D.L. Hughley is a well-known Black comedian and the author of “How Not to Get Shot: And Other Advice From White People.” His latest book, just coming out, is “Surrender, White People: Our Unconditional Terms For Peace.” This is a book supposedly about white racism. But the title makes it sound like a book about blacks prejudice against whites. And I think that is unfortunate.
As Black Lives Matter and other movements edge up feelings of hatred between races, the most important things to remember are these: whites still are the majority race in the United States; and whites remain divided in their feelings about blacks. Truthfully, there are a substantial number of whites who are prejudiced against blacks, and many of those are involved in racism. This means that they are willing to use the economic and social power of whites to suppress blacks. But there are also a substantial number of whites who believe that racism is abhorrent, and they are willing and able to work against this age-old flaw in America. And there are also a large number of whites who have no strong opinion on this subject at all.
So a book about white racism should not start out, “Surrender, White People.” Rather, it should show from the start that it is directed at White Racists. “Surrender, White Racists,” would be far better. But then to state to racists, who are not likely to be reasonable, that these are Our Unconditional Terms for Peace, is not like to gain friends.
The events that have followed from the killing of George Floyd show that there is a strong support for the black movements criticizing white treatment of blacks. For example, in Missoula, MT, which is overwhelmingly white, there were strong protests over the George Floyd killing from May 29 through June 5. And, of course, in cities and towns with a substantial black population, there were likewise strong protests. The attitudes of blacks should be gratitude for the whites who support them. The point is to encourage more involvement by whites and support of the goals of Black Lives Matter.
It is perfectly appropriate that Hughley outline what he sees as Our Unconditional Terms For Peace. And he and others like him should have a coherent strategy to obtain those terms.
I haven’t read his book, but I did listen to an interview, in which he mentioned reparations. “Just 26% of respondents to a new poll say the government should pay money to black Americans descended from slaves, with black Americans far more likely than white Americans to support the idea.” If reparations are part of his Unconditional Terms for Peace, then peace is unlikely to be reached. It is perfectly true that blacks suffer from economic shortcomings when compared to whites. “News stories are full of statistical evidence for disparities between black and whites, such as the fact that the average black family earns about half as much as the average white family, or that the unemployment rate for blacks is twice that for whites, or that the wealth of the average white family is ten times the wealth of the average black family.” Tests have shown that if a black and a white with absolutely similar backgrounds apply for a job, the white person will be selected by a white employer. So establishing government programs to erase this unfairness is perfectly sensible. But just dolling out cash to individuals is not likely solve the problem. I’m sure that’s why the reparations idea isn’t supported. Improving the society should be the goal.
As we all know, there was a significant attempt to improve the lives of black people between the Lyndon Johnson administration and the Ronald Reagan administration, where many of the programs were torn down. That was around 20 years of trying. I’m sure if those efforts had continued for another 20 years, the need for Black Lives Matter would be far less acute. But they didn’t, and we need to return to a society which truly cares about its members, not one that insists that it’s every person for him or herself.
My hope is that Black Lives Matter will join with the whites, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans, particularly those who have supported Bernie Sanders and other progressives, and continue to fight for justice for all members of society. This is the group that should unite to fight against racial inequality and economic injustice. D.L. Hughley, I hope that you will join in that fight.