White privilege is not the cause of racism

White Privilege is not the cause of the plague of racism.  Black Entitlement is not its cure.  Slavery was not its source.

Without identifying where racism comes from and where it resides still, we are doomed to forever suffer its ills.  The targeting of White Privilege at our universities and in the media for the perceived lack of sufficient guilt and recompense for the slavery of 150 years ago is a damaging misdirection of the truth.

Slavery is wrong.  We know that.  But slavery was never about race.

No matter the color of the finger that points, the slave owning European settlers did not introduce slavery to North America in 1619.  Those who lived here prior to the founding of Jamestown, Virginia warred against, dispossessed of their land, maimed, murdered, captured, and enslaved other Native Americans.  All before (White) Europeans arrived.

After they arrived, the system of slavery in our country had three components.  First was demand.  That came primarily from Southern plantations.  Second was the supply, made valuable by that demand.  The shipping industry provided the pipeline.  Third was the source, Africa.  But those slaves brought over from Africa were not the spoils of an army that invaded and captured.  Slave-trading middlemen bought them from other slave traders -- from Africans who sold Africans -- transported them across the Atlantic, and resold them back in the Americas.

As despicable as it was, it was not about race.

Nor was slavery new to the rest of the world when practiced on our continent before, during, and after 1619.  The great Giza pyramids of Egypt, built in part by slave labor, were constructed between 2589 BC and 2504 BC.  Egyptians (Africans) used slaves (other Africans) to build those wonders of the ancient world.  That was more than 4,000 years before the Europeans settled here.

Should we pull down those slave-built pyramids?

Nor did the Egyptians invent slavery.  It existed in the Near, Middle, and Far East as far back as history is known.  It is older than the world’s oldest profession and nearly as old as mankind’s oldest sins.  In the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers -- brothers of the same father, the same skin, the same blood.  It wasn’t about race.

There exists for many an understanding of human self-awareness that includes not just what we do, but what we ought to do.  Does the fact of our outrage against racism identify humans as inherently moral creatures?  For if we are not living in a moral universe, this conversation need never happen.  Does our failure to achieve the moral standards to which the best of us aspire define us then not as amoral, but rather broken, fallen, as yet incomplete? 

For those of the Christian faith and countless others, Right and Wrong do exist.  That standard, what we ought to do, succinctly expressed 2000 years ago in the Second Great Commandment of Jesus, is we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Violation of that commandment shackles our hearts and chokes off our life’s blood; it is the root of evil across all the history of mankind.  The violation of that commandment, when based on race, is the source of racism.

Blaming slave owners long dead will not end racism in America.  Attacking some based on the color of their skin or entitling others based on the color of theirs, not only doesn’t end racism, it super-charges it.  We have no hope to end racism by switching goal posts and end zones like half time in a football game and to then continue the game, only using a different score card.

It is our rejection of the Second Great Commandment that condemns us to suffer racism, one of a myriad of evils which 40 years ago were called man’s inhumanity to man.  The only way to end racism is for each of us to embrace that great injunction and its source and to do so now, in this lifetime -- for eternity is only a heartbeat away.

Mike Kirkwood has authored What if…, a collection of short works and Fathers, a novel.  Both are available at www.amazon.com.