Sunday, November 11, 2012

White house. Black house.

If caution is a characteristic of conservatism, then I must own up to that side of my personality. I sometimes yield to chicken-shit tentativity when expressing observations on the racially polarised landscape we find ourselves living in. But not today.

As one who is given to frequent rumination on such issues, from a perspective of cultural complexity, I'm understandably drawn to, and opinionated on, this discourse - despite assuming a position high above the fray as a proud proselyte of an (admittedly) idealistic tabula rasa (Rasta?). The One Love philosophy.

Racism is the polar opposite of this stance, being based in bias; i.e. the principle of any race's intrinsic preferability over another. Bio-specific minutiae, such as variability in skin-tone and sundry genetic distinctions, are the props it's built on, but racism's broad purview includes cultural corollary to this precept.

Acknowledging that there's a case to be made for racism being a natural characteristic of the human species, there can nevertheless be no doubting that colonial expansion over the last five centuries, for all the wonderful countries founded, also compounded the issue and extended hegemonies, via empire.

In the United States, and other post-colonial societies with historically race-based beginnings, race is a DNA factor that colors culture and political affiliations. Variants apply but this view is through black 'n' white specs.

Sensitivities surround the word racist, even when used as mere explanation. It tends to trigger soul-denial, and render generalization and selective memory powerful psychological tools in the struggle for representative power.

This has fostered a proliferation of codified, and not so codified pejoratives. The establishment of an African-American POTUS has laid bare nerves beneath a filmy epidermis of equanimity, as this remarkable democracy seeks to retain its ascendancy.

"Communist," "dictator," "terrorist," "thief," are nouns from only one comment-thread, in one disaffected right-wing article parsing the 2012 re-election result, but I've seen several such. The same thread is decorated with adjectives like "evil" and "ruthless," with more than one bright spark styling Barack Obama as "Anti-Christ" ("read your bible") and "Son of Lucifer" ("666 - The Beast").

I'll deliberately avoid rehashing cretinous diatribes on magic negroes, bones in the nose, monkeys, makers/takers and nooses. 

So help me Jah, I couldn't make this stuff up. Wry smile. More.

One of the things I grapple with in this climate, is the reluctance of so many white American voters to draw the connection between a Republican vote and a racial slap-in-the-face. In light of palpable idiocy and ill-concealed hatred from right-wing ranks, I'm ecstatic at G.O.P. misery at the polls. Even if Mitt Romney was a financial magician, it would've been regrettable to empower the social luddites and those who refuse to take them to task.

For sure, there is no economic prosperity worth sacrificing social propriety for, and none achievable without it.

The sting in the tail here is, if anyone points out how suspicious this vitriol is, toward Obama's frequently referenced heritage, the charge of racism gets defensively leveled at them.

Let's get one thing straight. Racists tend to use the unqualified term "reverse racism" with impunity. It deflects the onus of understanding by identifying pushback as the primary impetus. This only serves to perpetuate ignorance and impasse.

"Liberal" and "conservative" are not bad words, nor mutually exclusive from racism, but it does seem difficult for the latter to transcend or decry bigotry. So much so that Obama optimists get accused of being divisive and disingenuous when it's patently clear who really is. Witness voter allegiance.

It's sad, demoralizing, polarizing, undignifying, yet still, somehow fascinating and instructive just how much adrenaline an American election can inject into this dialectic. Nearly all of old Confederacy voted Republican, and a vast majority of non-whites ("minority" is a misnomer now) voted Democrat.

Americans, of the United States, deserve less entrenchment.


  1. Racism is another ism directed at a group of people that the majority feel threatens them. Sexism, Ageism, etc. Nothing will change until we change the way we see each other.

  2. I find it ironic that racism occurs since the human race is one race anyway. We are all the same at the genetic level. The mind boggles...

  3. I admit I took a while to read this piece. When you had mentioned that you were going to be writing it, I experienced more of the fear that has permeated life for me through a whole year of campaigning. The whole thing left me feeling poisoned.

    I wish I had found the courage.

    One train of thought has followed me through this whole election year: "Does no one see the relationship between prejudice and the Republican platform? I don't care how bad a leader Mr. Obama is or isn't, he isn't speaking out about disenfranchising *any* section of the American society. How is it no one else sees this?"

    I use the word prejudice, because it's not just racism. As a woman I was appalled to hear sentiments such as "legitimate rape" and the ever present railing against abortion, non-Christians, and persons of other sexualities. The whole thing was potently toxic!

    Thank you for putting a coherent lid on the issues. Thank you for enabling me to see and, more importantly, express what it was about the whole deal that made me sick to my stomach. Thank you for pointing out the gap in vision that most people refuse to acknowledge.


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