I walk during my lunch break at work.
Lately I’ve taken to walking the part of The Trail of Tears that runs in downtown Nashville. A portion of that trail is two blocks away from the high-rise named for the president who forced their march. I try to get in touch with what it must have been like for the Cherokee who walked that particular route. It’s hard; today the area is a tourist trap with restaurants and trinket shops. A homeless woman in a wheelchair sells papers. Lawyers come and go from their offices.
Friday when I walked it was below freezing. I had on socks, shoes, gloves and a big coat. The Cherokee walked in weather like this with no shoes.
I think of the humiliation of being forced from your home to walk for months to reach a new place you know nothing about because your skin tone and way of life is not white. White people in Nashville turned out to watch the Cherokee as they came through, and to try to make a buck selling them things- food, clothing.
In the Nashville public square, granite monuments are engraved with interesting tidbits of Nashville history. Nothing is mentioned about the Trail of Tears. In addition, there are several monuments that mention free men of color, but nothing mentioned about slavery, even though one of the state’s largest slave sales houses was located nearby.
My need to understand that past helps me to comprehend what is happening in my world today. It’s a different time, but the same old power play.
This is the burden of entitlement. White people want security. We want to be on top. We want to make America great again. We are mad because we want something, and we don’t care how we get it or who we hurt in the process.
We fear Muslim terrorists. We fear black men who rape our women and sell drugs to our children. We fear immigrants coming to our country “illegally,” because they are drug traffickers and gangsters. We’re tired of having to support these non-whites who live off the government dole.
Never mind that statistics show a white person, especially a white woman, is more likely to be the victim of crime at the hand of someone known to the victim. White men, especially those of middle age, are more likely to kill themselves than die at the hand of someone else. Those drugs that are turning their children into monsters were often initially prescribed legally by a doctor and manufactured by an American drug company. And our president-to-be just gave huge tax incentives to Carrier to keep a handful of jobs in Indiana. Jobs that likely would have stayed anyway. Where’s the outrage about that kind of welfare?
I believe our problem is we don’t know who we are. We think we are special because God said so. Because movies and TV say so. Because Trump said so. Because America. Because Europe. Just because.
What we actually are is an invasive species of animal. We have survived for thousands of years because we continually foil Nature’s attempts to keep us in check. But Nature may win yet as we seem hell-bent on self-destruction with our never-ending appetite for more, more, more. Denying science won’t change that fact.
We are not special. We are not better than any other living creature, no matter what those old books and stories tell us. And there are not those of us who are any better than the other. No matter what things we possess. No matter what creation story we choose to believe. No matter the skin color.
31 thoughts on “The Burden of Entitlement”
you wrote about a very interesting topic… and I think you found a super important point… wh have to know who we are… and maybe once we will know it… and we maybe will not like it… but we know…
It’s difficult to accept we are just another animal on the planet, especially after all the stories we’ve made up about how wonderful we are. But they are just stories.
A powerful post on a topic I haven’t seen explored before in this way. You are right about entitlement, though I think it permeates even into non-White socities. At the end of the day, Americans of any race and colour will often team up against the people they believe to be the invasive ones.
I wrote on this same topic from the perspective of an immigrant if you’re interested in seeing it: https://alexischateau.com/2016/11/09/trump-showed-me-americas-true-colours/
It is true. And one need only look at the African dictatorships that rise up in response to European colonialism to see it’s not solely a white thing. It is a human thing that stems from not knowing who and what we are.
It’s that need to climb to the top of the food chain, I suppose.
Personally I think it a man thing. Women who don’t depend on men for their social status are more likely to be cooperative, whereas women who have social status because of affiliation with men and feel that social status threatened are more likely to side with the patriarchy.
No actually those jobs had been set to leave quite along time ago well before President elect Trump and Vice President elect Pence went to bat for the employees of Carrier
During Thanksgiving Day and weekend the battle was negotiated
The plant has already been built in Mexico for Carrier for the move out of the USA
Whereas President Obama did nothing
Or do you believe Hillary Clinton would have come to the rescue
Hillary not a chance
Senator Hillary Clinton broke her promises to the people of Upstate New York to save jobs up there rather over 200,000 jobs were lost and Upstate NY is like a ghost town
As for Carrier there are over 700 families that feel a bit different than you about their jobs bring saved
MERRY 🎄 CHRISTMAS…to them
Honey that kool-aid you’re drinking is powerful, but the stories it’s telling you are not real.
Hmm….I thought the majority of the jobs still went to Mexico. I think this is a political ploy and eventually the rest of the jobs will go too. People have paid through tax incentives to save these jobs. I’m happy for the lucky 700 but many still lost their jobs.
This is yet another example of white privilege- save a few jobs regardless the cost to others.
so true and this planet will be here long after we die out and we will because we will make that happen by destroying the natural balance of this planet of which we are already doing,hopefully though when that day happens the planet will be able to recover in some way,but thanks to Trump it will happen much faster,xx Rachel and Speedy
It’s easy to focus on Trump but let’s not forget all those who supported him make him possible.
