When racism isn’t racism, bigotry isn’t bigotry

Hi readers.

Back during the bad old days of my hippy-dopesmokerism, during the throw-rocks-at-cops times, during the turbulence of the Vietnam War, this happened:

I was sitting on the steps of the University of Texas Student Union Building with two other Veterans Against the War, five self-proclaimed Black Panthers, two Viva La Raza types, and a handfull of white girlygirls not wearing bras.  Two of the girlygirls were paramours of a couple of the Panthers.  The subject of racism came up.

Keep in mind that all the Panthers and both Viva La Raza types were white-haters, though they indulged those two white guy among us by ignoring the fact we were white.  Indulged the girlygirls similarly.  And keep in mind the two Hispanics had no love for blacks, nor the blacks, any love for Hispanics.  Only the white girlygirls and we white Vets Against the War had felt no anti-black nor anti-Hispanic rage against the others of the group.

So tirades against whites became noisy, Hispanics and Panthers all in agreement, all making blanket statements proclaiming white bigotry.  Somewhere during that I asked, “You guys are lumping us all together because we’re white.  Isn’t that racism?  Is it different when you do it, as opposed to a white lumping you all together?”

Caused an uproar, general outrage and denial.  Universal even among the girlygirls, and one of the white guys.

Victims of racism can’t be racist!”  Repeated and re-phrased in numerous ways.  “Only whites can be racists because they have the power!”

Wellllllll.   Uhhhhh.

I suppose it’s probably consoling to a guy getting his ribs caved in by someone standing above him yelling, “You honky bastard!” to know he’s not the victim of bigotry and racism. 

Or my neighbor in Placitas, New Mexico, who, though an old unreconstructed hippy, couldn’t get the Hispanic guy who controlled irrigation water to open her gates to her orchard when her turn came because of his outspoken hatred of Anglos.  “My trees are dying because of what white-hating son of a bitch!”  Her old hippy too-much-sun face reddening.  “There’s nobody but other Hispanics I can appeal to!”

But at least it wasn’t racism.  At least it wasn’t bigotry she was a victim of.  Because bigotry and racism aren’t possible for people who don’t have the power.

Old Jules

8 responses to “When racism isn’t racism, bigotry isn’t bigotry

  1. Well said. I only wish I could be in disagreement.

  2. Here, here. I’ve had similar conversations regarding race, frustrating at best.

  3. I’m sure that poor white/latino that just stood trial (even though acquitted by a jury) can’t believe he is not suffering racism from all the protesting blacks. After all he was not the one with the power when that black kid was astraddle him beating his head in. And I can’t help but wonder when the navajos come in late to work and still keep their jobs and yet if one of us bellaganas (Navajo for white man) is late we are fired if that isn’t racism. Racism is alive and well and so is bigotry and we whites aren’t always the guilty ones. Blessings. M

    • Hi Mary: I used to occasionally borrow a pickup from an acquaintance on the Pine Hill Rez with the bumper sticker in the back window, WHITEY WILL PAY!. Truck had tinted windows so other cars and pedestrians couldn’t tell it wasn’t a Navajo driving it through the streets of Grants. Navajo, Laguna and Acoma pedestrians frequently raised their fists and shouted their approval.

      Guess you and I just have to keep on being part of WHITEY. Everyone pays in the long haul. Gracias, J

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