Chapter Five: Essays for Discussion- What is Racism? In A Nutshell
Sometimes it is difficult for White people to truly understand racism. The main reason is because they do not want to learn about this country’s ugly past. They don’t want to hear about slavery, Jim Crow, lynching or the civil rights movements. They certainly don’t want to hear about how they are currently prospering from all the horrible things that happened to Black people and people of color in the past, or the things currently happening. Unfortunately, the problem is, until White people truly understand racism, they can do nothing to stop it. Therefore, racism will continue until the end of time. Just saying that gives me the creeps! However, I know it to be true. As you read my writings you will begin to understand why I put the power of stopping racism squarely on the shoulders of White people.
Racism in America started as a financial arrangement. Africans were merely property used to produce financial wealth for White people. Don’t forget many people already had or understood the concept of indentured servitude. So, the idea of having someone else do your hard work was not a new concept. In America racism became an attitude, labeled and tagged by skin color. The African had the most distinguishable skin color. The Native Indians knew the land too well. It was difficult to capture and keep them. White indentured servants could escape to another town and mix in with all the other whites. The owners didn’t have the technology to put out an all-points bulletin on a white male or female. There was no place for black-skinned people to hide. Often, if you were a breathing Black person, you belonged to someone. Escaping this was difficult to do. This made black-skinned people prime, permanent slavery prospects.
Slavery didn’t have to become what it became, but like the old saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The greed for power and the corruption of power led to the demonization of Black people. To keep their slavery enterprises up and running the slave owners had to get into the heads of other whites. They did this by convincing whites that the slaves weren’t completely human. This meant that Black slaves must be part animal. This mentally gave slave owners a psychological out, regarding the mistreatment of Black people. If Black people weren’t humans, slave owners felt they could do anything they wish to them. However, classifying slaves as animals was an evil mind trick. One of the main reasons there are light-skinned Black people in this country has to do with White slave masters having sex with Black slave women. So, were the White slave masters purposely having sex with animals? No. The main reason for declaring Africans only part humans was to be able to count them and treat them as animals. The African male presented a different problem, even though some males were sexually assaulted. This was an act to belittle their manhood. The slave owners had to control him from the outside in. Other times, he was beaten to submission and then his mind was ready to be worked on. It was sort of the opposite of Jesus’ way of teaching the five thousand. He fed their stomachs, in order to feed their souls. The slave owners beat the black male physically, so he could enslave and control him mentally.
The mental aspect of enslaving the Black man affected the White man. He began to truly believe that he was superior. He passed that superior attitude to his kids, generation after generation. After slavery was abolished and even until this day, the attitude of white superiority remains. My overall opinion from living amongst White people is that in general, they truly believe they are superior to anyone who isn’t white, but this is especially true when it comes to Black people. As a Black man, to understand this is the first step to understanding the true effects of racism. By understanding their superiority complex I can show most White people where they lost their identity, culture and heritage. Once they understand what they have lost, I can show them how they are still taking advantage of their whiteness. I can show them how by using their whiteness to their advantage, they are continuing to contribute to racism.
Don’t get me wrong, I know many White people who do not have a racist bone in their bodies. Still, a lot of them unknowingly use their white superiority. I see it all the time when it comes to dealing with the poor and disadvantaged. In my own personal life, I’m able to use white folks’ white superiority against them. Because I’m a big Black man, with a loud voice, they don’t see me as someone who has an above average-education (doctorate level). In the field of education, I get talked down to almost every day of my life. I’ll say this right now. Next to religion, education is one of the most racist institutions in America! After I earned my doctorate, I was having a conversation with a White guy I knew. He told me that I would probably not get a position at the university we worked at, because I went and got a degree that put me on the same level as the White men in the good ole boys club. They were already afraid of my experience but saw themselves better than me because my experience didn’t equal up to their education. At age fifty, I got the education (doctorate) to complement my experience. This White guy told me that with both experience and education I scare the White men at our university. To this day I have never held a position at this university, which would be considered commensurate to my education and experience level. This is one covert manner in which racism continues. The very people who consider themselves to be non-racists, do more harm than good because they need to move to the next level–anti-racist.