How Racists Are Useful Idiots

In 1901, Russian scientist, Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, conducted a series of experiments called “conditioned reflex” [also referred to as “classical conditioning”]. Pavlov attached a device to a dog to measure the amount of saliva produced when he rang a bell. He rang the bell just before he fed the dog so that the dog associated the sound of the bell with food and thus, would salivate in anticipation of eating. After doing this several times, he would ring the bell without feeding the dog – the dog would still salivate as much as before because it had been “conditioned”. In American politics, certain politicians ring a bell [by using special code words] and white racists salivate just like a faithful dog and cast their votes for those politicians. With regard to voting for certain politicians, white racist voters are useful idiots.

They are racists and thus, idiots. They are useful in that certain politicians can “ring that Pavlovian bell” knowing that the racists will eagerly cast their vote in response. Once in office, however, those politicians can submit legislation and enact policies designed to cater to the desires of their wealthy constituents. Catering to those desires often comes at the expense of the Pavlovian racist dogs’ economic and social well-being. In short, those politicians have methodically performed the calculus in how best to get elected. What is also quite possible is that, personally, some of those politicians might be mildly racists or perhaps not racist at all but they know which “bell” to ring to get votes.

To be a racist one must first eschew logic and reason at all costs – and above all, avoid the truth and ignore basic reality. This kind of utter stupidity lays the groundwork for being a faithful idiot. As long as racist beliefs are stoked, politicians can bend the racists over and have their way with them. Their racism is so deep-seated and logic-defying that given a choice between having more if blacks can have as much or having less if it means that blacks would have even less, the racists would, more often than not, choose the latter. Thus, many politicians nurture this inbred state of emotions to win elections. More exactly, those politicians exploit the cleavage between the races by providing the white racists with a convenient scapegoat; a group of people to blame because “those people” are dangerous, lazy, criminal and less intelligent.

This manipulation and use of idiots is nothing new. Hitler noted the utility of racism with respect to the Jews and thus, stated, “The masses are… stupid. Only emotion and hatred can keep them under control.” [emphasis mine]. Anton Chekhov asserted the same thing when he declared, “Love, friendship, respect, do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something” or some group.

But we need not refer to the distant past for examples of how some American politicians ring a bell that racist hear very clearly and who salivate like Pavlov’s dog and eagerly cast their votes for those politicians.

Richard Nixon, employed what is called the “Southern Strategy” to win the votes of racist useful idiots of the South who became disenfranchised with the democratic party. This strategy was perfected by Lee Atwater, political strategist for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He described it this way:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, N*gger, n*gger, n*gger.” By 1968 you can’t say “n*gger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So, you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial is saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N*gger, n*gger.” [the edited spelling N*gger, is mine]2

In other words, to exploit the idiocy of racist voters, politicians reference things associated with African-Americans – rightly or wrongly – without mentioning African-Americans directly. The politicians speak with “code words” such as crime, drugs, urban areas, welfare, fatherless children, unwed mothers, reverse racism, quotas, food stamps, etcetera. Use of these words gives them plausible deniability if they are accused of racism.

Sometimes, instead of code words, politicians ring that special bell that makes the racist salivate like Pavlov’s dog by using code pictures.

In 2006, Harold “Ford was up against a white Republican, Bob Corker. The Republican National Committee bankrolled an ad that included a simpering, wriggling blond gushing about how she’d met the bachelor Ford at “the Playboy party.” The spot ended with the winking blond whispering, “Harold, call me,” – and began an angry debate over whether the ad exploited, as the NAACP put it, “a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African-American men and white women.””

This was also reported in the LA Times as follows: “A new Republican Party television ad featuring a scantily clad white woman winking and inviting a black candidate to “call me” is drawing charges of race-baiting, with critics saying it contradicts a landmark GOP statement last year that the party was wrong in past decades to use racial appeals to win support from white voters.

Critics said the ad, which is funded by the Republican National Committee and has aired since Friday, plays on fears of interracial relationships to scare some white voters in rural Tennessee to oppose Democratic Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. Ford is locked in a tight race, hoping to become the first African American senator since Reconstruction to represent a state in the former Confederacy.
“It is a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African American men and white women,” said Hilary Shelton, head of the Washington office of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, the country’s oldest civil rights organization.

