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White People Even Make Better Victims, Huh?

posted Jun 13, 2011, 10:19 AM by MLK Community Build   [ updated Jun 13, 2011, 10:53 AM ]

by Josh Bornstein, an educator who blogs at Challenging Normalcy in Education

this blog post is in response to "White People Face the Worst Racism?," from The Root.

    White people even make better victims, huh?  Supremacy in victimhood?   Fairly incredible within a realistic understanding of racism both historically and presently.  Not so hard to believe especially in a media environment for Whites in which Fox's fear sells so well.  In fact, the point at which the white victimization narrative seems to me to go national and public--at which it picks up steam--is the Reagan presidency.  Begun in Philadelphia, MS.  Notable for the race-baiting of "welfare queens."  Tied to a resurgence of putative American pride, against a supposed backdrop of humiliation such as the hostage crisis in Iran.

    And not to sound conspiratorial about it, but it might be useful to note that an important thread ties Reagan and Fox News together, maintaining that narrative.   Roger Ailes recognizes the power in selling that fear both for Reagan's presidency and for Fox.

    King's beloved community remains one of the most powerful counterweights to that narrative.  Compassion will have to remain central to any progress.   Indeed, the fear mongers prey on compassion.   They gain ground by putatively being the only ones who will voice pain, even as they grossly distort it.  And how powerful have any of us felt when we've had the compassion to listen through a loved one's placing false blame, venting illogical victimhood, and then be able to reassure someone that together we can go forward?  At least I've found I'm most trusted when I'm willing to do that, and then later try to shift my beloved to a new perspective.

    And so here is uncommon work for White activists against racism.   We might turn in disgust from such nonsense as White people putatively facing the worst racism, but we could instead summon the intestinal fortitude to engage that crap.  This can be the quiet, soft, but tremendously challenging work of creating a beloved community.  It lacks the immediate gratification of standing together with people we already call "allies," commiserating, protesting, or celebrating.  Instead, it's risky and dangerous on so many levels.  Will the stigma of the racist spread to us?   Will the anger of the racist remain unassuaged, or worse yet be validated by our audience?  But without risking that, it's hard to see that any community of the future will have love at its core.