I recently watched the video of the fourteen-year old African-American girl being physically abused at a pool party by a white policeman in McKinney, Texas.
The only way to describe the way I felt is, I was mad as hell. No matter what happened before he confronted the girl, it does not justify his actions. The actions of that white policeman reminded me of what would have been typical of an overseer on a slave plantation.
To him, this girl was not even a human being – she was an animal or property to be handled in any way he saw fit with no fear of repercussions or retaliation. I hate to imagine being her father, but I do, and have for the past three days.
This incident only underscores a larger problem in this country. The problem is not racism; instead the problem is the refusal of white America to acknowledge that racism exists and its refusal to mount a comprehensive plan to confront it in all of its manifestations. My concern is not with the conservatives or the “white tea” party. I do not expect an outcry from them because they have constantly, overtly and loudly expressed their contempt for African-Americans since the day Barrack Obama claimed the seat of power – a seat that for over 200 years had been designated for “whites only”.
Instead, my problem is with white progressives who are supposed to be for a more inclusive and color blind America. However, for the most part, they focus on those issues that impact them. In other words, their agenda appears not to be diversity or equity but which group of whites will be in control. To African-Americans, the white progressive subtle sales pitch is that, compared to white conservative counterparts, they, as progressives, would be the more benevolent of racists.
I say this because I have heard no real outcry from white progressives, especially women’s groups, over the brutal and immoral treatment of the African-American girl in Texas. In fact, the silence is deafening. Does any objective moral individual believe that there would be this much silence and lack of concern had the roles been reversed – an African-American policeman brutalizing a fourteen year old white girl?
Until white progressives accept the fact that the number one thing on their agenda should not be income inequality, free trade, or other so called progressive issues. It should instead be racism in America. In fact, the greatest income inequality is not between the rich and poor, in general, but between whites and African-Americans. If white progressives don’t understand this then they are no better than their opponents.
Also, if the democrats now running for president do not condemn the actions of that policeman in Texas, they do not deserve to be called progressive, nor should they be running for president. And, if the white progressive groups, especially women, do not condemn the policeman and his action, they do not deserve African-American support for any of their issues. The job of ending racism in this country should not fall exclusively on the shoulders of the victims, even if one of those victims is the president.
It is time for white progressives to join the struggle to end racism in America.
Jerry Pennick is a retired community organizer in Atlanta. He can be reached at [email protected]