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White Superiority Complex

Jack Riordan June 30, 2019

Downside of Not Looking Behind the PR and Your Comatose Bias

Bread For the World Made a very revealing presentation at our April Quarterly Meeting on the government sources of the Racial Wealth Gap and our unrecognized guilt of the persistent poverty of most African Americans; an issue that has troubled me for a long time.  Why? Are Blacks inferior or is it their lack of whiteness? My own origins are a merger of Rural Poverty in Ireland and rural Kentucky poverty.  Both of my parents had only 6 years of formal education yet they sent my brother, sister and me to college and bought a house after 14 years of marriage; two of us ended with degrees and the one without a degree made more money than the two with them.  If one door was closed, others opened for us.

I did not recognize that whites were treated better until I was 18 when I was finally able to get a chauffeur’s license.  While I was 16 and 17, I lied about my age to get a summer job at Coca Cola to be a helper on the Delivery trucks.  For the first 2 years I lied that my father would not allow me to drive a truck.  Once I was really 18, I got the needed chauffeur’s license; Coke began assigning me to run vacation routes.  It was 1955, the first route had a permanent black helper for at least a year.  He and I played on the Coke softball team.  I thought he could run the route and would be distressed by a white kid, who only worked a few months a year, was getting the route.  I did not say anything to management because I needed the money to go to college, but it showed me that being white meant being treated more favorably.  I benefited from an attitude that Whites were superior to all other races.

Bread’s presentation pointed out a long standing public policy that not only affected Blacks but Native Americans, Asians and today Hispanics by showing the results of various Federal laws and local administration.      

Andrew Johnson’s Land Policies and Sharecropping, Federal law restricted the Lincoln law that promised 40 acres and a mule, forcing slaves to rent land from a former Slave Master, and to buy and sell through him.

Federal policies and Jim Crow administration prevented blacks from accumulating land based     wealth long after the Civil War ended.

Legal land seizures of black owned land for back debt or eminent domain.  Blacks were prohibited from suing Whites.  Even as late as between 1949 and 1970, one million people lost their land, 70% were black.

National Housing Act of 1934 provided funds except for Blacks or anyone wanting to buy in or near Blacks and a black community.  Redlining. 

Also since the act prevented most Blacks to buy they were forced to buy on Land Contracts.  Only after all payments were made was title transferred.

In 1935 the Social Security Act excluded Farmers and Domestic workers who were mostly Black from Old Age and unemployment insurance.  65% of blacks were excluded while half faced hunger during the Great Depression.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 helped bolster the economy and get the USA out of Great Depression, but it excluded food servers, shoe shiners, domestic workers, and Pullman Porters, all mainly Black jobs, from minimum wage protections even though their unemployment and hunger was twice that of White.

The GI Bill of 1944 helped vets get back by providing low-interest loans, tuition and unemployment assistance, but most Blacks were excluded by the local administration of the law.  Our military forces were segregated until well after the war.

Although Separate But Equal was overturned in 1954, our schools are more segregated today by the flight of Whites to suburban schools and increase of private religious schools resulting in a concentration of kids from poor families in inner city schools.  We are now segregated buy income and religion.

Starting in the 1970s, the use of subprime loans with higher interest rates resulted in Blacks paying more for housing than Whites plus higher foreclosure rates and defaults.

The prevalent attitude was behind the mistreatment of Native American Tribal lands, when Mark Twine said, “We stole it fair and square.”  It justified our Manifest Destiny and the British Colonial notion of, “The White Man’s Burden.” Despite all the evidence that white European, Christians are not superior, it still exists today in our unconscious racial attitudes.

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