Blog: Here's what Tom says about that!

Yes, Bill O’Reilly, there IS such a thing as White Privilege

Posted October 19th, 2014 by Tom

or: “There are none so blind as those who refuse to see”

StewartO'Reilly(Oct2014)Jon Stewart asked a simple question of Bill O’Reilly on The Daily Show, on October 15, 2014. “Here’s all I want from you today. I want you to admit that there is such a thing as White Privilege.”

Mr. O’Reilly responded, “There is not.”

He proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes explaining that slavery is over, Jim Crow is over, that was then, this was now, the most powerful man in the world is a black man, the most powerful woman in the world, Oprah Winfrey, is a black woman, and if you work hard, get educated, and are an honest person you can succeed…”

O’Reilly admitted to growing up in an all-white community, Levittown, in Long Island, NY, where World War II veterans – white veterans – were able to secure home loans through the G.I. Bill. Black veterans were not allowed to live in Levittown. O’Reilly acknowledged no residual disadvantages existing today for Black Americans as a result of conditions in existence six decades ago (let alone two centuries ago).

But as was pointed out in “This is what the legacy of ‘white privilege’ looks like in Bill O’Reilly’s hometown” in the Washington Post, Read the rest of this entry »

Racism, Whiteness, Unconsciousness, and the Legacy of Trayvon Martin

Posted July 19th, 2013 by Tom

TrayvonMartinIn the aftermath of the “not guilty” verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman over the death of Trayvon Martin, I’ve been astounded at the lengths to which some white folks have gone to defend the jury’s decision in terms of issues of race. With respect, sincerely, will those who deny that “race” is, or should be, an issue in this discussion please pause and educate yourselves?

The denial of racism in this case, and throughout the criminal justice system in the United States (as well as in every measurable social indicator from housing and employment to education and health care), is born of ignorance. Such thoughts may be well-intentioned and sincerely held by people who consider themselves good citizens who oppose racism, but those thoughts are wrong.

I wrote two posts shortly after Trayvon Martin Died. I’ve re-posted Thoughts from a White Parent and The Specter of White Supremacy since the verdict last week. They include links to multiple articles and opinion pieces shine a light on the powerful impact that racism continues to have on all of us today.

President Obama, who has rarely spoken about racism at all since he became a national figure, spoke out today. Watching our President’s full statement is enlightening and important. Watch here.

“You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Trayvon Martin and the specter of white supremacy

Posted April 2nd, 2012 by Tom

In response to my March 23 post — “Trayvon Martin: thoughts from a white parent” — a reader posted the following comment:

I cannot stop thinking about all of the Whites, who have been murdered by blacks, because they were in the wrong place at a certain time, or because they refused to give the blacks what they wanted, or just because they were White.

This week, Sinead O`Connor made a statement regarding the Trayvon/Zimmerman affair. She wrote:

“For those out there who believe black people to be less than pure royalty…”

“When you dishonor the the utter glory and majesty of black people, you lie.”

Here is a small, incomplete list of White people who have been exposed to the royalty and majesty of the negro: “Black-on-White Crime.”

It is a tragedy when anyone is murdered, but let’s be clear. There is no comparison here. Black people murdering white people is statistically rare. Black people murdering white people because of race is almost unheard of. Yet this type of ill-informed and misplaced paranoia may well have contributed to George Zimmerman’s pursuit and killing of an innocent, unarmed black youth half his own size. According to the Miami Herald, neighbors in his gated community claim Zimmerman has been fixated on crime and “focused on young, black males.”

Additionally, throughout U.S. history, the consequences for white-on-black crime have been, and continue to be, vastly different than for black-on-white crime. Among the plethora of sources of clear and conclusive evidence, Michelle Alexander’s broadly-researched, and well-documented book, The New Jim Crow presents a clear look at just how different the consequences are for black and white people in the criminal justice system today.

If a young black man had been walking around his neighborhood with a gun, encountered a white man, and said he felt threatened and shot him to death, he would be in jail; yes, even in Florida with the “Stand Your Ground” law in place. Throughout history, black-on-white crime has generally been investigated and prosecuted far more vigorously than has white-on-black crime.

Yet, I will not be surprised when George Zimmerman is arrested one day soon. I fully expect him to be prosecuted. But I also believe it will be as a result of the ongoing public outcry in this case. If Trayvon Martin’s death had not made the national radar screen, had not gone viral through Facebook and Twitter, the initial decision to not arrest or investigate Mr. Zimmerman would no doubt have been the final decision; which has so often been the case in similar situations that never make the national news.

Trayvon Martin was killed, in large part, because white male supremacy continues as the driving force in the United States of America. I encourage those who doubt my words to take the White Privilege Pop Quiz developed by Molly Secours. She posted it for anyone to share “with friends, family members and co-workers who are perhaps curious, doubtful or even insistent that such a thing as ‘white privilege’ doesn’t exist.”

I’ve participated in Coming to the Table since 2006 in order to understand and acknowledge more fully how the wounds inflicted by the historic system of American slavery (and the many forms of racism it spawned) continue to harm all of us today, and what I can do to help heal those wounds. The story of the ongoing healing journey will be published in October in Gather at the Table.

I hope the person who wrote the comment above will seriously ponder how he/she contributes either to further separation, alienation, and trauma, or to acknowledging the truth, and healing. As long as people rationalize racism, we will perpetrate the system of white supremacy that has haunted this country for centuries, and we will continue to not live up to our founding ideals of liberty, equality, and justice for all.

That is what we should not stop thinking about.

Trayvon Martin: thoughts from a white parent

Posted March 23rd, 2012 by Tom

I cannot stop thinking about Trayvon Martin. I can’t stop looking into his eyes in this photo which has become ubiquitous online.

An unarmed, 17-year old boy in Florida walks to the store one night for some junk food. He’s shot to death because of the color of his skin. Oh, I know that some of my friends and others will take issue with that statement, because “damn, Tom, you’re always talking about race – it isn’t always about race.”

It’s pretty much only white people who would make such a statement. Of course this is about race; that Trayvon Martin was a young, black male wearing a “hoodie” – and George Zimmerman claimed that he felt threatened so he shot him in the chest. Now Trayvon is dead and his parents grieve over their child’s untimely and unjustified death. Read the rest of this entry »

Copyright 2012 by Thomas Norman DeWolf | Website: James DeW. Perry