Posted Nov 15, 2021 by Michael L. Brown

Do you believe that all of us have blind spots of some kind? That all of us are shaped, for better or worse, by our own upbringing and environment? That we sometimes see things through an imperfect lens? And can you point to many blind spots among those whose beliefs and ideologies you reject? If so, perhaps we can explore some of our own blind spots here, and in this case, by “we” I mean we who are white Americans.

The truth be told, all of us, of all color and background, are much more inclined to see the blind spots of others, pointing out their biased thinking, their convoluted logic, their limited knowledge, and their faulty arguments. But how often do we examine our own points of view through that same lens of critical thinking?

A few years ago, after months of race-related discussion on my radio show, I put forth a simple thesis: White Americans often do not see racism when it is there. Black Americans often do see racism when it is not there.

Some, of course, found this thesis offensive. Many others, however, heartily agreed.

I suggest we test it out here.

As white Americans, when we watch the video of the tragic death of George Floyd, do we see this as race related? For many of us, the answer is no, even if we see it as an act of unjustified police brutality, worthy of conviction under the law (as the court ultimately ruled).

As for black Americans watching this video, this was yet another example of white brutality against an unarmed black man.

In response, we say, “But look at the facts. Look at the statistics. Only a dozen or so unarmed black men are killed by the police every year. You need to stop listening to the race-baiters.”

In response, our black friends say, “How many times have you been racially profiled? And do you need to have ‘the talk’ with your boys when they become teenagers, urging them to respond to police officers with the utmost respect lest they be shot? Or do you think we are just imagining the corporate pain that we feel?”

To be clear, and to reiterate what I have written and said elsewhere, I oppose the dangerous, anti-white curriculum that is popping up in schools across our nation. And I will continue to call out the false “white supremacist” accusations that are being hurled against us white conservatives by the hour.

At the same time, I must ask if we really want our children to know the painful truth of American history, one that is often more sordid than we would like to admit.

I was reminded of this when reading the new book by Charles Love called Race Crazy: BLM, 1619, and the Progressive Racism Movement. Love is a conservative black American who has appeared on Fox News and who is an opponent of CRT in our children’s schools. So, he is the opposite of a radical, race-baiting progressive.

Yet, when discussing one of the essays in The 1619 Project, he affirms some of the horrible realities of our past treatment of black Americans as pointed out by journalist Trymaine Lee, realities which still affect many black Americans today. (I remind you again that one of the purposes of Love’s book is to expose the dangerous biases in The 1619 Project, but here, there are facts he needed to affirm.)

For example, Lee points out that, on average, whites have 7 times the wealth of blacks in America. Love then writes (agreeing with Lee), “For the first seventy-five years post-slavery, this was nearly entirely the faulty of the government, either by racist laws or by negligence – taking no action as whites robbed, killed, and terrorized blacks.”

To illustrate this reality, Lee shares the story of Elmore Boling, a wealthy black businessman in Alabama who was murdered in 1947 by white men angered by his success. White creditors then took his money, leaving his family and descendants bereft of his wealth. Yet 1947 is not that long ago, and the effects of Boling’s murder and financial rape are still felt today by his grandchildren today.

Love then writes this: “Armed white people stormed prosperous majority-black Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898 to murder dozens of black people, force 2,000 others off their property, and overthrow the city government. In the Red Summer of 1919, at least 240 black people were murdered across the country. And in 1921, in one of the bloodiest racial attacks in United States history, Greenwood, a prosperous black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was burned and looted. It is estimated that as many as 300 black people were murdered, and 10,000 were rendered homeless. Thirty-five square blocks were destroyed. No one was ever convicted in any of acts of racist violence.

“These were obvious acts of terrorism, but the government also played an active role in suppressing economic opportunities for blacks. . . .”

I can assure you that I never learned any of this as a child in school (at least, to the best of my memory).

Does this mean that white children today should be made to feel guilty about the past? Absolutely not – unless, of course, they are racists themselves, in which case they should be ashamed.

Does this mean that white kids should be identified as the oppressor class? No, no, no.

