Now I have totally mixed feelings about this quote. While running around doing errands today I bumped into a friend, as I often do, and we talked about all kinds of things, as we often do, and one of the things was some kind of racial discrimination he had noticed with some of his associates the other day toward some blacks they were working with.
She asked me if I had ever been treated that way, to which I answered that yes I have, every so often. Enough to trouble me on a societally speaking level, but not enough to really mention it unless asked about it. To which she responded with shock and disappointment and then she told me the quote of the day.
I’ve had this type of interaction countless times with many very close friends so I do not want to come across as if I’m trying to make any type of comments about them as individuals or that I do not deeply appreciate the sentiment.
However…they are lying. No not lying in the sense that they really hate other races or classes or sexes for that matter. But there is a difference between acknowledging that that type of behavior is unwarranted and wrong, and by saying that they simply do no understand how some people get that in their heads. Like I said I completely appreciate and get the sentiment they are trying to get across. They mean that they are empathetic, or at least sympathetic to me and that they are frustrated that that has to happen. They perhaps have worked very hard to always see people as individuals and are angered when they hear about people being mistreated because of their skin. They want to convey to you just how far removed they themselves are from thinking that type of behavior is appropriate. I get that and I appreciate it.
I say they are lying to themselves though because I’m pretty sure I, and every other semi-reflective person on the planet completely understands the mindset of people that are openly, or secretively, or subconsciously racist. I think that because it is not about race, or politics, or nationality or anything like that. At least not at the core.
See everything has a basic unit that it can usually be broken down to and then it gets more complex from there. A galaxy can be broken down to individual star systems. An object can be broken down into molecules and atoms. A society can be broken down into individuals. Well something like racism can be broken down to something that every human being knows is inside them, and every parent can see welling up in their own children. That is simply that in each of us, no matter how well we mask it and beat it down, is a dark, sinful side, that longs desperately for nothing less than complete and utter superiority. Basically we desire to be God.
While societal constraints and moral upbringings teach us to bridle that instinct, left to our own devices we all develop and spend a lifetime battling with, our own desire to be God and superior.
Now we quickly learn that we simply cannot accomplish supremacy and dominance over everything, and we learn it is wrong as well. So we make bargains with it, and compromises, inching toward the goal, though we know we’ll never attain it. So if I can’t be superior to the entire universe then I’ll find a way to make something superior to something else, usually a group, and just make sure that I happen to be in that group. So if I’m a human, then I might decide that it turns out humanity is superior to the rest of creation. So I’m not God yet, but I’m closer than I started because now I’m part of a group that is at least higher than another group. But of course that does not satisfy me very long because this instinct is relative. So sure I’m part of this elite class but now I spend my whole working day, and play with other humans. Also members of this elite class, which is a total buzz kill to my superiority over my surroundings. So I’ve got to find another group to dissect the world in two again.
Like most laws of nature, this process follows the path of least effort or least resistance. A lion goes after the gazelle with the limp until there are no limping gazelle left. Like so a human that is subconsciously on a quest for dominance (which we all are to some extent) will do the same. I’m a human and you’re a human. But you’re a human with much darker skin than I have. I can use this obvious difference to indicate a deeper, intrinsic difference that comes out with me on top. Obvious differences are things like the countries we come from, obvious cultural customs or traditions. These too make us feel great again, that we are in a very exclusive and elite club of very cool people. But if you are a white supremacist then you better hang out with lots of blacks and Hispanics. If you hang out with too many other white supremacists like yourself then that won’t satisfy you for long because by this point you’ve given in pretty far to your desire for ultimate superiority and the insatiability of your appetite will not rest for long.
We begin to cut hairs finer and finer, as our elite clubs get more subtle and more complex. If you’re a white supremacist but there aren’t many white around anymore, it won’t be long until you are an English, or German supremacist. But that will lead to being a white, German, protestant supremacist. Then a white German, protestant, reformed supremacist. Which leads to white, German, protestant, reformed, textiles worker. It will get more and more specific indefinitely because the goal is ultimately to be left standing alone on the top of the heap. Because “me” is always the end goal this route can go in any direction. If you are rich then the rich are superior to the poor because they are lazy, dumb, fill in the blank. Yet if you are poor then you are superior because the rich are selfish, cheaters, fill in the blank. You might even be poor but better than other poor because you are on your way to being rich while they are going to stay there.
Luckily reality smacks us down on our quest to the top of this mount of me-ness. Some of us get farther up the mountain than others though and those of us that, through that through the grace of God, manage to stay closer to the base sometimes forget that that desire is in all of us. But I think that sometimes just because we aren’t a racist per say, that we think that we are immune to the same type of feverish folly that racists have fallen pray to.
So do I think the mindset is right? No. But if we say we completely don’t understand it and think that it’s actually about race we leave ourselves open to it without even knowing.