As a White Guy Does Racism Affect My Life?

As a White Guy Does Racism Affect My Life?

I’m a White middle class middle-aged man with more than a few dollars in the bank. I see the police and can wave at them and drive safely on by. If I reach into my coat pocket for my wallet and identification I will probably not get shot with forty bullets. I can shout out my magic protective words, “Don’t shoot me, I’m White. Put on some James Brown, see I can’t dance!” Oops, did I just fall into a stereotype? So, as a White guy does racism profoundly affects me my life?

Being White and of European descent I don’t worry that I’ll be mistaken for a brown Muslim named Mohamed, strip searched, and undergo a rectal probe at the airport. However, given Timothy McVeigh’s role in blowing up the Federal buildings in Oklahoma it would seem reasonable that White guys should equally be suspect and the US should have launched an invasion on Scotland. (Though it is still puzzling to me why fifteen Saudis attacked the World Trade Center Towers and the US invaded Iraq and not Saudi Arabia: A case of the US being geographically challenged?)

When I apply for work and they look at my credentials or college education employers will not wonder if I was successful because of affirmative action. The employer may assume I did it on my own merit or at the least perhaps if I did attend an Ivy League school, it was because I was smart or in the case of GW from a wealthy and well connected family. If I was from that well connected family a gentleman’s C grades will do.

When I go into a grocery store and decide not to use a shopping cart and stuff a few things in my pockets; generally, it is assumed that I was in a rush and the management doesn’t call the police. Because I am a White middle aged man who is not walking around in raggedy clothes mumbling to myself (most times) it’s assumed that I’m harmless, a little careless  not using a cart, but not a significant problem. If I was Black or Hispanic, how long would it take before the police are called?
I can walk into a local bank and cash a check without an ID. They won’t ask me for four pieces of ID, even though I might have had a bank account there for years. I will not have the bank guard calling for back up because I get in an argument with a teller over an error in my bank account. As a White middle aged middle class professional, I know she will defer to her manager, and we will resolve this.

If I move, I can be sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area that i want. I don’t need to ask my friend to find an apartment for me. I can let the grass grow on my front lawn, have the hedges a bit shabby and the neighbors will think, “He’s still a bit of a hippy.” If my name was Gonzales would the neighbors think, “Those damn Hispanics – one moves into the neighborhood and look what happens.” It is the hundreds of small clues during the course of day that says, “You’re different. You’re not quite like us.” If there is a fistfight at the school do they assume the Black or Hispanic youngster is the aggressor?

When an African American friend of mine comes to town, do I need to give them a heads up about our local police department’s history of racial profiling or bias. One African American friend came to out town and his is the interaction he had with the local police.  “Yes, officer. I know it looks suspicious being a six foot tall black man wearing a suit and tie waiting on the street corner for my wife. No, I wasn’t casing the store for a robber. Yes, officer I have identification. Yes officer, observe my hands as they are going into my pocket. No, I don’t have a gun or a knife.”

Do people of color and various ethnicities feel safe and welcome coming into town? Will they spend their money for shopping? Will they buy second homes here? Will they invest their talents as lawyer, carpenter, artist or poet? Will the richness of many diverse cultures that have strengthened our collective national cultures be welcomed and become an asset to our community?

Does racism affect me in my life?  As a White middle-aged man, living in a predominantly White Southern Vermont for 9 months of the year, racism can be a ghosted shadow drifting invisibly by. But I refuse to put on blinders. Racism/ bias/ discrimination, is the corrosive acid that that eats away at the fabric of a community. It says there is an “us and them.” It is another wall in the community that divides neighbors, differenced solely based on ethnicity, color, or religion.

It is imperative for all Americans, White, Brown, and All, to stand firmly against racism. Despite Trump’s belief and apparent bigotry  we are a vibrant multicultural nation of immigrants, except African Americans who came as slave. In every community we need to stand opposed to the cancer of racism and bigotry.

NAMAYA

Blue Heron Pond, Vermont

Comments

  1. Thanks, T. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Spoke with a Tarrytown friend recently who said she has no problem with walking alone on Main St in TT, but would not feel safe on Beekman Ave in nearby Sleepy Hollow. Why? A few reports of fights outside the bar there, but I suspect we both have some deep-seated mistrust of the local ethnic mix there, which is more brown than white.

    BTW, words do matter, and i would NEVER say the prison word “shiv” to a cop!

  2. Terry Martin says:

    Great article until the last paragraph in part when you bring out you own bigotry against the President-Elect, when you say “Despite Trump’s belief and apparent bigotry.”

    • Thanks Terry for Responding
      I think you misunderstood… “Despite Trump’s belief and apparent bigotry” we are a vibrant multicultural nation of immigrants, except African Americans who came as slave.

      Trump alludes to that we are a “White christian nation” and he has built his following on that exclusivity. I nowing your work with Civil Rights commission in Vermont and your multicultural vision of the USA. As Americans we need to stand against all racism and bias. Thanks for writing

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