Op/Ed By Gloria Winston –
This not to say that racism doesn’t exist, and that there are not white supremacists with a sense of entitlement who are among us.
What I am trying to convey is that, personally, the folks who’ve fallen into that category have not caused me as much pain, or as many setbacks and betrayals as those who have looked like me, and who have once embraced me.
How some white folks feel about people of color, in many cases, is inherent, taught, and practiced.
But, they don’t fool me. And, the one thing I have learned to respect about them is that if they don’t want to be bothered with you, they will let you know.
White folks, southern white folks in particular, will let you know up front how they feel about you, while northern white folks have a tendency to hide their true feelings, and pretend to love and accept you.
My issue at the time of this writing, however, is that some folks who look like me have pretended to love me, or to have my back, but, when all is said and done, they have been the ones who have put a target on my back and who have been holding the knife that, at some point, I may find in my back.
White folks don’t fool me, but the folks who share my pigmentation have, more often than not.
They are the ones who are throwing stones, while hiding themselves, and their hands behind trees.
Often, in my writings, I have mentioned being raised in Camelot, when the Third Ward, a.k.a Cornhill, was a mixture of every culture you could imagine.
In addition to the people who shared my color, I was raised among Italians, Germans, Polish people, Jamaicans, American Indians, Jewish residents, and more.
The only culture I was not introduced to as a young person was the Latino culture.
However, our community, and our neighborhood, was diverse.
I was not taught to hate any culture.
In fact, our house always looked like the League of Nations.
I was raised in Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, and, on specific Sundays, we would participate in a culture exchange program.
Whites would come to our house for dinner, and we would go to theirs. The church promoted the acceptance of others.
Yes, elements of institutional racism were all around us, and, in the South, in particular, there was a segregationist climate.
I am speaking about my PERSONAL experiences only.
I experienced racism and segregation when I visited my grandparents in Alabama, or North Carolina.
The line in the sand was drawn at local theaters, restaurants and department stores, but, I knew that blatant racism was not something I would continue to experience upon my return home.
My teachers, throughout both elementary and high school, were all white.
Thank God I grew up during a time when teachers were put in the classroom to teach.
I dropped out of high school to get married, but, by the eleventh grade, my teachers had managed to instill in me the survival skills which would help Kodak to find me employable.
I could read.
I could write, and I knew how to count.
Those skills are no longer apparent in many of today’s high school graduates.
And, many teachers are certainly in classrooms for the wrong reasons.
Yet, with every one of my attempts to do something that made my life and/or community better, I can pinpoint the betrayals which came along with them, and I was betrayed, not by whites, but by the people who looked like me.
They are the Judases of the world, the ones who would report Nat Turners’ plan to revolt, and they are the ones who give me pause, and will likely cause more pain than any racist white person could.
However, don’t get it twisted, please.
I have lots of white friends that I trust, and who have proven their love, and given their acceptance.
The people I want to highlight are the ones you may find in your circle that are calling you “sister” or “brother,” but are only there looking for the opportunity to betray you.
Someone wise once said jealousy is a form of flattery, and that people who attempt to hurt you, probably admire you subliminally, and want to be you.
I don’t know if that is true, but, when I have been betrayed in the past, it has mostly come from those who have pretended to be my friends.
I will outline every instance of these experiences in my forthcoming book, but the one that stands out the most is the way the magazine I founded, About Time Magazine, came to be incorporated by those who basically went behind my back to do so, and by those who, to date, have failed to acknowledge the betrayal which took place.
Sometimes thieves are held in high esteem.
And, white folks did not do this.
When I was promoted at Rochester Jobs, and asked to direct a program with a budget of over $11 million, it was my best friend, with an alleged masters degree, who threw a temper tantrum, and asked the executive director, Ed Croft, how he could promote me instead of her.
And, she did it while smiling in my face.
In this case, white folks saw my value, and my friend who looked like me did not.
When I was a Black Panther, we had a coalition with the white Peace and Freedom Party.
We were all aware of J. Edgar Hoover’s intent to infiltrate and destroy the party, but it was my suspicion that Eldridge Cleaver was an informant, which caused me to lose faith.
And, when one of my Spectrum models was beaten unconscious by a group of young men who looked like him, after a show we did at Highland Bowl, my eyes were opened to the hatred we had begun to manifest amongst ourselves.
Again, white folks did not do this, young Negroes did.
They did not even know this model, yet they reacted to having seen him on stage, and, as they beat him, and destroyed his clothing, they said, “You think you are better than us!”
Then, there are those who skin and grin, offering their support, although it may not be from their hearts.
They are the control freaks who want to control the creativity in you they once claimed to respect.
We all know how the white status quo feels about our young, intelligent, capable, educated mayor.
But, it is the Negroes who surface in public, and on social media, engaging in the ugliness that bothers me most.
We know what to expect from the enemy, but the Judases who have raised their ugly heads since her election boggle my mind, and leave me with a sense of sadness that tells me we are still so far removed from supporting our own.
Some of us seemingly feel the need to apologize for supporting someone who looks like us.
White folks never have, so why should we?
As Minister Louis Farrakhan once said, “We have become the tools of the enemy.”
In too many cases, we are behaving as the enemy, replacing the actions we used to fear from white folks.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)