Black Racial Consciousness,
Many blacks do not feel they are part of America.
Parts I and II, in the two previous issues, described how closely blacks identify with their race, and take for granted that race and culture are inseparable. Part II concluded with examples of the intense hatred many blacks feel for whites.
Given this level of dislike for the majority population, it is not surprising that many blacks feel alienated from the United States as a whole. Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, black author Brian Gilmore wrote that blacks were not emotionally drawn into the events the way whites were, that they were “not feeling that deep sense of patriotism that most Americans feel.” Of his fellow blacks he wrote, “They were Americans, but not quite as American as white Americans.” He wrote about what was to him the most important consequence of the attacks: “[N]ot only was the black agenda taken off the table for the foreseeable future, the table itself was taken down.”
In the aftermath of the attacks, in which hundreds of New York City firemen died in rescue attempts, many fire departments started flying American flags on their trucks as a tribute to fallen comrades. On Sept. 15, two black members of the Miami-Dade department, Jim Moore and Terry Williams, refused to ride on a truck flying the flag. Thomas Steinfatt, a professor specializing in inter-cultural communications at the University of Miami, says their sentiments are common. “Black Americans perceive a lot of areas of discrimination that are not evident to whites,” he said. “To some, the flag represents white America, not all of America.”
Three months after the attacks, Rev. Al Sharpton spoke at the State of the Black World Conference, held in Atlanta. He celebrated the view that blacks are not really part of America, and taunted the American military for not being able to find Osama bin Laden. “This country can’t find a guy who comes out every two weeks to cut a video, and then you challenge us to stand under one flag?” he asked, to thunderous applause from 700 black delegates.
In 2000, state legislators in New Jersey tried to pass a bill to have school children recite this passage from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
|“They were Americans, but not quite as American as white Americans.”|
The bill would have also required schools to describe the historical context that explains why the passage refers only to men, and that it was written at a time when slavery was legal. Black legislators fought the bill because “all men are created equal” did not apply to blacks in 1776. State Senator Wayne Bryant led the opposition: “It’s another way of being exclusionary and insensitive … You have the nerve to ask my grandchildren to recite (the declaration). How dare you? You are now on notice that this is offensive to my community.” Every black state senator opposed the bill.
Likewise in 2000, Chicago alderman Bernard Stone thought it would be a patriotic gesture if every city council session began with the Pledge of Allegiance. “It seemed to me to be a no-brainer, something that would be passed almost without discussion,” he said. He was wrong. Black members of the council complained that the final phrase, “with liberty and justice for all” is hypocritical because it does not include blacks. The council finally did vote to open meetings with the pledge, but several black members abstained. When the council recited the pledge for the first time, at least one black member stayed outside the room.
|Not the same for blacks.|
In January 2002, the Virginia state legislature voted unanimously to begin each session by reciting the official state pledge to the Virginia flag: “I salute the flag of Virginia, with reverence and patriotic devotion to the ‘Mother of States and Statesmen,’ which it represents — the ‘Old Dominion,’ where liberty and independence were born.” A week later, black legislators tried to stop recitation of the pledge when they learned that it was written in 1946 by a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a club for women descended from Confederate soldiers. They had also learned that the state had adopted the pledge in 1954, at a time when segregation was still legal. “I don’t want to affirm a time when Virginia was exclusive and not inclusive,” said Delegate Dwight Jones of Richmond. “I feel like I’m affirming the past and the mood of the state at the time [when I recite the pledge].” By this logic, they should abolish the flag itself, which was adopted in 1861, when slavery was still practiced.
For many blacks, the history of the United States is an unbroken chain of racism and oppression, and can never be a source of pride or patriotism. As filmmaker Spike Lee has explained, “When talking about the history of this great country, one can never forget that America was built upon the genocide of Native Americans and enslavement of African people. To say otherwise is criminal.”
Equally deep alienation from the United States was reflected by a group of black congressmen who were convinced that the presidential elections of 2000, in which there was dispute about the vote count in Florida, reflected systematic racism and corruption in the American electoral system. The group, led by Texas Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, sent a letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan asking the United Nations to send election observers to monitor the US presidential election in 2004, in order to “ensure free and fair elections.”
