June 21st, 2018
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: email@example.com
Whenever anyone mentions the historical atrocity of chattel slavery, white people will emerge from the dark crevices of humanity to gnaw away at the assertion like roaches on a discarded Cheeto. They will explain how most white people didn’t own slaves. They will offer a convoluted explanation about the Confederacy and Southern heritage. They will introduce the concept of “presentism”—the idea that we shouldn’t judge the actions of people in the past using modern-day standards—as if the white people of the past couldn’t quite grasp the idea of inhumanity and brutality until 1861.
Everyone knew that slavery was evil. Everyone knew that Jim Crow was evil. Everyone knew that lynching was evil. Everyone knows that any kind of injustice or inequality is evil. These things persist because most white people don’t actively fight to eradicate them.
And most white people don’t actively fight to eradicate inequality and injustice because they usually benefit in some small way. The Southern economy was built on evil slavery. Jim Crow laws maintained a national order with white people firmly planted atop the social hierarchy. Systematic injustice keeps black people in their place, but it also comforts white people to know that the big black bogeymen are being kept behind bars.
Inequality and racism exist not because of evil but because the unaffected majority put their interests above all others, and their inaction allows inequality to flourish. That is why I believe that silence in the presence of injustice is as bad as injustice itself. White people who are quiet about racism might not plant the seed, but their silence is sunlight.
Many of those people don’t speak out because they fear alienation more than they hate racism. For them, the fear of having someone furrow their brow in their direction outweighs their hatred of sending children to an underfunded school knowing that they don’t have an equal chance at success because of the color of their skin.