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What White People Don’t Understand

by Glenda Davis about a year ago in activism

Opening doors to understanding to fight racism

Here’s what White people don’t understand.

The oppression of Black people in the United States is accumulative, stacked one on top of another.

There is not 1 generation of Black citizens who has not suffered the weight of oppression in America. Before you say, another poor little Black person tale, hear me out.

So many times I hear some White people who talk about Black culture. It’s generally “code” for African culture or ghetto/gang culture, with the latter being the normal choice. But here’s the issue with that, just as White culture is not a monolith, neither is Black culture.

Young men using gang signs

Just as there are differences in poor, middle class and rich White culture, the same is true of Black culture. Just as there are differences in White culture from city to city and state to state, the same is true of Black culture. And while many may feel ethnicity or country of origin or heritage is unique to Whites, varying cultures with links to Africa, combined with aboriginal culture and White culture, created varying Black cultures across this nation.

So when you say “Black culture”, unless you turn to something African, Blacks and everyone else understands you mean gang culture when you say Black culture, but we are not ALL gang members, therefore, to use it is both insulting and demeaning, as well as part of our racism problem. Connecting gang culture with all Black citizens not only is racist, it’s part of the reason racism is a problem here and police are killing citizen. If Black culture is gang culture, then Black citizens are gangsters, and that is not true.

You can’t mean gang culture but say Black culture because they are not the same thing. And acknowledging a specific Black person is not “like” “them” is just as insulting, demeaning and racist. Why? Black people are not a monolith. Black culture is as varied and different as White culture, and in some instances, more so, because we also must function in the various White cultures.

Women praying

When? Blacks were indoctrinated into White culture through enslavement and stripped of their heritage through beatings and culture. Blacks continue to enter various White cultures through schools, jobs, housing, shopping, medicine. How? We are expected to understand the “culture” of that person and learn as you proudly share your heritage. And most Blacks have learned about the different cultures, not because they wanted to but because

1. it’s expected of us.

2. It’s the polite thing to do.

Many White citizens think Black culture is gang culture. While there are Black gangs, it’s like saying all Italians are gangsters and just as it wasn’t true about Italians, it’s not true about Blacks.

Painting of various hip hop stars

Not all Blacks come from poor communities but we can empathize with those who do because we love some of these people. They are our friends, distant family, previous co-workers, our children’s friend‘s families. We want those people to have a fair chance at a successful life.

After slavery the ex-enslaved received no reparations but slave holders did, some until they died in the 1960s. Tens of thousands of ex-enslaved were starved to death in contraband camps (that Hitler fashioned concentration camps after, right up to the starving to death). In 1868, with millions of Blacks unemployed, the United States started Italian immigration to help rebuild whilst Blacks were free to hunger with no job and no land to cultivate.

It’s accumulative.

The only coup d’tat on American soil happened because Black candidates won the election. Whites killed Blacks, chased others out of town and burned homes in 1898 Wilmington NC.

It’s accumulative.

Malcolm X, Harriett Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, President Obama

After slavery, there were over 140 successful Black communities across the United States. White citizens, sometimes with the help of police & military burned them to the ground and attacked and murdered its citizens.

It’s accumulative.

1906 massacre

1910 massacre

1917 massacre

1919 April-November race riots

1921 massacre

1923 massacre

1935 race riot

1943 race riot

1954-1969 Civil Rights Movement

1970s war on drugs, removal of jobs, Black welfare

1985 bombing of Black neighborhood

1993 Rodney King riot

2014 Black Lives Matter

2020 protests


Those are the major attacks by White citizens/White supremacy ideology against Black Americans, many times with assistance from government, police and military. Yet we invade other countries to prevent the very things done right here to Black citizens.

It’s accumulative.

Not one generation of Black Americans has ever had the “White” American experience. EVER. It’s a freedom denied Black Americans.

It’s accumulative.

Black Americans generally don’t have the education that White Americans have, not because Blacks are less capable but because our government has chosen to purposefully underfund Black schools. Black children are robbed of their constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness through poor education and it’s been fine with the White community, so much so, that Black communities, at one time, and still in some instances, paid taxes for White schools.

It’s accumulative.

Jane Elliot once asked a room full of White people, who among them would want to be TREATED as a Black citizen in America. She repeated the question several times and received no response. She then said, “Why? Is there something wrong with the way we treat Blacks in this country? If so, why do you feel it’s ok for others but not you?”

It’s accumulative.

If you look at protests in the 1920s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1980s, 2014 & now, many of the signs say the EXACT same thing because there has been no real progress. Black citizens have been dealing with some of the same governmental oppression for 151 years after slavery and our White neighbors, for 151 years, ignored it or participated in it.

It’s accumulative.

I hear people complain about “No Mask No Service” signs, imagine when they said “Whites Only” or “No Coloreds”?

It’s accumulative.

