Are all white people to blame for Black people’s current problems in society? NO. But before you go full blown with the Woke Rage, here’s my OPINION why.
Since the advent of the imaginary social structure that defines groups of people based on origin and phenotype called race was invented, it has been used as a weapon to dehumanize, oppress, and denigrate populations for the benefit and domination of one group over another. Few examples are greater than the gulf created by people of European ancestry over people of African ancestry—White and Black. Race, initially used to identify family units of the same genealogy evolved into a social structure to identify Europeans from those they studied and conquered. It then became a means to justify slavery then legitimized by the pseudoscientific practice of eugenics throughout the colonized world, the influence of racial hierarchy have persisted within the world and American culture, laws, and economics since the 17th century.
Yes, we know this. At least some do…but with all of this common knowledge in our continued discussions about race, culture, and society often times we continue to generalize all white people as being the perpetrators of slavery, oppression, and our current plight.Throughout these discussions one may encounter a rebuttal of “I am not my ancestors” or “My country did not participate in the slave trade” or “My family were abolitionist,” or “My family fought for Civil Rights,” and many more.
After dozens of discussions and books read on race, history, and contemporary society, I believe there is some validation to some of these claims. SOME validation to SOME of these claims.
First, from a historical and geographical aspect, we know that European powers are to blame for bringing colonization, genocide, and slavery to those they conquered abroad, HOWEVER, not all Europeans countries participated in these practices. Major players in the slave trade were Portugal, Spain, France, England, and The Dutch, leaving most of the Small states such as Greece, Ireland, and the Eastern European Bloc as indirect beneficiaries of colonization and the slave trade.
The Arab Slave trade had an equally devastating effect to the African continent and its Diaspora. Lasting into the 20th century, the Arab slave trade lasted for over a millennium before it was “officially” abolished within all Arab states. We see as Arab slave traders increasingly come into contact with European slave traders, Arabs begin to adopt similar beliefs about race that were previously ignored. Brothers of the East and Central regions of the African diaspora would probably be most effected by this trade. While many of the Western Kingdoms and Empires who participated in the European trade were of Islamic, they fell victim to the Atlantic Slave Trade.
We also must consider those who were abolitionist or sympathizers to the plight of the slave trade. These allies may have been able to benefit from white privilege, however they used it in order to forward their ideals of equality as well as their own interest.
The abolition of slavery was not the end of White oppression towards Black people around the world. Colonization reigned on with The Berlin Conference as European Powers took control of the continent of Africa. Again, in this case, places like Ireland, Finland, Switzerland, Luxemburg, and many of the small states had no direct participation in colonization or slavery.
Although it’s great to recognize that some of these European states had no participation in the slave trade and colonization, we must understand that they are indirect beneficiaries of the exploitation from these events. The various states were able to benefit economically from new trade, scientific and technological developments, and new opportunities as their fellow European powers grew in stature. In America for example, an Italian, Jewish, or Eastern European immigrant coming through Ellis Island could assimilate into the White world unhindered by Jim Crow Laws, Red Lining, and terrorism. Europeans that were once divided by kingdoms, language, and customs, just 100 years earlier, were now propped up into one racial category of “White”.
As Western powers spread globally, their ideas about race were carried along with it just as fast as the spread of Christianity around the world. Places like the United States, South Africa, Brazil, and others continued to promote policies that hindered the freedom,’economic, and social growth of their Black populations. White people continue to benefit from the system in which they created that came to dominate the globe.
Are all white people to blame? No. Are those that were directly involved in these events mentioned and those who perpetuate their existence presently to blame? Absolutely. But all white people should recognize that the system is fixed for their benefit and if one truly recognizes equality for all then it helps to listen and help those who are lifting their voices.
Exploring this topic is crucial to the on going conversations and understandings about racism and the system it created in America and abroad. A greater perspective of history, pinpointing who or what outside pressures Black people should focus their attention and energy towards, will give Black people the opportunity to tackle issues within and without Black communities more effectively in the future.
I tell my friends often “Why focus on those who are working against us? We know who they are, they’ll show their face eventually. We need to focus on ourselves and those who want to see us win.” This is not to say do not defend our rights, liberties and person, but on the contrary, it mean recognize those working against you, deal with it properly and legally, and move on in growth. An unfairly denied opportunity can become motivation towards a new idea, or an alternative route and when you rise above it, you win. Education is key in the struggle for equality and recognizing the facts of history and the truths that we share.