Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Soft racism

31st August 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Edmund W. Lewis

WWL radio talk-show houston payday loan ordinance host Tommy Tucker said Wednesday morning that the Black Lives Matter movement is racist.

I’d be lying if I said I was shocked or surprised. White America has a long history of not getting it.

For centuries, European Americans didn’t get that Black, Brown, Red and Yellow people were human beings who had the same kinds of hopes, dreams, fears, emotions and yearnings as Europeans. They didn’t get that freedom is the natural state of all mankind, not just Europeans. They didn’t get that buying and selling human beings was fundamentally wrong. And they didn’t get that the Creator did not put them on earth to exploit, enslave, oppress and exterminate people of color.

What the radio host and other white folks don’t seem to get is that Black lives have never mattered in the history of the United States of America. They didn’t matter when our beloved ancestors were kidnapped in Africa, placed in shackles, stacked up in slave fortresses, chained in the bellies of vessels and transported to the so-called New World, where they were stripped of their names, languages and history and traded on the auction block like cattle. Black lives didn’t matter when enslaved Africans were bred like farm animals and forced to work from sunrise to sunset. They didn’t matter when we were lynched for daring to learn to read or rise up against our oppressors. They didn’t matter when we were slaughtered for daring to cast a ballot, start a business or build a town of our own. And they certainly didn’t matter when we were declared three-fifths human and told by the highest court in the land that people of African descent had no rights that white people were bound by law to respect.

While there are obviously people in cash advance locations in jacksonville fl the U.S. that get it, the overwhelming majority of white Americans do not seem to be the least bit phased by the systemic racism that continues to poison every facet of Black people’s lives in the U.S.

They can’t fathom why Blacks can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps like their European ancestors did, why the overwhelming majority of Black people in the U.S. are mired in poverty, unemployment and underemployment or why many communities of color are plagued with senseless violence, substandard housing, substandard schools, poor nutrition and inadequate health care.

In their minds, the only logical explanation for these conditions in communities of color is that Black people are genetically defective or predisposed to crime, violence and other vices.

It doesn’t matter how much education our white brothers and sisters have. Just look at the case of U.S. Judge Edith Jones, who saw nothing wrong with giving speeches during which she told college students that Black and Brown people are genetically predisposed to crime and violence.

So much for progress and enlightenment.

Virtually every negative human trait has been assigned to people of African descent. While former President Ronald Reagan called Black women who receive food stamps “welfare queens,” white elected officials often use the term “deserving poor” to refer to whites receiving food stamps. Black people dealing with substance abuse are depicted as criminals while whites with the same struggles are treated by the media and other institutions as people dealing with health problems.

People talk all the time about Black-on-Black violence but we hear very little about white-on-white violence, even though statistics show that it occurs at a similar rate. White people always have a good reason for killing someone, even if we’re talking about a mass murderer who shoots up a fortress group payday loans Colorado movie theater or trench coat-wearing teens who shoot up a school.

More than 100,000 Black folks have not returned to New Orleans as the 10th anniversary of the devastating storm and subsequent flood, compared to an estimated 11,000 whites.

The Tommy Tuckers of the world would have us believe that racism and classism have nothing to do with those numbers.

As the late, great Dr. John Henrik Clarke pointed out during a visit to New Orleans in 1996, while some things have changed since slavery was abolished in the U.S., the master-slave relationship that existed when enslaved Africans were brought here in chains remains intact.

We are still at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder and at the mercy of the larger society that has gotten even more machiavellian in its handling of the “race problem” since their numbers began to dwindle in America.

Slavery is still imposed on people of African descent and others languishing in U.S. penal institutions, thanks to the 13th Amendment, the ruling white 1 percent continue to exploit the labor of the masses in America and many U.S.-based corporations continue to outsource oppression by moving their operations overseas to underdeveloped nations where they can pay workers slave wages and avoid scrutiny and accountability for environmental abuses.

It is both ridiculous and telling that in the 21st century there are still white people who think they have the right to tell Black people what to be angry or outraged about. The WWL radio talk-show host said Black people should focus our attention on Black unwed mothers, poor academic performance and Black-on-Black violence, not police killings of unarmed Black people. We’re told all the time that we are “worrying about the wrong thing.”

That sounds an cash loan in melrose park awful lot like the white people who told us that rather than focus on the role Europeans played in the slave trade we should focus on the fact that slavery existed in Africa before the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It is also reminiscent of the Mayor of New Orleans who told Black community activists and civil rights leaders that they should focus on Black-on-Black violence instead of racial profiling and other forms of unconstitutional policing.

Apparently, Black people need someone outside of our community to tell us where our focus needs to be and what our priorities should be.

That mindset smacks of paternalism and cultural insularity.

Even as the white business community refuses to relinquish its chokehold on Black New Orleans, we are told that the systematic oppression, educational apartheid, economic injustice and unequal protection under the law being routinely doled out to Black people have absolutely nothing to do with Black poverty, underemployment, low academic achievement, teenage pregnancy and senseless Black-on-Black violence. Those issues are all our fault and our issues alone.

But hasn’t violence been described as the language of the oppressed? I’m just saying’.

White people can’t see or refuse to see the system of racism/white supremacy that daily impacts the lives of people of color in the U.S. and around the world. It is the price they pay to become “American” and a member of the winning team.

Where was all this talk about all lives mattering when people of African descent were being bought and sold on the auction block, when we were being lynched and when our Native American brothers and sisters were being robbed of their land and slaughtered routinely?

If all lives mattered, there would have been no need for Brown v. The Board of Education, the payday loans pontypridd Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. There would have been no need for the Black Power movement, the Million Man March or for millions of Americans of all races walking around the nation chanting things like “I Can’t Breathe” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,:

For the record, you don’t have to wear a hooded white robe, swastika tattoo or shave your head to be a racist. All you have to do is believe that people who look like you deserve more than people whose skin contains more melanin.

Nor do you have to be a member of the 1% to reap the benefits of the system of white supremacy like being considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not being racially profiled, being treated fairly by financial institutions and not being gunned down by police for reaching for your wallet Driving While Black or Shipping While Black.

Even those who align themselves with white people but are far from white, like Louisiana Gov. Piyush Jindal, criticize Black people for being “hyphenated Americans” while saying absolutely nothing about white people of German descent who celebrate Octoberfest, white people of Irish descent who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or white people of Italian descent who celebrate St. joseph’s Day.

Nobody in the Black Lives Matter movement ever said that white lives don’t matter. For anyone to suggest that is just another diversionary tactic used to impede the struggle for liberation, justice and recognition as free and equal human beings in this unjust and inequitable republic.

Sorry Mister Charlie, I can’t go for that — no can do.

All power to the people.

This article originally published in the August 31, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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