Opinion

The end of my white guilt

Photo of Mark Judge
Mark Judge
Author, A Tremor of Bliss

Hearing the kumbaya song from my liberal friend, I immediately thought of a phrase Piers Morgan had recently used when he was debating the tiresome black liberal journalist Touré about the Trayvon Martin case. Touré had accused Morgan of not “fully understanding what’s really going on here and what’s really at stake for America.” To which Morgan replied: “What a load of fatuous nonsense you speak, Touré, don’t you? You think you have the only right to speak about what’s serious in America? You think I don’t have the right as somebody from Britain who spent the last six or seven years here to address the story like this with the seriousness it deserves?”

Score one for the Queen. In that moment, I had a change of consciousness. Why was I assuming that the kid who stole my bike was acting out of some terrible pain, as if he had been directly under the lash of Bull Connor? What if he has a car, a nice apartment, a hot girlfriend and good health?

What if he is just a selfish asshole?

I decided that I’m just going to let go of my white guilt. We’re all human, we all experience pain in our lives. And black pain is no different than white pain.

It felt good to say it: Black pain is no different than white pain. I’m tired of people using the moral authority of past generations for their own personal gain and self-aggrandizement. Soledad O’Brien, a Harvard graduate, acts like she just stepped off the Amistad.

I mentioned that growing up in a good liberal household, my favorite movie was “In the Heat of the Night.” It’s the story of a brilliant black policeman who has to solve a murder in a redneck town in the South. In one scene in the movie, the policeman, played by Sidney Poitier, is convinced that a rich white man is guilty of a crime. He begins to ignore the evidence, and says he is going to “drag this cat off his hill” and prosecute him. A white sheriff looks at him in disbelief. “Man,” the sheriff says with a kind of sad realization, “you’re just like the rest of us.”

Mark Judge is the author of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.