Does this even mean that white Americans should be paying out reparations to black Americans? Love himself writes, “I want to clearly state that I believe reparations were the proper response to slavery; I just believe the clock has run out on the payment.” Thus, we need to address the remaining inequities in more practical ways today.

Then what is the point of me sharing all this? It is simply that our black friends want us to listen and learn. They want us to understand their perspective. They want us to address our own blind spots. They want us to know our history better than many of us do, not just praising past American exceptionalism but also grieving over past American racism.

As one black caller said to me on the air one day, “I don’t want you to do anything about the pain we have experienced. I just want you to listen.”

It is the least that we can do.

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Comments

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bc9765 posted a comment · Nov 30, 2021
@ jwdennis "That history of OK is far more detailed. It was of course bad, should not have happened, and had racial elements for sure, but it was nowhere near as one sided as they lie about. I have all the sourcing on this if you want. Even the aspect of slavery is not this myopic, intellectually lazy version of it you seem to have adopted." What is this 'sourcing' that you are referring too ? The historical accounts that I have encountered dealing with slavery show it be a truly horrendous institution that lasted for a very long time. I do not advocate being blind to the ways that the African American community has 'harmed' itself; but keep in mind that for most of American history African Americans were under some time of bondage or control (slavery or Jim Crow). Freedom for us is relatively recent. There is a sickness that infects the African American community. However, I do not advocate trying to make the past not seem as bad as it probably was. I think some African Americans are trying to join in the effort of covering certain aspects of the past to make things seem better than they were. I think one of the causes of this is not having your identity rooted in Christ, and seeking to establish your identity in the dominant parent culture. I am an African American female by the way. I am happy for the sacrifices that were made in the past by others during the civil rights movement, to make it possible for me to become more educated, and to become more economically empowered.
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jwdennis posted a comment · Nov 19, 2021
I find this crusade of your's offensive and disappointing Mr. Brown. I like you, and have followed you for some time now, but I find your position on this both erroneous and just wrong. Let me be very clear, I'm a black man that grew up poor in dangerous neighborhoods growing up. I've learned alot from my teenage years until now in my 30's, and could speak to every erroneous point made here to infer racialism where it's more complicated or just not applicable. You actually think that a wealth gap is indicative of racism? I know of many black authors who have discussed this in detail far more than the folks you keep citing. I follow a podcast with two black men called Just Thinking who dive deep into this stuff and leave no turn unturned. One of them is the best black historian I've ever heard from. That figure you posted alone should spark some investigation and critical thinking, but you did not appear to do it. I'm fully acquainted with these sorts of misleading figures, and they usually do not infer what these people say it does. Even the 75 year time span should've alerted you to something being wrong there. I know history, again as a black man, real good, but I could also speak to statistical gathering. You can't just gather 75 years like that and draw a conclusion. That isn't how history or statistics work. Further, alot went on during that time period that caused those issues. Even the Oklahoma aspect is riddled with error. I've studied that as well. Where's the number on how many whites were killed sir? It was mutual combat. Both blacks and whites were armed and were killing each other. It was a mini civil war. Whites were not out hunting blacks during that event. Ironically the black folks during that era in Oklahoma were financially successful, but it's amazing how that wealth gap talk disappears when OK comes up. Alot was happening nationally during the time of the 30's and 40's that can't just be chalked up to racism. That's not how that works. That's not history. That history of OK is far more detailed. It was of course bad, should not have happened, and had racial elements for sure, but it was nowhere near as one sided as they lie about. I have all the sourcing on this if you want. Even the aspect of slavery is not this myopic, intellectually lazy version of it you seem to have adopted. On a quick note, please find black authors and speakers that actually deal with specifics of history and data. Thomas Sowell, among many others, have long decried this twisting of history and data to promote dishonest narratives. And now Booker T is the target of these race hustlers because of his inconvenient success, including financially, and his interactions with whites on a human level. Can't have whites seems human can we. They have alot