Hey Ben Affleck! #WhiteHistoryMatters
Let's face facts, most people were not Abolitionists!
Will the revelations from the hacked Sony emails ever end? Recently it was discovered that actor Ben Affleck pressured producers of the PBS show 'Finding Your Roots' to omit information unearthed that his ancestors owned slaves. This is after he agreed to go on the show to, well, find out about his roots!
In a statement released by his publicists Affleck stated:
"I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story. We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors."
A slew of other journalists and reporters have cosigned his statements and have been quick to offer their support, pat him on the back, tell him to cheer up and basically state that no one should care what their ancestors did, let's all move on.
Well Ben and everyone else sorry but you're wrong. Like it or not Mr. Affleck the path you have walked that has led you to the riches and fame you enjoy today is layered with the bleached bones of my ancestors and and you slip-slide on its nice and smooth surface because it has been shellacked with their blood! This grisly road doesn’t lead to Oz but instead down to the root causes of the current conditions for Black people in America. You can pick up any newspaper in America to read about the strange fruit born from these corrupted roots.
Does Affleck know what a liberal is? I'm really asking.
I'm not saying this just because of the amount of money Affleck has made in his life or the fame he has achieved. He could be one of the people picketing outside a fast food chain to raise the minimum wage and as a White American has still benefited from the ingrained and institutionalized racism that pushes Black people down and locks them, both in certain places and out of others. Ben Affleck is someone who I’m sure considers himself a power liberal. If there was a commercial for liberals Affleck would be the spokesperson, riding a surfboard with rock music in the background, coming to a screeching halt on the shore and the words 'Xtreme Liberal' would flash across the screen in neon colors. Affleck definitely considers himself more liberal than those candy ass ones like Bill Maher, who he so fervently argued with recently on the HBO talk show 'Real Time' over comments Maher made depicting Muslims as terrorists and Islam as a religion that fosters terroristic behavior. Affleck argued that it is the right of Muslims to believe how they do and have an Islamic society without being labeled as tyrannical or even wrong. I can only guess that Affleck's list of things that are ok includes those Islamic states that don't allow women the freedom to travel alone, to drive, to work only in limited professions, to play sports and where it is against the law for any non-Muslims to worship in public, even something as simple as wearing a cross. I guess he's SO liberal he's also okay with laws that state anyone who converts from Islam or abandons the religion is faced with the death penalty. He wasn't entirely clear as to why he was so upset but Affleck did want the world to know that he has Muslim friends and they enjoy being Muslim and everything it entails. Depending on where his friends may live I think that's a smart thing for them to say don't you?
If 'those people' really wanted more they'd have it, but they obviously don't!
I won’t go further into all of that because although it's an interesting debate it’s not my topic for this article. Let's get back to that by playing a popular game called ‘Would You Rather’. Here’s the question, “Would you rather (A)work for 5 years at the profession your heart desires (lawyer, painter, actor, etc…) and at the end of the 5 years get noticed for your talent and generate a $10 million dollar income (from a case, painting, movie...) OR, (B)do nothing particularly ambitious for 5 years, work in a not very noticeable, menial job, not produce anything of value or interest to anyone but at the end of the 5 years you luck up and win a lottery for $10 million dollars? Think about your answer before continuing on.
Done thinking? The majority of you would choose option A. The reason being that while winning instant riches is something almost everyone has fantasized about, most people prefer to earn their money and don’t desire a handout. People want to be recognized for their efforts, talents, intelligence, abilities and so on. They don't want to be considered someone who is lucky, unworthy, undeserving or a product of nepotism.
I hate to tell you this Mr. Affleck, but you and every White person in America is a beneficiary of slavery. Yes I am talking in part about past income generated from the buying, selling and free labor of slaves but that isn't all. America’s current post-slavery attitude doesn’t just disenfranchise Black people, it uplifts White people! Our roles in this country that we helped build are very limited. We can play the sports but can’t own the teams. We can wear the diamonds and our brothers and sisters in Africa can work the mines but not own any. We can sing and rap the songs but have no ownership in most record companies or distributers. We can wear the clothes but have no major black owned fashion houses. We can vote but the majority of positions in government are still held by Whites and let’s not forget we are referred to as ‘minorities’ for a reason so who do you think is winning most elections? These are things that Ben Affleck sees evidence of every, single day but like most White Americans never thought about because he doesn't have to. He was able to mentally sweep under the rug the possibility of him having an advantage until it was revealed to him in such a way that he couldn’t skirt around it. This knowledge hurts I'm sure because it's not an advantage that he asked for or that he willfully employs. But if you think it hurts to be an unwilling beneficiary of injustice, can you imagine how it feels to be its victim?
