Anger is the weapon of powerlessness…
I stopped talking about race issues a few years ago. I realized that there was no place for me. There’s no place for the moderate, the dissenter, or the middle. You’re either an Uncle Tom or your militant. There’s no gray matter.
A curious inversion has happened in the new Black Power “movement.” Curious, yet common. What starts off as passionate desire for equality ends up as reactionary and emotional violence. A heart for the oppressed becomes consumed and obsessed with the oppressor. And so what happens with most movements is that the focus has shifted from black empowerment and improving on the black experience in America to a bizarre preoccupation with white America.
The details are in the nuances. I’m not concerned with whiteness as it were. I’m concerned with blackness. And it’s interesting how the law always prevails, that what you resist persists. This is why the sages often encouraged their devotees to work for what they desired, not against what they despised. Resisting and fighting gives passion, psychic energy, life, and legs to the thing that you resist. When you are for, you become process-oriented, and though the goal lingers in the background of the mind, you become so full with the process that creativity and innovation naturally manifest.
Does it not seem odd that the same people who say that white people will never change are the same ones who immediately write and blog when privilege rears its head? This is where black power inverts itself and becomes black powerlessness, and at its worst, white power. The fighter’s emotional reaction positions him as an interesting piece in the white power puzzle when he deifies (by obsessing on) every move, every thought, every decision that Whiteness makes. It’s fatalism 2.0. We give away our power by promulgating their power.
We subconsciously certify our place as subject to white whimsy, just as we have been for centuries, and this is where the irony is most conspicuous. We immediately recognize white supremacy as manifested in black lives when we see blacks who lighten their skin, hate their kinks, dismiss blackness as ghetto culture, or become obsessed with thin noses. But that’s just at the conscious level. At the subconscious level we don’t realize that obsession with what white people do_to_us**, say to us, how they look at us, is still an obsession. And so we never take into account that though we may not consciously think of them with favor, we still think of them – just with a protracted mind. One of two things inevitably happens: you either become obsessed with their supremacy, or obsessed with your deficiency or pain story, neither of which is productive.
And then we oppress…
“They takin’ all the jobs!”
“You gotta be bilingual for everything!”
“They need to learn English!”
“They government giving them all the benefits!”
“Look at all them kids they havin’!”
“They takin over!”
With no ear to the destitution, joblessness and crime from which many immigrants come here to escape. Because our whole understanding of race relations is based in negative emotion, every new situation is approached similarly. We become everything we hated about our oppressors, interestingly, using the same logic and words.
We absolutely must begin to de-identify with the pain of slavery, of Jim Crow, of lynching, of water hoses, and separate water fountains. All those things are very real and should not be forgotten, but they are not us. They do not define the totality of who we are. We are not defined by the pain that whiteness caused. We are defined by the richness of our history, the power of our spirit, and the miracle of our strength.
So I’ll keep writing until the anger and the pain dissipate, and we discuss matters not with only emotion, but with forward thinking enthusiasm, with an eye toward all of humanity, working toward an inevitable common end.
**I want to be clear that I do not degrade writing that illuminates real harm done based on race. What I discuss is the “majoring in the minors” that has become customary around race discussions. When we are surprised and become riled because 70 year old belles from Savannah harbor ill attitudes about ethnic people or when pop stars use racial slurs, I…wonder.
I also understand that this paradigm is not specific to any one group. It can happen in the gay rights movement just as easily as in the black rights movement. Here though, we are discussing race.