NOTE: This post is extremely long, raw & not for the politically faint of heart. But it is necessary.
Because of recent political events, the gringa feels compelled to share her perspective, experiences, hopes and fears. First of all, my perspective is that of a 4th generation KKK and I am a heretic as far as white supremacist ideology is concerned. However, all that I was exposed to growing up in an openly racist household has conditioned me to be particularly sensitive to the issues stirred up by my country’s future presidential prospect. I feel uniquely qualified to stand in the face of racism and call it out as well as stand in the face of a racist and call that person exactly what they are. I am ruthless at it. I offer no tolerance for racism apologists. I do not flinch or back down. I spare no one’s feelings. Considering that white supremacy is responsible for the mass genocide of indigenous people, the enslavement of a race of people, the legal oppression and torment of a freed people, and a current system that covertly oppresses people of color, non-Christians, non-heterosexuals and women, I believe that we can give no quarter to even a single white supremacist if we wish to create, enjoy and preserve a civilized society.
I am a white person. I can only relate to being white in America. I can share my experience of being raised by racist parents with KKK ancestry to boot. I can also be honest about how history has affected every American. But I can never relate, nor would I presume to, the experience of being an ethnic, religious, or sexual identity minority in America. That is not my duty as a white American, to define the experience of others. My duty is to learn from them and accept how they define their American experience and explain to me what racism and bigotry is and how it affects them and how my white privilege can help to make it stop.
Racism comes in many forms. Some are less noticeable than others but they are all insidious. A devoted white supremacist is easy to identify. Their white superiority ideology is equally easy to nullify with an argument like this: First you pose the question as to what, exactly, is the single greatest thing that makes white people so much greater than people of color. You will get various answers, some related to the creation of this wonderful experiment with democracy. However, once you point out that every success of American exceptionalism was built upon the greatness of people of color, the racist will immediately presume you speak of slaves. And, indeed, the greatness of early America’s wealth and the power that goes with it did indeed depend upon slavery. However, I enjoy taking it even further by pointing out:
- Al-Khwarizmi founded algebra, a Muslim Persian who died in 850 AD.
- The ancient Egyptians constructed the pyramids which no white man has ever figured out and replicated. But the indigenous people of South & Central America did.
- The Sumerians invented written language around 3000 BC. They were the ancient ancestors of today’s Middle Eastern peoples.
- Galileo was the founder of astronomy, a Roman Catholic Italian, in other words, of Mediterranean ancestry rather than Nordic, and, even worst to white supremacists, a Papist.
The gringa could go on, but my dear readers get the point. In addition to the open racist is the closet racist who practices covert racism in coded language. These are the racists who know that racism is socially unacceptable. They also don’t mind the benefits of exploiting those they deem less superior than themselves. These are the racists we work with, live next to, invite over for our children’s birthday parties. We usually don’t recognize them until something like what has happened now in our country forces them to expose themselves. If they are confronted with their racism, their white fragility, a result of living with the idea that they are special, cannot handle the accusation.
You see, white supremacy demands narcissism. It demands that a person believe they are entitled to live by a separate set of rules as compared to the “others” who are less. It causes them to not only have grandiose ideas about their own superiority, it makes it impossible for them to believe that they are at fault. So when you point out that they support an issue, candidate or policy that is racist, instead of stepping back and reconsidering, they forge on ahead in the same direction but only after attacking the messenger for “race-baiting” or something of the sort. The gringa tolerates no such nonsense and goes right for the jugular with such people because, as 4th generation KKK, I know that their feelings deserve no consideration.
You see, the gringa’s great-grandfather was a Mississippi klansman. But he was not just any klansman. He was a powerful klansman. He grew up when white supremacy was legal. He was a Southern Baptist minister with the largest congregation in Hattiesburg and served as the Governor’s Secretary of Education.
One of his daughters became my grandmother. She married a man who, after his service in World War II, became successful and settled his family in Texas. My mother grew up in a life of privilege. She had a black nanny and housekeeper. My mother also lived during the time of legalized white supremacy. When she visited her aunt’s café and saw her fellow black Americans enter and eat in the kitchen, this was her normal. That was where “they” belonged. My mother skipped off to church every Sunday to worship a god who she would claim loved everyone the same yet conveniently she forgot about the black servant she had left behind at home who had to curl her hair and shine her shoes. She never questioned what her god might think of her treating “these people” so differently. That’s because she was conditioned to believe that it was only natural that some people are subordinate and others are superior. That was the evil of Christian sanctioned “separate but equal”. Christianity by the very nature of its tenets supports, empowers and justifies bigotry. What else is to be expected from a religion that identifies itself with a label “chosen people”? For the greedy and power hungry the effect can only be a superiority complex because fallen man simply cannot be trusted to wield such favor and power with love and humility.