A former Republican senator, William S. Cohen of Maine, was more blunt. Cohen, who was also Defense secretary under President Clinton, said on CNN that the ad was “a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment.””

Remember, many American politicians need racist voters to advance the economic agenda of the wealthy which is also deleterious to the economic needs of those white racists. Much of what the racist voters want does not conflict with the economic interests of the wealthy. Most of the states of the former Confederacy can be characterized by the observation of Claude-Frederic Bastiat. He asserted, “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

For example, when the legislature of North Carolina was taken to court for gerrymandering designed to suppress the votes of African-Americans, the US Supreme Court sided against North Carolina in Cooper v Harris. The Supreme Court, in 2017, also struck down two of the state’s congressional districts earlier this year, saying they were impermissible racial gerrymanders.” This was in complete agreement with the finding that the North Carolina legislature “enacted a voter ID law that a federal appeals court struck down, saying it targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.”

Race is like a shiny trinket that distracts the idiotic racists from looking at where the politicians’ ultimate objectives are revealed. It is not in the economic interest of many of the wealthy for racism to be shut down. There is much to be gained from white racism in America. Such gains are possible because, as Niccolo Machiavelli explained, “Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived.”

Many American politicians have been so successful in dealing the race card to win elections, Russian propagandists took a seat at the table and dealt the same race card to disrupt and sow more dissension.
Yes, even the Russians can see that racists can be played like a cheap dollar store fiddle. Play it and the racists will dance like an elephant in a tutu – completely unaware of being used for the will of the one playing the fiddle.

To best illustrate how severely stupid racists are and how useful to the politicians and wealthy they can be, note the following. In the Pre-Civil War South, plantation owners would rather pay a black slave nothing than pay a white man for the same tasks. Later, during the Civil War, stupefied by racism, those non-slave-owning whites fought and died so that slave-owners could keep their slaves and not pay whites for the same tasks. True, the plantation owners were racists also, but could not have perpetrated a self-serving exploitive system without the useful idiots to support it. Proof-positive that racists are intellectually anemic at best and just dangerously damn stupid at worst. In either event, politicians use them like toilet tissue.

One final note: Prior to 1964 – 1968, Southern Democrats were unabashedly segregationists/racists. Later, they abandoned the Democratic party and tied themselves to the Republican party and subsequently painted the southern states solidly “red” [as opposed to “blue”]. This is not to say that all Republicans are racists [after all, many Democrats are also] but it is to say that a profoundly significant number of racists comfortably identify as Republicans as evidenced by how their social interests and those of many Republicans are aligned. And that alignment can be exploited to advance the economic interests of wealthy donors.

In any event, racists are dolts – always have been and always will be. They are Pavlovian dogs who wag their tails and salivate like useful idiots each time politicians ring that bell.

A Letter To My President

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Re: Your Reactions to Personal Attacks

Dear President Barack Obama:

I am writing this letter to express my amazement and near adoration at your [and Michelle’s] equable persona in the face of unadulterated vitriol from many in Congress as well as from far too many in our country. How you are able to retain a graceful composure and speak in measured terms in response to vile racial epithets is worthy of mention.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time contemplating the human drama and its condition. For the most part, humans pain me more often than impress me. Though not quite a misanthrope, I find it challenging to see the “divine” in the devil called humanity. You and Michelle, however, are a unique combination of grace and equanimity [not to mention intelligence].

But let us be clear, Mr. President, I do not agree with some of the things you have done or positions you have espoused. For the record, I have to admit, I do not agree with everything “God” has done either.

Nevertheless, when I hear or read what your opponents and detractors hurl at you, it is clear that much of it has to do with your being Black as opposed to simply being President. They paint Michelle as an angry black virago and you as the embodiment of how they see black men – someone not worthy of the same measure of respect as your White counterparts.

If their critique is not overtly racist, then there is often an underlying tint of disdain based on your race. What is fascinating is that you never play the race card even when your critics deal it to you.

What I especially respect is that neither of you responded as would an “Uncle Thomas” or as an “Auntie Dash”, but that you reacted like people who personify dignity and self-respect; an example for others of our race. [Except that I would have added a bit more “pepper” to their “Kool-Aid” but I suspect you love people more than I].

