Monday, January 25, 2010

They Don't Respect Us!

"We Don't Respect You!"

So begins Robert Lindsay's latest blog regarding the simple, evident fact that whites, as a race, don't respect blacks.

Obviously it's not an epiphany to devoted readers of the Black Thought blog. Mr. Lindsay is a blunt, straightforward white man and for that we should confer our respect upon him. Mr. Lindsay, in his blog, states that he is simply conceding the truth that most white people won't dare promulgate.

Here is my response:

"I agree with you entirely with your statement that whites do not respect black people. In reflection upon the history of America---such realities as the institution of slavery, Jim Crow legislation, lynching’s (and other myriad individual acts of racial violence, like the Tulsa massacre), denial of the right to equal education, denial of the right to vote, minstrelsy, the enduring power of white supremacist groups, etc. I think there’s exceedingly sufficient evidence to back up your assertion. Frankly, I don’t think it takes a genius to realize or comprehend the truth of this but I DO think it takes a genuine, non-PC individual to concede to this fact. Many white people will never concede to holding these truths because they feel it is promulgation of hatred (and, essentially it is) but, to varying degrees, pretty much all white people have some degree of disdain for blacks.

I believe that it should be firmly established that this racist perspective is a result of a collective white supremacist mentality that defines Western civilization in of itself (particularly in the last 500 years). Many often ponder upon the reasons why blacks were enslaved while other races were not. Today, many ask “why are blacks in last place” as far as their social, political, and economic development in the United States and the world throughout. The rationales that whites put forth as legitimate excuses for detesting blacks are many. Some speculate that because blacks did not establish themselves as militarily formidable opponents against white conquest that they have henceforth been subjected to the racial contempt of whites. Others believe that their greatly contrasting aesthetic attributes are the root cause of the great disparity between the races. Still, others maintain that blacks themselves are the primary determinants of why whites scorn them as a race.

Ultimately, I believe you are conveying this racial relationship as more cut-and-dry than it actually is. I wouldn’t be so audacious as to assert that whites absolutely respect Hispanics (and “model minorities” such as Asians) in contrast to ostensible absolute disrespect of black people. Let’s just be honest. Did whites not, at first, slaughter the Indians in substantial numbers? We have the intentional spreading of smallpox amongst Indian populations, the incessant military campaigns launched against Indians (as was done so vehemently by President Jackson), the forced removal of Indians (resulting in their forced confinement to reservations and the infamous Trail of Tears). I mean, if whites had such teeming respect for Native Americans and their modern Hispanic relatives they would have honored the numerous treaties that they established with them. I believe there was some admiration for the alleged “warrior spirit” of Native Americans and the belief in the concept of the “savage Indian noble” was undoubtedly ubiquitous. But at the end of the day, they were not white people and henceforth were regarded as being morally, physically, intellectually, and even spiritually less than. Asians are oft cited as the “model minority”. But the Chinese Exclusion Act was set in place for a long duration of time, denying Chinese Americans the right to come to the United States. Chinese here were given extremely low wages and at the center of at least a handful of racial riots. Japanese Americans were confined to internment camps during WWII while German Americans were merely ostracized. While not rivaling the plight of blacks, instances of racial prejudice against Asians certainly existed as well.

So, let’s not assert or insinuate that racism has been limited to black people, because it most certainly had not been that that idea is offensive to the tens of thousands of Native Americans who died at the hands of whites who sought to advance their own racial hegemony. It is mythical that blacks Africans posed no military threat to invading Europeans. Although there are several instances, I will cite two consummate examples---that of the Zulu, and the Ethiopians.

The Zulu (an undoubtedly Bantu people) inflicted the absolute greatest military defeat upon the British Empire by a native force (and experienced military successes rivaling those of Britain’s European neighbors). The Zulu were victorious in three major battles (one in which over 1,100 British troops were slaughtered by an unsuspecting Zulu impi) and in several more skirmishes in a war that dragged on from January of 1879 until August of that year when King Cesthwayo was captured. The infliction of causalities upon British troops was so great that reinforcements had to be requested by Lord Chelmsford immediately following the botched invasion. The British were also routed in additional encounters. The formidable nature of Zulu’s was well-understood and respected by the Boers as well, who (save the devastating Battle of Blood River) actually had a significant level of military trouble defeating Zulu. Because the Zulu could not be beaten in the open field the Boers had to establish the Laager formation…they had to hide behind their wagons and shoot, an efficacious albeit humiliating way to achieve victory. Even the British, initially, could not beat the Zulu in the open field.

