is what I have lived, and what you must accept. I only ask when you read about my world, that you step outside yourself and place no biased on the African American’s reality. So sit back, and just imagine.
Imagine an entire group of people who share nothing with the world. Who are unique for all the wrong reasons. Irregular, because they have been called the criminal class their entire lives. Anomalous, because they were the main participants in the first type of recorded American slavery that deprived the slaves of their original names, culture, traditions, and equated them with pieces of property. A group that is distinctive, because even though “racism is not a big deal anymore“, you are still looked down upon, innately because of the skin you had no control of being born in. and then imagine a people who has grown to realize that they have been told throughout all of their formal education that they have not contributed anything worth more than a chapter of mention concerning this worlds History. That everything else constructive was done by everyone else. This leaves you with a group of unwanted, undervalued people, who dont understand that they can do great things. Malcolm X said it best: “As long as you are convinced you have never done anything, you can never do anything“.
When you tell a group of people all their lives that they have never done anything positive in this world, then you deprive them of any hope to accomplish anything positive. And as long as the African American believes this, Then it will influence their self-confidence, pride, and actions, in a negative way. A lot to swallow right?
Remember, I didnt say be critical of, I said to just imagine such a people. I further challenge you to imagine you ARE part of that group of people and not just an onlooker of the situation. Suddenly a lot of “African American Problems” begin to make sense.
Now company this with anyone with less melanin who can pass for a group that is associated with everything good. That has a lineage of acknowledged kings, queens, and accomplishments. You literally can not be successful without memorizing, regurgitating, understanding, and being able to write essays on information concerning this group of people. Because if you dont learn everything about this group, then you are cheated out of any American education; both public and private sectors. Imagine a group of people with a lighter, passable, complexion to not be considered a problem. I can go on and on about the innate privilege that comes with being passable as white, but the point is this; A white person’s sense of pride, confidence, and foundation is based off of a recorded history- a tie to something great. While African Americans have to go through independent study to re-establish those same senses in order to gain that same feeling. And to be clear, those of African decent who do go back and relearn their history are not the norm. the majority of my people still feel like the unloved, red-headed step child of the world.
I can only hope that you are beginning to see the link between past wrongs and the present state of the African American mentality. And as bleak as i make our current state sound, I recognize that me and you both experience inequalities and differences in our lives; none of which is our fault. and that recognition from both sides is imperative to move towards actually fixing race relations. So try to see me, as I try to see you.
I want to be clear that nothing was written to excuse anyone of their greatness. I do, and continue to believe that African American people have always had the potential to accomplish great things; For my true history supplies proof. And like you, I believe many Americans are willing to seek compromise in the wake of any adversity.
Unfortunately, many people look at the state of my peoples plight from a position of judgment or self- loathing of why the past wrongs can’t just be forgotten; of course only after one side has been emotionally, psychologically, and physically beaten. But that ideal makes no sense.
We don’t just forget. And It makes no sense to try if everyone is not even going to put forth an equal step to see things from one another’s perspective. Peace is the goal, and One love is the motto, but that first requires a respect and acknowledgment of the struggles from both sides. I would hope you would reply to me with a similar recollection of your views taking into account what I have shared with you, so that we can push forward. My brother, I have offered up my reality in hopes you will understand it.
Staff Writer; Robbie Robinson
Official website; Tumblr – Everetts Transition.