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RE: pledge of allegiance, a REALLY long response

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From: Lawrence A. Parker (occti_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Jul 26 2002 - 14:49:57 PDT


NOTE TO THE LIST: This is far more extensive than I ever thought it
would get to be and I fully realize that this has little or nothing to
do with art. That's why I offered to discuss this off list. If you're
not interested, don't read it. If the general list membership would
rather not see this continued here, just say the word and I'll only
respond to Madafo.
________________________________________________________________________
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 Larry, I'm not prone to discuss such issues with members of the White
Community,
 
Gee, and I even gave you the opportunity to do it off-list; perhaps you
and the people in "Your" Community should discuss such issues with
"us"...
 
but It's obvious your understanding of the relationship between our
communities needs help...
 
...perhaps that's what *will* help the understanding between our
communities, don't you think? Certainly, I never claimed to understand
everything, but you seem to feel that you have a handle on it, so go
ahead.
 
hopefully, what follows will give you a better view from the other side
of the fence...
 
Oh, it did. I'm sorry to say that I think that so long as there are
views like these, understanding will be hindered more than helped.

African people living in America have always made an issue of being
enslaved...
 
Indeed, they have. And they have striven to make every Caucasian living
today to feel guilty about it as if it were something which we did and
should now be having to pay for. But, you know? I've never owned a
slave myself, never even treated someone that way. And I don't know for
dead certain, but I'm willing to bet that none of my ancestors owned or
used slaves. One side which came over early from Wales were northern
farmers - and they worked their own land. The other branch came at the
turn of the century from Czechoslovakia to work in the steel mills in
Cleveland.
 
Also, so far as I know, everyone who did own and mistreat slaves in
American...are all DEAD. There's nothing you can do about them or what
they did. And if you want to punish the sons for the sins of their
fathers (I'm not trying to be sexist, so include daughters and
mothers..), then I think we'd ALL have to go up in flames. I figure
that somewhere along the myriad lines, everybody had some ancestor who
abused somebody. Now, if you want to talk about inequalities and
injustices happening today, or likely to happen tomorrow, those we can
talk about because those are the only ones we can do anything about.
 
...because of the color of our skin, we have been a marked people in
this land (profiling)...it's amazing how White America always presume to
be "the all and the end all here"
 
Certainly. By referring to my own experience as a "marked and profiled"
Hippie, I was simply trying to establish some common ground of
experience, but you apparently didn't hear that and simply thought that
I was trying to pre-empt you. So, since you've assumed the worst, I
guess I will. Yes, the African-Americans have been profiled in the U.S.
for a long time, though not so long as the Indigenous Peoples (the
Shawnee, the Iroquois, the Cherokee, etc.); you know, the "Aborigines",
the "Savages".
 
But African-Americans have not been the only (the point I was trying to
make) profiled population. My ancestors from Czech. were often referred
to as "D.P.'s" (Deported Persons), even if they weren't. The Irish have
been profiled as irresponsible drunkards; if you were Italian living in
NY, you were obviously part of a gang and up to no good; if you were
Jewish, you were a 'ghetto' person.
 
...it was the pigment of our skin that allowed my ancestors to toil in
the grueling sun, all day, picking cotton and building the big beautiful
"White House" for the Slaver, while the enslaved were housed in shanties
called quarters and treated with disdain and debasement...Larry, we were
considered only 3/5ths of a human being even though supple breast of my
mothers suckled your ancestors to a healthy existence, only to turn
around and rape her children...
 
I have no argument against any of the above. I am pretty well versed on
the history, the attitudes, the abuses and the crimes. I think it was
stupid and detestable. What more can I say? Mea Culpa? They weren't
my crimes against your race and I don't think that I've ever committed
any.
 
we took issue then and still, today we march for equality...Please, note
that African people have "always" fought (took issue), against injustice
in this country and the world...it has been the African who has
consistently pushed for America to live up to it's precepts outlined in
the Constitution...but we all know that honored document was exclusively
for White America...
 
Well, I think that this is an idealization; about as inaccurate as
saying that all Whites are racists, don't you think?
I think it's also idealized to presume that the African people are
living up to the Constitution as much as they want (White) America to;
after all, it's a "White" Constitution, not yours at all.

Larry, what is reverse racism? In order for there to be a reverse of
anything, there must first be an initial something...the resulting
action is a reaction to the initial action...therefore what you and your
children experienced was a reaction to the atrocities heaped upon a
people for, more than, four hundred years...
 
Of course reverse racism is a reaction to racism,...but it's an
historical racism (No, not all of it; there's still a lot of it around),
not an existential racism (here, now, by me or one of my children). If
an African-American treats us rudely, or steals from us, when we have
done him no wrong, are you saying that that is right and justified
because someone I don't know abused someone that they don't know one
hundred or more years ago? THAT is reverse-racism, or just plain
racism, if you prefer, and has no more basis than to consider someone
subhuman and justify mistreating him thereby simply because of his skin
color (national origin, gender, etc.). Reverse-racism employs the same
dangerously faulty thinking as does racism, which makes them both forms
of racism and so both wrong. You can't have it or justify it any other
way. It can't be wrong for White ancestors because they should have
known better (well, ok, they should have, but they didn't), but right
for African Americans because they're just "reacting".
 
