This archived article was written by: Renato Maglhaes
“I will have to discuss with my boys whether they can truly be friends with white people.” The words are by Ekow Yankah, professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, stamped on The New York Times in an article named “Can My Children Be Friends With White People?”
After my first time reading the question it was impossible to grasp. However, the title exposes a perfect translation for that section. The reflections induced by a dialogue with his 4-year-old child are a product of the long-lasting institutionalized racial segregation in the United States, a tormenting pain that goes away like a fading echo that is always there.
The term institutionalized is extremely important in this context; it represents an array of public policies imposed on individuals by the simple act of signing a bill. The American Apartheid was lawful, yet immoral. It is simple to impose your own standards and even your biases once you have the pen, an overwhelming weapon which purpose is commonly misunderstood.
“History has provided little reason for people of color to trust white people,” says Yanka. In this point of view, history has provided little reason for people to judge others and to trust power of government. It turns out that the individuals with the ink – who in tempting illusions believe to be gods – have control over every other person, in an apparently chronic issue since the foundation.
“History has provided little reason for people of color to trust white people,” it hammers. In this concept, I am not trustworthy. It is tell those “of color” to distance themselves from me, to boycott me, to not accept me because of my color. I would feel ashamed to cite Martin Luther King, Jr., someone who defended exactly the opposite, on the same bigotry-oriented text.
“Have you considered where he is coming from?” Asked a friend. I tried, but there is no logic to categorizing people and generalizing individuals. Who am I in your life? What have I done? Am I responsible for the actions of those politics and bureaucrats? I won’t say on behalf of my past generations – I will leave this for the ones who blindly and foolishly think to be in an advantaged position, like white supremacists – but I have never gained a single penny because of any public policy, not to mention slavery-related ones. I don’t think anyone from my family tree has, if it makes it better. The question still is “Why?” and I can only think about my black friends and do not see a single spark of reason on that kind of approach.
“History has provided little reason for people of color to trust white people,” it can’t stop, I can’t battle it. History provided nothing but reasons not to trust anyone, if that is a matter of color. Slavery, the term, the action, the “market,” still affects people from every ethnicity. People like you and me, who, despite the color, are treated as property and currency.
It is important to make it clear: the matter is not me. The matter is that way of thinking that ultimately influences countless individuals responsible of any evil ever inflicted to you. The problem has never been any shades of gray, brown, red or yellow. The problem has been an incomprehensible standard that our so-called civilization hardly understands, and that Rev. King claimed so bravely, the content of our character over the color of our skin. That is what I will teach my children. Won’t you?