White Anger & The Freedom Riders


I was encouraged by a friend, who happens to be Caucasian, to read a book entitled “Black Like Me” written by John Howard Griffin. It is an international best seller that documents the personal journey of John Howard Griffin across the segregated south in the 1950s. John Howard Griffin, who was a Caucasian male, decided to take medication that would darken his skin and enable him to live as a person of color in the staunchly segregated states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. He would journal his accounts of living amongst the disenfranchised, shedding apathetic light upon an inhumane era of American history. This great piece of literature offers a profound perspective into a subject matter that I now refer to as tradition; you all refer to it as racism.

Racism is the belief that a group/race is inherently superior due to the makeup of another’s racial composition or ethnicity. I believe that it is safe to say that from this mindset is where many of our stereotypical references were forged. These unfounded beliefs or uneducated analysis are bored from the perspective of the so called superior empowered. We can note supremacism and realize that this theory breathes, bleeds and believes on the foundation of entitlement and a caste system. Although the word supremacism is categorically divvied into other areas such as sexuality and religion, neither have had the historical impact in America like that of racial supremacy. We have seen The Nation of Islam, The Black Panther Party and The Black Hebrew Israelites, adopt concepts of supremacy for what is believe to be as a counteractive measure. One may ask, what were they trying to counteract? The answer: White Supremacy.

White Supremacy is a politically driven premise, whose ideological stance is the belief that the white race, above all other non white ethnicities, should reign dominant socially, politically, historically and industrially within the confines of society. This ideology was dominant in the United States prior to the Civil War, as we would see the ownership of Africans as chattel slavery. The Civil War would would forge out of the opposing of slavery and its expansion into the western territories by the Republican Party led by Abraham Lincoln. This opposition by the Lincoln led party would be challenged by several states looking to preserve their cotton based economy, as they would attempt secession from the United States and form what is known as the Confederate States of America. So in retrospect, the Civil War, from the South or Confederate States perspective, was really about economics and the preservation of their way of life. We all know that the Civil War would result in a victory by the North, as America would see the Reconstruction Era take place in an effort to reestablish the South back to normalcy. What is to be noted is the fact that albeit the war had been fought and won by the North, White Supremacy would remain in existence for many decades to follow, as Africans or blacks, would remain disenfranchised well into the twentieth century. It would be in 1967 (only 46 years removed mind you) that interracial marriage alone would be declared constitutional by all states. As I piggy back off of the movie, Lee Daniel’s-The Butler, I became enamored with the concepts of anger and resentment. We saw the Freedom Riders, who were a group of civil rights activists made up of multiracial members (including Caucasians), ride buses into segregated areas of the south in an attempt to execute and uphold the court rulings of Irene Morgan v The Commonwealth of Virginia and Boynton v Virginia, that disallowed the practice of racial segregation in public venues. Of course the Freedom Riders would be met with unrelenting venom and violence, as they would go into venues that still practiced segregation and demand (non violently) to be served. We saw Freedom Rider type practices initiated in North Carolina at the famed FW Woolworth historical lunch counter sit in. The plight of the Freedom Riders would revolutionize the Civil Rights movement, but would also ignite a nucleonic festering of hardened racism that would cause a permanent lesion in the side of humanity in America. White Supremacy, albeit doctored to be just about slavery, was really about a way of life. It was the inherited pride of a self anointed “supreme being” who sought preservation of what was believed to be entitlement from birth. So what caused the implosion of anger and resentment that we now call racism? Is it an issue of color or is it an issue of what the skin color represents, which is a loss of power? The footnotes suggest that blacks were mere cattle on the plantation. So to modernize, it is like your household pet taking control of your house. If this was to happen, what would you say about the said animal? Would you try to rationalize its thinking or would you resent, denounce and continue to remind them of where their place used to be? Is it not in this loss of power that bigotry, racial profiling, stereotyping and crimes of hate are born from? If you take a kid’s toy away while he or she is playing with it, is crying not sure to ensue? Perhaps the answer to racism is that there is no answer, as it appears to be an inherited, psychological coding much like DNA. Maybe it is here that we can start to get a greater understanding of how anger has and continues to fuel the traditions of racism and why it may never go away. Education holds the key, however, what is written on the hearts of man/woman is extremely hard to erase. Yet, we move forward as change is always inevitable.

Anger is an unrelenting weapon of choice, whose rage has proved to be both elastic and durable. It is in the root of anger that we can also find what others value, as anger is a result and not the cause. As we examine this world in which we exist, we realize that anger has transitioned and evolved into a level yet to be defined. What is in our nature, whether supremacy or other genetic coding, is not easy to reconstruct. I hope and pray that blogs like this encourage ideas and conversations of solutions. God knows, we need it.

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