Monday, April 07, 2008

You're right--It is time for an apology: On the 40th anniversary of MLK's assassination, we white folks have been treated to the ritual dressing down for all the ways that we have ruined and continue to ruin the lives of black folks. We deny them economic justice, we don't provide them enough jobs and enough good jobs, we don't provide them the capital to get them off the ground financially, we need to apologize for slavery, Jim Crow, etc., etc.

We tell blacks that their leaders accuse us of inventing AIDS to commit genocide, and instead of an apology, the response we get is that we continue to be bigots and must do more.

I can't speak for other whites, but I certainly know my feelings. If the black community wants to improve race relations with me, how about apologizing for the shoddy work, endless excuses, and constant hustle that insult me in the classroom every day. How about an apology for all the thought police who chew me out and threaten to tell my superiors if I say the wrong thing during class discussions.

How about an apology for all the commuting I have to do to be able to live in a decent neighborhood. How about an apology for how I get hit up by black panhandlers every time I get out of my car to get gas. How about about an apology for the scourge of graffiti I see all over my town, and all the litter in the streets. How about an apology for all the thumping, blaring "music" coming out cars I have to endure.

How about an apology for making my wife fearful in many parts of town, and for making it hard to find good schools for my kids. How about an apology for jumping my friend, beating him senseless, throwing him unconscious into a dumpster, and his spending a week in the hospital, all because he was alone in the wrong place at the wrong time. How about an apology for the group of guys who tried to scare me out of my new shoes on the bus. How about an apology to my brother who has to put up with unreliable, unproductive black employees.

How about an apology for my being like the last kid to get picked for the team when I apply for an academic position. ("Nobody left? Alright, pick the white guy.") How about an apology for the thousands of dollars in taxes I've had to pay for all costs that blacks impose on American society. How about an apology for the drag that you folks are on the economy, the culture, and the society.

How about an apology for our pulling our kids aside so you can get jobs and into good schools because we feel bad for you--not because we did anything wrong--and instead of a "thank you" we get "you're a bigot--do more."

Even a little less finger pointing and and little more hard look at self would be a good start. But I ain't holding my breath.


Anonymous said...


scottynx said...

I'll second that amen. I want an apology for 4 AP classes being totally dropped by the college board because not enough minorities take them.

Audacious Epigone said...

The purchasing power parity of the average black in the US is about two-thirds greater than the PPP of the average person in Botswana, the world's wealthiest black country (excluding the oil-rich anomaly of Equitorial Guinea). A black American born today can expect to live into his seventies. If he's born anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa, he'll be beating the odds in making it past sixty.

African slavery in the western hemisphere can be seen as one of the best things to have happened from the perspective of contemporary black Americans and one of the worst things to have happened from the perspective of contemporary white Americans. Crime, poverty, 'failing schools', curtailment of free speech, international embarassment, and the occasional personal destruction of scientific pioneers are among the consequences white America has suffered.

Koreans absorbed a generation of brutality at home that in many ways was worse than the black experience in the US during the first half of the 20th Century, and Jews have repeatedly faced persecution from Christians extending as far back as the sermons of St. John of Chrysostum in the 5th Century, after Jews no longer presented any serious secular threat to the Christian world. Yet today's Ashkenazi Jews aren't exactly languishing at the bottom of American society.

I know I'm making far more than a cultural comparison when I consider Korean and Jewish performance to that of blacks in the US. To expect parity is beyond unreasonable, to the 'credit' of black America. I'm interested in ways of ameliorating the situation at home and internationally. But the lecturing--Jon Meachem of Newsweek called the racial issues Obama had to address white America's "original sin" on last weekend's Meet the Press--of whites makes me boil.

It's hard for me, born in 1983, to think of exactly what racial sins I'm guilty of having committed. And far from being ashamed of what my fathers have done, I'm awed at the trillions of dollars in concessions they've made, the moral lashing they continue to refrain from giving though it seems deserved, and the merit in society they've foregone in an attempt to integrate a largely ungrateful, underachieving, burdensome, and often downright dangerous minority into the larger majority--goodwill that surpasses in effort and scope any other ever undertaken by a nation's market-dominant majority on behalf of one of its minorities.

Ron Guhname said...

audacious: It's my turn to say "amen."