Black Folks Identity compared to White Folks Identity
Black folks’ identity has come out to be a common topic in the recent discussions about racism and self-identity. Black folks experience very many challenges that the Whites do not experience. White folks are born into a life full of privileges and most don’t even realize it. The life of Black folks is quite hard having to be discriminated and stereotyped for no apparent reason apart from their skin color. White folks dominate the American society to such a great extent. This domination has existed since time immemorial when African-Americans were slaves on Plantations owned by White folks. The dominant White folks discriminate and hate Black folks just because of their skin color. This essay makes an effort to compare the Black folks’ identity and the White folks’ identity. How different is life as a Black person compared to being White? Whites are viewed by the world as superior and also view themselves that way. This makes them view colored folks as inferior and stereotype them in the society.
If one was to compare the neighborhoods of Black folks with those of White folks, you can already guess who is superior and more privileged in life than the other. In the neighborhood of the White folks, you find that homes are well built and maintained, clean and classy but looking at the neighborhoods of the Black folks, there is litter, signs of poverty and unmaintained homes. I am not being racist at this point but it is just stating the general truth of the matter. When comparing almost everything in this world belonging to the White folks or associated with them, one can notice the difference in the quality and superiority.
White identity is evident in that almost everything that is nice belongs to Whites. The Whites always receive better things compared to their Black counterparts. The best neighborhood belongs to Whites, the best schools, the best hotels, best jobs and many more.
When it comes to the professional field, a White doctor is valued compared to a Black doctor with the same skills and level of education. Why is this so? Whites have a different worldview where they view themselves as the betterment of any other race, a view almost held by everyone else even those minor and discriminated races including the Blacks themselves. At school, children believe that the top students should be Whites, and this holds for both the White and Black folks. In her book, “Why are all the Black kids sitting together at the cafeteria”, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum investigates the reasons as to why Black students tend to sit at the same table at the cafeteria during lunch hours. Tatum also investigates why the top students in racially mixed schools are always White students. Tatum explains that the attitude already instilled in Black students about White students being number one makes them not pass exams. This is a classic example of how Black identity compares to White identity. When a Black student becomes top of the class, other Black students begin to discriminate and avoid them the reason as to why is because the top of the class in exams is reserved for White students.
Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum states the Black students tend to sit together at the same table at the school cafeteria because they try to identify with the Black race. The main reason that Black students sit together at the same table in school cafeterias is that they feel the urge to identify with their race and determine their racial identity as Blacks. Tatum states that as children enter adolescence, they begin exploring identity questions such as “Who am I? Who can I be?” For a Black student, these questions involve asking oneself what it means to be Black. Adolescents of color have been found to explore their ethnic identities compared to their White counterparts as a result of the dominative and subordinate status in society. Dr. Beverly Tatum questions why Black youths particularly think about themselves regarding an ethnic group. Tatum says that the reason behind Black youths thinking about themselves as a race is because that is the same way that the rest of the world perceives them. Tatum states that how we perceive ourselves is shaped by the kind of messages we get from the people who were around us. When Black youth reach puberty, the ethnic content in the messages they receive from people around them intensifies. This encourages the Black students to cluster at the same table in cafeterias.
Michelle Alexander in her book, “The New Jim Crow” makes an effort to explain how people of color (Blacks) have been marginalized through mass incarceration. Alexander explains how the system today is similar to the historic period of Jim Crow. The system today is a racial caste system. The law is enforced on the crime committed by people of color to help the poor’ White folks. The law and the government claim to promote everyone equally but behind the curtains, it is a totally different case. The law harasses the Blacks especially when it comes to mass incarceration and arrests by police officers.
As a Black person, one is harassed by police officers during arrests and treated as a very dangerous criminal even when he/she is not guilty. White people can never understand the manhandling that occurs to the Black folks. Black kids are killed by police officers in a snap of a finger when found in tight spots or crime spots. This is not the case when it comes to the White kids. This clearly portrays the extent to which racism has spread in the police department of America.
