The Root presents a dramatic reenactment of the entire history of America:
In 1609, the Pilgrims arrived and this happened:
Then, two weeks ago, a police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck and black people were like:
This is American history.
In 1640, Virginia’s General Court created what many are calling the nation’s first “forever slave” when the court condemned John Punch, an African, to a life sentence of servitude because he was black. Punch, one of the original enslaved Africans on the White Lion, ran away from his master along with an indentured Dutch servant and an indentured English servant. When they were found and brought back to their master, Punch walked into the courtroom like:
The judge ordered the three absconders to be whipped 30 times apiece. The two white indentured servants, a Dutchman and an Englishmen, were sentenced to a one-year extension on their indentured servitude contract. But John Punch received a different sentence:
...and that the third being a negro named John Punch shall serve his said master or his assigns for the time of his natural Life here or elsewhere.
Since that day, each successive generation of Americans has experienced a period of racial turmoil. Whenever this happens, our Caucasian brethren will offer up a recycled list of cures for racism that have been recycled since the Stono Rebellion, when Jemmy, a enslaved Congolese warrior gathered a few of his fellow enslaved Africans and asked them the same question:
“Are y’all tired of this shit?”
Because white supremacy’s operating system hasn’t received a system update since Jemmy and John insisted that their lives matter, The Root decided to catalog the most common mayonnaise-flavored cures for racism using examples from social media.
One of the most hopeful ways to eliminate discrimination is to simply believe that our children are less racist than their forefathers. We love to believe that each generation is less racist than the one that preceded them.
The problem with this calculation is that we leave out the most important part of the equation. Namely, we forget who’s raising these young anti-racists:
This assumption, however, is partially correct. While all children enter the world free of prejudices, America is the greatest tutor of white supremacy on the planet. Simply living in a racist country makes every white child vulnerable to the virus of white supremacy—even if they don’t intentionally infect their children.
Until white people realize that they have to take measures to end this disease by teaching their kids how to actively fight racism, they will continue to send their children out into the world to spread it unknowingly.
According to the internet, if we talk about race, that will bring about awareness, which will eventually solve the problem. So celebrities will blackout their Twitter profile pics and make PSAs like this:
I don’t know what this means.
For instance, (and this is just a hypothetical) what if you were a police officer who stood idly by while a fellow cop kneeled on a man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Should we forgive them? Can someone with power and authority who did something heinous be instantly absolved by acknowledging their silent complicity?
I honestly hope so.
If this works, I’d like to issue this statement to my Aunt Jannie:
Remember that time I borrowed your car, ran into a deer and brought it back as if nothing happened? Remember how I said: “It was fine when I left it,” until the insurance adjuster found deer blood and fur on the fender?
It’s still not my fault. But I found the deer and he wanted you to know that he takes responsibility for running into the road.
Everyone knows that the real reason white supremacy exists is black on black crime, not complying, gangs in Chicago, laziness, playing the victim and niggas not being impervious to bullets.
The hole in this theory is the illogical assumption that there is no white on white crime; that white people obey commands whenever they are confronted by police or that black people are just dumber, more prone to violence or that we enjoy poverty.
Black people: Did you see what they did to George Floyd? Maybe we should defund the police:
Black people: It’s not just about chokeholds. There is a systemic problem in policing that causes them to use violence disproportionately on black people. It starts with economics. That’s why we need reparations
Black people: But you also have the privilege of living in a country that makes you immune to systemic racism. Oprah being rich doesn’t mean that black people have an equal share of power.
I know how to eliminate crime in America.
First, everyone must get bitten by a radioactive spider. In case there are a few arachnophobic billionaires, they will have the option of having their parents being killed in front of them and being raised by a butler who knows a little bit about lair-based architecture, automotive engineering and karate. If you were born on a planet with a red sun, you don’t have to even go through this rigamarole.
If this seems like an outrageous proposition, then perhaps you’ve never had the pleasure of a white person explaining to you why they’re not racist.
If you have, you probably recall these caped crusaders recounting how they could never be racist because they grew up around black people, had black friends or even imbibed in an occasional selection of black penis. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear about that one time they experienced racism and it changed their entire life.
I love these superheroes who believe they are impervious to racism because of their unique situations. According to white people, a temporary proximity to blackness is the same as growing up on a planet with a yellow sun or being bitten by a radioactive spider. And I know what you’re thinking:
Instead of breaking their arm patting themselves on the back with performative exultations for not being evil, why don’t they broadcasting this medical breakthrough among their own kind?
Because what fun is being a superhero if everyone is a superhero?
It’s like if Batman spent all his time holding press conferences on how he cold-cocked the Joker or Superman became a columnist at the Daily Planet but only wrote about he’s better than Lex Luthor. If these people were really caped crusaders for justice, they wouldn’t spend a second telling black people about their anti-racist superpowers because they’d be too busy tracking down the villains who were poisoning Metropolis’ water supply with racism.
Superheroes don’t need a pat on the back.
Privilege is essentially a superpower that makes white people impervious to white supremacy. This sickness cannot be eliminated through conversations, blaming others, piecemeal approaches or viral videos. It takes hard work.
I know how to eliminate white supremacy.
As with any pandemic — the only way to permanently eradicate systemic inequality is to stop the bad guys who keep spreading the infection. Recognizing one’s privilege and speaking to other white people about it is hard and painful but it’s also necessary. White people have to do it.
And, if white people truly knew what racism looked and felt like, they would never ever waste their time explaining their heroism to black people. Batman doesn’t take victory laps and Superman doesn’t need a round of applause because they’re too busy doing the work.
But a lot of white people don’t want a cure for racism.
They just want a cape.