Last week, the nation heard Senator Mitch McConnell suggest that the election of Barack Obama has satisfied America’s appetite for reparations. To suggest that the benevolence of America’s racist culture, allowed a black man to become the first black president, reeks of a discussion on privilege.
When we can look white privilege in the face and negotiate it, we can look towards more reconciliatory language. We think that this discussion is about racism, and it is; however, if we were to look deeper into the pupils of white privilege, we would discover that the real discussion is about classism. In his essay, “The Souls Of White Folk,” I read where DuBois said, “My poor, un-white thing! Weep not nor rage. I know, too well, that the curse of God lies heavy on you. Why? That is not for me to say, but be brave! Do your work in your lowly sphere, praying the good Lord that into heaven about, where all is love, you may, one day, be born – white!”
DuBois strikes a familiar tune when he says, “work in your lowly sphere…” And one of the reasons that reparations is not a bigger discussion today is because for too long, we have been accustomed to working in lowly spheres. We need more entrepreneurs, more brothers, and sisters in colleges and universities around the world, and we need to claim our independence. And we need to stop worshipping white men, and they need to be relieved of the thoughts that they are clay demi-gods. When poor white folk understand that they are no better than anything black, we will have different conversations surrounding reparations.
As I listened to Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Bay Area’s, Danny Glover respond to the logic of the reparations debate, the name “George Stinney,” was heard. George Junius Stinney Jr. was an African American teenage boy convicted at age 14, of the murder of two white girls ages 7 and 11 in 1944 in his hometown of Alcolu, South Carolina. He was executed by electric chair in June of that year, still only 14. To read the account of this unjust act, and its horrific ending only uncovers the need to dismantle white privilege. Because the chair was designed for an adult, and not for an adolescent, this increased the torture of the moment.
Another sign to say that there are no benefits to being black in America. We need this discussion. If it does nothing more than waking up a dormant black community; we need to dismantle white privilege.