“Hate White People” Is Trending Because An Oppressor Tried To Play Victim
When North Carolina congressman Robert Pittenger was asked about the protests in Charlotte, he offered a very “interesting” rationale for all the protests. He didn’t attribute it to the prevalence of unjust killings of Black men and women in this country. He didn’t believe the protests were a result of the racism and discrimination many Black people in this country know all too well. He didn’t believe it had anything to do with the fact that while police officers kill innocent Black people, they are rarely held accountable for their actions.
Pittenger didn’t believe it was any of those things. Instead, he said the protesters were out there marching on the streets because they hate White people. But he didn’t stop there. He even gave a reason as to why they hate White people. See what he had to say.
“The grievance in their mind is the animus, the anger. They hate White people because White people are successful and they’re not. Yes, it is, it is a welfare state. We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare but we’ve put people in bondage so that they can’t be all that they’re capable of being. America is a country of opportunity, freedom and liberty. It didn’t become that way because of a great government who provided everything for everyone. No…”
When I first saw the phrase “hate White people” trending, I thought perhaps a few Black folk had lost their minds and the rest of Black Twitter was, maybe, trying to calm them down. To get them to think logically and clearly. Perhaps, the phrase was used so much that it started trending. But that wasn’t it. These words about hating White people, as is often the case, came from the mind of a White man himself, trying to play victim after he’s been the oppressor.
According to USA Today, after being called out by CNN’s Don Lemon and likely a host of other people, Pittenger offered a fumbling fail of a response for his earlier comments.
“Frankly I was quoting what they were saying last night on what I observed on your network. And their hatred for White people. And that saddens me greatly.”
Lemon pressed him, asking directly if he believed protesters hated White people, Pittenger said,
“No, no sir. It’s the comment that they made. I think you can go back and look at the tapes. The comments that they made on air.”
Who is they?!
Later, his office released a statement of apology.
“What is taking place in my hometown right now breaks my heart. My anguish led me to respond to a reporter’s question in a way that I regret. The answer doesn’t reflect who I am. I was quoting statements made by angry protestors last night on national TV,” Pittenger said in the statement. “My intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African-Americans because of failed policies. I apologize to those I offended and hope we can bring peace and calm to Charlotte.”
Even if Pittenger was referencing protesters who said they hated White people, he offered their quote as the reason for the protests. That’s what he believes all the anger is about. Furthermore, I doubt those same protesters said they hate White people because they’re more successful. Those are his very own thoughts and beliefs. And make no mistake, Pittenger meant every word he said. And all of them were coded and blatantly racism. “Anger, hate, welfare” are all tropes and stereotypes associated with Black people in this country. As if we are the only people who are angry, as if we are somehow more hateful than the very people who stole us from native countries, erased our cultural identities and caused us to work for free in brutal conditions to build this country. Only to turn around that still treats us like less than human after our “liberation.”
We’ve seen how welfare has been attached to Black folk. We all know The Welfare Queen. Back in the day, we’d hear White people complaining about having to pay taxes to support the shiftless and single, Black mothers, as if the majority of people on welfare are not White.
And then there’s the assumption that the protesters, again mostly Black people, are not successful. It was just outside of the realm of possibility for Pittenger to imagine a Black person, a Black protester successful. The notion that we are somehow inherently failures because of our skin tone is racism y’all. Truth is, while there are plenty of Black people who have made it, there are still quite a few of us who are struggling. But instead of suggesting that that struggle might have something to do with poor schools systems, lack of economic opportunities, redistricting and red tape in housing, or— I don’t know— racism, Pittenger just said that by virtue of not being White (read Black) and protesting (read Black), these people are not successful. Thing is, as a Congressman, Pittenger could be working to address some of these issues and the very specific ones protesters are marching about now. Instead, he took this opportunity to play victim and speak about the hate Black people have for White folks and our collective lack of success. He might not view himself as such but as a White man with power and influence, making racist comments, instead of working to address other issues important to his constituency, is oppression.
I guess you have to be poor and downtrodden in this country to be enraged by the injustices we witness on television and social media. God forbid you be rich and outraged. Hell, perhaps this particular point isn’t too far off base. Maybe if some people with money and influence were more disturbed by this issue, or if it was their sons, boyfriends, husbands, daughters, and mothers they were watching get gunned down on television, sometimes twice a week, there would be some solutions on the table.
After all, if there were as much conversation about solutions instead of protests and who hates who more, we wouldn’t be in this mess we’re in today.
Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.”