The Politics of Blackness

“Black” people are not black and “white” people are not white.  The terms are used by ruling classes around the globe as an indicator of who is to be favored and who is to be used or discarded.  In Thailand, those who work in the fields are by consequence, darker than those who work inside buildings.  Those who are genetically of fairer skin are selected for office work while the dark people are relegated to the fields.  We could describe similar distinctions in India, China, Japan, Africa, Brazil, Mexico…likely every part of the globe.  Our focus, of course, will be on the US.

Black people are very much aware of the distinctions between those slaves who worked in the fields and those who worked in the slave-owners house.  House slaves often became mistresses of, or were raped by, the owners, their children and other whites.  Their offspring were genetically varying shades of color.  Some were indistinguishable from their white forbears and often received most favored treatment.  Eventually, some of these were able to disavow their black ancestry and “pass” for white.

Whites, in a futile attempt to maintain the politically advantageous distinctions of whiteness, went to painful extremes to identify degrees of blackness.  They came up with half-breed, quadroon and octoroon.  A suspect white would be said to have “a touch of the tar bush.”  Whites, in desperation, finally had to declare the preposterous notion that, “One drop of black blood makes the individual black.”  The anthropological term “Negro,” was twisted to form the most degrading sound that whites could form to show their utter distaste for negroes of all colors.  When the chains of slavery, then segregation , then Jim Crow were broken, the newly empowered negroes adopted the pejorative “black” and turned it on its head.  The triumphant and jubilant leadership proclaimed that “black is beautiful.”  When the ruling class still found ways to discount blacks, blacks adopted the term “African-American” to show a proud historical connection to the mother country just as other hyphenated Europeans do.  But, clearly, there is little to connect blacks of any hue to the widely varied people of the vast African continent.  Without a demonstrable connection to a particular tribe, the term African-American is just one more attempt to invest its holder with a bit more political power.

We can confidently declare that it is impossible to distinguish any differences among colors of people to support supposed variations in genetically endowed abilities. The whites, who fear a loss of their privileges in the US power structure, do not acknowledge that reality.  Instead, they blindly attack the president who is nominally black even though he has parents whose mother is more or less caucasian and whose father is more or less negro.  Racists fear that the president’s nominally designated color category makes him predisposed to give additional power and privileges to US citizens who are of varying shades of color, but also categorized as black.

We can clearly feel the irrationality of their position.  We suspect that underneath that rabid fervor is an intense fear that their “whiteness” is no longer a politically effective tool to preserve their privileges.  As they see those called black or Latino or Asian gain political power, they realize that the historically white power holders are losing ground rapidly.  The Republican Party has used demagoguery and manipulation of this intense white fear to whip up hatred against non-whites.  That manipulation had served them well until the true believers, the Tea Party, organized and paid for by super wealthy Republicans, became too visible and obvious to claim that Republicans are not brutally, insanely racist.  The Republican Party has openly revealed that it is dependent on “angry white men” for its political survival.  The loss of two elections to the nominally black Barack Obama revealed that there are no longer enough angry white men left to help them return to political power.

But, the desperation of the Republicans is such that they no longer try to hide their overt attempts to prevent nominally black and brown people from voting.  The laughable Supreme Court, packed successfully by George W. Bush, has been most unseemly in its efforts to support the Republicans’ democracy-defeating measures to retain power.

The judgment of the majority of Americans has become very clear.  The judgment has been rendered by black people, brown people, women, gays and even white people who are not afraid of other human beings who happen to look different than they do.  That judgment is that we have had enough of the power holders.  The power holders have done extensive damage to the people of the US as well as to the people of numerous foreign lands.  Afghans and Iraqis are among just the latest in a long line of those who have suffered at the hands of those who would hold on to or extend their power at all costs…regardless of harm to other human beings.

The white supremacists are fading fast.  Their desperation may still hurt a lot of people.  But, the US is preparing itself to absorb the blow from the death throes of these violent racists.  Black people took the best shot the thugs could deliver, shrugged it off, prospered and now watch in bemused contemplation as the rest of the country deals with the dying beast.

We can only hope that this time the country drives a stake through the heart of the monster.

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