I love it when Anthony Smith, PostModernNegro, steps into a debate on my message board. Yes, we were debating a post by Wrath James White. I remember this exchange between him and another board member like it was yesterday …

(… cue the harp music as we go back in time …)

Still I cannot believe that one must do a study of slavery to understand the political issues that face us today, or have an understanding of current events.

I guess the same can be said for the current debates surrounding Supreme Court nominees. The ‘original’ intent of the founders don’t matter right? I mean…it’s the past right? I has no bearing whatsoever on our present…right? That’s my point. We can be very selective about which past historical events have a bearing on our political present. Why is that? And why is it the race and slavery issue that normally gets side-lined? Its quite arbitrary. Not saying you are saying this green…but because we don’t read the histories with serious scrutiny this is typically the kind of response we will continue to get…our racial past has no bearing on the present. Such a suggestion is a very selective view of history. And it reveals other things that I don’t think we are ready to delve into in this particular discussion…such as white privilege. White people don’t have to acknowledge that America’s racial past has a bearing on our political present.

Slavery or Vietnam doesn’t make little Johnny steal, or entitle Little Susie to a lifetime of welfare.

Again…if I can point out the arbitrary and selective nature of such a common observation. You often hear conservative Christian bemoan the fact that prayer has been taken out of schools…that the introduction of evolution in course curriculums has had detrimental effects on young people in our country. But these happened years ago. It’s the past right? They have no bearing on our political present…right? I am not saying that you, Green, are saying this, but this is the common response we often hear from people who believe that slavery and race-ism have no bearing our political present but somehow Darwin and the absence of school prayer do. Why? Because it effects certain racial groupings. Take for instance school shootings in the suburbs. When a white kid goes off in the suburbs and kills dozens of kids…who is at fault? Do we hear diatribes about personal responsibility? No…that is usually a secondary mention. We get white conservatives going to D.C. to address Congress about the ‘culture of violence’. When black folks shoot each other…what? lack of personal responsibility.

So what I see in a lot of these discussions in a selectivity that reveals how little we understand America’s racial legacy. I appreciate your response as well…but I hope that we are willing to have a true dialogue and not a monologue. I am willing to learn and listen…and to read whatever you throw my way.

And because I’m all about making friends, here’s a new one defining “white privilege.” This kind of sets the stage for my new INtake column. I originally titled it after the game, but raised your hands if you thought the title “Crackernomics” would stick?

CRACKERNOMICS

I was at a writer’s conference the other week and sat in on a panel on race and ethnicity in genre fiction paneled and attended by white people (with yours truly being the sole exception). One of the comments I heard in this already surreal scene was about how white males are an easy target.

O put upon white males, I feel your pain.

After centuries of being in charge, the last few decades have been rough. Feeling like you are the last group of people of whom folks can safely make fun. Jews are out (as Mel Gibson). Gays, Blacks, women, those will get you quickly labeled homophobe, racist, or misogynist. That pretty much leaves Christians and white males as groups for people to mock.

You hear the intelligentsia talk about white privilege and imperial hegemonies and you’re left thinking to yourself “I didn’t own slaves. I didn’t oppress anyone.” Again, I feel you my white friends. Navigating history and systematic legacies are tricky endeavors.

The hypocritical conceit of the country was that while our founding fathers held that all men were created equal, they also held slaves. You don’t think that central kind of hypocrisy doesn’t affect the character of a nation? Finds its way into the system of the society. Finds its way into the hearts and minds of the individuals that make up the system. Becomes ingrained. An aspect of colonialism is its conquest mentality that works by making other cultures less than human (or “the enemy”) while exalting the colonizer’s. So, pulling a cultural-historical example out of my hat, if black people are still experiencing the lingering effects of slavery and civil rights injustice due to systematic racism, it stands to reason that white people still experience systematic benefits. Both need to be dismantled, because tacit racism is still racism.

I know, I know, you gentle white souls, this means you rage against the gods of political correctness as your slice of the American Dream pie continues to get cut into. The conversations are tough, exposing your possible denial, defensiveness, guilt, and shame of benefiting from systemic injustice. Be strong white people.

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