February 25, 2007

White history means "we won"

White History 101The purpose here is not to explore individual guilt--there are therapists for that--but collective responsibility. When it comes to excelling at military conflict, everyone lays claim to their national identity; people will say, "We won World War II." By contrast, those who say "we" raped black slaves, massacred Indians or excluded Jews from higher education are hard to come by. You cannot, it appears, hold anyone responsible for what their ancestors did that was bad or the privileges they enjoy as a result. Whoever it was, it definitely wasn't "us." This is one more version of white flight--a dash from the inconveniences bequeathed by inequality.

So we do not need more white history, we need it better told.Settlement, slavery and segregation--propelled by economic expansion and justified by white supremacy--inform much of what the United States is today. The wealth they created helped bankroll its superpower status. The poverty they engendered persists.

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