Being supremely educated and having a scandal-free family is not enough to shield you from the vomit spewed at you and yours. It is as if some believe, “How dare you be black and not be a buffoon”. “How dare you be black and be the leader of the free world.”

I do not believe in heroes as others do. I am my own hero for who could be a better champion for me than I? Nonetheless, I must admit, I am impressed with you and Michelle as well as your two daughters. I hope that history will not only honestly acknowledge your record but that you accomplished much good in the face of intractable and virulent racism. May history note and emphasize that you two stood as giants who neither truckled nor savaged when too many of us would have done one or the other.

William Feather once stated, “One of the indictments of civilizations is that happiness and intelligence are so rarely found in the same person.”

I say, that one of the indictments of our nation is that the combination of grace and intellect in a black person is so rarely honored, but is feared and loathed as if she or he were neither intelligent nor refined.

Do and be well, my President

Published in: on July 28, 2016 at 4:46 PM  Leave a Comment  
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A Letter From a Pain-Filled Heart to White People of America

Suppose you were told that later on in the day, you would be stopped by a white police officer for an alleged traffic violation. But before you got into your car you would have to decide to either remain white or suddenly look every bit as African-American as can be [dark skin, full lips and kinky hair]. Which of the two [and you must choose one or the other] would you choose to be? In your heart of hearts, what would be your choice? Why? Why not? But before you answer, please note that the Washington Post, in June 2016, found that blacks are 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than whites.[see also: The Guardian – Black Americans Killed by Police Twice as Likely to be Unarmed as White People]

Other data indicate that blacks are more likely to be stopped and frisked by police than whites even though they are less likely to have contraband than their white counterparts [this according to data coming out of the city of New York and other municipalities]. Each encounter with the police creates the possibility of a deadly outcome — especially for black people. Thus, I suspect, that most whites would rather be white when they encounter white police officers.

Since the advent of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, many whites [or their colorfied servile surrogates — the type Harriet Tubman would have left face down dead in the mud because they would have warned “masssa” about her plot to help other slaves run away] have responded by saying “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter”. Such a response reflects an inane line of thinking. After all, if “All Lives” really did “Matter” then the likes of Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Philander Castille, Walter Scott and too many more, would not have been victims of lethally immoral police actions. A cursory review of available government data clearly reveals that there are some lives that do not matter as much as others. To illustrate:

What if those unarmed black victims were white and the officers who killed them were black? And what if the officers were almost never indicted or if indicted, almost never convicted? How would white America react? Here is what history tells us: From 1882 to the 1960s almost 5000 blacks were lynched for crimes or alleged crimes. Many of them were either innocent of a crime or were lynched before they enjoyed due process that would have been afforded whites. The cases are well documented. [From 1882 to 1901 there were an average of 150 lynching per year; from 1924 to 1955 no more than 30 per year] The reasons for lynching ranged from sending an “indecent” note to a white girl or owning land that might have oil on it or talking back to a white man to alleged rape or murder.

That is not to say those hypothetical black police officers would be summarily taken outside, bound, mutilated, hanged and burned as were blacks for almost a hundred years but they surely would be indicted, convicted and sentenced to the maximum. KKK membership would soar and FOX news would be at the forefront of a sustained campaign to do something about “the blacks”. White America would not tolerate a string of killings of whites by black police officers. White lives matter more than any other lives in America. There is no need to form an organization called, “White Lives Matter” because everybody already knows it.

A typical response by many white people about “Black Lives Matter” is, “What about black-on-black crime?” That response lacks the weight of a cogent argument. For one, it serves to deflect from the point under discussion. The issue is the killing of black people by white people who have taken an oath to protect and to serve. The black guy who robs me has not taken such an oath. This argument is also weak in that “black on black” crime is predominantly a function of poverty and poverty among blacks has long been established to be an inextricable function of white racism which has historically and currently denied many of us access to jobs, education, healthcare, affordable housing. To deny or dismiss this connection and reality is to prefer ignorance and or the comfort of a racist’s view.

Which is why whenever I am stopped by the police, I wish I were white. If I resist arrest, or flee, or curse at them, I am very likely to not be shot or choked. Or, if I cooperate and be nice, I still will not be shot. At the very worst, the encounter may be brutal but far less likely to be lethal. Being white would have its privileges one of which would be that police would protect and serve me. If I were white my life would absolutely matter without question.

