So Many Names…So Little Meaning

As a white male, I don’t even know what all the labels about me mean!

Growing up an Italian in Lawrence, Massachusetts in the 60’s and 70’s was not easy on the state of mind. DAGO, WOP, Guinea, Grease Ball were a few of the more popular labels attached to those in our neighborhood. Every nationality in Lawrence had their own section of town, their own church, their own grocery stores. It wasn’t until we got to high school and kids from every part of town were together did we have contact with anyone of a different “race”. I remember having a crush on a girl from Tower Hill but as I was from Prospect Hill, her parents forbid us from dating…..a Jewish Girl and an Italian Guy was not an approved match in 1970 Lawrence, and we just accepted it.

Terms like xenophobic, racist, homophobic misogynistic had little meaning back in those days, most probably couldn’t be found in a dictionary. As for most of us, we just accepted the fact that we were different but we were all on the same journey. How have we gotten to where we are today where you cannot watch the evening news without being made to feel guilty. I cannot identify with the labels being put on me and all of the other “privileged” white males in this country….it is all such BS.

Why is it usually some professional Black woman, an actress or politician, or (and this one blows me away) a Black athlete pulling in $20M a year that are spouting off about injustice, lack of opportunity, equal access to good schools for their kids….give me a break, We have come so far in this country to put all people on a potential track to success. No other country opens their arms to so many immigrants per year. Black and Brown unemployment are at their lowest in 50 years. Black and Brown earnings are at their highest in the same timeframe. Black and Brown home ownership is also at all time highs. If this country is so cruel and unjust to minorities, why do so many march thousands of miles for a chance to get a pass through our borders. We need to stop listening to the narrative and allowing a guilt trip to be placed upon our shoulders. This past weekend was evidence of the extremes, that they might have gone too far in driving their story home. The Super Bowl was like a showcase of Black influence. The Black Anthem, America the Beautiful, The Star Spangled Banner all performed by black celebrities. The half time show featured probably 100 black singers and dancers. Nearly every commercial was black actors and actresses. The Twitter world was even ablaze with comments that it is Racist that Tom Brady has won so many Super Bowls during February, Black History Month. Are you serious? Or simply in my face.

I grew up in a household where acceptance of others was the rule. We witnessed segregation and racism in the 60’s on our trips to Florida, The shacks along RTE 301 in the Carolinas. The Black Chain Gangs along the highways of Georgia and Florida. The Black Only restrooms and water fountains. That was racism and it was an eye opener. It is no longer that way. Do we have sins to atone for as a country….absolutely, but how many years do we have to pay for the past? Can we stop fanning the flames and let each other simply exist? I truly believe that that is the wish of most Americans but as long as politicians, media talking heads and racial equality activists see a gain in speaking up, the scars will never have a chance to heal. The bandaid will never come off. The divide will always be there to keep us apart.

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