Whenever a need is recognized someone usually comes forth to satisfy that need. Lately the problem of white racism and bigotry has been in the news in a most embarrassing way to young unbiased white people. The need to fix this glaring racial ugliness is conspicuous.
First there was the case of the white welfare cowboy Cliven Bundy, a 67-year-old patriarch of a large Mormon family with over 50 grandchildren, whose racism came into the national spotlight after the federal government started impounding his 900 head of cattle in early April, following a 20-year battle over cattle-grazing on federal land. Bundy proceeded to tell a New York Times reporter what he knew about the Negro.
Shortly after that the taped voice of 80-year-old Donald Sterling, the white billionaire owner of the LA Clippers basketball team, was released and we heard Sterling telling a mix-race female companion what he thinks about black people. His views were so incendiary that they made possible a disruption of the multi-billion dollar game of basketball which lines the pockets of 29 other moneychangers, hundreds of players and a huge support complex of thousands of workers.
Those two episodes of racial bigotry gathered more media attention than the millions of incidents that occur on a daily basis and got people talking about the problem of racism. To highlight how uncool it is to be openly racist these days, some white people were embarrassed to be connected by race to these two dinosaurs.
There was tons of talk about how to fix the problem, but the proposals all involve improvements in the living conditions of African Americans, as thought an upper-class life for African Americans would cure white racism. That theory is squashed as soon as we realize that racism is hurled 24/7 at an African American who, as president, lives at the pinnacle of American society, which has not immunized him from daily racist attacks.
If white people want to eradicate white racism and bigotry they have to do it themselves. They have to forget about retooling the lives of Negros, black people and African Americans for now and concentrate on the source of the racism: white people. Young white people have to organize to rid the country of white racism. They have to develop a program of anti-racism talking points to take into every nook and cranny of white racial bigotry. They have to take the program to senior citizen centers, Rotary Clubs, police departments, chambers of commerce, financial institutions, the U.S. Congress, the two major political parties, and taxi commissions. Young white people have got to own the job of eradicating white racism not just among themselves but also among older white people more susceptible to the disorder.
There need to be regiments of young white people coalescing into squadrons of anti-racism reformers to modernize and re-educate white racists. They have to have the tenacity of Mormon missionaries proselytizing for religious conversion in the evangelical South. There needs to be a national organization with divisions in every state and branches throughout the states to eradicate white racism and bigotry. The organization could develop and offer a 12-step program for standard abusers and a mandatory 90-day re-education program with dormitories and classrooms on plantations in South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia for extreme racists and all white people over 60. The program should have a curriculum that lays out the evils of slavery, Jim Crow and white privilege. The goal would be to shrink the incidence of racism to a size where it could be drowned in a bathtub.
When young white people start forming community organizations in the places where white people gather to reinforce their deeply held social mythology, and redirect the misguided notions they hold on race, is when I will know that there is a serious effort to eliminate racism.
Past efforts to combat racism have been directed toward the victims. When housewives in Boston attacked a school bus load of African American children in 1974, the establishment’s focus went to ways to eliminate busing and not on eliminating the racist mindset of violent white mothers. When Fannie Lou Hamer exposed the hypocrisy of the all-white 1964 Democratic delegation from Mississippi to the Democratic National Convention in New Jersey, the bosses immediately tried to compromise rather than do the right thing which would have been to have racially proportional seating of the delegation.
The civil rights era has passed after doing what it could to make America a better place for all of us to live in. Civil rights organizations fought hard to change discriminatory laws and practices and won those wars. Brave black schoolchildren integrated all-white school systems under the threat of death; freedom riders liberated interstate travel, often jailed and beaten, but prevailing. The right to vote was won for blacks after Bloody Sunday and many deaths. Look around: back of the bus, whites-only water fountains, legal hiring discrimination – these and hundreds of other racial disparities are gone. What’s left are racial dinosaurs like Bundy and Sterling and the pile of new discriminatory laws (speaking of dinosaurs) Republican politicians are enacting around the country.
African American civil rights initiatives have gotten us this far. Young white people have got to take the battle where it needs to go now, into the homes of white people. Only they can do this.
They say that the condition of the heart cannot be legislated too. Even if that’s true, it’s not with the heart that people act out their racism – it is with the mind. The American Psychiatric Association has members who have developed techniques to cure the mind of many of its ailments; why not racism? I call for the establishment of the White Youth Corps against Bigotry (WYCAB), a non-governmental, non-profit grass-roots organization to fill the void that is so badly needed in the next stages of the fight against racism. There are plenty of organizational models WYCAB could adopt; The Peace Corps, Job Corps, Alcoholics Anonymous, or Meals on Wheels. Perhaps it would be most effective if it were modeled after and have the autonomy and anonymity of the Occupy Wall Street Movement of a few years ago. It just can’t in any way be connected to the government. We can’t have a government creating the people’s morality.
Now let me tell you something else I know about the…