By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
It was, then and still is now, prophetic that the late scholar and historian W.E.B. DuBois said that the major problem facing the 20th century will be the color line.
Again, we are reminded of the ongoing repercussions of racism in America when hundreds of newspapers quickly canceled the comic strip entitled Dilbert, written by Scott Adams.
The rapid-fire cancellations were due to Scott Adams stating that based upon a Rasmussen poll (its sampling techniques have been called into question) that purportedly indicated that a slight majority of Black people thought that it was not “OK” to be White.
Scott’s response to that highly controversial (controversial in the sense that the Rasmussen poll is seen as a right-wing pollster) poll was: “Blacks are a hate group and my advice is for White people to stay the Hell away from Black people.”
Of course, when the firestorm over that comment hit the media and social platforms, Scott resorted to damage control mode, even stating that his income will vanish in the next few days due to the hundreds of cancellations of his comic strip; and of course the usual mea culpa, that he was not a racist.
Well, I guess free speech is not totally free after all, for there are consequences when certain attitudes or beliefs are aired in public and if you are not willing to “go down with the ship” with them, you can face severe blowback.
Scott was on Hotep Jesus (a Black podcast/broadcaster) who asked Scott if he had ever read the biography of Malcolm X and he said, no. I daresay 95 percent of White Americans have not read the biography and much less any readings by Black authors on the state of race relations in America.
White America’s favorite default position for quoting a Black person of noteworthy is of course, Martin Luther King Jr., and that quote is the worn and shiny penny of judging people by the content of their character and not their color.
Whenever White America gets jammed up or is flustered by a discussion of race, they quickly reach for that quote to show to their inquisitor (and for self-affirmation) that they are not racist
Of course, the history of America quickly, amply and steadfastly rebukes that trophy quote by doing a mere review of American history since the date of 1619 and onwards.
From that fateful year of 1619 when the first slave ships arrived on these United States and the American colonists devised a system, (built solely on race and to also mark and segment people by class), white privilege and standing in America has been seemingly forever established.
For how does one separate a pool of ink from its submersion into a pail of water? The concept of colorblindness left the station a long time ago!
From the beginning of America’s unequal and uneven racial and class classifications, “White” has always been placed at the tip of the spear or the top of the pecking order and transgressors thereto need not apply for fair treatment.
White American history and some of its duplicitous White historians have depicted an America where the present order of privilege, class and race has its genesis and support from a White America behaving in ways that bespeak that any change to the existing social order will be only accomplished by or with momentous struggle, even replete with a Civil War, if so needed.
The shameful history of White America has been a covert and overt “jihad” against all persons of color whenever White privilege has been challenged. Privileges based solely on one’s melanin and nothing else.
So, when the question is asked: “Is it OK to be White?”, the corollary question that needs to be posited in the same breath is, “What kind of White?”
Is it a “White” that is peaceful, fair, honest, just and of good report? Is it a “White” that will humbly acknowledge its sins of omission and commission against people of color and will seek ways to amend the wrongs?
Is it a “White” that will form linkages with people of color to ensure that institutions that perpetuate racism are reformed or are required to cease their existence?
But, more importantly, is it a “White” that, upon retrospection and introspection, will share its perks, privileges and power with those whose time spent, and time served making America great, are entitled to partake of both the lean and the fat of America?
Yes, the onus and burden is upon White America to re-calculate where it spends its time and treasures so as to make the singing of the Star Spangled Banner a reality and not a time waster at sporting events.
The same White Americans who love to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., amazingly fail to quote his other quip that Black America has a check that is due and payable to them, but the White American Bank won’t cash it.
The funds are there but the collective will is lacking to cash out the long overdue check.
The present danger is the gathering of race war clouds as seen in the empty debate about who is “woke” and the dastardly cultural wars being precipitated by an angry GOP and its anxiety ridden base being goaded on by the likes of Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump and his sycophants in Congress.
Voter suppression and racial gerrymandering are now in vogue again with the desired goal of people of color being squeezed into a corner of political and economic despair.
So, is “White” OK? Sure… just as Black is OK and so are Indigenous People and Orientals and anyone else who will recognize the common humanity in each one of us and resolve that no one “color” has a lockbox on virtue, freedom and truth to the exclusion of the other.
Contact Lafe Tolliver at firstname.lastname@example.org