Either Racism (the disrespecting, the abuse and maltreatment of
individuals and groups) is right or it's wrong. For everyone.
Everywhere. At all times.
 
If you're going to say that it is alright for African-American children
to steal from my children because their ancestors might have mistreated
their ancestors, then I'll just have to tell you that it made
economically good sense to use Africans in the fields for the exact
reasons you yourself supplied.
 
If someone was to cut off your hand, and for four hundred years, treat
you sub-human, take your name, forbid you to worship your deities, whip
you and continuously undermine everything that is the essence of who you
are, what would you do, would you embrace that person?
 
Myself, I try to avoid anyone who treats me like that. Or, change them.
But not with a club; that doesn't change anything. Most wars prove that.
But what is a typical African social/spiritual thing to do? Do people
in Africa carry vendettas for generations? Don't you think that gets
kind of stupid after awhile?
 
It's unfortunate that this divide exists but it does, it's the backlash,
the results of four hundred years of the initial action (Racism), the
memory lingers and feeds the pain...
 
And who is keeping that memory and pain alive, and for what purpose?
Tell me one single benefit of keeping this alive. The best that I can
come up with is simply to make sure that it doesn't happen again (which
is immediately defeated if it's keeping those very same racial tensions
alive), but we can accomplish that best through teaching respect, not
hate, for all people, don't you think?
 
White America is in denial and accuses everyone else for reacting to
it's initial racist activities...Reverse Racism is a misnomer...
 
No, the misnomer is your use of denial. I would like to think that most
(educated) people do not, cannot, deny the history of racism in this
country (in spite of the Texas Book Commission's best efforts). By your
own statements you admit that African-Americans are reacting to (White)
America's initial racist activities; so if it's an accusation, it seems
to be one you agree with.

What some (White) Americans (like I and my family) do deny is that *we*
are racists. Given that we have given no offense, we are at a loss to
explain why African-Americans treat us they way the do, except to
understand that perhaps *they* are racist.

Larry, I can see you are in need of a bit of history, your reaction here
is the usual one within your community...
 
I certainly hope that that isn't a racist generalization. I'm well
aware that there were divisions of labor and position among the slaves
and servants. I just couldn't believe that you people have been stupid
enough to adopt and internalize these divisions and use them to
discriminate against each other. That's all. But if "White" America
ever wanted to disempower the African-Americans, it couldn't have
accomplished it any better than by getting you to hate each other!
Think about it.
 
the point is, African people are just like anyone else...we're human
beings,
 
This, I thought, was my starting point; regardless, it is hopefully a
point we both agree on.

An interesting (and actually sad) example is my children. Of course, we
have tried to raise them to respect all *people*. Yet, they have been
picked on, had their bikes and other toys stolen, been called derogatory
names,.by African-American kids in the neighborhood. So, if they grow
up not trusting and respecting African-Americans, is it because they are
racist, or is it because this is what these kids have "taught" them?

Interesting, indeed...and here we go again placing blame without
understanding...It's denial in it's purest form...
 
Of course it is, but who's doing it? You or me? What am I to
understand? That because they're African-American, it's alright for
them to steal from other children?
 
How can you blame children for anything?
 
Who shall I blame? The parents? They're the ones who taught me from an
early age to respect people, not steal, not lie, not hurt others. So,
what do you think these parents are teaching their kids? That it's
alright to respect all other people, or just the ones in "their"
community, not the "Whiteys"? Whatever it is, they certainly didn't
learn it from me or at the hands of my own children.
 
White privilege allows you to take anything at face value and make it
fit your particular rationale...
 
And racism allows you to generalize (again). And I don't know what
particular rationale I'm supposed to be fitting this into. Tell me.
 
I'm wondering, how you handled the situation?
 
Hm-m, you're talking memory dredging. Let's see - we followed the trail
of Barbie clothes over to the neighbors, about 4 houses away, spoke with
the grandmother, and she collected everything and returned it to us.
How they handled it internally, I don't know.
 
What sort of explanation did you offer your children?
 
I think something along the lines of "They're children and perhaps they
didn't understand that they shouldn't take other children's toys over to
their own house."
 
How do you really feel towards your African American friend?
 
I don't know which African-American friend you're talking about, but, in
general, I count quite a number of African-Americans as among my closest
friends. In fact, one of my oldest, or longest, friends of 35 years is
African-American (-Irish-Cherokee), and I am closer to him than to
either one of my own brothers (of course, brothers are sometimes like
that).
 
I'd ask the same, how do you really feel towards your White Community
Folk friends, but I think you've already answered that question, haven't
you?
 
Larry Parker

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