My White Privilege and Antiracism

I recently had a conversation with my 88-year-old mother about American race relations when she told me of an event that occurred to her in the 1940s. My mother’s parents were Jewish immigrants who lived in a lower-middle-class, single-family home in Brooklyn. Her father, a taxi cab driver, was able to purchase the family home because a friend and neighbor, Mr. Berkowitz, gave my grandfather a loan. My mother was talking to Mr. Berkowitz about race relations when he groused that the African-American community was being unreasonably aggressive in their efforts to obtain the same rights as white Americans. My 10-year-old mother said, “but Mr. Berkowitz, haven’t they waited long enough?” 

Racism hurts all Americans. Recall that the south’s response to demanding the integration of public swimming pools was to close all public pools so nobody could swim in them. Systemic racist policies such as redlining prevented African-Americans from accruing wealth over generations and thus reduced America’s wealth while increasing our need for social safety net programs.

Eight decades ago, even a 10 year-old child was able to recognize that institutionalized racism was wrong. It is time we try a new approach to end 400 years of racism so America can flourish.

Thus I want to call your attention to the Boston University Center for Antiracism Research. This organization is dedicated to conducting academic research on the subject of racism and disseminating the information in a manner that is accessible to the general public. I hope that their novel approach will teach Americans that the elimination of racism will be a boon to all Americans.

As a member of America’s privileged class, I am keenly aware that my success in life was predicated on the fact that I was born to white, upper-middle-class, college-educated parents. Although I worked hard for my success, I am certain that had that prerequisite not been met, it is unlikely I would be where I am today.

I believe that those of us who have obtained the American dream have a moral obligation to use our resources to help make America a country where one’s success is not impacted by the color of their skin, a country where every child has an equal probability of obtaining the American dream.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Center for Antiracism Research

Hayward Zwerling

August 15, 2021

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