White People Are Running Scared As Their Long Reign Crumbles

Anti-racist blogger Shay Stewart-Bouley of Black Girl in Maine shared news of white backlash against Black History Month in the U.S. generally and targeting her specifically. She posted the above photo to social media platforms with her commentary and the predictable backlash from terrified, angry white people ensued. 

Her analysis of the “It’s OK to be White” message is worth a read.

Coincidentally, my weekend kicked off with my 6 year old grandson sharing that he had watched Portland City Councilor Victoria Pelletier read a nasty letter she received and decided to publicize on social media.

(Note: I greatly appreciate my grandchildren’s parents for their active anti-racist educational efforts in our mostly white family.)

My grandson remembered Councilor Pelletier from the community television show we do together as he and his mom had been in the studio audience last year. As a young constituent of Portland’s 2nd District, he was concerned that people were “being mean” to Councilor Pelletier. 

Yup, me too, and kudos to Pelletier for lifting the rock and showing us the ugly racism that she and other people of color face constantly when elected to public office.

All this on the weekend of the Chinese weather balloon theatrics.

White people locally, nationally, and internationally are expressing their perception of being backed into a corner where their power over others and control of common resources is eroding rapidly. 

NATO, a white supremacist military alliance, has bombed, occupied, and pillaged populations around the globe. Now that Ukraine is being used in a proxy war to weaken China’s strongest ally, Russia, the violence is targeting whites — as it did in air strikes on Yugoslavia in the 1990’s.

But NATO and its U.S. masters are watching their economic power slip away. 

This is what working class white people are experiencing domestically as well.

Arguments about fairness and equity fall on deaf ears. The fact that Black households in the U.S. have a mere 11% of the household wealth of white households doesn’t matter to these terrified white folks. They can’t afford enough food or heat and are panicking. Their healthcare options are pathetic, and access to luxuries like regular dental care are almost non-existent.

Media owned by billionaires have people in the U.S. trained to blame each other rather than the root of their common problems: corporate government that allows, even facilitates, profit from misery. 

Example of a false dichotomy narrative common in the U.S.

Big Pharma and weapons manufacturers spring to mind but there are many more.

The U.S. doing business as NATO is panicking, too. The Ukraine war sanctions on Russia harmed Europe’s economy, not Russia’s, and hastened the abandonment of the U.S. dollar as a currency for international trade. Billions of dollars and weapons later, Ukraine’s military cannot prevail, and it has already lost in the humanitarian sense with neo-Nazis steering the ship of state.

Enter the weather balloon and cue the China-bashing hysteria in the press.

Most likely the PR aspect of hyping this appearance of a hot air balloon (there have been many in the past, but did you ever hear about them?) was to create a pretext for U.S. Secretary of State Blinken to cancel his announced visit to Beijing to meet with President Xi. This small step toward peaceful relations with China had to be stopped by those who want war and are very rapidly arming up in the Pacific region.

White supremacy has had its day. 

Delaying tactics are in some cases hastening its demise. Decisions made from fear are often not logical or ultimately beneficial to those making them.

It’s logical to be fearful of losing the major privilege accorded those who appear white. Although they play the victim, white privilege is very much something they benefit from all the time. Enslaving labor plus other plunder of colonized populations and their resources has created an artificial standard of living for white people that could never have endured on a level playing field.

So, as loss of status plus economic disaster overtakes this group, they lash out in myriad ways to stave off the inevitable. 

From the micro level where leaders of color are insulted and threatened to the macro level where NATO moves nuclear weapons into place all over the globe and ramps up anti-China rhetoric, white people are running scared.

You Can Opt Out Of Studying Black History, But You Can’t Opt Out Of Living It

The school in Utah that made headlines allowing parents to opt out of their children learning about Black History Month has backpedaled. Public outcry and the state’s curriculum standards apparently caused them to rethink the decision to let ignorant parents extend their family’s ignorance of history into the classroom.

We’re all part of Black history, this month and every month. Our wealth as a nation is rooted in the stolen labor of Black people.

Some of us own homes and got to attend college due to our white privilege protecting us in every encounter with police. And protecting our parents, who lived to raise us. Who got their GI benefits when Black GI’s did not. Is it unfair that we all benefit from the inventionsinnovations, and art created by Black people in the U.S. and beyond?

I’m engaged in a delightful education project with two bright 3 year olds in Oakland, California who watched firsthand last summer’s massive demonstrations demanding that Black Lives Matter. Police violence is somewhat abstract to my students, but the rage and determination of BLM supporters is not. Occasionally one of the kids will pick up a sign on a stick and tell me they are protesting adding “Black Lives Matter” or “No justice, no peace.”

So they have the motivation and the context for studying some of the key Black people in our nation’s history. They are old enough to understand when something is not fair, but not old enough to have heard of civil rights leaders MLK, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, or even former 49er Colin Kaepernick.

Yesterday a new book, Young Kap, arrived in the mail and was read with interest. Last week a book on the Negro Leagues in baseball that I borrowed from the local library was a hit; most of the text is over their head, but not the excellent paintings by Kadir Nelson that accompany it. 

Also popular with my students: picture book Touch the Sky about the first Black woman to bring home gold from the Olympics. Ever heard of her? Alice Coachman is also on the cover of a book by that name that I wrote surveying the stories of women whose names ought to go down in U.S. history for their achievements. It was illustrated by Ruby Pfeiffle, and her portrait of Coachman is on the cover.

I used to teach older students about Black history including African civilizations of ancient times, slavery in the Americas, Jim Crow, the Northern Migration,  and the long struggle for civil rights. But since Michael Brown’s murder sparked Black Lives Matter rising up to define the struggle against white supremacist violence supported by government I’ve been a reading specialist working with much younger kids. Still, I’ve continued educating myself e.g. watching the documentary Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and reading books by Black authors including a recent holiday gift from a family member, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

So this opportunity to teach Black history is especially welcome. It’s not just confined to the month of February, either.

As a mother many years ago I helped one of my sons who has Black ancestry prepare for a book day presentation in 5th grade. He had chosen to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X and he dressed as Malcolm to deliver the historic speech, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock. The rock was landed on us.” The white judges gave the prize to a girl dressed as Pippi Longstocking which made my son’s teacher mad. She felt the consensus of teachers and students was that my son had given the best presentation.

I felt my son learned a lot more by being penalized for appearing as a righteously angry, articulate Black leader. 

It was a teachable moment.