My father came from a humble, working class background in rural Texas. However, he also grew up in the era of legalized white supremacy in America. Despite his family’s poverty, being white and poor was darn sure better than being black. You see, that attitude right there is how Trump was able to mobilize so many Americans. Many Trump supporters won’t admit it but one thing they look forward to is being elevated socially as well as on the job because of the effects of a white supremacist administration. Poor whites can get a self esteem boost by being legally superior to Muslim Americans, women, the LGBT community, and so on.
But I digress. Back to my racist father. My father graduated college and worked incredibly hard and eventually became a wealthy and powerful businessman. I, as well as my four older sisters, enjoyed a life of privilege. I grew up hearing my father call black people the N word. He used no other descriptor when referring to my fellow black Americans. He called Hispanics “wetbacks” or “pepper bellies”. And I have the U.S. government to thank for one of those hateful terms with “Operation Wetback”. That is another dark chapter in American racism they don’t teach you in history class. Considering Trump’s mass deportation plans and Muslim registry proposal, every American should acquaint themselves with the political rhetoric that conditioned a nation to support this program and the tragic consequences that ensued.
As a young girl I learned grade school rhymes that used the N word. Yes, much to the gringa’s shame I used the N word. I used it casually. I thought that was the right word. How many years was this after the Civil Rights Act? Oh, about a decade. But how can America really expect to undo nearly 300 years of legalized white supremacy in only 60 years? The gringa still has trouble undoing the effects of white supremacy conditioning that took place upon a little girl for only 18 years.
The gringa never heard the word Hispanic or Latino until I became an adult. I was raised in a very small town predominantly white with few Hispanics. And regardless of where they truly came from, it was always assumed that they were Mexican. They were tolerated and steadfastly kept on the fringes of society except for the few who were completely “white” in lifestyle, culture, accent, etc. There were no blacks at all in my community or school. The gringa never saw a black person up close and personal until I was about 14 years old.
My father was very open about his racism. To him, these feelings were normal. He refused to hire black people at his business because he claimed they were all lazy. As a little girl who admired her father, the gringa believed him. He preferred to hire “wetbacks” because he claimed they had a great work ethic and were willing to work cheap. I thought that made him a wonderful and generous man. I know now that my father was a white supremacist who exploited immigrants. Back then I was clueless.
The gringa doesn’t know what happened to make her different from her parents. I suppose my saving grace was college. A liberal, higher education is one thing white supremacists decry. They are filled with all sorts of foul opinions about college educated liberals. The reason they hate college educated people so much is not because they, themselves, are ignorant and simply envious. No, they know what happens when carefully cultivated cult members go off to college. They become enlightened and de-programmed. They lose future klansmen. And that’s exactly what happened to me.
Now, it is highly unusual for most hard-core white supremacists to send their daughters off to college. Most are not only racists but also steadfast male chauvinists. My white supremacist, male chauvinist father was willing to make an exception. He had two motivating factors. First, he was a greedy, ol’ fart. If one of us showed great promise, he envisioned having a daughter in a prestigious position in a bank somewhere that would smooth the way for his business ventures to grow. Educating a daughter was a business opportunity for my father. The other reason to send us off to college was for us to meet prospective husbands that would make lots of money. Again, another possible avenue for him to enrich himself. As daughters, we were commodities that contained the potential for an expansion of power if our femininity was cultivated to attract the right connections. I see Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, exploited in just this way. The wife, Melania, like his other wives, nothing more than the right genetics to serve as a superior incubator to expand the race. There is no issue of love. A wife or daughter is only a means to expand power. Both of my father’s aspirations were fulfilled with two of the gringa’s sisters, one married well and one became independently wealthy through a lucrative career, as for the gringa things went a different direction.
I was a bit of a wild card. I wasn’t interested in money or husbands. I was insatiably curious and adventurous. I scorned the thought of living at home and moved into a house with 5 other college kids. We were all different races, genders and religions. In addition to my world expanding in the place I lived, the gringa got a job. At a newspaper. I met all sorts of people. It was an incredible learning experience for me. It was also a time of great embarrassment and shame. I had no idea how offensive some of my speech, opinions and assumptions about the world were. I am so very grateful for the patience, kindness and generosity of my college friends who considered me a harmless, albeit very stupid, country bumpkin. However, in the short years that I lived with them, a lifetime of racist conditioning was not undone. That work would be ongoing.
