I’ve had it. Really, and I mean it this time. I have made a personal decision to not deal directly with racism in America any longer in my writing or on this blog. I can see no point in it any longer. After writing the article below and reviewing some of the anti-Barack Obama commentary coming forth from a panicked White public, it became apparent to me that while some may read my work or attend my talks and come away from it with a different perspective, most won’t. They will continue to be either managed or directed in some shape or form by traditional American institutional racism.
After struggling with racism personally all of my time here on Earth, I have seen no real change. I have however seen surface factors be altered by circumstance or outside pressure brought on the U.S. by political necessity. I have also observed brave, often heroic individuals demand their human rights and force change simply because they as a single person refused to allow bigotry to stop them. Generally the latter example tends to struggle against the “glass shield” of the American employment/ economic system and since that is not going against the “correctness” of Europocentric paradigms in the U.S., people with such dreams are typically respected by slave and master alike. Should that slave choose to go in another direction, say in a direction that aims to actualise their own unique cultural or nationalistic distinction, the response is often less than enthusiastic.
I have rarely been genuinely accorded positive acknowledgment for my work in antiracism/anti-bias work. While I have been given firm handshakes and hugs after public talks or discussions on the subject, these are few and far in-between. Many people, not just Euro-Americans, find my analysis hard to take. It offers no real olive branch to White American society aside from a demand that we all be honest about how we got here. For many everyday White-racism deniers exclusive of the hopelessly bigoted like many of the organised White Power advocates, even this is too much. It is simply too deeply ingrained within the American mind and spirit. It is too much a part of the U.S. framework and always has been.
This is the main reason so many self-defined White people reject any notion of systematic racism. It flies directly into the face of the American myth of universal liberty without regard to race, ethnicity, religion or economic status. We all know that this is the Big Lie, but we all cling to it because other ideas and suggestions that might lead to a freer, more just civil society simply does not generate enough power for those who feel that their ascendancy over others is divinely ordained. There is little serious debate on this phenomenon other than the routine dismissal of such attitudes by the “responsible” mainstream. But those who have to deal with such attitudes and the barriers they create are not respected by the responsible if dissent to such machinations threaten to affect the Europocentric status quo.
I simply do not see how I have made a dent in this and for my own mental and spiritual health I see no point in actively staying in the battle. I will continue to address genocide and Aboriginal rights with an international scope, but American racism as a focus is no longer on my list of journalistic activism. It has become far too difficult for me to deal with any longer. This presidential election cycle has cinched it for me. Even people who for all accounts and purposes vociferously deplore racism are becoming nervous that a Black man might just become president of the United States. It’s driving White people batty across the country and frankly making social life for myself and many other people of African descent newly difficult.
I admit it, I deal primarily with Euro-Americans socially and it has been that way ever since I had gone full Uncle Tom while I was in my late teens. Being a bookworm in a mixed-race school, it was natural to meet other students who hung out in the library and while I hate to admit this, most of these kids were White. Of course I still spent time with quite a few Africans, but they tended to be like myself, inquisitive, open to new things and ideas and not stuck on the “race thing”.
We were the guys the other more “Black” kids used to laugh at. So of course, we hung out with Whites more and more. We listened to Thin Lizzy because of Phil Lynott and learned White slang. In turn they learned about Captain Marvel, (an ancient independent solo album used by early Brooklyn rappers in the 1970’s as background music) and how to get phone numbers. Many of these friendships became life-long affairs and many did not but we all had done the impossible, we actually lived anti-racism, not preached about it. In hindsight I see now that racism is a learned environmental trait that has been used by oppressive systems across the globe. While Asia in the past and now Mother Africa in the present extol in tribal/ethnic genocide, Europe has made it a science.
The practise has been used on the Celts, (see: Ireland and occupation) the Basque, (perhaps the genetically oldest surviving ethnic Europeans) and the Sami people of Northern Europe within their own borders on the subcontinent and occasionally in the Euro-colonial world. The Irish faced strong ethnic bias in the U.S. until the New York City Draft Riots. After lynching an African man on the street, the Irish were eventually accepted.