of white authors too. Don't dismiss them because they are white either. I was just reading about John C. Calhoun the other day which was just written off as a flaming racist, but nobody botherered to read his background and what he said. Ironically way back then he openly spoke of the collapse of America to this very government we see today. He warned specifically about it. Although his positions on slavery were untenable, his argument for it did have some merit. But I'm black, I'm not suppose to read about Calhoun and learn from him. I follow and have read from a mixed group of people who have covered these subjects in detail far more than the race hustlers of the day. This brings me to my next point, and perhaps the one that I find utterly disrespectful. Don't pander to blacks. This reads as a disingenuous pander to folks like me, and undermines the gospel and our relationship as brothers in Christ. Don't refer to black people as brothers that need their experience validated as if ethnicity and contrived experiences are the sole way to appeal to us. We're not a monolith, and certainly not these victims you seem to have accepted that we are. I do not accept this dynamic you and others push here right or left, Christian or not. I've had all sorts of experiences where I thought my skin color was the main factor, and most of the time that was not true, and again I come from very dangerous neighborhoods where interaction with officers and gangs were frequent. My background is very unique. So no, my white brothers and sisters have no need to approach me or any black person in this manner to understand anything about our racialist views of the world. None of us are this construct you have erected here. This is a lie and counterproductive, and it exacerbates the problem in various ways, and folks like me refuse to be apart of this; and I'm pretty young and have no problem going to war against this ideology you seem to be toying with. Please stop this already. It's tiresome. And please get better understanding on this issue, because these people you keep quoting and referencing are not representative of folks like me, and quite frankly it undermines us and unity greatly. I will not capitulate to this, and neither will folks, irrespective of skin color, either. I hope you read this and take this seriously. Enough already.
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Hebrewhelena posted a comment · Nov 18, 2021
Dr Brown: I thought you believed in The Gospel?? Almost half of my race (41%) of Jews were ANNIHILATED (not enslaved or red lined or segregated) but ANNIHILATED OFF THIS PLANET just 76 years ago and look how far we have come and most of us don’t even believe in Jesus!!! I thought G-d was NO RESPECTER of persons??? If He will do it for Jews, He will do it for ANYONE!!!! Learn your facts! Yes, there is a gap between Black and white wealth but why don’t you preach against SEXUAL IMMORALITY which is rampant in Black communities resulting in 73% child OUT OF WEDLOCK rate!!! How do you build wealth when your mother is a single parent w usually 2-3 children w different baby daddies???? Please enlighten us!!!!!! Also, Considering that POC are responsible TODAY for over HALF (52%) of all VIOLENT CRIME (not NON violent drug related crimes as the mendacious propaganda media want you to believe) what responsibility do POC hold in trying to stop “racial profiling” which is so complained about but actually has been shown to save lives???? Please have Heather MacDonald or DR Shelby Steele or Dr Thomas Sowell , Jason Riley or Dr Greg Loury (to just name a few) on your show to help educate you on Black culture and the huge obstacles it has played in slowing Black progress!! Please have a REAL discussion about very inconvenient facts! Ugh!!
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Swkh310 posted a comment · Nov 16, 2021
What on earth could I possibly know about discrimination? I was born white, male, straight, middle class, and into an intact, Christian family. I have no idea what discrimination is. Nor does anyone else who can check off most/all of those same boxes.
Lambsev posted a comment · Nov 15, 2021
Kweisi Mfume is a US Congressman from Maryland. Many years ago he had a talk show on a local Baltimore TV station. On one show regarding race relations a guest who was a black Pastor said a most amazing thing. He said that racial harmony would come when black people forgave white people. I don't think anyone heard him. Certainly whites must also forgive blacks. Unforgiveness is a sin problem clothed in HUEman skin. Sadly we still think in terms of our differences and pridefully advance our cultures separately... even on Sunday morning.
czarpaul posted a comment · Nov 15, 2021
I am white I want real history taught the good the bad and the ugly. I also want to see a end to jumping on the racism bandwagon EVERY TIME something happens to a black person. Let's find out the facts first. Let's calmly approach things then maybe we can find it easier to talk and listen to each other. In instances of real racism I am wanting justice done. But with racial hoaxes racism as the default explanation immediately jumped too and racism/racist being bandied about for anyone who disagrees with some people it gets hard to listen wondering are you trying to help me understand or are you just excusing bad behavior because or skin color???