There is no cure for racism. Once a person is conditioned from a babe until adulthood to be a racist there are so many deeply rooted beliefs and behaviors one can only be faced with a lifetime of work, shame, anger and brutal honesty with self while soul-searching. No amount of history books revealing the truth of our nation’s history can automatically undo what has been done. And if a former racist ever gets complacent and thinks that all their work has been done, they will eventually embarrass themselves when they realize that they are still a racist, the racism is merely deeply buried and dormant through aggressive actions of suppression. And one of the gringa’s deepest, darkest, most secret fears is that if I ever suffered the effects of a disease like Alzheimer’s I would lose all of my filters and restraints and the deeply suppressed training of my youth will pour forth and hurt the ones I love. I would hope for death rather than become a white supremacist. I actually saw this happen to a woman I cared for. It haunts me. But it’s true. There is no cure for racism.
The dear reader probably wonders what I could possibly mean by that. I will tell you. After rejecting my upbringing and embracing diversity the gringa made it her personal mission to discover all that had been hidden from me as a child. I explored every available avenue that would expose me to various cultures, religions, etc. I sought out friendships with all who would have me. I gloried in satiating my insatiable curiosity. I satisfied my sense of justice by standing up to social injustice. I prided myself in being true to my principles and spared no one who only feigned the appearance of believing in equality.
Now, white supremacists routinely accuse me of white hate, of even self hate, when I tell the truth about white supremacy. They point to my marriage to a non-white as if I married a non-white to prove a point or atone for something. It is impossible for white supremacists who are filled with hate to even consider that while I was immersing myself in other cultures nature simply took its course. A man and woman met, sparked and interesting things happened. But, then again, humans who are inspired by hatred don’t understand the simplest thing about love.
So the gringa married a black man and had a baby with him. That marriage didn’t work out. We were both too young. But later I met a wonderful Peruvian who is the love of my life. He, too, had children from a previous marriage. Our inter-racial family represent Black America, Hispanic America, Asian America and white America. The religions represented in our home are Judaism, Christianity, Islam. And then there are the non-religionists in the family, the atheists. How could the gringa possibly still suffer with racism? How could the gringa not be cured by now from being a racist? Because I was born to be one. My parents raised me to be one. It will be a lifetime of undoing what they have done. Some of their work is rooted so deeply and is so shrouded I may not even be clever enough to recognize it or strong enough to destroy the root. I thank God for the Black Lives Matter movement for showing me this to be true.
When BLM emerged and the topic of white privilege began circulating, I was offended by the concept. I had to check myself when I first felt the indications of an automatic hostile response. It was a white privilege response. Although I had had the response before, until the literature I read on BLM’s website, I had never had a label for it. For those whites who bristle when someone cries racism or draw back in shock if accused of saying something racist and launch into a thousand denials, you need to check yourself. Your white pride is showing. As a white person you do not get to define what racism is. If a person of color points out that you are doing something racist, shut up and listen. Plaster down your hackles, swallow your pride and take a seat at the back of the bus for a change. You might learn something and grow as a person.
The gringa will also share something even more personal about being 4th generation KKK than what I already have. This year I watched for the first time the movie “Mississippi Burning”. The movie and history alone are powerful enough. However, as the story progressed I realized that this was the era in Mississippi of my great-grandfather. I slowly became aware that my ancestor could have very well played a part in those murders. He most certainly participated in the systematic terrorization of the black people in his community. My great-grandfather was not only a racist, he was a terrorist. The gringa wants to be very clear about this, dear readers. White supremacists are terrorists. In doctrine. In rhetoric. In deed. The white supremacists of today are terrorists just like my great-grandfather was. And he was also a Christian preacher, one who had probably authorized the lynchings of my fellow black Americans who lived in his community. He probably had a hand in the beatings of my fellow black Americans, possibly burning down their homes and businesses in order to teach them a lesson.
It is one thing to be a white American and accept that your skin remotely connects you with the brutal history of this nation. It is another thing entirely to come face to face with the names of real people your own family may have brutalized and possibly murdered. I wept during and after the movie. I was sick with shame for days. I still get sick if I dwell upon this subject for any length of time. Avoiding the discomfort of such sickness is a privilege. Being white makes it easier to pretend I have escaped accountability.
But what makes the gringa even sicker are the memories that my parents and grand-parents would recount about dear Papa Wade. He would be spoken of with such reverence, hailed as an icon of veritable holiness and dignity. He was a virtuous man worthy of respect. This would usually be followed up with a side snicker as if it was barely worth mentioning, “But we were all shocked to find his KKK regalia in a trunk after his death.” My family finds their KKK ancestry amusing, almost romantic. Proper genteel Southern manners dictate one must pretend to be shocked by such a discovery. But everyone always knew the truth that Papa Wade was a racist and they passed this legacy on to each consecutive generation like good white racists do.
