The "Democratic" Origin and Evolution of Racism
by Ezrah Aharone
Einstein reasoned, you “cannot alter a condition with the same mindset that created it in the first place.” In other words, solutions require thinking that transcends the mindset which caused and/or contributes to undesirable conditions. Using this premise to examine racism in America, the question becomes: To what origin is modern racism anchored and how can existing bounds of thought be transcended for new national discourse to redress the causes and conditions?
First, some honest but controversial realities must be recognized since racism did not emerge unexplainably. Racism in America originated from democracy in America. But America finds this offensive since it makes America’s character appear no different than “undemocratic” people that America “won’t negotiate with” today. To deflect this onus, America maintains the flawed notion that the impact of slavery and segregation is inconsequential . . . that 50 years of desegregation somehow nullifies 4 centuries of dehumanization.
This popularizes the misbelief that racism is no longer structural nor intrinsic to society, but rather attitudinal and limited to “random” outbursts from “fringe” individuals like Donald Sterling, whose proposed punishment involves forcing him to profit from selling the Clippers (with 12 of 14 players being Black) for $2 billion.
Modern racism is an extension of 1619 slavery, conjoined to profiteering. Despite the grandeur, July 4, 1776 is when racism was not only normalized in democracy, but also camouflaged through flowery language in America’s founding documents. This has furnished American democracy with a velvet-glove exterior that encases the racism of its interior. Hence, no other contemporary people in a “democracy” have undergone more systemic racism longer than African Americans . . . and although slavery is immoral, it wasn’t quite “immoral-enough” to discredit anyone from making Mt. Rushmore.
To be fair, upon ridding themselves from what they deemed British tyranny, the founders could have genuinely become extraordinary by simply honoring their “creed of equality.” But rather than condemn slavery, they used their sovereign powers to enforce slavery. This helped incubate a fixed ideo-political environment for “guilt-free racism” to saturate society inter-generationally, whereby reparations is still dismissed as near-laughable.
Based on “military necessity” emancipation occurred in 1865 but without proper conciliatory or compensatory measures. Democracy thereafter produced 99 more years of systemic racism that encompassed: reconstruction failures; sharecropping peonage; Black Codes; convict leasing; thousands of uninvestigated lynchings; medical experimentations at Ivy League universities; and Lincoln’s 13th Amendment that abolished slavery, yet provided wiggle-room for slavery to exist “as a punishment for crime.”
Moreover, the 13th Amendment insultingly comprises only 43 words. Think about it – How can 2˝ centuries of institutionalized slavery and racism be earnestly amended in merely 43 words? Paula Deen used more words to apologize for saying the N-word, and Imus for saying “nappy-headed hoes.”
Racism has also evolved over time, whereas racists norms once entailed having your wife “borrowed” for the night; or being lynched to the delight of mobs for “being too big for your britches;” or being prohibited from drinking “white water” while policemen cannonball-blast you with white fire-hydrant water. Today however, Obama is president; Oprah is a billionaire; Dr. King has a holiday; Jay Z’s partnership with Barney’s remains intact; Denny’s serves Black people; and the Clippers have a symbolic interim Black CEO.
Racism now though is metaphorically like “death by a thousand cuts” from subtle but certain subordination and disparities in housing, healthcare, education, employment (firing/hiring/promotions/salary), wealth, profiling, arrests, incarcerations, etc. And even more problematic is the psycho-subliminal aspects of racism . . . Since the 1940s, the Clarks’ “Doll Experiment” proves that Black children are socially engineered (by age-5) to regard Black dolls/people as inferior, uglier, badder and dumber than White dolls/people.
This confirms the pathologies of what W.E.B. Dubois (1903) termed “Double Consciousness” and Carter Woodson (1933) termed “Mis-Education,” which stagnate original Black development and world contributions. Such engineering also constricts the boundaries of thought that require transcending to redress racism, as Einstein alluded.
In response, African Americans should aver to no longer allow the historiography of the Black experience to be politically tortured with skewed idealisms until it falsely confesses the sanitized versions of democracy that anchor the structural, attitudinal, psychological racism of today. This perhaps can initiate new national discourse on racism to snip other pseudo-democratic tenants and tentacles that tie to more centuries-old falsehoods that African Americans should also learn to unlearn.
This article was culled in part from Ezrah’s forthcoming book The Sovereign Psyche. Ezrah Aharone is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Delaware State University and the author of two acclaimed political books: Sovereign Evolution: Manifest Destiny from Civil Rights to Sovereign Rights and Pawned Sovereignty: Sharpened Black Perspectives on Americanization, Africa, War and Reparations. He can be reached at www.EzrahSpeaks.com.