The Ethiopians, of course, with the Italo-Abyssinian War, were able to fend off of Italian onslaught entirely. Now, the Ethiopians are interesting. Genetically, they are grouped right between Bantus and Indo-Europeans, so I sometimes wonder if the European negligence to impose imperial hegemony upon Ethiopians is really attributed to the fact that they aren’t “black” in a strict sense of the term (though it is quite funny that in America you can be 95% white genetically and still undoubtedly be black) and henceforth held a little more respect for them. Some Ethiopians (and other East Africans) literally look like white people, save their black skin and curly dark hair. Even as far as the ratios of fast-twitch muscle to slow-twitch muscles, Ethiopians more strongly resemble Europeans than other Africans (who are endowed with explosive, fast-twitch muscle). As far as the military success, Ethiopians acquired a significant amount of their weapons from the United States AND obtained support from some European nations in terms of fortifying their armies to face the Italian threat. Britain could have easily conquered Ethiopia---in 1868 a punitive expedition was launched to reclaim British hostages from Ethiopia. It took Britain all of two days to rout the entire Ethiopian army, reclaim their officials, and compel the Ethiopian king, Tewodros, to commit suicide (with the very pistol the Queen herself bequeathed upon him previously). But, Britain felt no compulsion to rule over the Ethiopians. In contrast, the very black Bantu Zulu, who gave Britain a far greater fight than the Ethiopians had, were conquered and subject to aggressive diplomatic policies imposed by Britain after the Zulu defeat. As far as evidence of racial differences as they pertain to the ability of individual ethnic groups to recognize such differences between themselves and others, it is worth noting that many Ethiopians and Somalis enslaved Bantus and still demonstrate racial hostility towards them as well.

My ultimate point is that the military prowess of the Zulus (and also Swazi and Xhosa nations who gave the invading Europeans in South Africa a bit of trouble as well) did nothing to stop the transpiration of apartheid right on South African soil. It is true that black Africans weren’t killed in the great numbers that Indians were (not in South Africa, at least!), but Native Americans weren’t subject to the same degree of racial discrimination and hostility that blacks were in both the United States and South Africa. The Zulu were, on some level, respected and are more renowned than any other African group throughout ("Zulu" being synonymous with "warrior" to many)---but this didn’t stop the political subjugation that transpired shortly thereafter. Something such as this indicates to me that despite what success blacks do or do not have, the aesthetic appearance, more than any other factor, is the key attribution for white-on-black disrespect.

On the whole, Native Americans/Hispanics are better respected than blacks. As far as Amerindians, it is quite fashionable for white Americans to boast of their “Cherokee” roots (or whatever tribe). Sure, some simply fabricate such information to be fashionable, but there was a significant level of miscegenation that transpired between whites and Native Americans. While only whites were considered actual citizens, never was the status of Native American humanity so audaciously reduced to 3/5s. There was a fair amount of mixing between blacks and whites as well---though you never hear whites claiming black ancestry. Perhaps this is largely because the blacks who passed for white and effectively transformed into white Americans probably themselves despised even their modicum of blackness and hence wanted no knowledge of it to be passed on to future generations.

Fundamentally, racism, as is expressed by white people, is characterized by a hierarchal nature. There’s a common (and most asinine) asssumption that racists loathe and despise all other races equally---this is quite untrue. I believe Tim Wise cited a study that proved that the darker an immigrant to the United States is, the less money they will be able to earn. I do think skin color makes a HUGE difference in one’s potential for success. Historically, the “blacks” who have made the social breakthroughs for the black race have been more lightly complexioned, even mixed. Do you really think Barack’s time getting elected would have really been so easy had he looked like Idi Amin? There is a relative regard in which the respectability of races is assessed and subsequently asserted by white people and I believe that the greatest determinant is skin color. In terms of economic success, the respective degrees of such minority races are as follows: Asians, Hispanics, blacks, Native Americans. I do believe Native Americans have been so socially and culturally ravaged by white American dominance that they are almost not a functioning group. I think a better indication of the racial hierarchal structure would be the status of their Hispanic brethren.

While I think, at the core, blacks are not respected as a race that is competent and capable of possessing group power (however unfounded OR self-fulfilling, by the empowered white group, this assumption may be) I do believe blacks are regarded as sort of a novel and---well, entertaining group. Music, athletics, comedy---blacks are well overrepresented in these areas. I believe that this in of itself is extremely disrespectful---the only facets of American society in which blacks have essentially been allowed to succeed in and have been seen as having potential in and, furthermore, respected in are those that are, in the scale of sociopolitical and economic influence, quite trivial and ineffectual. On the other hand, I believe blacks confer much respect upon whites. Much underserved resepect, one could argue reasonably. I believe the degree of respect (and adulation, even) that blacks hold for whites is attributed whites projecting a glorified, sanctified image of themselves all throughout (such as giving Jesus Christ, someone who almost certainly was not a white man, blonde hair, blue eyes, and white skin) and generally using the media to depict whites in a positive light. Blacks have accepted this with little question. Black women straighten their hair, get nose jobs, lighten their skin, wear colored contacts, dye their hair hideous blonde colors in a cheap mimicry of white women. Black men---well, they just chase white women and settle for whatever than can get, even a fat unwanted one. If a black male athlete has a big enough sports contract, maybe then he can manage to court the type of white woman that the black woman is so busy trying to emulate.

