This is, by far, the most fundamental and essential point of contention between Conservatives and Liberals. It cuts to the heart of our Republic. It questions the very foundations of our country, specifically the assumption that America’s economic and political structure is a “Meritocracy.” A Meritocracy means: the harder you work, and the more useful your contribution to society, the greater your material reward will be.
And that, ladies in gentlemen, is the biggest myth of all. If you learn anything from this blog, know this: America’s economic culture is not, nor has ever been, a “Meritocracy”. America’s economic culture is a combination of “Plutocracy” and “Ethnocracy” in which only one ethnic group has been allowed to participate in Capitalism, while the rest have been excluded. Our country’s history, from its inception up until the present day, is a resounding demonstration that this is true.
Most Conservative White People (and quite a few Black Conservatives) do not believe that an “Ethnocracy” exists in America – or, if it did, it existed a long time ago. Believing in the idea that “if you work hard, you’ll succeed in America” is understandable given that America’s history books and education system simply omit a defining policy practice in America’s growth: the adamant refusal to allow Black People to own property.
From 1776 (when our country was founded) to 1876 (after the Civil War) every single White American citizen was not only permitted to own property but any and all White People moving West were also handed massive, hundreds-of-acres-large land grants – which amounted to, in essence, barrelfuls of free money. They were also given business grants, low-interest loans, and a slew of other “starter” items from the Federal Government in the late 1800s to ensure that our growing Republic would flourish. After the Civil War, Black citizens that had been denied such land grants were also given huge land grants just like Whites, and financial grants, allowing them full participation in the private sector and 3/5th of a vote.
This would have corrected many of the ethnocentric issues in our country, ensuring that our Republic really had become a Meritocracy. For a painfully brief period of time, the social and economic standards between White People and Black People were starting to become the same: one group of citizens was given land grants, and the other group was given land grants. One was given financial grants, and the other group was given financial grants – all while our country was still very, very young.
If that condition had remained in place, then we would have had a Meritocracy.
But it didn’t.
Instead, we decided to do the exact opposite. Instead, former Confederate Soldiers formed a group which believed that they alone could save Christianity from what they deemed to be the savagery of Black Culture, a group called the KKK, and they lobbied Washington, ad nauseum and succeeded in taking all of the land grants back from Black People. That move was what killed the idea that “if you work hard, you can make a solid living” for Black People in the United States. Any Black person attempting to address this issue by legal means was butchered, decapitated, hung, and burned alive in the streets.
That’s what we decided to do.
So, as we entered the 20th Century, those same land grants, and financial grants, and loans which enabled White People to flourish (again, the equivalent of handing out barrelfuls of free money), were the exact same benefits denied to Black People, leaving them destitute.
Since then, there have been hundreds of laws, statutes, practices, organizations, and hugely powerful private and public institutions that worked day and night to take back any private property that Black citizens have been able to earn and call their own.
White People tend to be either uninformed, or willfully ignorant, of these historical facts. However, they also remain unaware that they have not been privy to this information, unaware that they have been robbed of this essential American History because racial issues seldom tend to effect them personally or financially, enough to capture their attention. If their race was a major issue they faced on a daily basis, then they would ask an inevitable question: “Where did this come from? What is the history behind this?”
That condition, in which the lives of White People are not really impacted one way or another, whether they acknowledge the entirety of American History or not, is called “White Privilege.”
That is to say: no one is claiming that White People haven’t suffered and worked hard to make a living in the United States. What people are claiming is that their race was not a significant factor in determining that hardship. And just because Liberals and Conservatives alike over the past five decades have worked to include these major portions of American History in our textbooks does not mean that they are “brainwashing” people. “Brainwashing” implies that someone is trying to convince someone of something that isn’t real or didn’t happen.
Instead, what they are doing is the opposite of brainwashing.
They are putting information major, transformative events back into our history books that were removed, on purpose, by White Supremacists, the KKK, and members of the Nazi Party in the United States. Without this knowledge of history, White People and Black People alike are unable to effectively defend our country, understand what Freedom means, and to fight for our values.
The notion that educating people about the burning of Black Wall Street, or the bombing of Black residences in Philadelphia, or the rampant slaughter of Black families by the KKK in the South after the Civil War and into the 20th century is somehow unAmerican or harmful to White People is not only ludicrous, but sickening as well.
Half of our population has not only been unable to participate fully in the economy, but they have also been killed for trying to do so, right up until the present day. There is inexhaustible evidence – historical evidence – of these facts.
White People thrive under the economic and social conditions in which they exist because of this very real, very significant history. Their ancestors were given free stuff. If they weren’t given free stuff, then they had a much easier time getting grants, loans, and property agreements to help them work and own businesses to buy that stuff.
The willful denial of our American history, just to make oneself feel better, or more fair, or more patriotic, especially once one reads and learns about that history, implies more than simply being in a “privileged position”.
Once one knows this history and refuses to acknowledge it, that is not called “White Privilege”. It is called “Racism.”