Ma’am, I do not hold myself above anyone. Any assumption that I do is only that: an assumption.

I stated how my descendants won’t be white. Exactly how you twist that around to try to make the case that I’m still racist anyway is an exercise in illogic, for no racist would ever want his or her children to be even partially of a different race.

You and she believe you know more about racism than I do. Yes, you DO know more about racism, more than I can ever know. The problem is, she (and you, if you agree with her definition of racism “power + privilege = racism”) only imagines what she feels is going through the minds of racists…but she cannot know for sure.

Can you? Can you really know what it feels like to be a racist, to feel at least to some degree superior due to the color of your skin? No? Then neither of you know the whole story of racism. Compare it to a murder scene: the victim is still dead, but what was the motive of the murderer? Once he’s admitted that he did it, might it be a good idea to ask that murderer why he did it, so that you could use that knowledge in other investigations in the future? If you don’t ask that murderer, unless he left evidence telling you his motive, all you’re going on is rank assumption, and you’re diminishing your ability to conduct such investigations in the future.

On the other hand, I do know what it feels like to be a racist, to be raised racist, to be in a racist family…and how it felt to not see anything morally wrong with that. And that’s why I told her (as I’m telling you now) that her definition of racism is wrong. I’ve been that racist, and just as that murderer knows best why he did it, I do know why most racists are racist. It’s not “power and privilege”, but fear and suspicion. The power and privilege are enablers…but the root causes are fear and suspicion of “the other”, the ones who are not like those in one’s own chosen group, just as with every other form of prejudice. After all, a homeless man on the street has neither power nor privilege, but he can still be very racist indeed.

Yes, you certainly know more of the receiving end, the evil results of racism…I’d never argue otherwise! But if you have never been a racist, then please don’t try to tell me the “why” of racism…because I’ve lived that side of racism that neither you nor Tamela ever have. I cannot truly know your way of thinking, your motivations: you know it, but I can’t. Likewise, you can never know what my motivations were when I was racist. I know it, but you can’t.

To put it another way, your dad lived through segregation and knows that side better than I ever could. I attended a segregation academy, an all-white school in an 80%-black town (and which is still in operation today with a mere handful of black students i.e. tokenism). Sen. James O. Eastland lived just down the road and was a family acquaintance. He was for a generation the most powerful racist in America. In other words, I know that side (of why racists are racist) better than most people.

The quote you listed by James Baldwin: “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” No matter how deeply I read into that statement, I can never truly know the depth of the feeling, the continual outrage against injustice, that you must feel every day of your life, can I? Of course not. That is a simple fact.

Look, I can’t be an “authority” on racism, for you and Tamela both know more about racism than I ever will. That’s not patronizing you, but another statement of simple fact. However, neither of you were raised as racists, or lived the life of a racist…and so that particular measure of knowledge and experience is something you do not have. I suspect the very idea of being given such knowledge would be repugnant to you…but that by no means lessens the veracity of that knowledge.

Lastly, you and Tamela are both very accurate in one particular criticism, in that I tend to “make it about myself”. Look at all the times I used first-person pronouns above - that’s not good, and it’s a habit I’d dearly love to break. I’m trying, but it ain’t easy. Please accept my sincere gratitude for that criticism.

Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

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