White identity is evident in the way a White parent prevents his/her child from the Black neighborhoods claiming that it is not secure to be there. The reason as to why this parent may perceive the Blacks as dangerous is unknown as Blacks are very friendly people. Black identity is evident when a Black girl tells her family that she wants to get married to a White man. Most Black families would not accept their daughters to marry White men or sons marrying white girls. White identity can also be seen in the judicial system. When a White person commits a crime, the judge being white, he/she is likely to get a smaller penalty compared to a Black person who committed the same crime. In a White school, a White student is less likely to be punished more than a Black student when committing the same crime.
Whites always regard black people as brutes and animals the reason is just being a total stereotype and hate for the blacks. The Blacks are portrayed as animals, criminals, and savages by the Whites and that they only deserve punishment. According to Charles H. Smith (1893), he stated that “A bad negro is the most horrible creature upon the earth, the most brutal and merciless”(p. 181). Blacks are mostly viewed as criminals and terrorists who deserve death and arrest. However, this is not the case as indeed one would change his/her view about this claim after interacting with the Blacks for a period of time.
According to T. Wise, few whites have ever thought of their position as resulting from racial preferences which also is a demarcation of privilege that is the necessary flipside of discrimination (Wise, 2003). Being White comes with privileges that Black people don’t have. According to Peggy McIntosh, “White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions such as maps, codebooks, passports, clothes, blank checks, tools, and visas.” This tries to define the scope of privilege between the Whites and the Blacks. Whites have almost everything ranging from loans, credit cards, money, cars, big mansions, and power compared to the Black race. Am not implying that Black folks do not own these things but am saying that the percentage of the Whites compared to Blacks who own these things is unparalleled. The Whites run and own the economy.
The identity of the White folks also differs to that of the Black folks when it comes to the judicial system. The Judicial system in America claims to treat everyone equally regardless of race, religion, political opinion, sex, and beliefs but this is not the case in the real sense. Ever since the historical periods of the Renaissance, the Blacks have always been disregarded and mistreated even in the courts. Black inmates who have committed the same crime with Whites in the same prison are jailed for a longer period compared to their white counterparts. This is not always the case but it has happened for a lot of years.
A story is told of a White woman who was driving in a Black neighborhood at 2 am in the morning. Police officers trolled her and followed her thinking she wanted to purchase drugs in the area. After pulling the woman over, several well-armed police officers ordered her to alight and they searched the car. They told the woman that they thought she was looking to buy drugs in Rosa Parks after darkness. They then left her and asked her to drive safely home. The woman relayed her story to her white colleagues the following day at work and they advised her to report the matter to the legal department. This is a pure demonstration of how Whites believe that it is only Blacks who should be pulled over and searched. The woman’s colleagues had a view that that occurrence should only happen to the Blacks and not a White folk. The woman later told the story to a Black colleague from Rosa Parks and the colleague was not even surprised. The colleague from Rosa Parks just asked, “You really don’t worry about such things, do you?” This perfectly illustrates the treatment of Blacks by police officers.
Another comparison between the White folks’ identity and the Black folks’ identity is in the story of Colin Kaepernick. Colin Kaepernick was a player in the NFL until he refused to stand during the National Anthem. This caused a mass uproar of the Whites and eventually led to the loss of his job as an NFL player and loss of his sponsorship. And why was this the case? Just because he is Black. If it were a White person who sat down during the National Anthem, am very sure that the case could not have been as complex as that of Colin Kaepernick. This portrays the hate and discrimination of the White folks towards the Black folks.
In conclusion, it is evident that the Black folks are treated as lesser equals compared to the White folks and all this is just because of the skin color. The Whites folks tend to have an advantage and privilege over Black folks in a lot of ways. A White person may dance in a certain way and seem cool but a Black person can dance in the very exact same way and be regarded to as crazy. An adult White male can wear a small short and walk across the street and be viewed as okay but a Black folk can wear the same short and be the talk of the town. Why is this the case? It is the worldview of this two identities that matter.
Alexander, Michelle. The new Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of colorblindness. The New Press, 2012.
McIntosh, Peggy. “White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack.” (1988).
Tatum, B. D., “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”.2016. (p 374-387).
Wise, Tim. “Whites swim in racial preference.” (2003).
Wyche, Steve. “Colin Kaepernick explains why he sat during the national anthem.” NFL. com 27 (2016).