There’s a new breed of White Americans in town who do not want to be labeled as racists and are also zealously proud of their whiteness.  America has come to terms with a new landscape since the shootings by police of George Floyd in Minnesota and Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, resulting in days of rioting, protesting, and destruction.  All these acts then further divide the nation as we try grapple with what we perceive is right and wrong and ardently argue for our rights.  What has emerged is a new set of White Americans who may condemn the shootings, but still wholeheartedly support the police, condemn the ensuing violence, and also refute the movement of Black people, who are trying to change things.  In the landscape of the Midwest of Minnesota nice, how is that the these very people who smile at strangers can’t have compassion for the minorities who are being killed in their backyard?  What is happening in the heartland that race relations and communication between the police and the community have broken down?  Well, the New Proud American may assert that the fault lies with the criminals and those who break laws and not anyone else.

While the Midwest is supposed to be known for being overly nice, is that what minorities have encountered?  I have heard stories of New Yorkers who are unused to the ways of the Midwest, where we say hello to strangers in the street and hold doors for others.  This is mostly true for most of the Midwest, but there is also another layer when you are a minority.  As a minority, I’ve been told to go back to my own country, mocked for speaking my own language, and physically threatened all for being Asian.  When I relate this to my white counterparts, they believe me, but some of them do not believe it is a prevalent or systematic issue.  As most of them have grown up in a mostly white community, they have never encountered what it means to be “other” so they can only rely on what they hear and if they do not have many minority acquaintances, the voices in their community will not be as diverse.  Instead, they rely on Fox News talking points and listen to Black Republicans such as Candace Owen, using her words so that they are speaking through a minority and they do not feel as if they are treading over other minorities because a Black woman said so.

Who are these Proud, white Americans and how did they get to be that way?  Proud Americans are almost exclusively Republicans and typically grew up in a society where they felt blamed for crimes they never committed.  They are made to feel as if it is their personal fault that slavery ravaged this country when their ancestors never owned slaves.  They feel as if they are losing out on opportunities to minorities through Affirmative Action and fear those that are invading their land.  They feel as if their rights are being taken away such as their guns, and they feel it is unfair that Black people can use the “N” word when they can’t.  Far-right news meida then uses these things to stoke fear and anger in them, urging them to agitate for change and to fight for their right to also be proud of who they are.  When they talk about white privilege, they are indignant and state that they were able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, so anyone else of any other race should be able to as well, ignoring systematic racism.  To counter systematic racism, some of them believe it simply does not exist, because if it did exist, they would have to reckon with how they have been helped because of it, and they simply can’t.

In a nut shell, Proud Americans do not think things are fair.  If Affirmative Action benefits minorities solely on the basis of their skin color, that is not fair to them, even though it is trying to correct years of oppression for minorities.  If they can’t say the “N” word, no one should be able to, even though Black people are taking aback a word that White people used as a slur.  If Black people are able to say they are proud of their skin color, they should also be able to say it, even though Black people have been told they are ugly just because of their skin color and White people have never been told the same thing.  Proud Americans are tired of being told to feel sorry for slavery, systematic racism, and more, so they now choose to not feel sorry and to not feel sorry, they must deny that racism is real.  They may believe me when I tell them about the things that have happened to me because they know who I am and would never be racist to me, but they cannot comprehend that this happens to the majority of minorities on a daily basis , which is also racist, but they do not see that.  They do not see it because they would never be racist to a minority, so they don’t think it applies to them, but when they deny systematic racism on a grander scale, it is racist. 

The new Proud Americans may never call you a slur or burn a cross in your yard, but they definitely do not fight for minorities if they cling on to the idea that they are being oppressed when others tell them racism is real.  To white people: you don’t have to feel guilty for any of these things.  They are not your doing and they do not mean your personal struggle is any less real than a minority’s struggle, but please do not continue to deny that systematic racism exists, because it hurts the very minority people who you claim are your friends.  To Black people: the majority of non-Black people who don’t fight for you do  not hate you.  The majority of them simply don’t care because it doesn’t affect them.  It is not hatred that is killing you but apathy.  It is sad to see other minorities who have experienced racism also deny your struggle because we simply aren’t Black.  The reality is that many non-Blacks care about the Black people they know and trust in their lives, but many of us do not care about Black people as a whole and that’s where the real problem is.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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