Manhunt

Election Eve 2008: A Bad Night to be White in Harlem

November 17, 2010

In the U.S., exclusively African American and Latino organizations abound, unified on the premise of defending themselves against white oppressors. The liberal consensus is that multiculturalism hinges upon the preservation of ethnic identity, with one glaring exception. Whites are free to display any affiliation that theoretically transcends race—Tea Party stickers, country club polos, Mormon nametags—but a collective Euro-American identity is completely taboo, except as a scapegoat.

Are white people really that dangerous? If swastikas and white hoods pop into your head, I understand. But an interracial analysis of 2005 FBI crime statistics revealed that, per capita, blacks were about 39 times more likely to attack whites than the reverse. Violent white offenders chose black targets 3% of the time, while violent black offenders chose whites 45% of the time. “The reason is economic” comes off as a lame excuse. It seems that racism in America goes both ways, but the bullets mostly fly in one direction.

Law-abiding African Americans are understandably indignant about police harassment when they go into white neighborhoods—and I agree, it’s not fair. Having spent much of my time in Memphis and Atlanta, I know all about minority profiling—because I’m the minority there. Here in New Orleans, whites passing through certain black neighborhoods risk getting killed.

My own far-flung friendships are along the multicolored lines of warm hearts and open doors. I’ve been white too long to fall in love with my own skin, and besides, a rolling stone gathers no membership cards. But color-blindness becomes naïveté when you stumble into unfriendly territory. Everyone knows that the civil right to drink where you please is undercut by unwritten tribal laws.

Race can only be transcended when trust and loyalty reach beyond physical markers and cultural quirks. As such ties are difficult to weave and easily torn apart, interracial hostility remains a working-class reality for which only whites are held accountable. Minority leaders immediately label any white advocacy as “racist” while rallying around their own racial identities. That’s the pot calling the kettle…well, you know what I mean.

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