To conclude: It is easy to blame the victim and exonerate the perpetrator in the name of “they put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve.” Though not publicized as much by the media, blacks do protest and bemoan crime in their neighborhoods more often than police criticize their batch of bad cops. Too many police officers simply refuse to break ranks and stand against their “brothers in blue” who go rogue. To be sure, there are criminals in the black community and there are criminals among law enforcement. We in the black community do not try to defend those criminals, so why, all too often, do police try to defend their criminals?

In the past, whenever law enforcement investigated lynchings, if they did at all, the investigation would conclude that death was caused by “persons unknown” or “suicide.” Today, investigations often make determinations that exonerate white police officers by asserting that the officer “feared for his life.” Feared because the victim was running away, or the victim was handcuffed and on his stomach, or the victim struggled trying to breathe, or the victim tried to run him down while the car was in park, or to cite the one reason that is not spoken but applies more than any other reason, the victim was black. And how dare we be black!

Published in: on July 9, 2016 at 10:38 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Being Black In Reverse

I submitted my DNA for analysis and the results were interesting to me. Now I am a dark complexioned African-American. I clearly look like an African-American in every possible way. In other words, no one would look at me and wonder about my “race”. Nonetheless, what I found interesting was not that 87% of my DNA was identified with West African countries such as Cameroon, the Congo and Mali. Also, I did not find it interesting that 1% of my DNA was identified with Native Americans. What I did find interesting was that 12% of my DNA was identified with Europeans – specifically British, Irish and Northwestern Europe.

To me that means there are probably White people whose DNA is 12% Black African but they look completely European White. What if such a person were racist and discovered he was 12% Black African? Imagine being one-eighth of what you despise, one-eighth of what you would not want to live next to, one-eighth of what you would not hire or promote, one-eighth of what you really are.

At what point [or percentage] does a White person with Black African DNA, cease to be recognized and accepted by the White community as being sufficiently White? What about 18% Black African but still looking White? What about 50% but still looking White? Also, is it possible for a person who has less than 12% Black African DNA, to not look White? Would that person be rejected because she does not look White but the White person who has a larger percentage than 12% Black African DNA would be embraced by the White community as White simply because she looks White? In other words, just how stupid must a racist be before his own stupidity dawns on him?

So, if my lips were not full, my hair not kinky and of course, my skin not dark, that could be all the difference between second or third class stature and first class stature, no matter my intelligence or character.

Of course you cannot tell by looking at a person what percentage of his DNA is whatever, but that goes to my point. Sociologists assert that race is an artificial construct designed to divide and then dominant. Race is utilitarian in that it is a useful tool for people to justify different treatment for different people. Though racism is incompatible with intelligence, it is an easy and convenient identifier [usually] and thus can release one from making decisions based on an individual’s character. It is so much easier to paint an entire group with a broad brush [hatred, ignorance and stupidity] as oppose to using a fine delicate instrument [respect, kindness and a keen insight into humanity] with which to draw a specific conclusion about an individual.

Published in: on May 2, 2016 at 11:10 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Advice From A Black Man To His Grandchildren

As children born in America, you are not citizens of the United States of America. Do not think that you are. Nonetheless, you have a special status bestowed upon you by virtue of your parents and my parents. This special status is exclusively a function of your physical traits. Nothing more and nothing less. You are a black African-American, which makes you a resident [as opposed to a citizen] of the United States of White America — for you, there is no United States of America.

There is an unofficial but socially constructed caste system in this country that shoves you, and others who have physical characteristics similar to yours, at the dirt end of the totem pole. White males sit atop this pole. Most non-black people of this country will stridently disagree with what I just stated; research by their own institutions, however, confirm my statements and disproves their objections.

Given these facts, I offer the following grandfatherly advice about how to navigate this Neo-Jim Crow system:

First of all, never forget that there are some non-black people who genuinely respect others irrespective of their skin color or sub-culture status. These folks are not racists; they are authentic in judging everyone by their character and not by the color of their skin. When you stumble across such a human being, love him, love her, tightly for they are uncommon.

There is another group, however, that is equally and overtly authentic. These humans are self-proclaimed racists. They do not hide behind a façade of acceptance of black African-Americans. They hate you and deem you to be intellectually and morally beneath them. Avoid these people as much as you can. They are feculent, foul and stupid.