A different but related form of alienation is reflected in the frequent unwillingness of blacks to cooperate with the police, even when they are investigating crimes committed against other blacks. In 2006, “Stop Snitching” T-shirts were something of a fashion craze. They featured a large red “stop” symbol with “stop snitching” in block letters inside, and showed up on people loitering around crime scenes when the police came to investigate.
Pittsburgh prosecutor Lisa Pellegrini had seen the shirt before, but was furious when she found one of her own prosecution witnesses wearing one in court. This was a man she was counting on to testify against a murderer, but he walked out of the courthouse rather than turn the shirt inside out. With no witness for the prosecution, she had no case and the judge dismissed charges. Miss Pellegrini explained that refusal to cooperate is pervasive: “In almost every one of my homicides, this happens: ‘I don’t know nothin’ about nothing.’ There is that attitude, ‘Don’t be a snitch.’ And it’s condoned by the community.” In Massachusetts, the problem was so bad that the state banned “Stop Snitching” clothing from all courthouses. More ominously, it also banned cell phones with cameras, when friends of a defendant were caught using a cell phone to take pictures of witnesses and the prosecutor.
There are even magazines sold on newsstands that are devoted to contempt for the law. One called Felon appeals both to the real thing and to young blacks who think prison time is a glamorous rite of passage. In 2006 it published an entire “stop snitchin” issue. One letter to the editor closed with “To my bitches, I love ya’ll.” A similar magazine, Don Diva, was launched with the motto “For The Ghetto Fabulous Lifestyle.” It later rechristened itself as “The Original Street Bible,” and glamorizes outlaw life with articles about criminals, clothing, cars, and is illustrated with sultry, near-naked women. One fold-out cover depicted a staged street execution. “We speak for the streets — people doing time, doing life and doing death,” explained editor Tiffany Childs.
| For those who are, and for
those who just want to be.
For many blacks, a highly visible refusal to respect the white man’s law is more important than justice. Busta Rhymes is a hip-hop star who, along with as many as 50 other blacks, probably saw someone shoot his bodyguard in 2006. No one was willing to talk to the police. This was also the case in the unsolved murders of other prominent rappers: Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G., and Jam Master Jay.
It is not only rappers and ghetto-dwellers who think blacks should put loyalty to race above loyalty to the law. Paul Butler is a former U.S. Attorney-turned-law-professor, who thinks that when black juries decide the fate of black defendants who are clearly guilty, they should first decide whether it is good for black people if the accused is sent to prison. If not, they should acquit. He openly promotes “jury nullification,” whereby jurors make decisions without regard for the evidence. “I do want to subvert the criminal justice system,” he said unapologetically.
Are there blacks who do not put race first, who oppose racial preferences, who want Americans of all colors to overcome the divisiveness of the past? In short, are there blacks who have the same ideals about race as most whites? Yes, and other blacks despise them.
The most hated black man in America is undoubtedly Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Rather than taking pride in his achievements, blacks heap scorn on him because he does not display a strong racial consciousness, and does not favor racial preferences for blacks. His name evokes contempt in churches, barber shops, gyms, or any other place blacks gather. Black commentator Julianne Malveaux once said of him, “I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early, like many black men do, of heart disease.”
Donna Brazile, also black, who managed Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000, explains that “there’s so much animosity and hatred toward Clarence Thomas as someone who has betrayed the race.” Abigail Johnson, a retired educator in Savannah, Georgia, once recognized Justice Thomas chatting with friends in a public library in Savannah. She approached them and announced, “I just wanted to see what a group of Uncle Toms looks like,” and walked away. Black essayist Debra Dickerson, who has some sympathy for Justice Thomas, says he “is the lowest of the low in sort of official blackdom.” Emerge, a black-oriented magazine that has since disappeared, put Justice Thomas on its cover twice — once as a lawn jockey and once in an Aunt Jemima-style head scarf. Ebony refuses to include Justice Thomas in its list of 100 most influential blacks.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii once considered inviting Justice Thomas to take part in a debate on racial preferences, but a black member of the local ACLU board, Eric Ferrer, complained it would be like “inviting Hitler to come speak on the rights of Jews.” Former mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, denounced him in a speech to the Association of Black Sociologists, calling Justice Thomas “a shill and cover for the most insidious form of racism,” and said that inviting him to speak would be “legitimizing of the Ku Klux Klan.”
