On August 5, 2020

White people have never had to be guests

Dear Editor,

Most of us know it’s just as important to be a good guest as it is to be a good host. But what if we’ve never been taught how? That hospitality is as much about respecting the rules of the house to which we’ve been invited as it is providing a place of warmth, comfort, and friendship for guests?

According to John Blake’s article on CNN.com, author, blogger, and one of the nation’s most sought-after commentators on race, Damon Young believes that white supremacy is killing white people because “white supremacy has always mattered more than white lives do.”

“One of the things that’s happening in America now is that white people have never had to be guests,” Young replied to an interview question about so many white people becoming “belligerent … even threatening,” when asked to wear masks in public.

“This all connects back to white supremacy and Manifest Destiny, where people feel that everything they see they have a right to. ‘You can’t tell me what to do – I’m a white American.’ And having some pushback against that is causing some hysteria.”

It’s more than a little ironic, then, that conservatives call social safety net programs entitlements. Was it Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who committed the genocides of Native Americans and Black communities through the centuries? No, it was the white people who saw the rich lands and resources and thought they were entitled to them. They thought they were entitled to slave labor to make their lives easier and wealthier. They felt they were entitled to ‘convert’ Indigenous children and families to Christianity and the English language and white lifestyle.

So instead of being the guests of peoples with whom they came into contact, white people’s history in this country has been one of not even hosts, but of privilege and power, where they felt they had – where they still have – the right to claim all they see as theirs to use to their benefit.

Damon Young is right: White people have never been guests here. And yet our so-called leaders have us on the verge of both a civil war and martial law at the same time, in a country they were never invited to in the first place.

Genie Rayner,

Bennington

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