…as well as the hundreds and hundreds of years during which the line between “want” and “need” was–and continues to be–deliberately and consciously blurred. Here, there, now and then..
Also true,makes me sad to be human,xx Rachel
Denying science will only hasten our demise.
Just as denying journalism will hasten the fall of democracy.
For a canine, you have an uncanny grasp of human nature, RD…
And to think I didn’t have to hire a human whisperer to do it!
We’re apes. Yet we tend to forget that.
We think we are so much better than what we actually are.
Recently, here in Texas, a state school board official said that the history of Native Americans shouldn’t be taught in schools because Indians “lost the war.” Actually, they lost several wars, but not because of any intellectual or cultural inferiority. They didn’t have guns and horses to start with, and by the time they acquired them, it was too late. The wide-scale genocide had begun. I think the U.S. is one of the few countries in the Western Hemisphere that doesn’t begin its national history with the indigenous peoples. These forgotten true histories, along with contemporary historical rewritings (calling Black slaves immigrant workers), are preventing the U.S. from experiencing its true potential.
When I hear Donald Trump says he wants to “make American great again,” it reminds me of Ronald Reagan’s stated desire to return the country back to the time before the 1960s screwed up everything. He meant, of course, before non-White males had the audacity to demand equality and justice. After nearly three centuries of working to become part of the overall fabric of America, things finally exploded in the 1960s because people realized they just weren’t getting too far. After my father’s older brother returned from World War II – where he earned several medals and acquired malaria while in the South Pacific – they went to a barber shop one Saturday morning. The owner, who had a heavy Scottish accent, my father told me, ordered them to leave because they didn’t “cut Mexicans’ hair.” It’s crap like that which set off the 1960s’ cultural revolution and societal upheavals.
I keep point out that, as a mostly White male, I can be critical. But, just as things were slowly starting to improve these past few years, we get this neo-Nazi in the White House. I was concerned when Bush arrived, but I’m even more worried about Trump. I was willing to give Bush a chance, and he failed in the worst way. However, I simply cannot bring myself to give Trump the same benefit. I have never prayed to be more wrong.
Actions speak louder than words, and since we can’t believe anything Trump says anyway, we have only his actions to go by. Looking at those he has chosen for cabinet secretary positions tells me he’s all about affluent white majority rule.
When one is not on top, one is quick to make oneself look higher on the food chain than others. So an immigrant Scot who can keep his mouth shut and pass for white sees himself as “better” than someone with brown skin. Sadly, that seems to be happening still today.
Human’s inability to live within an eco system has been on my mind a great deal lately. Our species seems truly alien to the planet at times. Well, most of the time. I think about what the world would be without our constant greedy upheaval. What was done to the Native Americans is no mere slight. In it’s totality it is beyond horrendous. It is easier to ignore than to confront, even if only in one’s mind much less socially and outwardly.
I recently read that the original Greek word for ‘greed’ (I’;m not sure they meant philargyros or not) implied not just ‘money hungry’ but also contained a sense of harm being done to another, which I think didn’t make it into the Germanic word that ended up in modern English. It would be impossible for someone to say ‘Greed is good’ if the word ‘greed’ carried with it a sense of ones avarice actually harming others. I’ve believe for a long time that most ‘titans’ of industry, whomever they are, wherever and whenever – those who made accumulating vast fortunes not just a goal but THE goal, that they must be mentally ill – perhaps sociopaths, or worse. I can’t understand why we celebrate the accumulation of these vast sums as somehow a good sign or a healthy sign for our civilization. But I have no answers either, so, just more to think about. I enjoy your posts.
Thanks, Mark. I’ve wondered the same. I’m not a believer in the deity of Jesus but I do think he was a pretty smart dude. He said you can’t serve two masters. I see that to say that my worship of money makes me a slave to it. And I confess, I have enslaved myself to money. I think that’s what this country has based itself on.
Congrats on the new book coming out Tuesday!
thanks for this wonderful essay!!!!!!!
Sadly Nashville isn’t the only place that has avoided the mentioning about the Trail of Tears or any of the other atrocities committed on Native Americans. But thank you for bringing it to our attention. Hopefully knowledge through exposure will rectify this omission.
What happened is incredibly sad. What is even sadder is that governments still collude to move people from their homes and most people are unaware – Diego Garcia.
P.S. They even gassed the dogs …
I’ve heard of this before but, honestly, most Americans have not. Just as we think we are without sin when it comes to election manipulation, though we have had our hands in many other elections. Americans have much to answer for, and most of it we don’t even know about (because we choose to not educate ourselves).
I don’t think many British people are aware either. It gets a passing mention in the ‘serious’ newspapers when another stage in the legal battle is reached, but never a word in the ‘popular’ press. Most Brits are aware of some of the atrocities committed in the days of having an empire, but know nothing of more recent things done by our government. It does make one wonder how many other secrets they manage to keep from us.