One of my neices, who lives in a small, somewhat redneck town, posted the following meme on Facebook.
Black pride = ok
Mexican pride = ok
Asian pride = ok
Muslim pride = ok
White pride = racist?
This is a question that has bothered me over the years as well. It’s not because I’m ignorant of all the atrocities such as slavery, imperialism and job discrimination that have been committed by white people. Clearly, white people aren’t the only people in history to have owned slaves. The ancient Greeks from whom we got the concept of democracy were slaveholders, and like early America, only land and slave-owning men could vote. The Ottoman and Roman Empires, neither of which were exactly white, participated in more than their fair share of imperialism.
So why the double standard which seems to defy both fairness and logic? I thought long and hard about how to explain it to my neice, after only fairly recently achieving some kind of understanding myself. So here goes. Perhaps with the exception of Germany, Japan and Israel, other imperialists, conquerors and enslavers never claimed to be genetically superior. Sure, they achieved their objectives of gaining power, pillaging, plundering and extorting, but they never claimed they were anything but militarily superior.
White landowners in America, in a horrific attempt to somehow MORALLY JUSTIFY slavery, even while denying evolution, claimed to be more evolved, and therefore more human, than people of color. They declared themselves to be a more evolved and genetically superior species than the rest of mankind. Then they proceeded to pass miscegenation laws to preserve the “purity” of their superior race, and declared that anyone with a single drop of Negro blood would be classified as black. That classification meant that they would be discriminated against and barred from participating in the economic system as anything other than a servant, whatever their intelligence, talents, and abilities.
It seems somewhat ridiculous to take pride in something you can’t possibly take credit for, such as the color of skin you’re born with. However, this pride is as illogical, and reactionary, as the concept of white supremacy and the social and economic system that sustained it. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and in this case, the original action was the subhuman treatment that people of color were forced to endure at the hands of white people. To sustain any sense of dignity and self-esteem, it became necessary to counter the lies, the hypocrisy and the invisibility of their contributions to history. Because whites banded together and excluded people of color, they reacted by doing the same.
So, the answer to the question about why it’s okay for everyone else to have racial pride except white people is that nobody else would have ever had to invent racial pride to survive if it weren’t for white people. They could have read about their own individual accomplishments in history books if the history books weren’t racist, with slave-owners taking intellectual credit for every invention of one of their slaves, and so on. Robbing people of an accurate social mirror in which to view themselves is tantamount to robbing them of a sense of the importance of their very existences.