Between these two extremes lies the majority of non-black people. Members of this group wear a mask behind which lies their authentic selves. They will smile, act courteously and proclaim they are “color blind” or “race neutral.” Their contempt for you is hidden until circumstances make it advantageous to reveal it. Their civil behavior with regard to you is a cloak that they wear most of the time. Underneath, however, these people fear you, disdain you, think you inferior as they behave as if they do not. Again, you will see the genuine person when it serves them best to remove the cloak — often at your expense or loss.

Translated, this is your reality and the reality of your future children: White skin privilege will always trump black skin misfortune because that is what the system is designed to do.

Since, as a black African-American, you have practically no institutional power, any prejudice or bias you have will have a comparatively minimal effect. Stated otherwise my children, White people operate almost all government, economic/commercial, and social institutions in this country. They have the power to hire, fire, give, take, create, destroy, grant, deny, etcetera, at a level we have never had or are likely to have in the foreseeable future. In short, Whites can inflict far more damage or bestow many more rewards, as they see fit, on us than we can on them. And any resources they grant you will be because they realize you still cannot hurt them.

For example, academic and government research data reveal the following:

You are significantly more likely to be turned down for a loan than a White person with the same financial profile.

You are significantly more likely to be charged a higher interest rate for the same loan as would a White person — even if your financial profile is the same as or better than his.

Even though White police officers are significantly more likely to be killed by a White person than by a Black person, White police officers are significantly more likely to kill a Black person than kill a White person.

You are significantly more likely to be arrested than would a White person for the same offense.

Or, if you are tried for the same crime as a White person, you are significantly more likely to be convicted even if your criminal history is the same as his.

Then, if you and a White person are convicted of the same crime and you two have the same criminal history, you are significantly more likely to receive a longer sentence than the White person.

Given the same education and experience [or better] you are significantly less likely to be hired or promoted for the same job as a White person.

And I could go on and on.

This is not my opinion. Anyone with the IQ just above stupid cannot mount a cogent argument to dispute the above findings. As a Black person, we are stunted at every turn with respect to housing, employment, healthcare and justice. The point is, you will be penalized at almost every juncture for having black skin whereas your counterparts will be privileged for having non-black skin. That is your reality. Your lives as Black people are represented by the equation:

Social Standing divided by Melanin = PRIVILEGE. Recalling your math in elementary school, the lower the amount of melanin, the greater the privilege.

To some extent, however, if you are a famous singer, athlete, actor, or the like, then you are not perceived to be as threatening because you would be entertaining the non-black folks. Many will flock to you with shallow adoration but in the absence of your fame, you would be just another black person deserving of no more respect than necessary not to reveal their racism.

Another point to remember is that some White people will say they do not see race; they say they are colorblind. Do not be misled for I am raising you to be smarter than that. So-called “color blindness” results in their being less sensitive to issues defining race. They become willfully clueless to the nuances and trappings of white skin privilege and black skin misfortune. An authentic non-racist sees race, acknowledges and embraces it as simply being superficially, but not substantively different. They see color, but do not judge you by it.

Others will declare that they cannot be blamed for what others in the past did. They will assert that they did not own slaves or lynch Black people or deny them entry into certain establishments. They will state that that was in the past and that they have nothing to do with that. Such a belief ignores a salient fact: They did not wield the whip that beat the slaves or provided the rope that lynched the black man and they did not deny a job to a qualified or more qualified Black person BUT they enjoy the benefits that accrue to them for what their ancestors or other White people did to Black people. They may not have stolen the fruit but they are enjoying the pie made with that fruit while we still stand in the back waiting for crumbs.

Then there are some who would, out of discomfort or irritation, exhort us black African-Americans to “get over it”, or they accuse us of always playing the “race card”. We will get over it when they stop doing it and we will stop playing the race card when they stop dealing it. In this country, White people invented the race card and they play it each time they exert their privilege at the expense of a Black person.