I hear people complain about not being able to go to all the places they want, but many Black Americans couldn’t go all the places they wanted prior to the shutdown by penalty of death.

It’s accumulative.

I hear complaints about curfews as I recall sundown towns.

It’s accumulative.

So many times I hear, “my family wasn’t here during slavery”. Most Black families WERE here during slavery, and the system that helps immigrants succeed, has never been available to Black Americans.

It’s accumulative.

Civil rights protesters

Drive through a White community and there are between 3 & 7 grocery stores. Drive through a Black community and most likely, it’s a food desert.

It’s accumulative.

In the 1970s, the Nixon administration moved factories to Mexico and the suburbs, leaving millions of Black factory workers unemployed, creating Black welfare and the first for profit prisons.

It’s accumulative.

In the 1980s, the Reagan administration & the CIA started the war on drugs (or rather expanded Nixon’s war on drugs) & dumped Crack in Black communities to sell and use.

It’s accumulative.

In the 1990s, the Clinton administration not only expanded the war on drugs, it also expanded Nixon’s for profit prisons, allowing them to sue if their population dropped below 80% and offer prisoners as factory workers for corporations in factories that can ONLY be found in prison and creating “America made” products.

It’s accumulative.

1930s era protests

The most heartbreaking conversation a parent can have is “the talk”. It robs our children of their innocence but is necessary to keep them alive.

It’s accumulative.

Police presence in middle class White America is low. Police presence in middle class Black America is extremely high.

It’s accumulative.

How do you have increased police presence AND increased crime without police participation in crime?

It’s accumulative.

Yes, I know police kill more White citizens but percentage wise, by population, more Blacks die. More Blacks are stopped. More contact runs the risk of more problems.

It’s accumulative.

Civil rights protests

Many Blacks have a relative who was lynched. My great great grandfather was lynched.

It’s accumulative.

A Black person’s race can determine their ability to earn a living. Many employers dismiss Black applicants first by name, then by reason of, “sorry the position has been filled”.

It’s accumulative.

Shopping while Black can be challenging, especially for big ticket items.

It’s accumulative.

Picking a neighborhood to live can be challenging, some people still are offended Blacks can live near them.

It’s accumulative.


Many cities do not invest in resources and amenities in the Black communities across our nation.

It’s accumulative.

Funds to Eastern Europe and Israel keep rising as funds to Black American communities shrink, yet we pay taxes too.

It’s accumulative.

Whites want their children to have a good education, so do Blacks.

It’s accumulative.

Whites want resources and amenities for their families, so do Blacks.

It’s accumulative.

During & after slavery, the abuse and murder of Black people, especially in public, was to deter Black pride, success, arrogance and resistance to white supremacy.

It’s accumulative.

Lynching - photo evidence but no charges

The purpose of the 2nd amendment was not to overthrow government, it was to stop slavery rebellions and catch escaped slaves.

It’s accumulative.

Police departments were born of slavery patrols and have only changed in technology.

It’s accumulative.

When Black people see people who look like them abused and murdered, we cannot help think, “that could have been me, my parents, my child, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, coworkers or someone we know in passing.” It’s STILL seen as a message to all Black citizens to deter us from Black pride, success, arrogance and resistance to white supremacy.

It’s accumulative.

1940s protests

While the world watched George Floyd’s murder, here’s what you didn’t see that Black citizens did. As Mr. Floyd was being murdered, the community was slowly being tortured and terrorized as George begged for his life and police dare the onlookers to try to make them stop.

It’s accumulative.

Black Americans have lived with PTSD for so many generations, it’s a normal state of our community which only in recent years has begun to be diagnosed and treated. First treatments began in PTSD veterans, whose military PTSD was worsened by societal racial PTSD. Yes, you can get PTSD from racism. How do I know? I am one of those veterans.

It’s accumulative. It’s accumulative. It’s accumulative. Stacked one on top of another, nonstop, since the first African touched these shores.

It’s accumulative.

1950s beauties

Our government made it legal to not only own slaves, but also to abuse them. Our government killed thousands in contraband camps, purposefully facilitated the unemployment of Black citizens on numerous occasions, purposefully under educates Black children, purposefully gave 10% of the United States to White Americans free of charge. Our government allows food deserts. Our government has facilitated all of the above and more and it is accumulative. It is all stacked from one generation to the next and not 1 generation has been left unaffected.

Each time the weight is too heavy, our country explodes. My greatest fear is the cold Civil War will get hot and blood will run in our streets.

I know you are tired of hearing about racism, after all, we had a Black President, but as a result, the racism is worst. And while white citizens may be tried of HEARING about racism, Black Americans, and other minorities, are tired of LIVING with racism.


Glenda Davis

The purpose of this blog will be to discuss race relations, learn history and hopefully help us all to be more patient, understanding, emphatic.

I am a 59 year old Black woman, a veteran Sargent of the United States Air Force and a retiree.

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