It’s taken me some time, but I have finally concluded that I am a racist. To compound the problem, I also suffer from white privilege, two characteristics I am told often go together. Thankfully, several people and organizations have helped to rip the blinders from my eyes. These would include the President, Vice President, half of Congress, several Cabinet secretaries, print and web media, university presidents, faculty and students, social media giants, numerous flag officers of the military, BLM, the National Football League, and of course, Major League Baseball.
I now understand that my racist beliefs are inherent, as I was born of two lily-white married parents, themselves children of Italian legal immigrants. How could I miss?
The problem started when my parents sent me to a Catholic grammar school, the faculty of which was almost all nuns and wouldn’t you know it, when I look back on those days, I remember now they were all white. To make matters worse, the nuns insisted during math instruction that we get the correct answer to a math problem and even went so far as to insist we sometimes show how we got the answer. What outrageous racism! Anyway, what’s the big deal with getting correct answers to mathematical problems? Just because civil engineers do it doesn’t mean everybody should.
After high school, I enlisted in the Air Force, trained as an aircraft mechanic, and spent 3 of 4 years at an en route support squadron on an airbase in Spain. At some point the realization struck me that my unit was a mix of black, white, Mexican and Puerto Rican members, working together at our mission to refuel, inspect, repair and re-launch all the transit aircraft that landed at the base. And during our time off, we often partied together! No doubt, there is a race-based explanation that I have suppressed all these years for having fond memories of working alongside all those non-white team members. Those poor guys were unaware that besides being racist, some of us were extremists in waiting. But the new Defense Secretary is going to make sure the military is finally purged of such types.
Since becoming more aware of politics and its role in government, I found myself having thoughts that are described as being conservative and favoring limited government. Thankfully, there are thousands of non-conservatives who are ready and willing to show me the error of my thinking. For example, I do not support the notion that if you are a citizen of a foreign country and you break the law by illegally entering America and expect financial support, education for your children and free medical care, that the tax-paying citizens should be the ones to finance it all. This comes from the knowledge that my grandparents came here through Ellis Island and were examined to ensure they were free of disease and not a public charge before being allowed entry to go and start a small business, free of government financing. I am so grateful to all the politicians and commentators for helping me finally see how that was a prime example of white privilege.
It always made sense to me that before being allowed to vote in a national election you show some kind identification. But now it’s been explained how racist that can be, because black folks can’t always get to an office that provides such identification, free of charge. Or, if a state like Georgia asks a voter to give their driver’s license number as proof, they might have trouble finding it. Jim Crow and his progeny, Jim Eagle, would be so proud. Thankfully, Major League Baseball and several airline CEOs have taken a stand to protest these racist requirements in Georgia. I guess black folks will not have to provide any identification the next time they want to fly the ‘Friendly Skies.’ It’s only fair, after all, and I now recognize my belief in voter ID is definitely racist, with a portion of white privilege thrown in for good measure.
I also believe that a school board wishing to change their mascot’s identity from Trojans to an evergreen tree is perfectly okay. But fortunately, the school board director pointed out that people might associate that tree with the practice of lynching blacks years ago. Some of the board members had to be disabused of the notion that since they previously changed the high school’s name from Woodrow Wilson to Wells-Barnett, they would be given a pass with the choice of a mascot name like evergreen. The board came to its senses and decided to take a little more time before taking such drastic and offensive action. I’m still looking for the pictures or other historical evidence of evergreen trees being the preferred hanging tree – but they must be out there.
United Airlines, in its effort to prove that they will lead the way in fair hiring practices, has announced that 50% of all the 5,000 pilot trainees in the next decade will be people of color or women. The racist in me was taken aback by that announcement, since I have thought all this time that the most important requirements for a critical position such as airline pilot should be ability and competence, especially in emergency situations. US Airways pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger could be a prime example. I hear he was good at math, too. See the pattern here? To combat this, I expect other airlines will follow United’s lead.
Thankfully, regarding major sports, the NFL is addressing racism, especially the systemic variety and has gone to lengths to point out how racist it is to expect players to stand for the national anthem. How dumb was I in not recognizing this point earlier? And we are often reminded that the racial makeup of organizations, such as airline pilots or sports teams, should reflect the makeup of the country. The NFL is ahead of the game though, with the young black male representation on NFL teams sitting at around 70% while the overall percentage of blacks in the population is 13.4%. Surprisingly, attendance has been down even before the pandemic for both leagues. Obviously, a considerable number of racist fans have stopped watching, including yours truly. Sounds like a study commission is in order here.
I visited Washington, D.C. many years ago, and the Washington and Jefferson Memorials were on the list of things to see. George Washington, the leader of the ragtag colonist army that bested the better-manned and better-equipped British forces went on to be the country’s first president and brought great dignity to the office. All Thomas Jefferson did was write the Declaration of Independence and serve as president. We honored these men of distinction for being among the best of our founders with memorials in D.C. But wait, they had slaves! So that honor needs to be canceled. I expect to see a presidential commission formed soon to study whether these monuments should remain standing.
I’ve also visited a couple of national parks in my time, unmasked though, (I’m such a rebel) and it was an enjoyable activity. Now I’ve learned that they are racist as well! ABC News has discovered a fact hidden for far too long. Three-fourths of the visitors to national parks have been white! And I unwittingly took part in such racist activity. I must have missed seeing the signs at the park entrances allowing entry to only the privileged white race, yet this outrage continues.
Watching the news this past year is all the proof I need that the melanin-deprived among us must make amends, somehow. So, I’m going to do my part to atone for my transgressions. Tomorrow morning, after I get out of the bed with white sheets and pillowcase, and brush my teeth with that offensive white toothpaste, I will put on my white sneakers, find the nearest Catholic church, and confess my sins. I just hope the church doesn’t have any of those white lilies left over from Easter. I need to avoid such triggers. Then, as part of my penance, I’ll go shopping for some government approved non-white bed sheets, pillowcases, toothpaste and sneakers. But there is only so much one person can do without the help of the government. And it takes a village to cure a racist.
By Dave Agusta
Dave Agusta is regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative. He is an Air Force Veteran, a solid conservative, and a true patriot.