My Fellow Whiteys...

I've pretty much stopped commenting in this thread on the ending of Reverend Lowery's benediction at the inauguration of President Obama just over a week ago. I stopped because it was clear that the discussion wasn't going to go anywhere, and that the people who are continuing to complain about Lowery's language are completely missing the point. So in order to keep this from being lost in the comment section, I'm just going to put it out here for everyone to see.

Lots of you are saying that Lowery was being unfair to white people when he said "when white will embrace what is right," as though Lowery was condemning the actions of every white person and suggesting that none of them were doing right. I'll be blunt here--you're being a bunch of idiots.

Look at the world around you. Really look at it. If you're a person of color, you're more likely to go to jail than a white person convicted of the same crime. You're also more likely to be charged with a more serious crime given identical circumstances. If you're a person of color without a criminal record, you're less likely to be called back for a second interview for a job than a white person with a criminal conviction, all other things being equal. There are other examples of this sort across the socio-economic spectrum. The fact is that, on the whole, white has yet to completely embrace what is right when it comes to social justice.

That is not to say that the playing field hasn't evened over the last few decades--it has, unquestionably, in large part because growing numbers of white people have embraced what is right. But the field is not even yet, because a large number of people, whether intentionally or not, have refused to help make it so, and the result is that, on the whole, white has not yet fully embraced what is right.

If you are one of those who have, who is working to seek justice and fairness for all, good. Do you want a freaking medal or something? To paraphrase Chris Rock, "you're doing what you're supposed to do, you low-expectation-having mother-f***er. What do you want, a cookie?" You're doing what a decent human being does. To not do it would make you an asshole. That's your reward for not being a bigot--you're a decent human being and you help make the world a better place.

Part of that job means noticing that the world isn't good enough yet and doing something to make it better, to make it so that one day we really can look at our country and see that race isn't a determining factor in how likely you are to get a job, or how likely you are to go to jail, or how likely you are to have your children go to a substandard school. That's the day that Lowery is asking for in that prayer. That's why he concluded it by saying "Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen." All those--did you notice that? Guess who's included in there? Those of you who took unnecessary offense at what he'd said in the previous sentence.

So stop looking for the pat on the head, or the "good job." You're not doing anything you shouldn't have been doing in the first place.

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