Today’s Solutions: February 03, 2023

Filmmaker Michael Moore is certain that most of the world’s problems are caused by whites: ‘Every time I see a white man coming towards me, I get nervous.’

Michael Moore | June 2003 issue
I don’t know what it is, but every time I see a white guy walking toward me, I tense up. My heart starts racing, and I immediately begin to look for an escape route and a means to defend myself. I kick myself for even being in this part of town after dark. Didn’t I notice the suspicious gangs of white people lurking on every street corner, drinking Starbucks coffee and wearing their gang colours of Gap Turquoise or J. Crew Mauve? What an idiot! Now the white person is coming closer, closer – and then – whew! He walks by without harming me, and I breathe a sigh of relief.
White people scare the crap out of me. This may be hard for you to understand – considering that I am white – but then again, my colour gives me a certain insight. For instance, I find myself pretty scary a lot of the time, so I know what I’m talking about. You can take my word for it: if you find yourself suddenly surrounded by white people, you better watch out. Anything can happen. As white people, we’ve been lulled into thinking it’s safe to be around other white people. We’ve been taught since birth that it’s the people of that other colour we need to fear. They’re the ones who’ll slit your throat!
Yet as I look back on my life, a strange but unmistakable pattern seems to emerge. Every person who has ever harmed me in my lifetime – the boss who fired me, the teacher who flunked me, the principal who punished me, the kid who hit me in the eye with a rock, the other kid who shot me with his BB gun, the executive who didn’t renew TV Nation, the guy who was stalking me for three years, the accountant who double-paid my taxes, the drunk who smashed into me, the burglar who stole my stereo, the contractor who overcharged me, the girlfriend who left me, the next girlfriend who left even sooner, the pilot of the plane I was on who hit a truck on the runway, the other pilot who decided to fly through a tornado, the person in the office who stole checks from my checkbook and wrote them out to himself for a total of US$16,000 – every one of these individuals has been a white person! Coincidence? I think not!
I have never been attacked by a black person, never been evicted by a black person, never had my security deposit ripped off by a black landlord, never had a meeting at a Hollywood studio with a black executive in charge, never seen a black agent at the film/TV agency that used to represent me, never had a black person deny my child the college of her choice, never been puked on by a black teenager at a Mötley Crüe concert, never been pulled over by a black cop, never been sold a lemon by a black car salesman, never had a black person deny me a bank loan, never had a black person try to bury my movie, and I’ve never heard a black person say, ‘We’re going to eliminate ten thousand jobs here – have a nice day!’ I don’t think I’m the only white guy who can make these claims. Every mean word, every cruel act, every bit of pain and suffering in my life has had a Caucasian face attached to it.
So why is it exactly that I should be afraid of black people? I look around at the world I live in – and, folks, I hate to tell tales out of school, but it’s not the African-Americans who have made this planet such a pitiful, scary place to inhabit. Recently a headline on the front page of the Science section of the New York Times asked the question ‘Who Built the H-Bomb?’ The article went on to discuss a dispute that has arisen between the men who
claim credit for making the first bomb. Frankly, I could have cared less – because I already know the only pertinent answer: ‘IT WAS A WHITE GUY!’ No black guy ever built or used a bomb designed to wipe out hordes of innocent people, whether in Oklahoma City, Columbine, or Hiroshima.
No, my friends, it’s always the white guy. Let’s go to the tote board:
* Who gave us the black plague? A white guy.
* Who invented PBC, PVC, PBB, and a host of chemicals that are killing us? White guys.
* Who has started every war America has been in? White men.
* Whose idea was it to pollute the world with the internal combustion engine? Whitey, that’s who.
* The Holocaust? That guy really gave white people a bad name (that’s why we prefer to call him a Nazi and his little helpers Germans).
* The genocide of Native Americans? White man.
* Slavery? Whitey!
You name the problem, the disease, the human suffering, or the abject misery visited upon millions, and I’ll bet you 10 bucks I can put a white face on it faster than you can name the members of ’N Sync. And yet when I turn on the news each night, what do I see again and again? Black men alleged to be killing, raping, mugging, stabbing, gangbanging, looting, rioting, selling drugs, pimping, ho-ing, having too many babies, dropping babies from tenement windows, fatherless, motherless, Godless, penniless. ‘The suspect is described as a black male… the suspect is described as a black male… THE SUSPECT IS DESCRIBED AS A BLACK MALE…’ No matter what city I’m in, the news is always the same, the suspect always the same unidentified black male. I’m in Atlanta tonight, and I swear the police sketch of the black male suspect on TV looks just like the black male suspect I saw on the news last night in Denver and the night before in L.A. In every sketch he’s frowning, he’s menacing – and he’s wearing the same knit cap! Is it possible that it’s the same black guy committing every crime in America?
