"LET IT GO, SLAVERY ENDED LIKE 200 YEARS AGO JEEZ. DON’T BLAME ME FOR WHAT MY ANCESTORS DID"
Often when the subject of slavery becomes apparent in conversation, white people will often use the counter excuse “slavery was like 200 years ago” and “you cannot blame me for what my ancestors did”. If you are upset about the subject of slavery and feel extreme empathy towards it you have all the God given right to be. When you are told the above statements it is used as an excuse to shut you up and make you stop hurting the oppressors feelings, because then they feel some type of “guilt” once having to face the privilege they know they have. I’m sorry, but there is no way of tip toeing around this fact. I’m going to go ahead and debunk/explain these fallacious statements, to the best of my ability, right now.
Slavery DID NOT end 200 years ago. Slavery was declared illegal (illegal slavery was still going on though) in the United States: December of 1865, the current year to date is March 2014. Anyone with basic math has the ability to subtract these dates by year and realize this was only 149 years ago. So no, you cannot magically round up numbers to aid your ignorant argument as to why people of color have no the right to be angry/sad/disappointed. To be frank, 149 years is not that long ago. If we were to put that into perspective that is the added life span of 2 people who both lived up to the age of 74.5 years. This is also a short enough time to assume that America was and is (arguably) a slave economy built on the backs of one race and the genocide of another (Native Americans).
“Don’t blame me for what my ancestors did”. Now, excuse me if I’m wrong, but when I think of the word ancestor I think of someone or something ancient. Meaning someone who has lived and has been dead for a very long period of time. Some, if you believe in the evolutionary theory, would say it is even a descriptor of our ancient descendants like Homo Erectus, etc. What does not come to mind, is your Grandmother and Grandfather who are alive and who you get to see every Sunday at church or at annual family gatherings. When a white person or an oppressor uses this sentence it is selfishly used as an act of self defense when faced with the blatant realization of the privilege that they have. Again, using the word “ancestor” is a similar tool like adding on years to the end of slavery. It makes it seem like the incident is so far back in history that you should let by gones be by gones. The reality is that we are not blaming you for what those of your “race” have done before you, we are merely stating that you benefit from a system that socially hands you a better life, because of the color of your skin. If anger does occur, it is usually a product of the disappointment realizing that you have the ability as a free thinking human to challenge that system and point out what is immoral about it, yet you willingly stay ignorant so that you may benefit from it. No, you’re not whipping my back, but you may as well be. Why? Possibly, because you are benefiting from the same system that tells people of color they can easily succeed in it while having obstacles that can only be surpassed if you have been born with such privilege.
NEVER AND I REPEAT NEVER, let anyone with privilege tell you what to do or think? Why, because you are a human being and that automatically gives you the right to be treated with humanity and to be able to feel remorse or sadness when faced with oppression. If you feel oppressed SPEAK UP DAMNIT. (:
It’s a free country….. Right? And even if it wasn’t, SPEAK UP ANYWAYS. Challenging white supremacy is NOT racist. Challenging a patriarch is NOT sexist.
- Susie the Moderator
Tune in to part 2 where I will post about why using the excuse the Jewish and the Irish were oppressed is not a valid argument, why it is NOT okay for the elderly to be racist, and how yes, racist people can change through knowledge and realization of privilege (testimony from myself about my step grandmother who is white and grew up in Nebraskan south).