This is a five-email thread that starts with a truly disgusting piece that was forwarded to me by a relative. I include the whole chain to see the progression of thought. I have replaced the individual email names with aliases. Section 2 contains the intial email. Section 3 has my quick response, which I re-spammed to each of the people on the initial email, just to put in my vote on my feelings. To my surprise, that generated an unexpected response from one of the recipients, given in section 4. At that point, I spent more time thinking about a longer response to the original (section 5.)
2 The Initial Email
Sent: Friday, April 10, 2009 6:34 PM
To: Roger; Tom Wilson; Sara; Betsy; Bill
Subject: FW: Proud to be white
Proud to be white
......read all the way to the end............................................
This e-mail does contain wording that is meant to express an open opinion to a major problem in the USA. It is estimated that only 11% of those receiving this e-mail will read it all the way to the end. In addition, it is estimated that only 1% of non-white color will read this past this point and 99% will blow it away because of the title.
It is a shame this sentiment exists when we tell the world that the USA is the best place to Live, Worship, Work, and Play...
"WHITE " Pride"
This is great. I have been wondering about why Whites are racists, and no other race is.....
Proud to be White
Someone finally said it. How many are actually paying attention to this? There are African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, etc.
And then there are just Americans. You pass me on the street and sneer in my direction. You call me 'White boy,' 'Cracker,' 'Honkey,' 'Whitey,' 'Caveman'... And that's OK.
But when I call you, Nigger, Kike, Towel head, Sand-nigger, Camel Jockey, Beaner, Gook, or Chink .. You call me a racist.
You say that whites commit a lot of violence against you... So why are the ghettos the most dangerous places to live?
You have the United Negro College Fund. You have Martin Luther King Day..
You have Black History Month. You have Cesar Chavez Day.
You have Yom Hashoah. You have Ma'uled Al-Nabi.
You have the NAACP. You have BET... If we had WET (White Entertainment Television), we'd be racists. If we had a White Pride Day, you would call us racists.
If we had White History Month, we'd be racists.
If we had any organization for only whites to 'advance' OUR lives, we'd be racists.
We have a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a Black Chamber of Commerce, and then we just have the plain Chamber of Commerce. Wonder who pays for that??
A white woman could not be in the Miss Black American pageant, but any color can be in the Miss America pageant.
If we had a college fund that only gave white students scholarships.... You know we'd be racists.
There are over 60 openly proclaimed Black Colleges in the US. Yet if there were 'White colleges', that would be a racist college.
In the Million Man March, you believed that you were marching for your race and rights. If we marched for our race and rights, you would call us racists.
You are proud to be black, brown, yellow and orange, and you're not afraid to announce it. But when we announce our white pride, you call us racists.
You rob us, carjack us, and shoot at us. But, when a white police officer shoots a black gang member or beats up a black drug dealer running from the law and posing a threat to society, you call him a racist.
I am proud... But you call me a racist.
Why is it that only whites can be racists??
There is nothing improper about this e-mail. Let's see which of you are proud enough to send it on. I sadly don't think many will. That's why we have LOST most of OUR RIGHTS in this country. We won't stand up for ourselves!
BE PROUD TO BE WHITE!
It's not a crime YET... But getting very close!
3 My First Response
From: Tom Wilson
To: 'Jill' ; 'Roger' ; 'Sara' ; 'Betsy' ; 'Bill'
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 12:26 PM
Subject: RE: Proud to be white
First, this was not said by Michael Richards (Kramer) – see Snopes. http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/proudwhite.asp
Second, I will comment but try to avoid a long essay about this. Whoever wrote it is deliberately obtuse (to say the least.) The relationship between dominant and minority cultures is nearly always asymmetric, and oppression runs downhill.
I’m certainly not proud to be in the same race as the author.
4 Reply to my Response
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 4:01 PM
To: Tom Wilson; 'Jill'; 'Sara'; 'Betsy'; 'Bill'
Subject: Re: Proud to be white
Well Hell, I didn't figure Michael Richards wrote it but whoever did write it is right on!
