And I Don’t Know Exactly How to Help Black America.
But I think this is a good place for most White folk to start, especially for me to start.
"Where are you taking my boy. Give me back my boy," I scream.
"The boy is worth one dollar. Take it or leave it," the auctioneer shouts to a distinguished man in a top hat. He is about to throw down his gavel with authority.
"Going once, going twice--"
"MY BOY, NOT BOY. TAKE US BOTH!" I scream, sweat pouring from my face. "I'll work harder than any slave you have sir."
But deep down, I will kill them. I will come back and kill them, I think. They can't take my boy away from me. His mother and sisters died on the journey from Africa, and he can't lose me. I can't lose him.
What world is this?
A world that sells slaves.
"An estimated 10.7 million black men, women, and children were transported from West Africa and sold into slavery in South America, Central America, or North America. Nearly two million more are estimated to have perished during the brutal voyage," says the Equal Justice Initiative. And since I started an anti-racist course, I've been having dreams that I was a black man in the 1850s in Montgomery, Alabama.
To confront the truth about slavery and the nasty nature of American history doesn't leave me on the sure footing on how to talk or discuss racism in contemporary society anymore-- and I say this from a place of wanting to know more. Wanting to help the world around me and not really knowing how.
White people don't know Black history, but they get angry when we try to celebrate a new leader?
Lately, I see a lot of black people getting angry at white people. I see them labeling white people as gaslighters. Or status seekers. Or false allies. And I wonder, how I can help Blacks break a system of prejudice and discrimination without the fear of being labeled a gaslighter or using my Black allies for some sort of status symbol-- which is wild for me to think about.
I’m afraid to post a picture of Black success, or progress, or highlight leadership on my social pages because Black people are mad that I'd try to flame or hype up their right for equality?
I'm reading the book Tribe, by Sebastian Junger, and it seems much of the White values have destroyed the values that connect a society from the bottom up. But what values do the Black culture have that won't destroy society from the bottom up? What values do any society have that won't continue to search for greed, power, and control? How do we reteach our next generation to have values that create happier, healthier, and more meaningful communities, states, and countries?
Think about Africa.
The Middle East.
Every society, color, and creed is struggling for control.
But if America is known around the world for cultural, technological, educational, and healthcare advances, we should also be known for our dysfunction. Our power. Our ego. Our greed. Our history of slavery. Control. Our American empire stretches across the world, from military bases to business, to violence, and for what-- to say we are free?
We aren't free.
We aren't free unless we have money to pay for the things we must buy. Freedom isn't being in six figures of debt at 22. Freedom isn't paying $100,000 in healthcare insurance over a decade. Freedom isn't generational wealth, assets, and real estate for Whites and not for minorities.
Are we, the country of the FREE not also one of the most obese, violent, medicated, and depressed societies in the world?
But life isn’t fair, we all know that… but we can control much of the things happening here.
The way we hire.
The way we spend.
The way we eat.
The way we workout.
The way we connect to our community.
Yet, the stats don’t lie when it comes to systematic racism, but even if we didn't have a history of racism, our fellow Black Americans would be in the same dilemma as every other society. If the tables were turned, we probably are right in the same dilemma.
The human ego is always trying to take more than it needs.
It is trying to desperately move up into the top ring of status, wealth, and power, regardless of color (easy for me to say, I know).
But I've lived abroad for 15 years. I've seen societies, and it's the same everywhere. From Africa to N. Korea, to China-- the ego is always the problem. Societies that figure out how to embrace new values that are better for everyone... prosper. Live healthier. Take care of one another and the environment.
A lack of compassion, empathy, and self-awareness is the quid pro quo for progress, greed, and power in America.
What if our Ameria society taught, practiced, and led with new values: the ones our scientists, doctors, brightest CEO's, and psychologists have preached: grit, empathy, self-care, vulnerability, teamwork, love, compassion, and sharing resources?
Our society started off in the slave trade. In taking land from Native Americans. In violence, but yet when it comes to contemporary times, we can't think about how our past affects our present.
