Who happens to be black? If you’ve read Malcolm X, you already know the answer. Chauncy Devega at We Are Respectable Negroes writes a compelling essay on racism, and how it permeates the national discussion on Obama. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because the things that racists say to other white people are so shocking, not only for the content of their fevered insanity, but for their assumption that every other white person agrees with them. Still. In America.
I do believe that most overt racists are unaware of the workings of their own psyche. Why else would they go to so much trouble to fabricate lies to justify their hatred of a black president? I have my issues with President Obama, but they’re based on policy, not skin color. Since he’s been elected, I’ve had people say things to me that are so vile, I can only shake my head — after I point out that they’re clearly more upset about his skin color than anything else.
It sickens me. Not that we don’t all have unconscious biases (and yes, belief in white supremacy is a hard one to shake. After all, how else would you explain the American habit of doing whatever needs to be done to suck up the world’s resources while everyone else suffers?), but we try. We keep talking. I don’t know how we’ll ever heal this festering sore of racism, but we have to keep trying.
The personal is political. The rage machine that presumes the worst of Barack Obama, precisely because he is not white, is old hat. Black folks have known that game for centuries. We did not need to read Thomas Jefferson’s racist tract, Notes on the State of Virginia, in order to grasp the deep wells of anti-black sentiment which are the beating heart of America’s political culture.
My surprise at the claim that President Obama shares anything in common with a “skinny, ghetto, crackhead” is rooted in its absurdity. Obama is human. He is imperfect. I often disagree with his politics. Obama is a man. He is nothing more, nothing less. But a crackhead? Impulsive drug user? A hype? Nope. Not ever. Obama’s personhood and habitus, his relaxed and effortless black cool pose (even if some do not possess the cultural framework and lens necessary to perceive it) is obvious–and unapologetic.
The inability by some on the Right to see Obama’s full and dignified black humanity, as opposed to a default of black drug use, criminality, and omnipresent, irrepressible “niggerdom,” is the source of my hurt. I must ask: If the white conservative imagination can frame a man of Obama’s abilities, poise, intelligence, genius, life accomplishments, and talent as a skinny, ghetto, crackhead, how do they see the rest of us?
And we wonder why the colorline persists. White folks need to get their own house in order; the problem of white supremacy, especially on the Right, is a sickness that only they can cure through intense dialogue and therapy with one another.
If the best and brightest of Black America are just felons and drug users in the eyes of populist conservatives, what of the legions of working class, hard working, regular folks? How do Tea Party GOPers see black bus drivers? Black teachers? Black janitors? Black attorneys and investment bankers? Black parents? Black people who are either no more, or no less, mediocre than the vast majority of White Americans?
I am not sure if I want to know the answer.
We are everyday people. All of us. Sadly, white conservatives such as Eric Bolling, see all black people as drug addicts and crackheads. Nothing more. That is black humanity in their eyes. White pathology is real. Last week, Eric Bolling and Fox News proved that fact (again).
They are who we have always known them to be. Ugly. White. Racists. Do keep it classy Mr. Bolling, for every time you sell your wares, you do the rest of us a favor.