What follows is an open letter to white people from a white person about our Black president. I welcome your comments.
Dr. Andrew Manis: “When are we going to get over it?”
For much of the last forty years, ever since America “fixed” its race problem in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, we white people have been impatient with African Americans who continued to blame race for their difficulties. Often we have heard whites ask, “When are African Americans finally going to get over it?
Now I want to ask: “When are we White Americans going to get over our ridiculous obsession with skin color?
Recent reports that “Election Spurs Hundreds’ of Race Threats, Crimes” should frighten and infuriate every one of us. Having grown up in “Bombingham,” Alabama in the 1960s, I remember overhearing an avalanche of comments about what many white classmates and their parents wanted to do to John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Eventually, as you may recall, in all three cases, someone decided to do more than “talk the talk.”
Since our recent presidential election, to our eternal shame we are once again hearing the same reprehensible talk I remember from my boyhood.
We white people have controlled political life in the disunited colonies and United States for some 400 years on this continent. Conservative whites have been in power 28 of the last 40 years. Even during the eight Clinton years, conservatives in Congress blocked most of his agenda and pulled him to the right. Yet never in that period did I read any headlines suggesting that anyone was calling for the assassinations of presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, or either of the Bushes. Criticize them, yes. Call for their impeachment, perhaps.
But there were no bounties on their heads. And even when someone did try to kill Ronald Reagan, the perpetrator was non-political mental case who wanted merely to impress Jody Foster.
But elect a liberal who happens to be Black and we’re back in the sixties again. At this point in our history, we should be proud that we’ve proven what conservatives are always saying -that in America anything is possible, EVEN electing a black man as president. But instead we now hear that schoolchildren from Maine to California are talking about wanting to “assassinate Obama.”
Fighting the urge to throw up, I can only ask, “How long?” How long before we white people realize we can’t make our nation, much less the whole world, look like us? How long until we white people can -once and for all- get over this hell-conceived preoccupation with skin color? How long until we white people get over the demonic conviction that white skin makes us superior? How long before we white people get over our bitter resentments about being demoted to the status of equality with non-whites?
How long before we get over our expectations that we should be at the head of the line merely because of our white skin? How long until we white people end our silence and call out our peers when they share the latest racist jokes in the privacy of our white-only conversations?
I believe in free speech, but how long until we white people start making racist loudmouths as socially uncomfortable as we do flag burners? How long until we white people will stop insisting that blacks exercise personal responsibility, build strong families, educate themselves enough to edit the Harvard Law Review, and work hard enough to become President of the United States, only to threaten to assassinate them when they do?
How long before we starting “living out the true meaning” of our creeds, both civil and religious, that all men and women are created equal and that “red and yellow, black and white” all are precious in God’s sight?
Until this past November 4, I didn’t believe this country would ever elect an African American to the presidency. I still don’t believe I’ll live long enough to see us white people get over our racism problem. But here’s my three-point plan:
First, everyday that Barack Obama lives in the White House that Black Slaves Built I’m going to pray that God (and the Secret Service) will protect him and his family from us white people.
Second, I’m going to report to the FBI any white person I overhear saying, in seriousness or in jest, anything of a threatening nature about President Obama.
Third, I’m going to pray to live long enough to see America surprise the world once again, when white people can “in spirit and in truth” sing of our damnable color prejudice, “We HAVE overcome.”
It takes a Village to protect our President!!!
About the author:
Dr. Andrew M. Manis
Assistant Professor of History, Macon State College
Author, historian, researcher, lecturer
Andrew Manis is author of Macon Black and White and serves on the steering committee of Macon’s Center for Racial understanding.
The author of five books, Dr. Manis is a frequent lecturer and has become one of Central Georgia’s leading authorities on the history of race relations, especially in the South. His most recent book, Macon Black and White: An Unutterable Separation of the American Century, published in 2004 by Mercer University Press and the Tubman African American Museum, earned him the 2005 Georgia Author of the Year (History Division) award, and he was a semifinalist for the 2005 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Manis’ previous book, a biography of Birmingham civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth, won a number of prizes, including the 2000 Lillian Smith Book Award. In addition, he has written many magazine articles about religion and religions in the South.
He’s conducted more than 40 lectures, sermons or interviews on race relations in Macon, made presentations at colleges and universities throughout the South and has appeared on national radio broadcasts.
He is a member of the steering committee for the Center for Racial Understanding in Macon and Bibb County, is involved in the South Atlantic Humanities Center’s Thanksgiving Project to document people’s experiences of Thanksgiving Day, assists the Georgia Humanities Council in charitable giving programs and was named one of the 2006 recipients of the council’s Governor’s Awards in the Humanities. He also serves as the faculty advisor for the Macon State branch of Habitat for Humanity.
An ordained minister, Manis received his bachelor’s degree from Samford University, and his Master’s of Divinity and Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been at Macon State College since 2000 and previously served as editor for religion and Southern Studies with Mercer University Press; was associate professor of religion at Averett College in Virginia; was a fellow in the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania; and an assistant professor of theology at Xavier University of Louisiana.
plez sez: excellent commentary. i'm sure there will be those white folk who will take exception to dr. manis's decision to paint all white people with the same brush. but he makes his point when he implies that everyone is complicit in the "crime" when they remain silent or do not call out their peers for their racist jibes.
as you can see, plezWorld is still alive and kicking... and going strong! i must admit that business is good and i simply have not had the bandwidth to post on a daily basis like last year. i can promise that it will be a few months before i'll be able to consider going back to a daily posting on plezWorld.
Read the People's Voice Weekly article here .
Read the African American Planning Commission, Inc. article here .
Read the Clarksville (TN) Online article here .
Read the Take Political Action blog posting here .
Read the Jacksonville(FL).com article about here .