Op-ed: Racism is white America’s problem

Editor’s note: This column is reprinted with permission by the author, James Michael Brodie, an old friend and colleague of mine from Baltimore, Md. — Cynthia Prairie.

By James Michael Brodie
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

It should be evident by now that people like the white woman who called the police on a black man in Central Park or the white man in Minneapolis who threatened to call the police on black men working out in a gym are not the exceptions, but are the horrible and unspoken rule.

While they acted like they didn’t know what White Entitlement is, both knew exactly what they were doing, and did so with passion, fake tears  and malice. Their after-the-fact apologies were in fact confessions that acknowledged their white status, which they had no problems in using.

We should all thank Christian Cooper, the bird lover in Central Park, and the young men at WeWork in Minnesota for recording these events. As Will Smith once said, “Racism isn’t getting worse, it is getting filmed.”

What we are seeing is a mentality that has driven this nation for four centuries. It was so accepted that it has required special laws to grant basic human rights to people who should never have needed such measures.

It is a mentality that, following the election of a black man to the highest office in the nation, elected an openly racist man who rose to political prominence by challenging the legitimacy and birth of the man he replaced.

It is a mentality that blames the dead and exonerates their murderers.

White Supremacist Ideology – let’s call it what it is — is the creation of people who chose that designation, then created a legal, scientific and social framework to normalize it. It is an ideology that must be destroyed by the very people who have benefited from it — white America.

This is an ideology that no person of color can “fix.” Black America didn’t create it and our talking about it is not what makes the issue “divisive.” However, doing nothing to change it fosters more division.

As we bury more of our sons and daughters who were murdered by the police, I am reminded of Freddie Gray here in my hometown of Baltimore — and of all the other “Freddie Grays” that we have lost or nearly lost.

I am beyond outraged. That emotional response was used up years ago. I am beyond sadness, beyond grief, beyond shock. Even beyond hate.

White Supremacist America has repeatedly shown me what and who it is. It seems to be in no hurry to change itself. Instead it takes comfort in sending out “thoughts and prayers.” Or it offers black America advice: on the “proper” way to protest; on how to comport one’s self when approached by police officers. And on the best way to know why we have been detained — advice that if used by me on a Monday would mean my family making funeral arrangements on a Tuesday.

White supremacist ideology informs every interaction — from who gets profiled, to who gets into college, to who gets hired, to who gets fired, to who dies.


Colin Kaepernick was right. And regardless of what you think of him as a football player, he sacrificed that career to give a voice to the voiceless, to raise the issue of police brutality against black Americans, an issue that too many of his critics still try to ignore.

Are you listening now? Or are you still hung up on his Castro T-shirt, his Afro, his passer rating?

We are beyond merely talking about this. I don’t want your guilt, and while thoughts and prayers are wonderful, these need the force of action to make them more than convenient catchphrases.


I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

This needs to stop, white America.

You need to stop.

James Michael Brodie is a Baltimore-based writer, journalist and author. His books include “Created Equal: The Lives and Ideas of Black American Innovators” and “Sweet Words So Brave: The Story of African American Literature.” A University of Colorado graduate in English, Brodie’s current project is a collection of personal narratives titled “The Black and Gold Project.”

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  1. Ed Wiley III says:

    Nicely stated! I’ve read many of your works, and I was glad to discover your new columns!

  2. Judy Ferebee says:

    You know I love you and this article is fire! Well said (you always do). Continue to use your platform to speak truth to power!

  3. Pamela Thomas says:

    I love the way you articulate justice. I will definitely check out your books, Blessings Brother and Much Love.

  4. John Holme says:

    I couldn’t agree more. While I haven’t experienced what the author has experienced, I too am sick and tired of all the killing and all the minor acts of discrimination such as those the author references. What are we going to do about it people? How do we change attitudes?

  5. Mary Bittner says:

    Here is truth!