Furthermore, many non-black persons will point to “black-on-black crime”, [as if White people do not commit crimes against other White people] poor academic performance, and the plight of the black family as evidence that we are not worthy of a place in their sun. They complain that we “should take responsibility”. On the surface, that argument appears sound, but it is specious. First of all, many blacks do “take responsibility” but they still receive treatment as second or tertiary class people. The instances are plentiful where highly educated, well-spoken and well-mannered blacks are still subject to the same treatments as blacks who are not as fortunate. Secondly, given the centuries of horrific slavery, oppressive Jim-Crow laws, and the current systematic racism that is sanctioned by all the major institutions, it is a wonder that blacks have even moved from the lowest point of the dirt end of the totem pole to the highest point on the dirt end of the totem pole. Any group of people who have been treated the way we have for a sustained period of centuries would be right where we are.

Heed my words and pass them on to your future grandchildren for they will serve them well long after I have left this planet. Keep fighting for fairness. Do not pity yourselves but do not be delusional. Do not lie down but understand that you are standing in a room designed to keep you from standing erect. Power and privilege will never be willingly shared. They will never be given freely. The only way we will be ‘judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin’ is when society determines that the social construct of race is no longer utilitarian. Until then, as long as white skin privilege is protected, the battle against racism must continue.

Published in: on November 27, 2014 at 8:00 PM  Leave a Comment  
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So What’s Wrong With Affirmative Action?

On 22 April 2014, John Fund at the National Review wrote, “Yesterday, the Supreme Court voted six to two to uphold the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), which was passed with support from 58 percent of that state’s voters in 2006. It simply enshrines in Michigan’s constitution that the state should not engage in race discrimination. Opponents of the initiative sued, claiming the measure discriminated against racial minorities who might wish to lobby for preferential treatment.” Agreeing with the US Supreme Court’s majority, Mr. Fund took exception to Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent by stating, “Her insistence that existing affirmative-action programs don’t result in the admission of unqualified students — and effectively amount to quotas — is at odds with the facts.”

This case specifically addressed the issue of affirmative-action programs at the University of Michigan in which Michigan voters opposed the use of race as one of the elements for consideration in admitting students to its institution. In short, opponents of affirmative action characterize it as “reverse discrimination” and that it also stigmatizes the beneficiaries as being less qualified because they were chosen based on race as opposed to merit.

With respect to college admissions, opponents of affirmative action are disingenuous and hypocritical at best or, at worst, they have redefined discrimination as something that no longer happens to Blacks [at least not to any actionable extent]. I present several reasons for my assertions.

First, there is the matter of “legacy.” Students whose parents are alumni [especially if they have made donations to the college] are given an advantage vis a vis other students whose parents did not attend that particular college. This practice has as much to do with merit and objective decision-making as skin color has to do with morality. Legacy perpetuates the sense of entitlement — and often, by default, white skin privilege since more whites are college educated and have more financial resources than non-whites in America. To afford an advantage to those whose parents graduated from or donated to the institution is tantamount to buying that child a place near the front of the admission line. Legacy is a form of favoritism sanctioned by the elite. This being so, where is the outcry of discrimination from white students who are denied admission because another white student’s parents graduated from or are donors to that college? Is it more unfair to be passed over because of race as opposed to being passed over because of one’s parents’ alma mater — or lack thereof? Legacy is not borne of merit. Legacy is affirmative action for whites who were born into a status they did not earn.

Second, there is the matter of sport’s scholarships. It is painful to contemplate that a student who otherwise could not even qualify to clean the bathrooms at a college but can secure a full-scholarship simply because he/she can dribble a ball or throw a pass. Never mind if that person can barely multiply by seven or write a coherent paragraph about the economics of racism in America. Athletics are often a significant source of revenue for many colleges; athletes are often walking dollar signs. Thus, the college is faced with two choices: Offer full scholarships to students who would lack the facility to be admitted based on academics but who can generate thousands if not millions of dollars for the college by simply being good at running off-tackle or blocking a player from making a basket; or offer a full scholarship to a disadvantaged student who shows promise and could use the education to become a productive member of society. In other words, athletic scholarships benefit the college in the short-term. Academic scholarships benefit society in the long-term. To be sure, there are some athletes who are well-schooled and academically bright. Nonetheless, they are awarded a full athletic scholarship as opposed to an academic scholarship. Why? Could it be that though they are intelligent and have good high school grades, etcetera, they still would not qualify for a full academic scholarship? Money trumps merit almost every time.

