We Are Still Fighting
According to Shelby Steele, “Black America has been confronted with a new problem: the shock of freedom.” I am not impressed with any of the political gangbanging of the conservative Right, progressives, or liberal Left. I do not like the titles, but the echoes are worthy of analysis and critique. However, I will spend more time examining portions of Right-wing ideology and epistemology. Moving closer to electing the leader of America for the next four years, America is racially boiling. May God be with us through this viral and racial pandemic and the future of our democratic process and political system. The Left is presumed to be stoking the racial fires, and the Right claims racism is over in America. This is what brings me to this essay. It is for my sanity, well-being, and therapy that I write.
As a Black man, listening to discussions linked to race and racism through the prism of conservatism, if I follow their logic and positioning, I am forced to conclude either of two notions:
- My racialized experiences as a Black child, teenager, and adult were/are unreal or misunderstood.
- My racialized and racist encounters were/are real but too insignificant to be highlighted, revealed, or processed.
Absorbing and sorting through the polarized racial discourse in America is a project baked in astonishment and disequilibrium. It wreaks of dichotomous and binary thinking. Despite its social construction, we know the impact of race is real and entrenched; thus, how are racial encounters and incidents something of the past? Echoed and opined from the Right, is it that racism is real but not worth mentioning because of its nominal effects, or is racism a delusion in the twenty-first century?
The way I hear race and the impact of racism theorized is through a scope of American advancement, freedom, and liberty; America has made so many strides race is now innocuous, and racism on any systemic level is an impossibility. If that was indeed the case, it means that my racial and racist episodes are not connected to any themes or patterns; they are rooted in my unfortunate and isolated experiences.
Some articulate through a victim-blame formula from the same conservative camp, exercising a dialectic purporting that the only thing holding a person back from success is their lack of work ethic, discipline, and desire for a handout. Such positioning assumes that reaching a level of success (however that is defined) proves that racism is a façade. At what level does racism disappear? Because a person owns property, has multiple college degrees, works as a professional, owns a business, has a spouse and children, practices their religious faith, race, and racism are eradicated? That is not my experience. I have yet to find a space where race and racism are not pervasive structures. Why is the Right often unwilling to confess this American truth?
Victimology and Oppression
I have read and listened to the Right-wing and conservative contextualizing of some in Black America as claiming victimhood. It is typically expressed and presented through Right, and conservative ideology assumes that Black people feel so oppressed that we are victims, pleading for the government to give us something free and fix our problems. This kind of projection and simplification is asinine. Regardless of socio-economic status, expressing the plague and the impact of racism in America does not equate to victimology and a helpless condition. Interestingly, victimology and oppression are often linked to Black and colorized people who are willing to speak truth to power. This is a dismissive strategy of the Right, conservative, and often white power structure.
Am I a victim of racism? Yes. Do I walk around screaming for a handout? No. Being a racial victim does not mean a person manifests a victim-mentality. Connection to racial victimization in America does not mean Black people are degenerate, irresponsible, and weak. The evidence shows we are enormously resilient. This nation’s root and inception are ensconced in racial victimization, and the legacy has not ended.
Am I oppressed? Yes. Racial oppression does not end with financial wealth, educational accolades, big houses, fancy cars, or fellowship with the white elite. As a successful Black man in America (however you define success), I am not embarrassed to profess my racial oppression. It does not mean I navigate life internally depressed, psychologically defeated, or desirous of being the other. I love my Blackness; it exudes power and influences global trends. Yet and still, through a lens of critical consciousness, because of my Blackness and the anti-Blackness that is nationally and internationally located, I am strategic in piloting my Black life. To throw off my Blackness and forget to see what the world sees when they see me, would be holistically irresponsible.
Yes, I am racially victimized and racially oppressed, but I walk in power, intentionality, and awareness every day. We all hear it, discussions about the talk. Regardless of political affiliation, I have observed white people asking their white peers if they ever had to have the talk with their children. Most say “no.” The fact that some people must have the talk while it is safe for others to forego this dialogue is evidence that something is happening dangerously and racially in America.
This is a brief digression, but what disturbs me even more than the necessity of the talk is when Black people, regarding the talk or his or her behavior when encountering police, is expressed in a way that guarantees safety.
I heard the Black conservative King Face rehearse in an interview about how if the police pull him over at night, he turns off his car, turns on the lights, puts the car keys on the roof, and sticks both hands out the window. All of this is done to ensure that the officer feels safe. This is infuriating. If racism is a myth, why is this form of behavior modification discussed as a Black strategy? Again, it is further evidence of the existence of racial victimization and oppression. In this case, the term oppression is not used in some form of a ball-and-chain context, but the fact that regardless of status and wealth, Black skin sends a direct message that differs from white skin. Moreover, Black skin dictates how we move our bodies and modulate our voices, to say the least. Electing to ignore, brush off, or rise above racism does not give a person the right to paint with a broad brush for all, exclaiming racism as systemically and institutionally erased or resolved.