The inquiry that I ultimately want to put forth is---why should blacks seek the approval of whites? I mean, what sort of ludicrous narcissism is it that whites believe all ethnic groups must have THEIR sanction to---well, what, succeed? To this point, it has been futile to pursue that acceptance. Because although whites have a penchant for wagging the finger at blacks for not “getting it together”, throughout American history we see that any time that blacks have made a concerted effort to do so whites are always there to prevent the transpiration of that success. We have the Homestead Act in which MILLIONS of acres of land were distributed to whites but blacks were allowed none. We have the “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa that was bought down in flames, along with the sacrificing of hundreds of black lives. We have the massacre in Rosewood as well. Between 1868 and 1880, sixteen blacks were elected to Congress, most of them from the South. Many of them were remarked to have been eloquent and erudite individuals (free and former slave alike) but following the compromise made in the 1878 Presidential elections (followed by the Northern troops leaving the South) you instantly saw a decline in the numbers of blacks getting elected to Congress. There’s no end to the situations that can be cited as evidence of this. If I were to attempt to write a book detailing the myriad instances of white-on-black injustice I believe it would be the longest volume written in the entire history of mankind. In contrast, were I to seek to write even a paragraph sufficiently and comprehensively detailing the instances of black racial discrimination against the white race as a collective entity, would such information even merit this length? As far as the endurance of white on black racial discrimination (and it discombobulates me to no end, the degree of individuals, black and white alike, who assert that RACISM IS NO MORE) do you want a recent example? Housing discrimination was at an all-time high in 2006. Peering into our past, it is most fascinating that surveys from the 1960s reveal that even when de jure racism was still quite real (in the damn books!) whites still somehow felt that blacks were treated fairly and had equal opportunities. Even when it was beyond evident that they did not! “They simply weren’t taking advantage of them!” In 1960 many blacks still couldn’t vote! We hear the same claims today, that America is a level playing field although studies, surveys, and statistics indicate otherwise.

And beyond that, why is the blessing of the white race---the race that ravaged and exploited Africa, went across the world slaughtering and committing genocide upon non-whites, used deception manipulation to gain control over non-whites, at least once sought to conquer the world and establish a global empire exclusively structured for the advancement of white people (and came pretty damn close). If you want the honest truth from a black person, I do not respect white people, collectively, as a morally upright race of people (particularly in the ways of dealing with other races). And anyone of any race who is completely honest with themselves, as well as in possession of sound reasoning abilities and a significant degree of information regarding the history of racial relationships in America and the world throughout, America would have sentiments congruent to my own. A significant amount of the advancements and successes whites have achieved have been at the expense of non-white peoples. America was built by black labor. Black hands built the White House, Capitol Hill, the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument---black hands built American into the international bastion of wealth that it is. Black slave labor accounted for several trillion dollars worth of wealth---without that, would America be America today? And yet, when a black man speaks on the very real and corporeal sociological concept of white privilege it is dismissed as, “oh, you’re just complaining”. Now, that is EXTREMELY disrespectful to simply dismiss the real and very, extremely thoroughly substantiated truth of racism, particularly that of the anti-Black flavor, in both historical and contemporary America, and I think that’s probably the greatest testament to the truth of collective white disrespect that you yourself so veraciously and bluntly acknowledge. And though most whites will not blatantly state that they do not respect black people, they WILL NOT HESITATE TO SAY THAT THEY BELIEVE BLACKS COMPLAIN TOO MUCH. The latter basically confirms the falsehood of the former. It completely contradicts it. Many say that whites, as a race, are no more morally unrighteous than any other race, they simply have expressed theirs on a grander scale due to their power and alleged racial ingenuity, but I think such a claim is sort of foolish and difficult to substantiate. Genocides did not transpire in Africa, at least not before Europeans arrived. Sure, there was warfare, but never on the grand scale that Europe witnessed, even before her conquest of non-white nations. Celts, Scythains, Germans, Britons, Gauls---all extremely violent people who were just about always at war with each other. Warfare in Africa wasn’t this widespread and furthermore wasn’t this violent. African warfare was oftentimes more ritualistic than it was lethal.

I think there are numerous reasons that whites should respect black people and few reasons why blacks should respect white people. But somehow, the situation is quite twisted and has, since the forced introduction of blacks into the West, always been so. Essentially, there is no reason, other than the great difference between the races in physical appearance. To justify their irrational animus, whites will continue to forever fabricate perceivably legitimate reasons for expressing that hatred and, as well, by denying them their ability to achieve power, act towards blacks in manners that will substantiate and legitimize those reasons."

-Black Thought