For this week’s Sunday Blasphemy, I’m going to step away from religion and go in an entirely different direction. This is something that has been on my mind for a while ever since I heard the news from Ferguson, MO in 2014. Then I started noticing all the other news stories about the shootings by cops of other unarmed black people.
Especially since the last presidential election I have gotten a burning desire to read more about the history of race and class in America and get some fucking context for what’s going on. I read “White Trash: A 400 Year Untold History of Class in America” and learned (among many other things) how after the Civil War policies were enacted to make sure that whiteness in and of itself was a badge of status. For a poor white person, it meant that even if you had nothing you were still considered better than a black person. I also found a book called “Life Behind a Veil: Blacks in Louisville, Kentucky, 1865-1930” while browsing the library stacks. In the first couple chapters (as far as I’ve read at this point) I’ve learned about things like how blacks migrating to Louisville in search for a better life were required to live in designated neighborhoods only, and actively denied the opportunities to live in middle and upper-class white neighborhoods because of legal housing discrimination. And it had nothing to do with ability to pay. Policies about racial were simply set up in a way to favor the idea that white were superior and that blacks would do well if they only did what white people told them.
These are all things that I never learned in history classes when I was in school, and things I never saw (or noticed) because they didn’t happen in my neighborhoods. I was always left to assume that the blacks in Louisville just chose to separate themselves into their own neighborhoods.
So, white supremacy is a real thing in America, and not just with skinheads who declare it without shame. It’s a lot for a white girl from Bullitt Co, Kentucky to wrap her head around. I’m still working out exactly how to deal with what I’m learning.