Italians and the Chinese were subject to severe exclusionary immigration quotas and fierce bias once they arrived. These biases eased however once they learned to measure themselves along the American racial hierarchy that places Africans at the very bottom and contains a “one-drop rule” blood quantum quota. One can reasonably assume that American Aboriginals reside just above American Africans only because Indians often fought back and American nostalgia narcissistically feeds off of the myth of the noble, pre-Columbian Savage. It makes for better sport.
But, many Indians while fully acknowledging their/our history and culture still see themselves as “American” and often belligerently assert their patriotism. The contradiction that this same colonial government and society made Indigenous survival and territorial integrity functionally impossible is simply ignored. The question is just too great to consider for many of us. We would then have to ask ourselves why we have not done more after World War Two, (see: Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, adopted by General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960) to regain what is rightfully ours by treaty. Even that is in my opinion a magnanimous gesture since it assumes an European entitlement to occupation of these twin landmasses.
The African in America has been subject to slavery, genocide, the destruction of whole predominately African communities, (see: Rosewood and the Tulsa Race Riots) and violence from White terrorist organizations. Yet, the African has faithfully served the White man since Christopher Columbus brought an African slave among his crew when they landed in the Dominican Republic. It continued up through the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, World War One, (see: Leo Pinckney, the first U.S. citizen called to the draft) World War Two, Vietnam, Korea and every other conflict you care to name including Iraq and Afghanistan. We have raised their children, built their cities and financed the American Revolution without ever receiving a fee. And when necessary, we gave and still give up our own lives in the name of American Freedom although we have never as a people ever been truly been free in the U.S.
My own father served in the U.S. Navy proudly and with honour. He worked in the galley. Back then, there was no other choice. When he returned to Gullah Country in the U.S. South, he was told, while in uniform mind you, that Jim Crow was still here going strong the whole time he was defending democracy on the high seas. He paid his dues. He was also noteworthy because he became one of the very first African men to work for the NYC commuter railroad. A distinction he was quite proud of mostly because he made it possible for others to follow him.
My father believed in America. He always defended the United States with a devotion seen only in the most pious of patriots. But there was a dark side. He did not personally feel that being Black was anything special. For my father being Black was a setback. He wanted to be a commercial artist and later a draftsman, only Africans were un-officially not allowed to enter these fields. As I attended early art school he was always ready to critique my work and offer suggestions to improve my technique. But each time he bent over me and picked up my pencil I could see the longing in his face. He wanted me to study and become proficient enough to do what he himself was not allowed to do. In turn I studied commercial art and illustration but once exposed to the psychological artistic techniques of marketing, my political awareness became a wall between us that never healed. I was still his son, but my insistence on ethnic acknowledgment was an irritant to him.
My 20-year experiment to become the best well-adjusted Noble Black Indian I could be only befuddled him even more than it did me. While I think to some degree he accepted White racism as a quasi-justifiable unchangeable state of affairs he, unlike myself, never had any doubts as to where he resided in the American social pecking order. I have always seen racism as a rather stupid condition common mostly to scared and ignorant people and societies. The United States rides high on this list mostly for it historical revisionism and denial of systematic and emotive ethnic/racial bias.
Very few nations have been able to make genocide and institutional racism look as benign as the U.S. Turkey, Japan, China, Russia, Australia and sun-continental Europe may try to minimise the weight of their trips into racist insanity, but the United States is unique in that when such atrocities and practises of social marginalisation and enforced de-acculturation occur, it is either blamed on the victim or the desire to bring “civilisation” to a backwards race.
And again, with Barack Obama running for president the curious undercurrent of American racism has broke loose. White people of both political parties are in a panic and the mainstream media, not just FOX News has gone on a tear to daemonise the candidate for no other reason than he is a Black man who is taking the concept a non-racial American democracy seriously. And to suggest that America is having issues with this is missing the point. Aside from all of the positive talk, America does not want this. And as he progresses the viciousness of the attacks against his campaign become even greater.