The Left, Right, and Race
As stated in the beginning, I find frustration and hypocrisy in liberal Left and conservative Right ideology. I am flummoxed at the level of unwavering devotion to either bent. I listen to, read, and study multiple sides of American thought, politics, epistemology, ontology, and theology. Regardless of political leaning, predilection, or proclivity, I can typically track the rationale of diverse positions, but when it comes to conservatism, Right, and Republican racial discourse, I am bewildered. I am hesitant to mention them, but voices such as Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, Jordan Peterson (Canadian), Candace Owens, and Ben Shapiro are of interest.
Does the Black family and community have a lot of work to do? Absolutely. Is fatherlessness and single parent homes hurting the Black family? Yes. Is violence in our predominantly Black neighborhoods worthy of analysis and address? Yes. Is abortion an issue? Yes. There is so much more that the collective pan-African family is seeking to improve, and while we work, we refuse to ignore issues of race and racism.
Within conservatism, race and racism are ushered to the inconsequential corner or back of the room, a practice that fails to hold whiteness and colorized sympathizers accountable for being complicit in preventing the deconstruction of disproportionate racial outcomes. I know concepts such as social justice, implicit bias, whiteness, white supremacy, antiracism, white fragility, micro-aggressions and more, are loathsome to the Right, yet Coloniality, racism, and anti-Blackness are real. When the aforementioned concepts are highlighted, the right counters with Black abortions, Black-on-Black crime, the welfare state, racial victimization, and a lack of discipline. Why is it difficult to focus on the plague and plight of race and racism without deflection?
Dr. Thomas Sowell opines that slavery has been a part of every society since the beginning of time. However, the global formations and pervasiveness of slavery, does not excuse or heal the physical and psychological scars and ramifications of American Chattel slavery. As an intellectual, I am sure Dr. Sowell has experienced racial discrimination because of his Blackness. Personal racial success does not explain away the ubiquitous nature of race and racism.
Dr. Shelby Steele postulates that after the Civil Rights era, Black people were psychologically shocked, suddenly becoming responsible for our racial actions and could no longer blame white people for our condition. According to Dr. Steele, those who are concerned about racial justice are labeled hustlers, seeking to capitalize on white racial guilt. Pointing out racial impact is not blame. When did racism end in America? According to Steele, Black people have not been able to adjust to freedom. Discussing race and racism does not mean Black people are helpless, desirous of, or dependent on a welfare state.
Candace Owens is a disciple of Steele and Sowell but her explanations of the Black condition sound and land as anti-self-disdain for Blackness. Black people are free in America, but not from racism, oppression, and marginalization. As Black people, we do not want handouts or for white people to give up their white privilege. We want racial justice, just treatment, and the eradication of disproportionate racial outcomes motivated by racism. We want to explore all concepts and contexts, but do not omit race relations.
Some white conservatives are cautious in saying it, but some Black conservatives accuse Black people of making martyrs and deifying Black men killed by the police. While trying to play both sides of the fence, Candace Owens said George Floyd did not deserve to die, the officer that killed him was evil, but ended her message by saying, “If you do stupid things, you get stupid prizes.” That is saying he deserved to die. Ms. Owens also likes to conflate Black outrage concerning police killings of Black people over a perceived silence or a lack of concern toward violence in Black communities. I would need a separate essay to explain and deconstruct that toxic tactic and accusation levied by the Right. It is deflection.
There is a certain calm possessed by Candace Owens when being interviewed by her peer Ben Shapiro or conservative Black people, but outside of those spaces, the response is sharp and vilified. The goal seems to be to neutralize race as a non-issue, while normalizing personal accountability. The Black family is often in agreement with what Black conservatives suggest as solutions to Black family advancement, but the silence toward race and racism turns the dialogue into an ugly, anti-Black, disingenuous process.
Deeper levels of unity could be actualized if the dance around race could be drastically minimized or dismantled. The denial of racialized impact, coupled with a diatribe of Black vilification prevents honest dialogue at the table. It is easy to armchair quarterback after the results of the longitudinal study have been assessed. We can talk about Black family progress before the 1960s, but to act as if racism was not a struggle for Black people during any portion of American history is insulting and dishonest. Ben Shapiro asked, “Is racism even real?” Balance the conversation.
