Michael Gaynor
No more homicidal kneeling, disrespectful kneeling or pretending that only whites can discriminate, please
By Michael Gaynor
June 9, 2020

White persons essentially apologizing for their parents having been white is more shocking and less understandable.

Definitions.net: "Kneeling is a human position in which the weight is distributed on the knees and feet on a surface close to horizontal. The position of kneeling may be assumed for practical reasons and for reasons of social or religious custom."

So be it. There are times when kneeling is appropriate, but kneeling on the neck of the late George Floyd for more than eight minutes certainly was not.

There is no doubt that a then Minneapolis police officer made a huge mistake that turned into a homicide when he chose to kneel on the late George Floyd and that truly deplorable opportunists used the cover of peaceful protest to riot, steal, burn, assault and even kill David Dorn, a retired black police captain trying to protect a pawn shop in St. Louis.

I doubt that the media will cover Captain Dorn's funeral as fully as it covered Mr. Floyd's funeral, but that's politics, this is a presidential election year, and a funeral message that the White House has to be cleaned out was unsurprising.

What is surprising is that there was more unfortunate kneeling, both literal and metaphorical.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees invoked a grandfather to explain why he personally considered kneeling when the National Anthem is played disrespectful.

The Black Lives Matter reaction was nearly as bad as it would have been if he had posted bail for any of the four police officers facing criminal charges in connection with Mr. Floyd's death.

Mr. Brees' teammates did not support his personal choice and he quickly began apologizing for his "insensitivity."

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell got "woke" and apologized for not immediately embracing the kneeling protest when the National Anthem was played at the start of football games as Black Lives Matter wanted.

Unsurprisingly, President Trump did not join Commissioner Goodell in flip flopping, but some apparently guilt-ridden white persons actually kneeled before black persons in apology for their alleged "white privilege" and video of it appeared on television.

Mr. Brees throwing his grandfather under the bus was shocking, but he still plans to play more professional football.

White persons essentially apologizing for their parents having been white is more shocking and less understandable.

Wikipedia: "White privilege (or white skin privilege) refers to societal privilege that benefits white people over non-white people in some societies, particularly if they are otherwise under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. With roots in European colonialism, the Atlantic slave trade, and the growth of the Second British Empire after 1783, white privilege has developed in circumstances that have broadly sought to protect white racial privileges, various national citizenships and other rights or special benefits."

Wikipedia notes that "some academics" are "surprised" by "seemingly sudden hostility" to the white privilege idea.

Wikipedia; "Some have commented that the 'academic-sounding concept of white privilege' sometimes elicits defensiveness and misunderstanding among white people, in part due to how the concept of white privilege was rapidly brought into the mainstream spotlight through social media campaigns such as Black Lives Matter. As an academic concept that was only recently brought into the mainstream, the concept of white privilege is frequently misinterpreted by non-academics; some academics, having studied white privilege undisturbed for decades, have been surprised by the seemingly sudden hostility from right-wing critics since approximately 2014."

Dictionary.com defines "privilege" as "a right or advantage gained by birth, social position, effort, or concession."

Dictionary.com explains:

"The term white privilege was popularized by Peggy McIntosh, an influential scholar and activist. In 1988, McIntosh wrote a paper called 'White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s Studies,' in which she likened white privilege to 'an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear, and blank checks.'

"Her paper outlined 46 different examples of white privilege, including:

1. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

4. I can be reasonably sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, fairly well assured that I will not be followed or harassed by store detectives.

"A year later, McIntosh wrote an essay titled 'White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,' which was published in the Peace and Freedom Magazine in the summer of 1989, and is often referred to as a white privilegeprimer for those looking to learn more about it."In the years since, the term white privilege has come to be used to explain power structures inherent in American society that disproportionately benefit white people while putting people of color at a disadvantage.

"Interest in the term white privilege notably spiked in 2020 during protests against violence inflicted on Black people involving police. The protests helped create a global conversation on racism and discrimination; specifically, understanding and acknowledging white privilege was discussed as one important step in being anti-racist."

If racism is defined in such a way that only whites can be racists, then apologies for white privilege may be in order, albeit not necessarily by everyone who is white.

But such a definition denies non-whites the possibility of discriminating and that discriminating against them on the basis of color.

In McDonald v. Santa Fe Trail Transp. Co., 427 U.S. 273 (1976), the United States Supreme Court held, not in the context of an affirmative action program, that whites were as entitled as any group to protection of federal laws banning racial discrimination in employment.

Don't define racism so as to pretend that only whites can discriminate.

THAT is discriminatory and un-American!

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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