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Making The World a Better Place Begins With You

Don't allow yourself to become an unwitting tool of oppression

By Walter RheinPublished 2 years ago 5 min read
Image by Walter Rhein

The other day I got into an argument with a woman who said it was wrong to say every white person is a racist.

“You’re white,” she said. “Does that mean you are a racist?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I endeavor to do my best, but I recognize that institutionalized racism has been deeply ingrained into my thought patterns. I’m working to remove that cancer, but doing so requires recognizing there is a problem.”

The person that I was arguing with was steadfast in her objection. Her feet were rooted into the ground and she refused to move. “But it’s unfair to label every white person as a racist,” she said.

I expected her response. I’ve encountered it dozens if not hundreds of times. Fortunately, I’ve devised an argument that illustrates the validity of my position.

“Saying every white person is a racist is no different than saying everyone is a sinner. Christians will say everyone is a sinner without a second thought. People will listen to that and they feel no impulse to protest.”

“But that’s different,” she said.

“It’s not different. The only difference is your conditioning. You’ve been conditioned to accept the authority of religion. You have been conditioned to reject the idea that there is institutionalized racism in our country. These are the thought patterns I was referring to when I said institutionalized racism has been deeply ingrained into all Americans.”

At that point I got blocked.

This happens a lot.

Most of the time I get blocked, but sometimes, every so often, I am heard.

We are in the midst of an ongoing struggle. This war has been raging since the beginning of time.

As a people, as a unified race, we have the opportunity to adopt a philosophy of acceptance. We can help each other through tough times. We can appreciate the inherent goodness and beauty in the diversity of our fellow human beings.

Or we can object.

We can oppress.

We can be cruel and intolerant.

Many people have been lulled into the misconception that decency has pulled ahead in the conflict.

It hasn’t.

If anything, subjugation and oppression are sitting in the driver’s seat with a comfortable lead.

I suppose deluding yourself into believing “things aren’t that bad” is a way of absolving yourself of duty.

After all, when “things aren’t that bad,” you don’t have to take action.

When “things aren’t that bad,” you don’t have to make sacrifices.

When “things aren’t that bad,” you don’t have to stand up for what is right.

But all of that is a lie. Things ARE that bad. Your complacency makes you complicit.

Prior to the 2020 election, I made sure all the people in my sphere knew that anyone who voted for Trump would be banned from my life forever.

I have bi-racial children. When Trump retweeted the video of the man screaming “white power,” it led to multiple acts of violence against my family.

Trump’s presidency was a series of dog-whistles that emboldened the lawless people that lurk on the fringes of all the communities in our country.

They heeded his call and came forward, ultimately attacking the Capitol at his command.

I find it stunning that people are so delusional they think I will look away when they maintain support for an individual who used the power of his platform to call for violence against my children.

This is another example of those ingrained thought patterns that make white people racist.

The justification for this unjustifiable behavior has been repeated so often they believe it’s true without question.

Racists have to learn to question.

They have to learn history.

They have to learn critical race theory.

They have to accept their responsibility.

For most of my life, the sad state of affairs in the United States was invisible to me as well.

After all, why should I object?

If there was unfairness, it appeared as if I benefited from that unfairness. What motivation is there to change something that benefits me? Besides, I had plenty of hardships that I had to endure as well.

But the thing is, the benefit is an illusion. There is no benefit to racism. The hardships you endure are a consequence of racism. Even the hardships that white people endure are a result of racism.

It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s true.

It seems like the Earth is flat, but it’s a sphere.

When Galileo suggested that the Earth revolves around the sun, he was persecuted. Even though he had evidence, even though he was right, his society looked at him and laughed and called him a criminal.

They were responding to oppressive thought patterns that had been ingrained.

The church insisted that human beings were special and that Galileo’s proposal undermined our exalted position in the universe.

Galileo forced the human race to admit they weren’t special. They wanted to kill him for it.

Don’t you see? It’s the same.

White people want to insist they’re special. They’re not. They’re the same, no better and no worse, than any other race of human beings.

We’re the same.

Get it through your head.

Recognize the racism that has poisoned your thinking all your life.

I didn’t recognize it until my bi-racial children were born. I’ve witnessed white people mistreat them. I can’t stand it.

I’m no saint. I was content to be one of the “things aren’t that bad” zombie army for most of my life.

I’m on the other side now.

It doesn’t matter how I got here. There’s work to do.

Put aside the deeply ingrained racist beliefs and join the side of decency.

Join the side of humanity.

Join the side of good.

Recognize that it starts with you.

It’s a daunting problem to try and change the world, but it starts with you.

The Earth is a sphere.

The Earth revolves around the sun.

No race is superior to any other race.

We need to be unified in our love, respect, tolerance, and support of one another.

Everyone is a sinner.

Every white person is racist.

Let’s do the mature thing and acknowledge our mistakes.

Let’s try to do better.

It begins with you.

Let it begin today.


About the Creator

Walter Rhein

I'm a small press novelist. Shoot me an email if you want to discuss writing in any capacity, or head over to my web page [email protected]

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    Walter RheinWritten by Walter Rhein

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