You didn’t make yourself: this is the fact that destroys all the claims of white superiority, or any other claim to any other form of superiority. There is no secret place in Eternity where unborn babies order up their personality, their appearance, etc. In fact, everything you are and every single aspect of your being was spit out of the lottery of DNA that spins like a slot machine and spins out random attributes. Nothing about you was under control when you were conceived; the only control you have is what you will do with the hand that is dealt to you randomly–just like everyone else.
High intelligence, remarkable beauty, skin color and everything that you see when you look into a mirror was a gift to you, for better or for worse, by two parents who got together when you were conceived. They may never have seen each other after that brief encounter.
People who think that it is a gift from God to be born white are wrong. They are as wrong as people who think that their religion has raised them into a status of being superior creatures. No one is born superior. We may be born into privilege or we may be born wealthy, but as we see every day, beauty, privilege and wealth cannot produce good people in and of themselves. The upbringing you receive is much more influential on everyone than the circumstances of their birth.
The vicious racism of his childhood did not make Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., blind and deaf. He knew the difference between right and wrong and he put that belief into practice as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. An abysmal childhood did not hold back Malcolm X, whose consciousness evolved to sublime heights after he made the precious pilgrimage to Mecca–only to find when he arrived there that he was not considered a Muslim. Because he belonged to the Nation of Islam, an American hate group, he was compelled to stop everything and receive instruction in true Islam. But when he overcame that obstacle, he had his name written in the book of true believers. I can’t think of anything that would have made him happier.
Now we are discovering a thing called White Privilege–the belief that being born white makes you better than other people who were not. I have been aware of white privilege all my adult life, and right here and now I say this: I reject it. I don’t want any white privilege and I will never make conscious use of it, although its influence is so insidious that most white people don’t even know that it exists, or that it affects them.
I have had the privilege to reject white privilege all along, and I have done it. Back when I was ready to graduate from collete in Illinois, there was a certification test that was administered by the Department of Education in Chicago. Among white students like me, it was widely believed that the “certification” was easier to get for white students than African Americans, and I must say that there were many white graduates who decided not to take the test. We took our chances with schools and principals, like the African Americans and other minorities.
One day I was told by my mother that she had a racial experience. She was waiting at an unattended cashier station behind an African American woman until a cashier showed up. The cashier went directly to my mother, white like me, and offered her service. But my mother promptly stepped aside and indicated the African American woman, saying, “She was here first.” And when she told me the story, I thought to myself, far out–my mother is cool.
I would like to have a symbol for white Americans to display their opposition to, and rejection of, this white privilege. I suggest a plain white lapel button with the barred circle on it in black, a barred circle similar to those used in public places to inform the public what not to do. It is the barred circle that is used on the symbol of the Ghostbuster movie, the one that shows a cartoon ghost contained inside it. I promise that if I can find one, or a necklace charm or a lapel pin of the barred circle, I will wear it for as long as I live to tell the world that white Americans believe in peace, love, justice and brotherhood every bit as much as everyone else–or at least, as much as everyone else who has a level of consciousness that tells the world that “with liberty and justice for all” does not apply to them alone.