Charlottesville was my Fault

I highly recommend that everyone read this. And then do some careful self-examination. I know from personal experience that examining yourself for racism and privilege hurts like hell. Something in me wants to rise up and protest that that’s not me, I’m not like that, or even that there’s a good excuse for my privilege and my failings. But in the end, I’m better for shutting my mouth, listening, enduring the pain involved in change, and growing.

Sarondipity Universe

Written by Josh Bryan

I live in rural Northeast Georgia, and was raised in rural Upstate South Carolina. I grew up hearing the black kids called monkeys and the n word at the playground in elementary school. I’ve heard members of my family say derogatory things about other races, including these racial slurs. I was even told in third grade that I couldn’t have a black girlfriend because, “people just don’t like that.”

I could make an argument that systemic racism is the cause of a vehicle plowing through a group of protesters in VA, but I know too many people who claim that “racism doesn’t exist.” So please, friends and family, hear me. I’m going to set aside the argument for systemic racism for a minute and look at the four types of racism that I see every day living here in the south.

I see this as a…

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About jubilare

Just another tree in the proverbial forest. Look! I have leaves! View all posts by jubilare

7 responses to “Charlottesville was my Fault

  • stephencwinter

    Although you raise a matter that requires serious reflection I want to begin by saying how delighted I am to see you post once again. I have checked your site from time to time and I was so excited to see an email in my inbox today. You have been in my thoughts and prayers on many occasions in these last months.
    I know that we have corresponded before about the painful history of the American South and I feel that as an Englishman I need to write about the terrible events in Charlottesville in recent days with great care. I have not shared the history of any of the people caught up in them.
    There is one thing that I would like to share and that is that it seems to be a given in contemporary identity politics that an identity only has authenticity if it can be presented as an expression of victimhood. I remember that when I worked in Africa the thought began to grow that as a white, middle-class Englishman (I wasn’t middle-aged in those days, I can add that layer of privilege now!) I belonged to one of the most privileged social groups on the planet. I was not even blamed for my country’s imperial past! From that point I knew that I could not practice identity politics. If I were a character in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings it would be someone close to Faramir. I couldn’t be Faramir himself. I have not inherited a title or that level of privilege but I am a man with quite a lot of it! There have been times when I feel that I have been treated unfairly but my security or that of my family has never been put at risk.
    What this has meant has been that I have had to make my personal and moral choices on a basis other than my identity or sense of victtimhood. I have also had to be constantly aware of when my privilege has given me an advantage. In my own country this has meant that I have to recognise that I am not under threat from the importation of cheap labour by business people or their investment backers seeking to improve their profit margins and personal wealth. I have to recognise that a truly just way forward will seek the prosperity of regions in my country that are governed by a low wage economy as well as seeking to support immigrant groups who receive the same low wages with little prospect of becoming as financially secure as I am.
    I hope that you don’t mind a long comment but it is a long time since I have been able to do so and it is good to be able to visit your site again! God bless you!

    • jubilare

      Stephen! ^_^
      I’m going to try and get back into posting. Things have been kinda crazy, but as I’ve said before, I miss blogging and the friends I’ve made through it (like you). By the way, you have some Faramir-ish elements to you, like thoughtfulness, integrity, and compassion.

      Privilege is a crazy thing. I’ve had to go through the painful but extremely necessary process of facing my own privilege and coming to terms with it (and ongoing process, too).

      It seems like there are powers intent on setting people against each other, especially poorer people, by feeding a sense of victimhood. Telling impoverished white people, for instance, that their enemies are immigrants and minorities in order to deflect them from the real causes of their distress in social injustice. It’s a process that’s been going on for a long time. But the ones who really anger me are the people who adopt a victim mentality in order to not have to face their own privilege. The current president of the U.S. (heaven help us!) is a perfect example. He never accepts ANYTHING as his fault. Everything is blamed on someone else, and he is as far from acknowledging his own privilege (which is among the highest in the world because inherited wealth is its own extreme form of privilege). And these white-supremacists are taking his “success” as a kind of invitation to express their outrage at the “attacks” on their privilege.

      I just wish I could hammer into people’s heads the fact that losing privilege, which means either being brought down to someone else’s level or having them raised up to yours, is NOT the same as being a victim! But as we know… there is such a thing as willing deafness and blindness of the heart and mind.

      • stephencwinter

        This morning I read a meditation written by James Finlay, who was a novice monk taught by Thomas Merton, in which he spoke about the true self as one that has come to see all life as gift and to live in the light of that reality. We certainly live in a culture of entitlement that regards life either as compensation for some wrong or as a deserved prize for one’s efforts.

  • Aku

    Hey, welcome back J.
    As an infrequent/erratic poster online myself, I know how that goes but it’s nice to see a familiar face show up after a while.
    That said, great share. Extremely well written, reasonable and rational. The really sad part being that most people who are on the spectrum referred to would not see it that way and would become defensive.
    Plus I feel much of what is said in that post applies to not just American White-Black racism but to racism and communalism in principle in so many parts of the world.
    Thanks for sharing and take care.

    • jubilare

      Hey there! It feels great to post again. I hadn’t planned it, but when I came across this post I knew I had to.

      You’re right, a lot of people’s knee-jerk reaction is defensiveness, and sadly a lot of people will shut down the self-examination because of that. But I figure even a chance of making someone re-examine their assumptions is worth the effort. It does get through to people sometimes.

      And absolutely. The issue is world-wide, and involves all sorts of interactions and prejudices. I think us/them divisions and competition are a common human failing. I also have to tell people who live elsewhere in the U.S. that this is not just a problem in the South. It’s obvious down here because of our history and the fact that we talk about it and work actively on it. In other parts of the country it’s more subtle, and the denial of its existence makes it even more pernicious and difficult to fight.

      • Aku

        You’re very right, there’s a tendency in people to put themselves into “bubbles” where they think that so many things happen, well, elsewhere – sometimes amazingly even when it is happening around them or not far from them. It’s like a strange wilful denial.
        In any case, I’m glad you shared that post because it kind of inspired me and I wrote a blog-post about it and applying the reaction/idea from charllotseville to a more general global situation as I see, that I then shared with a journalist friend who posted it up on their op-ed site :D
        Strange how these things happen. Ideas come from all kinds of places.

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