Let’s take a look at Mexicans and Blacks. There are huge pay gaps. The percent of leadership positions in congress or senate or private sectors. Unemployment rates. Generational wealth is basically non-existent for many of the minority communities.
Why is that?
The system. Our past?
Who made the system?
Well, I didn’t, but I definitely look like the dudes that created society (hint, white males).
Business Insider wrote, “Similarly, overall income for Black Americans was about 42% lower than for whites in 2018.”
And I know it’s not fair to say this, but how do we do anything positive if we are all sensitive about the words we use to describe the things we want to change about a racist system.
If I’m sensitive to the term “White Privilege” how can I start to understand how to work for a better society? How can I fix a broken system if I get caught up in semantics or ego?
How can Black people get mad at White people that are trying to help the cause?
It’s always ego.
Teams that put aside egos win championships — I know this from my 15 years as a pro basketball player and head coach.
Societies that put aside egos — which naturally happens in War Time or natural disasters (*depression goes down, psychiatric wards population diminishes, crime, people of any race, color, or socio-economic class are treated fairly) happens because people do whatever it takes to win when society is confronted with an insurmountable challenge.
But when times are good, in most societies, the ego comes out to play.
This is because the ego wants more.
Mostly, the ego wants to be right and create a hierarchy of right and wrong.
Look at you, you are wrong — get below me you fucking imbecile, it shouts.
We all want to get our final word in so we can feel better about our small, rather insignificant lives.
You aren’t special.
I’m not special.
We are just different colored humans with egos trying to survive on a planet in the same space.
What’s the best way to do that?
Not by fighting over who is right or wrong — just do the work.
Just do the work necessary to create equality.
To create productive humans.
To create smarter humans.
To create healthier humans.
To create less greedy, evil, violent, and power-hungry humans.
Regardless of what side you are on, or what color you are — our American society is failing in these key values.
This is the ego at work.
White people can bash Black and Black, well, they can’t bash too much, otherwise, they’ll get arrested.
But Black people, now being an anti-racist means I have to watch out who I celebrate of color?
I mean, I guess I get it, but don’t we want progress over ego?
Who cares if we are gaslighting for the sake of gaslighting if it helps the American system become equal and our society more likely to win?
I guess it helps if I define win.
What does winning look like in our society?
But whatever, I’m white and I like my team winning — but at what cost?
I read about ways to be anti-racist:
Continuing education on slavery, to changing the legislation on redlining, and discriminatory policies in America.
We White people should not be afraid to be wrong in trying to be anti-racist or create dialogue about how to create a better society. If I start from the notion of being on the same team, I must not pretend because you are Republican or Democrat we can't find a solution.
That’s winning — just listening to the other person across from you and finding the solution to the problem that works for the betterment of society.
The internet has created a place where you can be a troll, you can spew hatred, anger, and be safe — safe from anyone pushing you out of their community.
No one talks like that in real life.
But just read the comment section below and you'll see the disconnect between dialogue and ego. Between valuing winning and being right.
We should feel safe to have vulnerable conversations about our fears, our mistakes, or our naivete.
What does being an anti-racist mean to me?
An anti-racist is “one who is supporting an anti-racist policy through their actions or expressing an anti-racist idea,” writes Ibram X. Kendi.
So here I am, stumbling along in this Black history of a world that I know little about…
I'm taking a free anti-racist course online. Learning about old policies that affect Black folk today like redlining, mortgage acquirement, generational wealth, pay gaps, discriminatory practices in business, government, and the court of law.
I listen to my Black friends, former pro and college basketball teammates, and ask them questions.
I think that’s always a good start — to just ask questions and listen — and then be okay with looking stupid from time to time.
It’s scary right now to celebrate Black progress because of what you may receive in return, on both sides. Anger. Shame. Guilt. White people lashing out at you with their fascist, racist comments. Black people burning you about gaslighting and false allyship.
And Black folk, I know you don’t want your Civil Rights journey cheapened by White people’s attempt to act as they care, or become the gaslighter of Black progress, but how should White America celebrate, help, and cherish Black culture’s progress?
*from Sebastian Junger’s book, Tribe