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Thursday, October 06, 2005
Racial politics... or 'Hello,' we lied'
America has cheated herself. Probably more than any nation in history, it alone had the opportunity to engage all of its citizens in an effort to create an enlightened civilization that would shine through the ages.
African nations couldn't do this because they fought simply not to be subsumed; England couldn't do this because whiteness lies at the heart of its society; France couldn't do it because francais blanc is the engine for its democracy.
Nope. America had the opportunity, but shortchanged itself when it came to the politics of race. Before the spittle starts flying from my lips and the raving begins, consider these historical facts:
1. Europe needed Africa for its people at the time of the Black Plague because its population had been decimated. Lords had few serfs to farm and tend the land because the serfs were dying in great numbers. Africa provided heartier -- or at least unexposed -- humans.
2. The time of the Plague coincided with the time of exploration.
3. Many of the first Africans were serfs, just like their white counterparts. They were in a state of indentured servitude because they had been sold off by African rulers
4. African society, which was complex and farflung, was not seen as inferior to European society at the time; and the people, who looked different from Europeans, were not viewed as subhuman.
5. Slavery was an ECONOMIC system that got out of hand. Just as drugs can make someone an addict, slavery's FREE LABOR was an enticement to the junkies who ran Europe.
6. OK, this is my leap, but bear with me -- viewing Africans as inferior was a MARKETING PLOY to keep slavery in business.
When you consider there were 4 black Popes (at a time when being Pope was tantamount to being a King), it is ludicrous to assume that much of Europe's population had succumbed to racial prejudice. Wasn't happening. (Quick aside: I laughed my ass off when I read about how the world wasn't ready for its 'first' African Pope. Good ol' religious intolerance and bad journalism, where would we be without them?)
So, jump behind your sneeze guards children because it's about to get moist in here.
How on earth is race so entwined in modern U.S. politics and yet so unspoken? I've got a suggestion: it is the work of a 550-YEAR-OLD marketing campaign that's still paying dividends to its adherents. Don't ever forget: racism pays. If I was a white guy, hell if I was a Paisley guy, who could get a leg up on my competition for money, for housing, for food, for education, by simply saying that my competitor's biggest fault was that he was not like me, the pressure would be enormous for me to do so.
And, we did it. Jim Crow and subtle racism weakened America by not promoting true competition; competition that would have, hopefully, evolved our society into one of sophisticated cooperation. For you math geeks, consider this. If genius is truly a genetic trait, then its presence would trace a bell curve (I'm shuddering here because of a benighted textbook) -- in the entire human population.
By following mathematical logic; America probably hung an Einstein, made an Edison a drug dealer or lost a DaVinci in Hurricane Katrina. Cultivating genius for 95% of American history has been the business of cultivating only white geniuses.
We cheated ourselves.
And, now, the most powerful of the Twin Parties of America is inclined to offer lip service to racial equality when it knows its lying. It is the party of the privileged white male -- please note the differentiation -- and anyone who says otherwise is either naive or lying, too. The modern GOP is based on SOUTHERN principles, one of those principles being anti-Affirmative Action. Wherever you stand on the issue, believe me, they are to the right of you. Their stance on Affirmative Action is not about equal opportunity; it is about ensuring a permanent underclass.
But, the politics of race is a post-modern racism. It is a means to an end. Much like the beginning of racism in the Middle Ages, it is a ploy to make sure the hoi polloi don't start getting wise to what is being done to them. While its ostensible victims are black people (or American Indian or Hispanics or Asians), its targets are white males. This is the message for its target audience: When things are looking bleak, when your girlfriend left you, your health insurance is gone, your car is being repossessed, is it so hard to blame a black guy? Never mind that the majority of those problems may be related to fianances, which means it was likely a white guy who increased your health insurance premiums, or repossessed your car or attracted your girlfriend with his $200,000 Ferrari.
It's really a psychological art form: divide and conquer, without the divided even knowing they've been conquered. How cool is that?
George Bush is probably a racist, but that's entirely secondary to his use of race as a divisive technique. It is part of a palette that includes abortion, gay marriage and communism.
As Americans, we must be panicked about the black gay woman who wants to have an abortion so she can marry her white, communist lover.
The bottom line is: we fell for it. White people tell jokes about black people in private; black people tell jokes about white people on TV and ignorant Southern Boys re-discover the Klan and join churches with signs that read 'No N***ers allowed.'
Meanwhile, Dick Cheney's stake in Halliburton (blind trust, my ass) pushes him towards billionaire status. Oil barons become richer. And, we fear the color of each other's skin.
How do you spell relief?
link | posted by Jae at 2:11 PM |
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