I believe we’ve become so used to this image of the black man as predator that we are forever ruined by this brainwashing. In my first film, Roger & Me, a white woman on Social Security clubs a bunny rabbit to death so that she can sell him as ‘meat’ instead of as a pet. I wish I had a nickel for every time in the last ten years someone has come up to me and told me how ‘horrified’ and ‘shocked’ they were when they saw that ‘poor little cute bunny’ bonked on the head. The scene, they say,made them physically sick Some had to turn away or leave the theatre. Many wondered why I would include such a scene. Teachers write me and say they have to edit that part out of the film so they won’t get in trouble for showing my movie to their students.
But less than two minutes after the bunny lady does her deed, I included footage of a scene in which the police in Flint opened fire and shot a black man who was wearing a Superman cape and holding a plastic toy gun. Not once – not ever – has anyone said to me, ‘I can’t believe you showed a black man being shot in your movie! How horrible! How disgusting!I couldn’t sleep for weeks.’ After all, he was just a black man, not a cute, cuddly bunny. There is no outrage at showing a black man being shot on camera. Why? Because a black man being shot is no longer shocking. Just the opposite – it’s normal, natural. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing black men killed – in the movies and on the evening news – that we now accept it as standard operating procedure. No big deal, just another dead black guy! That’s what blacks do – kill and die. Ho-hum. Pass the butter.
It’s odd that, despite the fact that most crimes are committed by whites, black faces are usually attached to what we think of as ‘crime.’ Ask any white person who they fear might break into their home or harm them on the street, and if they’re honest, they’ll admit that the person they have in mind doesn’t look much like them. The imaginary criminal in their heads looks like Mookie or Hakim or Kareem, not little freckle-faced Jimmy.
No matter how many times their fellow whites make it clear that the white man is the one to fear, it simply fails to register. Every time you turn on the TV to news of another school shooting, it’s always a white kid who’s conducting the massacre. Every time they catch a serial killer, it’s a crazy white guy. Every time a terrorist blows up a federal building, you know it’s a member of the white race up to his old tricks.
So why don’t we run like hell when we see whitey coming toward us? Why don’t we ever greet the Caucasian job applicant with, ‘Gee, uh, I’m sorry, there aren’t any positions available right now’? Why aren’t we worried sick about our daughters marrying white guys? And why isn’t Congress trying to ban the scary and offensive lyrics of Johnny Cash (‘I shot a man in Reno / just to watch him die’), the Dixie Chicks (‘Earl had to die’), or Bruce Springsteen (‘…I killed everything in my path / I can’t say that I’m sorry for the things that we done’).
African-Americans have been on the lowest rung of the economic ladder since the day they were beaten and dragged here in chains – and they have never made it off that rung, not for a single damn day. Every other immigrant group who has landed here has been able to advance from the bottom to the middle and upper levels of our society. Even Native Americans, who are among the poorest of the poor, have fewer children living in poverty than African-Americans.
You probably thought things had gotten better for blacks in this country. I mean, after all, considering all the advances we’ve made eliminating racism in our society, one would think our black citizens might have seen their standard of living rise. A survey published in the Washington Post in July 2001 showed that 40 to 60% of white people thought the average black person had it as good or better than the average white person. Think again. According to a study conducted by the economists Richard Vedder, Lowell Gallaway, and David C. Clingaman, the average income for a black American is 61% less per year than the average white income. That is the same percentage difference as it was in 1880! Not a damn thing has changed in more than 120 years.
Want more proof? Consider the following:
* Black heart attack patients are far less likely than whites to undergo cardiac catheterization, a common and potentially lifesaving procedure, regardless of the race of their doctors. Black and white doctors together referred white patients for catheterization about 40% more often than black patients.
* Whites are five times more likely than blacks to receive emergency clot-busting treatment for stroke.
* Black women are four times more likely than white women to die while giving birth.
* Black levels of unemployment have been roughly twice those of whites since 1954.
