The Cold Hard Truth

The Cold Hard Truth

By J.L. Chestnut, Jr.

Vol. 10, No. 6, 1988, pp. 24, 23

I do not expect George Bush to pursue the “kinder, gentler nation” announced in his campaign rhetoric. The mysterious “thousand points of light” about which he also spoke are more likely to turn out to be points of darkness. I was not born yesterday.

The Ku Klux Klan is as supportive of the budding Bush Administration as it has been of the old Reagan gang. And, for the same obvious reasons.

In happy anticipation, two local Republicans recently said to me, “It might come down to all the white people joining the Republican Party and black people staying with the Democratic Party. I really hope that doesn’t happen.”

But, the eyes and crooked smile of the two Republicans made their true opinion clear. They really wished that exact racist result on this nation. A nation, already in deep trouble at home and abroad, residing in a world where three-fifths of the population is non-white. Makes one wonder about some Americans.

A total racial realignment of the two parties won’t happen. Many thoughtful and decent white Americans would never buy such an arrangement. Many Americans understand and see through both the Republican and Democratic Party crap. They are unlikely to line up with either party. I don’t blame them.

Most white people, as conservatives, accept society as they find it. Few white Americans have been agitators for change in a philosophical sense. Those who have agitated were regarded, at best, as quixotic, odd, different and not quite normal. Some were suspected of being Communists.

National head shaking was joined by the numbers of white, respectable young people who joined radical groups in the 1960s and even identified with the Black Panthers. There wee consternation when Patricia Hearst was revealed as an armed member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, which was not only rebellious but criminal.

Black radicals or agitators, on the other hand, feel they understood the white mind set and what whites really think of them. These blacks have written off white society as impossible in regards to changing its attitude toward color. For many of these blacks, burglary, robbery and even worse have become the legitimate purpose of survival.

They are wrong, of course, but do not believe so and are not interested in such arguments. Some say that anything they can get away with is justified.

In the opposite direction and just as extreme, are blacks who think they have it made. Blacks who are secure in their token roles in their establishment, do not really regard themselves as tokens. They are well behaved and well rewarded.

These people might participate in the kind of march on Washington that is a non-violent picnic, to which they actually fly, or go to by train or chartered bus. They would, however, never dream of picketing a business for its failure to hire blacks or women. This is the group from which we get our black lawyers and judges.

Now to turn the coin just slightly. As I said, it is a most rare white person who will revolt against anything. After all, their color permits them to be the beneficiary of the American way of life. There has never been an example in America of the oppressed, when liberated, becoming the oppressor.

It is even more rare for a white person to consider his fellow man as just another person as opposed to a “colored” person, a “Negro friend” or a “black” one. This classification is an immediate indication that a “colored person” is not

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simply another citizen, but something less.

There have been genuine relationships of affection and mutual esteem between blacks and whites. Relationships in which each regarded the other as simply a good decent human being and not as “my black friend” or my “white friend.” But, that is rare.

All too often, white people of commendable sensitivity give up their zeal for a “kinder, gentler nation,” move to the white suburbs, and become occasional “moderates” or “liberals” with a black visitor now and then.

I understand.


J. L Chestnut is an Alabama trial lawyer and writer.