However, once the Civil Rights Act passed and our nation grew more and more progressive with social policy, it was no longer en vogue to believe in “separate but equal”. One would have to tolerate working beside “those people”. Parents had no choice but to accept integrated schools for their children. Thus began the new era of coded language, no less racist, but socially acceptable. This is what causes so much confusion for the modern white racist. They simply have no idea that they have been conditioned to be racist because it is covert. Their parents knew they were racists but they wanted their children to succeed. In order for white kids to enjoy opportunity they had to play by the new rules. It was against the law to say certain words, operate under certain business practices. So racist whites had to create an entirely new covert language. They had to create elaborate ruses to justify racist behaviors. And all the while condition their children to believe that they weren’t racist. They were taught that they are “patriots”. And all of that is what Trump tapped into.
My fear for this nation is not that Trump will get his way with all of the racist and bigoted policies he wants to enact. I believe in the effectiveness of the people and their representatives to succeed in obstructionism. My greatest fear is what is going to be happening in the streets. It already is. The gringa means the empowerment that comes from validation. The white supremacist movement in the U.S. feels they have a right to begin a social purge. The problem is that they are too few in number to face the masses who will resist them. That is why it will be dangerous to be the ‘wrong kind of person’ walking alone down the street. Places of the “wrong kind of worship” will get fire-bombed and vandalized more and more. Yes, the gringa fears we are all in for a period of social chaos that could very well be very bloody. And to survive it, no, survive will not do. To emerge VICTORIOUS, we must ALL unite, strengthening and comforting one another.
So just as my greatest fears are manifested in what people may do, so are my hopes. Already we are seeing so many people stand together and resist. That is what we must do. We must not be afraid to call racism and hate for what it is. We must not abide its presence. The gringa has discovered that the only thing a racist hates more than people of color are white people like me. And more white people like me need to stand up and recognize the power and privilege in their skin color and USE IT for good.
You see, any seed of white supremacy is dangerous. And this is why. White superiority ideology can, by its very logic, never accept that the white ruling powers are at fault for anything that is wrong. Any problem, then, requires a scapegoat to blame. In order to succeed at targeting a group for blame and, ultimately, a purge, the white supremacist class must divide the subordinate people into groups who mistrust one another. That is the only way they can succeed in victimizing a particular group for a purge. Once the purge succeeds, the white supremacists in power discover that problems still exist. Thus, another group must be at fault. So purges continue until perfection is achieved. THAT is how white supremacist ideology works.
In order to survive white supremacy every group must stand together when a single group is targeted. Any single group targeted for oppression is only a proxy for all the other groups combined. When we stand up on behalf of one group we are actually standing up for all of us. Trust me. When you see one group targeted you had better stand up because I promise you, once they are purged your group’s turn is coming. Every single person must offer sanctuary in every form to anyone targeted by hate. And we must all stand united and RESIST.
It is impossible for me to see my skin color every day and not be reminded of the shame as well as the power attached to it. It is a sobering responsibility to be a white American, especially now. White people can no longer be abusers of the power of their skin color, using it to exploit or abuse minorities. White people can no longer be asleep at the wheel believing that their skin color is nothing special and they are under no obligation to erase the stain of America’s white history.
Although the gringa accepts that she will still fail herself and the people of color that she loves because she was born and raised a racist, she will never give up. If and when I disappoint myself and those I love and every other American of color, I will face my shame and purge one more root of my white superiority complex. If I hear a person of color criticize an action or word of mine as having a white supremacist root, I will sit down at the back of the bus and listen rather than white ‘splain how I was misunderstood or how “they” need to stop being so sensitive. I accept that as a white person I do not get to define what racism means to a person of color. And when I recognize racism in any form, overt or covert, I will face it. I will not stand aside or remain silent. I refuse to suffer the presence, speech or actions of any white person who believes that their skin color imbues them with special privileges and power. I will try to the best of my ability to use my privilege and color not just to serve minorities, but to re-educate and de-program white racists. Because THAT is the greatest job ahead of my nation. And the gringa believes that it is the duty and responsibility of the white community to police itself and purge itself of this dangerous mental disease called white supremacy.
Sorry for the enormity of this post. If you read it in its entirety, the gringa is very appreciative. I will appreciate it even more if you are a white American who takes it to heart and takes action. I will also appreciate it if all will share this message with any willing to listen.