Does this make anyone angry besides me and the Reverend Farrakhan? To what do African-Americans owe this treatment, considering that they are responsible for so little of the suffering our society faces? Why are they the ones who are being punished?
Damned if I know.
How have we white people been able to get away with all this? Caucasian ingenuity! You see, we used to be real dumb. Like idiots, we wore our racism on our sleeve. We did really obvious things, like putting up signs on rest room doors that said WHITES ONLY. Over a drinking fountain we’d hang a sign that said COLOUREDS. We made black people sit at the back of the bus. We prevented them from attending our schools or living in our neighbourhoods. They got the crappiest jobs (those advertised for NEGROES ONLY), and we made it clear that if you weren’t white you were going to be paid a lower wage.
Well, this overt, over-the-top segregation got us into a heap of trouble. A bunch of uppity lawyers went to court – citing, of all things, our very own constitution! They pointed out that the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t allow for anyone to be treated differently because of their race.
Eventually, after a long procession of court losses, demonstrations, and riots, we learned an important lesson: if you’re going to be a successful racist, better find a way to do it with a smile on your face! We got magnanimous enough to say, Sure, you can even live here in our neighbourhood; your kids can go to our kids’ school. Why the hell not? We were just leaving anyway. We smiled, gave black America a pat on the back – and then ran like the devil to the suburbs.
At work, we whites still get the plum jobs, double the pay, and a seat in the front of the bus to happiness and success. We’ve rigged the system from birth, guaranteeing that black people will go to the worst public schools, thus preventing them from admission to the best colleges, and paving their way to a fulfilling life making our lattés, servicing our BMWs, and picking up our trash. Oh, sure, a few slip by – but they pay an extra tariff for the privilege: the black doctor driving his BMW gets pulled over continually by the cops; the black Broadway actress can’t get a cab after the standing ovation; the black broker is the first to be laid off because of ‘seniority.’
We whites really deserve some kind of genius award for this. We talk the talk of inclusion, we celebrate the birthday of Dr. King, we frown upon racist jokes. We never fail to drop a mention of ‘my friend – he’s black…’ We make sure we put our lone black employee up at the front reception desk so we can say things like ‘See – we don’t discriminate! We hire black people.’ Yes, we are a very crafty, cagey race – and damn if we haven’t gotten away with it!
I wonder how long we’ll have to live with the legacy of slavery. That’s right. I brought it up. SLAVERY. You can almost hear the groans of white America whenever you bring up the fact that we still suffer from the impact of a government-approved and supported slave system. Well, I’m sorry, but the roots of most of our social ills can be
traced straight back to this sick chapter of our history. African-Americans never got a chance to have the same fair start the rest of us got. Their families were wilfully destroyed. Their language and culture and religion were stripped from them. Their poverty was institutionalised so that our cotton could get picked, our wars could be fought, our convenience stores could remain open all night. The America we’ve come to know would never have come to pass if not for the millions of slaves who built it and created its booming economy – and for the millions of their descendants who do the same dirty work for whites today.
Well, it’s not like we’re talking ancient Rome here, folks. My grandfather was born just three years after the Civil War. That’s right, my grandfather. My great-uncle was born before the Civil War. And I’m only in my forties. Sure, people in my family seem to marry late and have their babies even later, but the truth remains: I’m just two generations from slave times. That, my friends, is NOT a ‘long time ago.’ In the vast breadth of human history, it was only yesterday. Until we realize that, and accept that we do have a responsibility to correct an immoral act that still has repercussions today, we will never remove the single greatest stain on the soul of our country.

Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

This new report debunks one of the biggest myths about electric vehicles

With fossil fuels driving the climate crisis, the switch to electric vehicles (EVs) has obvious benefits for the environment. With that said, there are ...

Read More

This science-backed playlist is full of songs that will give you chills

We all have those special songs we go back to every now and then if we want to get a good dosage of “chills”—that ...

Read More

This simple exercise can improve your brain power

If squats are part of your daily routine, then we have good news for you! Doing just a few minutes of this resistance exercise ...

Read More

These microbes could help honey bees thrive

As we like to remind our readers a lot at The Optimist Daily, honeybees are essential for our planet's ecosystem. Humans rely on these ...

Read More