A Supreme Myth

"Ambition"
9" x 12" acrylic on canvas

There's been a lot of talk about white privilege lately. I've participated in quite a few of them in these last weeks. And though these conversations have been thought-provoking, they also make this whole thing emotionally complicated. 

So in plain terms: The West created governing systems that made European cultures and Caucasian features the standards by which everything else in our world is measured. This also set the criteria for what is considered "normal" in these societies. All other cultures outside of this spectrum have been categorized as assimilations, inclusions, or deviations.

In the United States, Irish and Italians are examples of assimilations. People of color, on the other hand, are called inclusions on celebrated days and treated like deviations for the rest of the year.

Privilege in all this isn't personal. 

It's a systemic side effect from the Western Age of Exploration and its subsequent Industrial Revolution. 

I've studied comparative religion among the world's people and worked with international nonprofits for two decades. So I've been frequently humbled into checking my privilege as an American when dealing with the developing world and indigenous tribes. I'm thankful for these experiences. I have a broader and better understanding of our world because of it.

So when People of Color say "Change the system" or "check your privilege," we're simply asking that you help us make a system that automatically favors your existence fair.

I frequently hear in return, "Well, how exactly is any of this my problem? I'm not racist."
Okay, I'll play.

There has been a severe disconnect between what takes place in the board rooms of Corporate America, the offices of the U.S. Government, and the communities across this nation. 

The societal dysfunction we see is the consequence of frequently forcing communities to choose illegal methods of survival while rewarding corruption among the wealthy, corporations, and government institutions. This has made Poverty the largest equal opportunity employer of chaos in every state of our democratic republic. It also hires and kills all colors with impunity.

But let's get to the heart of the matter. 

Let's say a corrupt white CEO runs his company into the ground and lays off 10,000 workers in the surrounding area. This same company is also responsible for polluting the air and water supply of that community due to the relaxed standards legislated by corrupt governing officials.

Now ask yourself the 5 questions:

1) How often will a person like this end up collecting a multi-million dollar severance package of incentives and bonuses for being a failure? 
2) How many will ever see actual jail time for the resulting poverty & joblessness of thousands? 
3) How many will be rehired again to do the same thing elsewhere in this system?
4) How many companies will be held accountable for the poverty and illnesses they've caused? 
5) How many elected officials will blame minorities for these ills to get re-elected?

Then ask yourself this: 

1) How often will a person of color in this country lose their life or have it destroyed over a misdemeanor? 
2) How many will be denied adequate services or housing because of their color? 
3) How many will be judged as dysfunctional for being jobless after this happens?
4) How many will resort to drugs or crime because they have no other options?
5) How many will face a larger police force and higher arrest numbers in their neighborhoods simply because the local politician wants to appear tough on crime as a distraction?

That's the reality in America. It's an ugly one. 

You know, my grandfather lost all his savings in the 2009 recession in a single day. He is an Air Force veteran approaching 80, still working & can't retire now. But if he finds himself in a dire situation tomorrow, our system will judge him as a deviation, a dysfunctional black person who can't manage money. 

The bankers and real estate moguls who did that weren't People of color. They didn't do a single day of jail for this atrocity. And last time I checked, those tent cities back then had white people in them, too.

You see, the system only recognizes US as inclusions and deviations. It sees YOU, on the other hand, as NECESSITIES. If white Americans stop believing in the American Dream, this system dies tomorrow. Our institutional power structure knows that. That's why it's going to wrap itself in the flag and say we're the threat to your patriotism while your communities die right alongside ours. We are not your enemy. 

Greed is the culprit actually killing this country. 
And the only color it cares about is green.

So we're asking for our country to recognize universal Human Rights. We want you to check your privilege by standing up to the casual and overt racism in our nation. We're asking you to work with us to seek justice for the casualties in this war of greed none of us started, but most may perish in. In essence, we're asking you to give a damn.

That's not controversial, my friends. 
That's just how it is.

Light, Peace, and Good Health to you and your families.

Respectfully,
O.M.

Blog Archive