Although he is not American, Dr. Jordan Peterson has a lot of social capital in the US regarding conservatism, intellectualism, and Right-wing ideology. In a 2018 interview, Peterson was asked about his perception of President Donald Trump. He stayed away from race but described the US President as an anomaly, bombastic, conservative, noisy, provocative, impulsive, disagreeable, and a divisive figure. Many Americans would probably use different terminology to categorize President Trump. Peterson said in a 2018 interview at Oxford Union about the Founding Fathers, “They were very sophisticated as good Englishmen should be.” “They had enough humility to think through how things could go terribly wrong even if they had good intentions. That is the mark of someone that is wise.” What must be noticed is the selective terminology and care when it comes to whiteness, but harsh language when describing Black action and behavior.
We Are Still Fighting
My struggle with the Right and formations of conservative ideology is the downplay of racial struggle, racism, and race in America. As stated in Finding Your Position, America was founded on fight, struggle, and resistance. The American Revolutionary War lasted seven years (1775-1783) and the Founding Fathers owned slaves and held clear white supremacist views toward the African enslaved. The American Civil War lasted four years (1861-1865) and African enslaved emancipation was added out of strategy and not the true regard or humanity of Black and African people. Like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln had degenerate views toward the merit, worth, intellect, and regard for Black people. The Civil Rights movement lasted fourteen years (1954-1968), not to mention the Jim Crow era beginning in 1865. Through each of these post-slavery epochs and eras, Black people fought hard for full freedom and justice.
Since the inception of colonial America, Black people have fought for justice and humanity and we are still fighting. President Trump made this fight even more apparent with the September 4, 2020 (M-20-34) Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, regarding “Training in the Federal Government.” Signed by Russell Vought. Vought said, in the memo, “The President has directed me to ensure that Federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.” He also said:
…All agencies are directed to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil. In addition, all agencies should begin to identify all available avenues within the law to cancel any such contracts and/or to divert Federal dollars away from these unAmerican propaganda training sessions.
The memo ended by saying, “The divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the Federal government.” Shortly after this memo, the President announced that the Department of Education would be investigating The 1619 Project and potentially defunding schools using the curriculum. The White House threats do not appear legal, but the fact that they were launched is evidence that Black people are still fighting for justice.
Government Democracy v. Theocracy
In a prophetic word for the ecclesia, understand that you cannot expect America to be legislated under a Biblical context. To do such would be un-American. Maintain your biblical worldview, but do not get caught in the web or confusion of the psychology and sociology of your governed democracy with the theology of sovereign theocracy. Terrestrially, your nationality is based on American citizenship, operated through a system of democracy, but your celestial citizenship is rooted in a divine theological sovereign theocracy. The two principles are not to be confused. When the Corinthian church confused this premise, the apostle Paul had to correct them. Within the church fellowship a young man was having a sexual relationship with the wife of his father. Paul said:
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
Conservatives and Right-wing participants postulate as if America was founded on Biblical principles. A pivotal motif of the Bible is Justice but America has consistently refuted truth-to-power dialogue. A survey of the founding American documents such as the Declaration of Independence (1776), US Constitution (1787), or Bill of Rights (1789) are not religious but secular. A review of the documents of empire do not include religious terminology but actually protect belief in God or atheism. The depiction of America as a Christian nation is manipulative and has resulted in religious confusion, cognitive dissonance, and formulas of religious white supremacy.
Assuming the pursuit of racial justice and liberation to be unbiblical is a farce. The fight for racial justice is both democratically American and theocratically Christian. Only the deceived purport that being a peacemaker is divisive, unhealthy, and un-American.
This brief essay was designed to cut through the noise of partisan discussion that attempts to silence the legacy, toxicity, impact and presence of race and racism. It is my desire that as we examine the necessary needed improvement within and without the Black family and America, that race and racism remain as points of examination and necessary deconstruction. Whether in politics, religious centers, schools, universities, corporations, hospitals, and more, that conversations toward justice remain inclusive, honest, bold, and sustained until resolution.
Police brutality and the killing of Black, Brown, and colorized bodies is not the root of Americas problem, it is but a symptom. The depth and lethality of a problem is revealed when mere symptomology results in death. If the symptom results in frequent deaths, imagine the daily death toll resulting from race and racism?
Jamarcus Glover, Breonna Taylors ex-boyfriend, indicted with drug trafficking and gun charges, was offered a plea deal if he would lie and say Breonna was part of an organized crime syndicate trafficking drugs into Louisville. Anti-Blackness runs so deep down racial American streams, in death we are continually tarnished and dehumanized. If after Black people are to be vilified and slandered after being shot or killed by police, like George Floyd, Derrick Jones, Oscar Grant, Jacob Blake, etc., include the racist and pedophile rapist behaviors of Thomas Jefferson and more. There is no need to include race where it does not exist, but if it is there, do not ignore it. Examine it.
Stop trying to silence us, We Are Still Fighting!