Dear Fellow White People:

Let’s talk about intelligence.

Most people are smart in at least some specific area of life. Some people are good with communication, some with building things, working with electricity, performing surgery. Intelligence comes in many forms and can sometimes be confused with experience.

People exist within their own groups.

Not everybody, but most people spend most of their time around other people like them so they can share some common ground. This is why we talk about the weather with strangers, or offer the obligatory, “Hey, how are you/I’m well thanks,” before doing business with people. It’s communication’s fastest, most basic way to establish a common ground of trust with someone else.

To overcome the problems we face today requires adept skill in communication. This concept can be applied to politics, international affairs, your job, school, etc., but let’s apply this to blacks and whites.

I’ve studied communication on Facebook since 2010. During this time I have paid attention to the unbridled conversations in the comment section of posts regarding inflammatory topics. We are all just nasty, selfish people and to an extent, that is okay.

Of course, blacks and whites talk about the other race among themselves. In many conversations with older white males, phrases always pop up such as, “But nobody born today was a slave; it’s a culture problem; listen to that rap talking about ‘kill the police’,” and then the conversation gets hijacked and brick-walled with each party throwing out disproportionate statistics to support their reasoning.

The fact is, today almost all black people have a parent or grandparent who was grossly abused, civically and/or physically, before the Civil Rights movement in 1964.

But now, since it’s been decades, (mostly older) white people can’t understand why there is still an issue. Since they were raised white, they were likely never unjustly or subconsciously profiled by the former “master race”, so they don’t feel the disenfranchisement that has plagued the black community for decades. They think the Civil Rights movement ended the problem and that “blacks” are just doing this to themselves.

But there is enough evidence to show that there are still purebred racists out there alive today, well and kicking strong. To hell with the overt racists; the most dangerous portion of this subset is the people who harbor internal and often subconscious prejudices against black people. We’re just not that far removed from all the pain just yet. Trust me. I’m a white southern guy who can’t count the number of times I’ve heard an off-color remark from other white people when no black people were around. These remarks are always covert. If colleges want to study “microaggressions” this is the area to lay the research foundation. It’s almost like, as long as they don’t say “the n-word” they are in the clear. But the undertone of the language clearly paints a picture of a racial divide fueled by misunderstanding and now thanks to social media, also horrible communication by people who are not even qualified to write a fucking email to their boss.

Thanks to social media, we now have people who are not the best communicators or thinkers (they’re not stupid; everyone is intelligent somehow – everyone has a skill), with access to an open line of communication to the world; free to say whatever they are thinking, no matter how uninformed or miscommunicated it might be.

And that has a great effect. The media channels pick up on that and exploit it for ratings. That’s another fact. Cable news is whoring out Americans to do its bidding, to create more news, by shoveling inappropriate propaganda down wide-open, addicted throats. 

I digressed. So I just cringe and awkwardly disengage from that part of the conversation when other white men confide in me their dirtiest microaggressions. Sometimes I’ll challenge them but more often than not, I let them keep running their mouths so I can analyze just how deeply their bias goes. Since I’m just another white southerner, it is assumed that I fit into their worldview of what it means to be white. So I’m in the club.

There is a black club, too. Extremely few white people, and I’d venture to even say no white people, can be in this club. It’s just like any other social club that shares a specific common ground. This common ground? A collective culture consisting of over 250 years of slavery which ended merely 150+ years ago, and was followed by a period of social injustice, seemingly corrected by a piece of legislation.

“But wait,” the old white man says, “That’s 150+ years ago, I didn’t do anything wrong, nobody’s a slave today.”

And herein lies a big communication problem between particular generations of whites and blacks.

150+ years isn’t that long. Conceivably, it’s two lifetimes. It’s quite possible that a black person still living today had a parent or a grandparent who was actually born into slavery. It’s absolutely true that there are black people alive today whose parents experienced first-hand disgusting injustices before the Civil Rights movement was signed into law. And now 52 years later, that wound has not yet been healed. In fact, the infection has been passed down through generations. Americans who lived recently before us permitted and performed some awful crimes to black people; we can’t write a bill and expect it to be resolved. There are some serious social and economic disparities right now that are a product of our history. As white people, we have to at the very least acknowledge that and stop undermining their movement’s phrase by sheepishly co-opting it with, “But ALL lives matter.”

And even still, there are plenty of white people who contain deep prejudices against blacks. I do not mean to conflate issues but we know the Civil War was fought largely over the states’ rights to own slaves. There were many iterations of the “Confederate Flag” but growing up as a southerner it was so very apparent that the Confederate Flag symbolized a white pride, which is why none of my family or friends ever displayed it. You will hear misplaced arguments around the word “heritage” but the Confederate Flag became the mark of a hee-haw hillbilly who “probably” had some internal or subconscious prejudices against blacks. Whether he knew it or not.

If we can all acknowledge all of the above, we might fix this problem in 20 years.

-Andrew