A White Woman’s Shame

Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, -Deuteronomy 5:9 (KJV)

When I learned how his mother died
I felt a stabbing pain inside.
A little boy lost his mother.
A husband lost his wife.
School children lost their teacher.
A community lost a light.

And for what?

Did it make them feel good inside
to know she’d died?
Did they laugh and drink and celebrate?
Burn a cross? Seethe with hate?
Do their children know what they did?
Carry the secret? Do they give a shit?

I was born into such a family.
Card-carrying klansmen fill our tree.
They still utter aloud the racist word
they’d swear up and down I hadn’t heard.
I have never been able to comprehend
how they hate so hard a color of skin.

I carry their guilt
because they won’t.
They think they’re fine
and I’ve lost my fucking mind.
But if your racist ass is what normal should be,
by all means call me crazy.
Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

24 thoughts on “A White Woman’s Shame

  1. Thank you for sharing this, my friend… Keep talking about it, because you are not crazy (except in the best way), and talking about it keeps you from being so. You have done nothing wrong because someone related to you has. One thing I learned in Ala-non and a certain Kairos Prison Ministry is that you need only be ashamed of your own actions as you’re not responsible for the actions of others. That you didn’t turn out like some of your card carrying Klan family members is a blessing.

  2. Powerful poem! Racism is something I will never understand or embrace, having been victimized by xenophobic bullies in elementary school. “Guilt by association” is something to overcome, as you are not responsible for the actions of others. The racists are the crazy ones – not you!

      1. Racism will always be around, but surely the tolerance for it has diminished to some extent? Then again, what do I know, sitting in my safe, suburban enclave in Canada? I can imagine the situation is more dire in the southern U.S.

      2. I understand. It seems to be more out-of-the-closet expressed these days–due to a certain ilk making it more acceptable. And it’s not just a southern thing by a long shot. Folks want to look at only supremacist groups and bad cops as being actively racist. But what people don’t always understand is how everyday things are racist because it’s part of the norm of our country. For instance, I remember when Black women did not go outside without having our hair artificially straightened. It was considered horrible to do so. “Bad hair” was hair that looked like that of persons of African ancestry. Then in the late 60s when people said, “Hey, wait a minute! That’s not right!” We started wearing our hair to reflect our heritage and some people were so outraged and afraid that people who wore Afros were all violent and criminal. I remember my mother advising that I straighten my hair to get a summer job. Hair product ads still do not use our kinky/coily texture to connote beauty. It’s usually a ‘condition to be rid of. Hair texture is just one example, but you catch my drift.

  3. Racism has become more obvious and visible here since Brexit. The current batch of politicians have made it more acceptable.

    Some people’s idea of “normal” is what I call a nightmare.

    1. I call it a nightmare as well. Being a person of color and having people tell you you’re crazy and just want to complain or get attention when you speak up about your experiences.

  4. Utterly spellbound by your poem Jen. You write with such conviction & honesty!
    Did I ever tell you my Ma & StepDad & myselsf adopted 2 Black children?? My Sister is of Trinidadian descent & my Brother is of Jamaican descent. All I ever saw was my Sister & Brother….. My Sister came to us in 1969 & my Brother in 1971….It was a good education for all my classmates & for society as a whole. Unfortunately our Temple was not as welcoming. They were polite but most of the members disagreed with Inter-racial adoption….. My Siblings always felt that ‘undercurrent’. My Sister went back to her Baptist roots & she is accepted & my Brother is an Atheist.
    They are my family….period 😉
    (((hugs))) Sherri-Ellen (BellaSita) & ***purrss*** BellaDharma

  5. At least we can say we are not those people? Maybe we can lesson the sting o9f pain caused by racism & know one day karma will deliver upon them what they deserve?! We can hope. Cheers,H

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