Five black law school professors boycotted a 2002 talk by Justice Thomas at the University of North Carolina. They had not protested a visit by the conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, but explained in a letter that with Justice Thomas it was different: In a nation “in which African Americans are disproportionately poor, undereducated, imprisoned and politically compromised, identity — racial identity — very clearly matters.” Justice Thomas was, in their view, a traitor to his race. Leonard Small knew Clarence Thomas when both were teen-agers in Pin Point, Georgia. “He not only hates himself, he hates his history,” says Mr. Small. “He wishes almost socio-pathically to be white.”
|Not nearly black enough.|
There are a few other blacks who, like Clarence Thomas, sincerely believe racial preferences are unfair, even if they benefit blacks. One is Ward Connerly, who has been fighting affirmative action for years. After guiding an anti-discrimination ballot initiative to success in California, he established the American Civil Rights Institute to try to promote similar campaigns in other states. Many blacks were furious when Mr. Connerly picked the 68th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. to announce formation of the group. “Dr. Martin Luther King died for Ward Connerly to even have a right to be here, to speak and to be listened to by the media,” said the Rev. Timothy Malone, a minister at the University of California at Davis. “It’s a bridge that Ward Connerly has walked across and is now trying to tear down so that others will not be able to walk across.” He added that Mr. Connerly was “spitting on the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by announcing that he’s going to end the programs that (King) died for.” Mr. Connerly has drawn spite from blacks wherever he has campaigned against affirmative action.
Jesse Lee Peterson, who runs a Los Angeles boys’ home called the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND), has drawn some attention as a black man who does not accept racism as an excuse for the failings of blacks. He points out:
“You have cities run by blacks — the mayor, the police chief, the city council are black; everybody and his mama, black — and I’m afraid to go out at night. Yet these cities’ leaders are still able to blame white racism for their problems. Help me on this. Why don’t blacks say: ‘You’re in control; do something’? Why do black folks continue to accept [the racism excuse]?”
Michael Eric Dyson, a black, tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania has the typical, sneering reply: “If you’ve ever wondered what a self-hating black man who despises black culture and worships at the altar of whiteness looks like, take a gander at the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson.”
|They were never satisfied.|
An ordinary black person minding his own business can get into trouble for not being “black enough.” Eric J. Moore, a black Milwaukee police officer, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2003, accusing his black supervisors of denying him promotions because he kept company with whites. “Upper management has made known their biases against me because of my race and association with non-blacks,” he said. He also noted that police chief and mayoral candidate Arthur L. Jones called him a “shuffling-okey-dokey-for-the-white-man type of brother,” and that his former supervisor Leslie Barber told him he would not be promoted because he “runs around here talking to those damn white people.”
Gary Franks of Connecticut was one of a very small number of black Republicans in Congress, and did not join the Black Caucus or support racial preferences. When his six years of service ended with a defeat in 1996, a black Democratic congressman from Missouri, Bill Clay, wrote a six-page letter of celebration. He called Mr. Franks “a Negro Dr. Kevorkian, a pariah who gleefully assists in suicidal conduct to destroy his own race.” Of Mr. Franks and Clarence Thomas he wrote: “The goal of this group of Negro wanderers is to maim and kill other blacks for the gratification and entertainment of — for lack of a more accurately descriptive word — ultraconservative white racists.”
What Future for Whites?
What we find among many blacks — no doubt the majority — is a view of race completely at odds with what the civil rights movement was presumably working for: the elimination of race as a relevant category in American life. White racism is commonly alleged to be the great obstacle to harmonious race relations in the United States, but whites are the only group that actually subscribes to the goal of eliminating race consciousness and that actively polices its members for signs of backsliding. If whites were the great obstacle to harmony, it would be they who unapologetically put their interests first, who fantasized about killing blacks, who vied with each other to prove they were “white enough,” and ostracized and spat upon those who were not. Instead, any white person who spoke or acted in ways blacks take for granted would be hounded out of public life and scorned in private. To understand how differently blacks and whites think about race, it is sufficient to reread any of the preceding passages and imagine the same events but with the races reversed.
