White tears, #AllLivesMatter are attempts to steer spotlight off black suffering
Although I don’t believe the removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s statehouse was a thorough rebuffing of systemic racism, I can definitely see the importance of the moment for blacks who’ve suffered under that flag’s tyranny for decades.
As happy as I was to hear that the flag had been removed, I braced myself for the reaction that white tears would bring.
Since the flag has come down, the KKK and Confederate flag supporters have staged protests and stepped up their collective agitation of black communities in the South.
Another thing ‘they’ve’ recently done exemplifies the violent nature of their racist proclivities: More than 40,000 people have signed a petition to remove the African-American monument, which serves as a memorial to former slaves, located at the South Carolina statehouse.
Why, you ask?
Because they believe the monument “shames whites.”
Yes, people are actually arguing that the statue, which is a factual, historic representation of the racist brutality that Blacks were forced to endure for centuries, is offensive because its mere presence brings discomfort to white people.
And what the signers of the petition want you to truly believe is that their “emotional distress” at witnessing symbolic remnants of the murder, rape and pillaging of Black bodies at white hands is far worse than the actual murder, rape and pillaging that Blacks endured during slavery and continue to endure today.
That’s why I found it so hilarious when MTV recently decided to produce a documentary called, well, “White People,” where they carefully examined the true victims of institutionalized discrimination: the white people who are deathly afraid of being called racists. The documentary is filled with a cavalcade of white tears aimed to make viewers sympathize with how difficult it is to be white and privileged in our modern Western society.
But, what’s less hilarious is how white tears are now being used to actually change black history. This fall, students in classrooms all over Texas, the second largest state in America, will learn that slavery was just a small side issue during the Civil War, which is a point any serious academic knows is false.
So what in the hell could be the impetus behind teaching students something that is not educationally sound? Well, it’s because the Texas board of education has deemed that preventing white tears is equally as important as preventing children of color from learning about the country’s sordid past.
The truth is, I don’t care how racism makes white people feel and black people shouldn’t either. And that’s not because I have any prejudicial malice towards white folks but because the tears of the privileged will never be more important than the pain of those who are subjugated by that privilege. As a man, it makes me sick when I see dudes make nonsensical equivalencies such as believing that men being called rapists is a far more problematic social issue than women actually being raped.
As a straight man, I hate hearing other straight people play the victimization role because gays and lesbians now have marriage equality, like we’re out here suffering at the hands of the “gay agenda” that has us one step away from heterosexual enslavement. And there is no greater sign of white guilt being used to reframe black pain than this ‘discussion’ surrounding #AllLivesMatter as it relates to #BlackLivesMatter.
Last Saturday, Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley was speaking at a convention hall in at Netroots Nation, a convention in Phoenix, Arizona, for activists and social justice advocates, when he was interrupted midsentence by Black Lives Matter protesters.
The main activist on stage between O’Malley and Bernie Sanders was a Black woman named Tia Oso, who turned to O’Malley and asked him, “As leader of this country will you advance an agenda that will dismantle structural racism in this country?”
O’Malley’s response: “Yes. Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter,” which was met by a smattering of cheers and a large chorus of boos. Many people who have watched this video online are frankly confused why he would get booed for uttering a statement such as that, but it’s because of white people’s need to interject their portion of pain into a debate that, for once, isn’t focused around them. The #AllLivesMatter hashtag is not about equality but rather about the continued neglect of the state of emergency currently ongoing in Black communities.
Imagine if the city Los Angeles was hit by a massive flood that left half the city underwater with large numbers of people dead, missing and struggling to survive.
Imagine how inappropriate it would be to neglect saying #PrayForLA to instead propagate the message #PrayForEveryoneAnywhereThatHasBeenInALifeChangingFlood. That would be insensitive and tone deaf and predicated on a false equivalency that the scale of L.A.’s problems were comparable to other cities that weren’t even affected.
As a society, it is time to address the fact that white tears should never be allowed to diminish Black history. While white people have made progress in the way they collectively treat Black folks in a society still marked with white supremacy, racism still continues to exist. And by allowing our history to be erased, we will be force-fed the narrative that we live in a post racial society and prejudice is a thing of the past.
For the Black and brown boys still being pulled out of school and ushered into prisons, we can’t allow that narrative to take place. For the little Black girls who will be sexually assaulted and murdered while detained by police, we can’t allow that to happen. For the white kids who actually want to see real racial progress hit this country, we can’t allow that to happen.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site ThisIsYourConscience.com. He’s an author of the book “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.