Just like ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it, saying "we didn't start this" is no excuse for White Americans maintaining the status quo when it's known to be unjust and contaminated with a sickness that will continually infect every generation to come unless drastic measures are taken.
Instead of being the SuperLiberal and using the situation as a launching pad for a much needed conversation about the plight of Black people in America, Affleck ducked and hid and refused to acknowledge it. Like many White Americans, who at least somewhat believe the lies they are inundated with, that Black people are inherently violent, are limited in the professions they can excel in and just don't seem to have much 'get up and go' to them or else they would be doing better right? Affleck refused to acknowledge that most definitely there are privileges he’s enjoyed in his life that have less to do with hard work and talent and more so because of the color of his skin, and I'm not talking about just being spared repeated and unpleasant police interactions. Let's learn a little more about Ben shall we?
Affleck, a picture perfect image of Main Street America.
Affleck grew up Cambridge, Massachusetts and both of his parents were educated professionals, one a teacher and the other a social worker. His suburban childhood and education are a result of generations of his family working and providing for their children, building a strong foundational base of economic and educational achievements. One of the pillars of this foundation we now know being slave trade profits that his family and other White Americans like them have been able to pass down to their descendants in the forms of money, land, jewelry, stocks, bonds and established businesses. Economic enterprise is something that is extremely lacking in the Black community. There are very few business owners, farmers, we don't own banks, hotels, oil wells or anything like that. In addition to being kept uneducated as slaves, post-slavery families were so scattered we didn’t have anyone to pass anything to even if we had anything to give which we didn’t. Post-slavery practices like the Black Codes and Pig Laws denied Blacks the rights to testify against whites, to serve on juries or in state militias, vote, or start a job without the approval of the previous employer. It was a crime to be unemployed so Blacks worked for near nothing to avoid prosecution and Blacks were given extremely harsh sentences for things like stealing a pig, hence the naming of the laws. Many misdemeanors or trivial offenses were treated as felonies, with harsh sentences and fines. (Which means that today, when Black men are being choked to death and shot by police for alleged crimes like selling bootleg cigarettes or shoplifting, things have actually gotten worse!) The point is that Blacks were unable to develop opportunities for commerce, enterprise or education afforded to Whites and years later the great, great, great, grandchildren of White Americans are still reaping the benefits of this while the great, great, great grandchildren of Black Americans are still struggling under the disadvantages. Blacks were never even given the promised reparations of 40 acres and a mule!
What about the Black Holocaust?Click thumbnail to view full-size
Affleck wanted to be an actor as a child, and of course there were and still are a plethora of roles and opportunities available for rosy-cheeked White kids. I’ll bet he never even had to utter one, “Whatchu talkin’ bout Willis”, or “Dy-no-mite!” either. During Affleck’s early school years in Cambridge he attended the theater with his family, learned to speak a second language and was able to indulge his interests in acting with acting classes and commercial auditions.
Today the schools where the highest concentration of Blacks live and attend are often ill-equipped, both in staff and resources and while some do escape the statistics of their socioeconomic status and go on to do great things, far too many are churned out to be the next generation of adults who try to survive in menial jobs making minimum wage. Public schools are struggling to have enough textbooks and technology and are constantly cutting back on things considered extracurricular like art, theater, music and sports programs. Contrary to media reports many Black children come from homes with more than one working adult but like many in America live paycheck to paycheck and are part of the ever expanding working poor.
Right now some may be thinking that it's not as if things are all silver spoons and velvet roses for White Americans and I'm not saying it is, but any suffering White Americans undergo Black people are getting it worse. Our unemployment rate is higher and college graduation percentage lower. Incarceration rate higher and home ownership lower. Everything, not just some things, are slanted favorably towards White Americans.
Blacks are more likely to be arrested and charged (or shot!) for crimes and infractions that Whites get ticketed for or even just let go with a warning. Don’t believe me? Look up the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite one day that trended on Twitter not too long ago after the officer who choked Eric Garner to death was exonerated from facing any charges and read the countless 140 character stories told by White people about their teenage and young adult crimes. Caught shoplifting in stores, drunk driving, public intoxication and their parents were called to pick them up, police officers let them off or the courts did. Whereas Black teenagers are more likely to be arrested, end up with a criminal record and jailed or on probation. (Sounds a lot like the Pig Laws doesn't it?)
Even a juvenile criminal record can hold a person back from advancing as an adult. One, it means that if you get into any other trouble even if it’s mild and unrelated, public intoxication, speeding, marijuana possession, etc…that record comes up and makes it more likely you’ll be treated harsher by the court system. Secondly, many city and federal job applications inquire not just about convictions but about arrests and while there is space on the application to allow you to give an explanation, now your application doesn't look as good next to the squeaky clean White person's who may have gotten into just as much trouble or more.