Anyone who looks closely at black racial thinking and behavior cannot but conclude that 50 years after the legislated revolution of the civil rights movement, blacks are as far as ever from adopting the race-blindness that whites assume all Americans must achieve for multi-racialism to work. That is why virtually no one does look closely. Scholars and journalists alike avert their eyes from the intolerable fact that the racial group for which equality was sought so earnestly and so hopefully has not kept its end of the bargain.
|The Garvey flag at the Capitol.|
There is intense, combative racial consciousness in the United States because blacks nourish it, take pride in it, find meaning in it, and despise other blacks who do not. The persistence of black racial consciousness in the face of sincere white efforts to practice race-blindness and even preferential treatment for minorities is the single greatest failure of racial liberalism, and the most certain sign that those who have promoted it do not understand human nature or the world in which we live. It is only a matter of time: Black racial consciousness — together with Hispanic and, to a lesser extent Asian consciousness — is reawakening white racial consciousness.
The behavior of non-whites not just in the United States but everywhere in the world shows that intense racial consciousness and the impulse to advance one’s own group even at the expense of others is the human norm. Whites are the only people who believe it is virtuous to sacrifice their group interests for the advantage of others. Indeed, for many whites, racial altruism has become the highest of all virtues.
This is nevertheless a very recent conviction. From the earliest contacts with non-whites until only 50 or 60 years ago, whites had a vivid sense of identity, and most could hardly imagine a world in which whites would cheerfully adopt policies that would, if left unchanged, consign their race and culture to oblivion.
Like the Communists, who initially may have truly believed that selfishness could be abolished and that humans really could live “from each according to his ability to each according to his need,” today’s white liberals are betting the future of their civilization on a mistaken view of man. Racial and group identity can no more be extirpated from the human spirit than can selfishness.
Communism staggered on for 70 years, blighting the lives of millions, before it finally collapsed. Sixty years after its official victory in the United States, racial egalitarianism is now the secular religion of whites everywhere — although not even its most fervent promoters practice in private the “diversity” they claim to love. Racial orthodoxy is like Communism under Khrushchev; practically no one really believes in it any more, but everyone must pretend to.
No one believes in it for two reasons. First, blacks and now Hispanics continue to fail in disproportionate numbers despite years of uplift that has cost billions of dollars. Second, nothing could be clearer than the fact that non-whites have not joined whites in the campaign to dismantle racial consciousness. Indeed, racial loyalty is so strong, so natural, so inevitable for them that they refuse to believe whites do not feel a race loyalty that is equally strong. Because they see the world in such vividly racial terms they cannot imagine whites could see it differently.
|From the Museum of Communism in Prague. Some day there will be a Museum of Racial Egalitarianism.|
The endless charges of white racism and oppression that lard the speech of non-whites therefore reflect their own compulsions, not those of whites. They are attributing to whites the racial chauvinism they feel and cannot imagine we do not feel. They are accusing us of the very things they would do to us if they had the power to do it.
This is the real crisis whites face. They believed, during the “civil rights era,” that equal rights would satisfy blacks. They were wrong. Blacks were never satisfied. The most foolish whites even thought blacks would be grateful. They were never grateful. Blacks have gloried in their grievances, burnished their resentments, never moderated their demands. It should be clear to even the dullest liberal that nothing whites ever do will satisfy blacks, and that Hispanics are quickly learning to recite the same litany of constant and infinite grievance. The compulsion to take and to humiliate only grows stronger the more they take and humiliate.
Nothing suggests that the grievances of blacks and Hispanics will subside as they gain in numbers and power. They will always see whites as exploiters and criminals, even if whites are reduced to a small and powerless minority. In their view, whites will therefore always deserve whatever retribution it is within their power to exact.
In 100 years, will American whites be living as their cousins now live in Zimbabwe and South Africa? Will they be at the mercy of majorities that hate them, and tolerate them only to the extent they find them useful? Today, Robert Mugabe and Thabo Mbeki are restrained by the existence of powerful, white-majority countries. Africans, no less than American blacks and Hispanics, do not realize that whites really have lost racial consciousness, that Europe and America will not save the white tribe if the black tribes decide to ring down the curtain.
If our descendents ever face the same threat, there will be no powers to restrain an angry majority. And if our descendents ever face that threat it will be because we failed to forestall it.