Will it? I don’t know. I think that any nonwhite person who has actually interacted with mainstream white America, clearly understands, that white people come in just as many varieties and flavors as any other group.
I for example, don’t think “all whites are evil” because of anything Son of Baldwin wrote.
This might be true for those who do not have much interaction with mainstream white America. (In fact as far as I know, it pretty much is, and nothing SOB writers will change that one way or another.)
Of course no members of any race are homogeneous, in their actions and beliefs- and generally it is dangerous and just grossly inaccurate to write as if it were so. But for the sake of efficiency, we all do this. I know I do, despite the fact that I clearly know, on an individual one to one level, there are white people whom absolutely adore, and ones that I can’t stand for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with race, and everything to do with personality. I can certainly, and more emphatically say the same of blacks. And the types of blacks I don’t like, are usually very similar to the kinds of whites I don’t like.
We all click with certain kinds of personalities and dislike others. I think most interpersonal conflict is really a result of personality- and you have the same, ignorant, war mongering, conflict-seeking personality inside every race. I think there are only a handful of personality types, and we’ve pretty much seen them all everywhere. So in a way you’re right. Speaking about race in such generalities largely ignores what is the real cause of conflicts and divisiveness. (It is merely a certain personality type.)
And yet, in white America and probably in Europe too, you have this huge cache of subconscious and deeply embedded beliefs about race — and especially African-Americans- that basically devalue black life, greatly — and I can’t think of any more salient example of this than how black people are utterly brutalized in deeply inhuman ways by so many factions of the American “justice” system — and it is excused by whites, in a way that it is not excused for whites.
This forces the conversation around police to be racialized.
You just can’t ignore the racial component, when you have all these systems and defacto laws in place that basically say “kill a black person — no biggie.” And people always want to talk about black on black crime…well yes, black on black crime is rampant in poor urban areas, primarily because we do have all these systems in place place little to no value on black lives. There is no penalty for taking a poor black life, in America-and everyone knows this.
So, if you are white and you know this, what do you do with this information? What are you going to do with it if you’re black? Well a certain personality type will kill all the black people they can with impunity. And yes, I have known these types. Far more black ones, than white ones. But a certain personality type, both black and white, use this knowledge to kill.
If you are a decent and compassionate sort, you will say something along the lines of “hmmmm, you know this isn’t quite right. Maybe we should look into this? Do something about it? Listen?”
And honestly? That’s not a whole lot of assistance when lives are on the line, but that’s about all you’re going to get from this particular personality type that compromises around 5 to 10% of the population, regardless of race.
Most people just don’t “care.” And as you point out that’s true for all people. I realize when I say, I care, I’m including myself in the small part of the population that says, “hey we should look at this, maybe do something about this?”
And I feel like this for any and every victim of excessive police force, not just the black ones. To me that’s super hypocritical, to be outraged about police killing blacks, but not anyone else.
And, I don’t expand this general “caring” to everyone because I am so altruistic. No, it’s not really that. It’s because if we let the fabric of our society devolve to such a point where life isn’t considered sacred, if any and all life, except for the strongest and richest can be taken on a whim, well the world will become a kind of hell. In fact I think the argument could be made that it already is. So I care, because I don’t want to live in hell; and I think we are close to hell, when you have a woman of any race, gunned down by police when she was only calling for assistance. Like WTF????? It’s the second time this year.
Don’t call the police, is all I can say.
But back to Son of Baldwin. I think knowing that appeals to logic, reason, decency, kindness, compassion and caring will only impact a very small percentage of the American white or black population, and so he seeks to appeal to something that is a great deal more attention-getting: fear.
He speaks to white American fears…and the fear is that Blacks will respond to systemic racism differently-more angrily, as Baldwin does.
To say, “I don’t care if white people are killed by police, because they don’t care when we are killed by police.” Is to tap into black anger and stoke white fears, while at the same time attempting to force an acknowledgment of blatant white hypocrisy. I rather like the last part. I like the way he attempts to do that.
But you’re right. It’s a dangerous game, as fear and anger just run round and round in vicious, unending cycles. Getting people angry solves no problems, nor does making people fearful.
But, fear and anger, in moderation, maybe, just maybe he can change some minds. I don’t see him as being the same as a white supremacists (or as one James Massey insists — a black racist) although the argument could certainly be made. I find his provocative essays on race, interesting. I can always count on him to push the issue to the limit.