I sometimes hear some of us “colored” people saying “White Man” with a disdainful attitude. I am as guilty as the next person of occasionally saying that. However, I, and the majority of those who say this, have white men and women who are our friends, neighbors, coworkers etc. etc. whom we love, respect and admire. What then is this all about? This is a subject about which I have written often, however, with all the brouhaha concerning “the wall,” “immigrants” and the “migrant invasions” and, with the mere mention by a black, or naturalized immigrant concerning the dismal history of our experiences with “White,” and, seeing how so many white people’s feathers get inordinately ruffled by such conversations, I think it is worth reminding ourselves why the attitude.
So, let me begin with some Wikipedia facts:
There are about 7.5 billion people in the world. White people i.e.: with significant white populations exist in the US, Russia, Brazil, France, UK, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Ukraine and Argentina, making up about 850,000,000 plus human beings, which is about 11.5% of the world’s population. (My words: pretend that they are 20%, that leaves 80% non-white humans – a majority)
The term “White” was first used from the 17th. Century and on, primarily to distinguish racialized slavery and unequal social status in the European Colonies. According to Bruce David Baum, citing the work of Ruth Frankenberg: “the history of modern racist domination has been bound up with the history of how European peoples defined themselves (and sometimes other peoples) as members of a Superior White Race.
According to Irene Silverblatt: White, black, and brown are abridged, abstracted versions of: colonizer, slave and colonized.
In the British colonies in North America and the Caribbean the designation of English, and/or Christian, was initially used to contrast with Native Americans or Africans.
Colored is an ethnic descriptor historically used in the United States (predominantly during the Jim Crow era) and the United Kingdom. After the Civil Rights Movement, the usage was designated to be: People of Color, thus replacing: negroes.
All the preceding from Wikipedia brings me back to the question of what then do we mean when we say: White Man, with disdain? I believe that Congressman Steve King encapsulated the whole issue with his racist words that I had mentioned in a previous blog post (he uttered more racist comments last week). He said: “Culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” He meant non-white, or colored babies, of course! Moreover, our President did not make things any better by infamously using his “shitholes” adjective.
Historically, it was White, Christian Europeans who invaded, occupied, massacred, and usurped the entire planet including these United States. This country is a late-comer to the evil – very evil! – doings of colonialism. However, our founders, originally Europeans, and mainly British, learned the game quickly and picked up the European Superiority mantle by massacring the Native American indigenous population of this land, as well as by enslaving black people brought over on miserable slave ships from the African Continent. And, of course, we did not stop at that but continued with our version of European Colonialism throughout the planet in order to secure cheap resources for our avaricious consumption. In that process we have stopped at nothing! We orchestrated coups, we assassinated political leaders and activists, we bribed, we corrupted, we went to war, we occupied, we massacred and we threatened at the point of our guns any, and all, who opposed us. We are still doing that! And the time when we tried to convince the world that it was for the sake of “freedom and democracy” is long past!
Therefore, when we say “White Man” (it could also be White Woman) with derision, that is precisely whom we mean, and to reiterate it is: White, as in skin color with the attitude that it is Superior to Colored. Christian, as in American and British Evangelism predominantly, followed closely by extremist Catholicism, since it was the Vatican which initially tolled the bells warning that with the influx of immigrants, Europe will cease to be White, Christian and Civilized (The truth is that our civilizations were much more civilized than the rest of the world at one time, and were the basis for what became “Western Civilization”). Also, it is: Preferably English speaking, since it was that tiny fishermen’s island which became the arrogant British Empire and that spread its language, history, culture and traditions throughout most of this world. And, that would have been okay if not for the spurious methodology of diminishing and trivializing everyone else’s language, traditions, cultures, religions and skin color in the process. Get it?
So it is not a figment of our imagination when we articulate that for centuries on end, and up to the present moment, that White Man I described has been colonizing our countries and people. There are numerous – I mean, numerous! – books on this subject written by American and European historians and writers; there are conscientious journalists who write about this subject extensively; there are speeches, public debates and forums that address this issue. Whitewashing these facts and turning the blame on us, the colonized, by citing our skin color, our religions, traditions, culture and languages as being inferior is merely justification for the crime. Therefore, my nice neighbor John, or my friend Martha, or just Any White Person is not the insolent “White” colonizer. It is only those that fit the above descriptions of Holier-Than-Thou who are the culprits. Simply by noticing the disbelieving reaction of some in this nation to our newly elected “colored” members of congress, proves this. That is whom we disdain.
Is the rest of the world free of religious and every other discrimination? Do all the peoples of the planet get along with each other? Have they ever? Is it only Colonialism, the West and the United States that are guilty of arrogance, condescension, superiority and discrimination? Not at all. The people of this world have been fighting, killing, invading and discriminating against each other since Abraham, although, with few exceptions, it was mainly due to the consistent presence of Empires and Occupations throughout history which sought to “divide and rule” as a strategy. Nevertheless, in actual fact, many people are inherently racists and hate the “other.” So, in this respect, we, colored people, are not much better than the West and the United States. However, it is the various administrations of this country (Republicans and Democrats), who since entering the international stage, have been swashbuckling across the planet, and coming across as that Holier-Than-Thou nation. This perception only makes Everyone else resentful, frustrated, angry and, yes, sneering! The United States has many other options. Leading by example rather than the barrel of a gun, is just one of them.
Conclusion: No human being is better, more civilized, more worthy of life and dignity than any other. I wish, therefore, that we could all stop sneering, disrespecting and intimidating each other with our military powers and start negotiating, compromising and accepting each other in peace? Perhaps this is only a fantasy for the non-white, mostly peaceful humans of this planet? Sad!