I’ll not go into the particulars here because I assume most readers are aware of the neo-conservative media onslaught against Obama, but suffice it to say that his political strengths are rarely used against him. He has maintained his commitment to continuing Pax Americana so that’s not a useful tool, however race is and neo-cons as well as the Clinton campaign have used it to stop him. So far, it hasn’t worked well enough to stop the Obama express.
I do not support his candidacy no more than I would anyone else’s. The two-party system, apart from the fact that Indians have no say in these matters, is far too limiting for my political sensibilities. There needs to be more openness and that’s granting that the United States as a national entity could even entertain a sense of legitimacy after Indigenous genocide.
I have been quite candid about my opposition to his decision to ignore the bias he is facing in an attempt to retain his Euro-American support. Support he knows full well he would lose if he were to stand up to his attackers. He is the responsible Negro and that means absorbing insult upon insult upon insult. I know, I too have been there. And since I have finally managed to leave that sense of necessary servitude behind me, I have made it my mission to point it out wherever I saw it. Now, I feel that I have made an error and the price paid has been my own personal well-being.
As an anti-bias activist I have taught workshops, written extensively on the subject and in my earlier days protested on the streets. As I look around today in the United States I ask myself given the impact this struggle has made on me and my family, was it at all worth it? How much have I really been able to change in such a way that things really became “better”? Were the beatings I incurred passing out flyers worth the bruises, the hate mail, situations in which standing your ground was foolhardy and discourse on racism and bias become episodes of hateful epithet-terrorism in any way leading to “progress”? Did I ever after all that effort ever change even one mind?
These questions have nagged me these past several years and the only conclusion I can fathom is no. I have made no change at all.
This is not to say that I wish to see others continue to challenge the system for equal rights and full recognition of the United Nations Charter for the benefit of al peoples. Indeed, I wish the American anti-racism movement all the best of possible luck. I have walked that road for many years but I now must step aside and let others continue the struggle. I am at the end of my mission.
Inteligentaindigena Novajoservo will continue to cover international Aboriginal issues and causes and other world news that affects the Fourth World including our work on combating genocide. Of course, racism is a large part of both these issues, but I after this article I shall not deal with American racism as a singular issue. I see no point in it any longer. The world has made it clear, it simply refuses to change. Master and slave alike have become conditioned over five centuries into accepting the European-set status quo. So what is a good anti-racist activist to do after years of dedicated insistence on fighting the power?
This one has given up. I will address it in my personal life when it arises, but I shall no longer centre my work on racism as it is particular to the United States. I see no end to this path the U.S is on when racial epithets have become accepted as greetings and fodder for popular entertainment within the mainstream. I see another occupation in which anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias is used as an element to justify further European imperialism. I see a man of African descent disparaged in the international media who does not defend himself because either he has internalised colonially-imposed ethnic inferiorities or he fears losing his shot at the top office in the U.S. Either way, White bigots are having their say and the rest of us are making it easy for them.
When we should speak up for ourselves and our own as a groups or groups, we do not. We will however speak up for whomever White American says we should be speaking for. Should we speak for ourselves in a respectful manner we are called anti-White racists while the most extreme anti-European race-activists devoted to spewing anger against Whites solely because they are White get a pass. It is worth mentioning that both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated after they broadened their perspective to include human rights and the inclusion of non-Africans into the struggle.
So as long as I maintain that honourable multi-ethnic/multi-cultural co-existence and respect, not integration and cultural suffocation is attainable and desirable, it seems highly unlikely that many people are likely to see any value in my work or the efforts of others like myself. And after realising that I could continue to stay in the “movement” I have decided, at least as far as my personal involvement goes, that this is the end of he line for me. Perhaps someone with a more palatable analysis may come forth from the ether to explain to people that getting along is much better and peaceful than keeping up this terrible game of elites and sub-humans. The half-devil/half-man of Kipling’s ode to the European imperialist.
I will always the reject that summation, but until I see something worthy of standing up for in the U.S. that will really make a commitment to examining and then rectifying how we all got to this point, I am in permanent retreat.
May someone, somewhere find the answers I obviously could not provide. At least I can say with a clear conscience, I did my very best.
- The Angryindian