The bias isn’t limited to teenage crimes either. There are numerous cases of White citizens shooting off guns in public, trying to fight other people and the police, killing people and the majority of them are taken in alive.
In most states a federal conviction means that even after release and serving your time, you're prohibited from voting in elections. This is yet another way to prevent Black Americans, who make up 30% of the population but a whopping 60% of those imprisoned, from having a voice in government. Yet, when Black Americans bring up slavery as a reason for some of the issues that plague our communities it’s met with skepticism and exasperation from much of White America who though they can clearly see that they are holding the majority of the cards and chips in the game refuse to acknowledge how they got them.
So you see Mr. Affleck, one cannot have an honest conversation or make productive plans about improving race relations in America without acknowledging the reverberating effects of such a brutal, soul stripping practice that lasted for hundreds of years on the descendants of those slaves, today's American Black lives. #WhiteHistoryMatters
Many White people who would never consider themselves racists don’t understand ingrained racism and how they may have participated. When a White person is hand picked for a front-desk receptionist job because the company wants a certain ‘look’ so their clients can be ‘comfortable’, that’s racism.
When the awards given out to Black actors usually involves them playing a servant or a slave, that’s racism.
When a Sci-Fi novel is written by a Black person and is placed in the 'Black Interest' section of the bookstore instead of the SCIENCE-FICTION section that is most definitely racism!
When a handful of shows and movies starring Black actors in lead roles makes it to your movie and TV screens like 12 Years A Slave, Scandal and Empire, and people start calling it the ‘Year of Black recognition" or anything similar, that's racism. It's subtly letting Blacks know the clock is ticking before shows go back to all white everything!
Lastly, people throw words around like ‘institutionalized’ and ‘disenfranchised’ and don’t really take the time to know what it means. I wondered about this while marching down the streets of New York after yet another Black person was killed by the police, and I was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with White people chanting, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” While I’m sure they believed themselves to be sincere in their desire for equality, I wonder if they would have been as insistent on it if they knew to achieve true equality and justice means having to give some things up? See, this isn’t just about equally splitting the fresh baked pie you get tomorrow but giving up the already half-eaten one in your fridge that you set your plate and fork out for. Affirmative Action needs to stop being spoken about like its some archaic concept and practice that was used ‘back in a time’ of racism as if nothing like it is needed now because every one is getting along and evaluated based on the content of character not color of skin, because that is a lie. Affirmative Action is needed, reparations are deserved and drastic measures need to be taken.
Most Black people have perfected the poker face cause if we complain about our hand...
Affluenza...more commonly known as White PrivilegeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Affleck really thinks he doesn't deserve credit for his ancestors? Give some of them back!
What kinds of measures? Well just off the top of my head a common complaint in Black neighborhoods is that the officers patrolling the area don't live anywhere near there and are often not Black so there is a lack of relationship and understanding. Let's say to help out a federal directive is given that within 3 years all city and state police forces must have a racial make-up that is similar to the populations they serve. This means in places where there is a 70% Black population but only 10% of the police force is Black, they are going to have to fix that! Recruit from the neighborhoods, hire people willing to relocate from other states, whatever tactics are needed. This also means that about 60% of the White people on that force would have to go find another job. I can just hear the cries of reverse racism and accusations of free meals and handouts and lowered standards and you know what? I don't really care. I don't really care that your Uncle Jethro is not a racist, treats people fairly, patronizes a black butcher shop and really loves being a cop. He can really love it somewhere else, growth means change. Change means change! Companies relocate overseas, downsize, people are often put out of work en masse for less worthwhile reasons, they’ll be okay. What will not be okay is our country if all of the above continues. The once small pockets of civil unrest and incidents of rioting are growing. Black people are angry, fearful, frustrated, fed up and truly in despair and you know what? I'll bet plenty of White people are too and would welcome a balancing to the system so hey don’t have to keep hearing how much they’re favored.
It is time to take the steps needed to achieve true parity in America. Parity is Latin in origin and means ‘to bring forth’. The way things are stacked and slanted in America baby steps will do nothing, a significant push is needed to even things out. I repeat, there is NO WAY to achieve true change and positive growth while things also remain the same.
To achieve true equality Mr. Affleck, White people are going to have to give some things up, first and foremost is the notion that you have now helped to perpetuate, “We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors.” What you really meant is that you don’t want the blame, because the credits have been rolling in since birth. Again, #WhiteHistoryMatters
"Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are." ~ Benjamin Franklin