This is where the hypocrisy can have revolting consequences. Most of those college athletes do not go on to play professional ball and too many are still academically ill-prepared for life in a capitalist society. These athletes generate revenue for the university but more often than not, they do not lead lives that are as productive as other students who gained entrance based on matters other than legacy or athleticism. The universities use them and then dismissively discards them. The leaders at the college perform a fundamental calculus: Invest thousands of dollars in an athlete and earn a huge return for the institution or invest in a non-athletic student and allow society to earn an even greater return. The college may assert that it does both because the options are not mutually exclusive. Both options would be on equal footing, however, if the athletes were also academically on par with non-athletes at the college.

So where is the outcry about sport’s scholarships? There is silence because there is too much money to be made. Where is the outcry from white people about scholarships being offered to black athletes [no doubt at the cost of some white students who could have used that scholarship money to become a physician or a CPA]? The answer to those questions can be inferred from a poster plastered around the streets of an old nineteenth century southern city: “Wanted: Dancers, singers, musicians … All others considered dangerous!” It is fine for blacks to entertain. People love to hear us sing and watch us entertain, but if we choose to pursue something other than entertainment, then we are often short-changed — we are considered dangerous or at least less worthy than our white counterparts. Colleges are big businesses that often mimic their Wall Street cousins for whom money is both the Alpha and the Omega.

Also, consider this: According to the Department of Labor and the Center for American Progress, data [from 2012] clearly indicate that white women were/are the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action. This may come as a surprise at first thought but upon further reflection it makes perfect sense given that the task of distributing or sharing resources in a non-discriminating manner, lies primarily under the purview of white males. If people of color and women have historically suffered discrimination, then it would be typically human for those charged with implementing anti-discrimination legislation to favor those most like themselves — white, first — because color trumps gender — then, white females.

Last of all, there is the matter of racism in these United States of White America. Opponents of affirmative action [both white and black] will often quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words in which he longs for the time when a person “would be judged by the content of his character and not the color of his skin.” The problem is, many studies indisputably reveal that blacks are more often than not still judged by the color of their skin. To deny the prevalence [albeit less overt than during the old Jim Crow era] of racism is to deny facts as plain as five plus four. Chief Justice Roberts stated that to end racial discrimination, one must stop discriminating, hence, affirmative action or consideration based on race must be proscribed. I agree with Justice Roberts except that too many Whites have not stopped discriminating. That is the problem. If affirmative action is reverse discrimination, then it is discrimination in reaction to discrimination by those who are best served by it. Once the dominant group stops discriminating then there would essentially be no need for affirmative action [pejoratively called, reverse discrimination]. So, I ask, where is the application of MLK’s words on the part of those in power to determine who gets to enjoy resources and those who do not? Why is it that those words are invoked when whites feel discriminated against but there is silence when whites exercise White-Skin privilege at the expense of those whose skin is not white?

Or, we can address the argument of reverse discrimination from a different perspective. One person described this “argument as nothing more than semantic smoke and mirrors.” She explains: “There’s discrimination for something (presumably “positive” such as when countries like Germany pay reparations for a select group—Jews, in this case) and discrimination against something (presumably “negative”). But the narrative confuses the two and so have folks like Ward Connerly, Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas and others championing the dismantling of affirmative action. (Ira Katznelson’s book, “When Affirmative Action Was White”, is a good reference, as is Randall Kennedy’s, “For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law”).” In short, discrimination is not always baleful; it can be a positive action to correct a negative one. But those in the position of privilege are not willing to pay the short term cost. Do not be confused: The kind of affirmative action that the courts have struck down is not one of two wrongs [discrimination and so-called, reverse discrimination] trying to make a right.

Without question, there are many whites who are not racists and who actually fight against it at every turn — sometimes to their own detriment. But not enough of them do. Which is why there is persistent disparity in sentencing [and the enforcement of law], in compensation, in employment and housing as well as education. These facts are as real as the earth spinning around the sun and not vice versa — Justice Roberts comments notwithstanding. If education is one of the gateways toward equality then abolish legacy and award scholarships based solely on academics and other criteria that are not associated with privilege or physical prowess. And stop discriminating at the front end so that there will be no need to take corrective action at the back end. If no consideration should be given to race when applying for entrance into college, then none should be given to legacy or a person’s athleticism. But this is not likely because the status quo has a specific utility as does having a permanent underclass.