Black History Month... What a bunch of crap... I think I'll start a NAAWP and a United Whitey College Fund... :^) L.T.
5 My Final Response
Well, in the first response I said I would try to avoid a long essay. But I can’t. Why do I respond to this kind of writing? Because it’s important for the person in the room who disagrees to stand up and say something. Some are silent because they believe they alone disagree. Others may not have considered the words carefully.
My answer to this is almost a sermon. I follow the arc of our Western religious and political heritage, drawing on people who are my personal saints. We start first with Jesus, where he sets a very high standard for how we are to treat others.
You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matthew 5:43-48).When Paul takes Jesus’ message out to Asia Minor (modern Turkey, at that time Greek in culture) he writes:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ. (Galations 3:27-29)Now jump forward 1700 years. We all know the quote from Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal.” But this is just the lead sentence in that paragraph. Jefferson takes the high standard of Jesus and Paul and moves it into the civil realm – what do we do when we don’t have those right? Here is the full paragraph, with my emphasis:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.So Jefferson says it the right to change our government when it is not living up the standards of life, liberty and equality. He also thought deeply about the issue of slavery. From the walls of the Jefferson Memorial, panel 3:
God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.Eighty-seven years later the chickens (or God’s justice) came home to roost. The United States fought a war over slavery. No, it was not over vague states right issues; it was because the South knew that there were enough votes in Congress to abolish slavery. Lincoln makes this clear in the Gettysburg address.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.We fought a civil war, and passed some Constitutional amendments, but the promise of those amendments was suppressed for another hundred years. Martin Luther King drew on all these threads in the “I Have a Dream” speech. First he harks back to Jefferson and Lincoln:
In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.Then in the finale of the speech he takes it a note higher, going back to deals in the religious tones of Jesus and Paul.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.So – in the light of these quotations and our heritage, how do we read the “Proud to White” email? We don’t know the author, so I’ll call him Joe.
Joe wasn’t paying attention in either Sunday school or American History. This country was created with the original sins of black slavery and Native Americans oppression, and we have been working our way out of it for four hundred years. I will address a few points in the email.
It’s wrong to use racial slurs to refer to non-whites, and it’s equally wrong to use racial slurs to refer to whites. Joe wasn’t even paying attention back in kindergarten when they told us not call people names.
We already have a white history month – all of them. Of the various holidays, Christmas, Easter, and Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) are European, Christian holidays; Columbus Day and Thanksgiving celebrate the white conquerors of a new continent; Labor Day recognized unions that were all-white at the time. Martin Luther King Day recognizes that during the whole history of the United States, there have been blacks creating the history alongside whites. Twelve years after the founding of Jamestown in 1607 the first slaves were brought ashore. They fought in the Revolution, helped settle the West, fought in our World Wars. We would not have blues, jazz or rock-n-roll without the black culture. African American scientists and inventors performed the worlds first open heart surgery, and invented the first automatic lubricator for machinery, the gas mask, the blood bank, and the traffic signal. But from most of our history books, you would barely know that anyone except whites were in this country. Our histories also ignore the Hispanic history of the Southwest, which the U.S. appropriated from Mexico in 1848 and instantly made Hispanics second-class citizens.
Institutions that have a racial or ethnic emphasis – historically black colleges, the NAACP, La Raza - that’s exactly in the spirit of Jefferson. When the government is not delivering life, liberty, or equality, it is the right of those affected, and the moral obligation of everyone else, to alter the government. In a representative democracy, short of a revolution (Jefferson’s “abolish”), we do this by forming groups to defend or advance these rights.
I’m proud to be a lot of things. I’m proud that I worked hard, got a scholarship, went to college, and have a good career. I’m proud that I have a loving marriage, that my friends and co-workers come from many countries, and that I live in a nation that has usually (but not always) welcomed immigrants -- for that is one of America’s unique strengths. I am proud to be American.
But proud to be white – I don’t know what that means. It’s just my skin color. Those who are “proud to be white” mostly seem to be like Joe. And Joe is not “right on” – he is angry, hateful, and has forgotten the principles that our country was founded on.
-- Tom Wilson, Spring 2009