So what’s wrong with affirmative action? What is wrong with affirmative action is the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative because that decision constitutes a tacit sanctioning of affirmative action for some and the blatant rejection of it for others. This striking down of affirmative action is a way to resolve the cognitive dissonance borne out of racism by denying its prevalence so as to prop up the status quo that favors the privileged.

“Standing Our Ground”

The recent killing of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman has been cited as defensible based on the Florida law, colloquially known as the “Stand Your Ground” law. The law expressly overturned previous laws that required a person to make an attempt to escape before using lethal force. This law has been presented as the basis for not arresting or charging Mr. Zimmerman with manslaughter or murder. Based on what I have read and heard about this case [television, print and internet news], this homicide has the shape, odor and color of a racially motivated killing that had been marginalized by virtue of “stand your ground.”

As black people we need to stand our ground also. That is, we must stand our ground against two forces, both of which are formidable and equally as baleful. Those two forces are racism, which has and will probably continue to be part of the DNA of the United States of White America, and the self-destructive values and beliefs we as black people have long embraced since the inception of slavery in this country. These two forces have essentially competed, in concert with each other, against our interests.

It is alleged that George Zimmerman’s used of the term, “fucking coon” while following Trayvon Martin [after being discouraged from following him]. If so, then this was merely an example of the pervasive and deep-seated scorn other races have toward us black people. The police investigation, cursory at best, was also an indication of how the life of a black person is valued [i.e., devalued]. And wearing a “hoodie” while carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of Ice Tea only made Trayvon Martin even more sinister.  But the primary point is as far as Zimmerman and the local police were concerned, Trayvon Martin should not have been black. To a racist, being black is the crime and being white allows them to be judge, jury and most of all, the executioner.

As further proof of how much we black people are viewed with disdain and disrespect please note the following: In the book, “The Hunger Games” written by Suzanne Collins, the character “Rue” is described as having “dark brown skin and eyes.” Nonetheless, after seeing the movie, several people tweeted or wrote on Facebook –

  • “why does rue have to be black gonna lie kinda ruined the movie.””Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn’t as sad. #ihatemyself.””Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the little blonde innocent girl you picture.””Everything from the innocuous ‘She’s not how I pictured her’ to ‘I was all sad and like ‘she’s black!'”By Vera H-C Chan | Movie Talk – Tue, Mar 27, 2012 2:27 PM EDT [Race Controversy Over The Hunger Games]Racism is more American than “mom, apple pie and baseball.” This racism is both overt and insidious and as such, we as black people must “stand our ground” against it by calling it out and loudly urging our leaders to enforce the laws that are supposed to provide “life, liberty and freedom for all.” This is not pollyannish advice; it is reality. Racism is often an ugly face behind a pretty mask. 

    The other aspect that requires that we “stand our ground” is for us to aggressively oppose many of the notions that sometimes reinforce the racism that pushes us to the bottom of the totem pole. We need to esteem education, and reject the idea that embracing respect for self and others are luxuries we cannot afford. Yes, indeed, we must work harder than, be better than, be smarter than, in so many ways in order to receive a modicum of respect. Such a reality is patently unfair but racism by its very nature imposes that burden on the oppressed and until it is eradicated or at least until it becomes marginal, that is life in these United States of White America. In other words, we must not give racists a stick to beat us with; they will find one without our help.  True, racists will loathe us no matter what, but at least we do not have to be complicit in that regard. 

    This does not mean I am exonerating racists for their actions or minimizing their culpability. This does not mean that Trayvon Martin bore any responsibility for his death. I am simply invoking the spirit of Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman saw racism/slavery for what it was and resisted it – called it out. She also believed in black people helping themselves while fighting against racism. It is this second idea that was integral to who she was. Helping her people to help themselves. She was so emphatic about black people helping themselves that she threaten to shoot any of those in her charge who became faint of heart.

    Thus, with regard to racism, we too must stand our ground against the forces that oppose our advancement [even our existence] as a race. But unlike George Zimmerman and those of his ilk, we must stand our ground, not with violence, but by shining the light on racism – by not letting it go unchallenged and finally,  by changing the perception we have of ourselves as a race. 

Published in: on March 29, 2012 at 3:20 AM  Leave a Comment  
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