Racism; No Escape

Self styled media maven Toure’, in Time Magazine, delivers the message that no matter how hard you may try, no matter how sincere you may be, no matter your reflections on racial injustice, no matter your behavior; you’re a racist! There may be some truth to it, but it’s not the only truth in play.

Toure’ contends that people are ashamed of being racist. He postulates that they “try to hide, to do their best never to reveal it”. Toure’ bases his contention on a conversation with one women who confessed to racism saying; “thoughts come into my mind…..it was my upbringing, I fight it but it’s there”. Based on the sample of one, Toure reaches understanding. He understands the woman’s ‘ thoughts’ but not, apparently her fight against those thoughts, Thoughts, unbidden are reason enough to ascribe racism. Based on his survey of one, he professes that racism is, in essence, universal and unalterable.

Toure’ further contends; ”Race as we know it is a social construct and, in the sweep of human history, a relatively recent concept invented in America to justify having both ‘liberty for all’ and Slavery.” Racism as an operable concept existed long before America was a glint in the Founder’s eyes. Were Toure’ to focus on the confliction inherent in the Hobson’s Choice faced by the Founders and the ripples of that decision as well as the historical roots of European racism, he could make a more compelling argument, he does not. He could attempt to make the argument that permanent slavery in the South as the colonies became not one but two countries would have been a better alternative. Or that the Civil War would have been better won by the South.

Toure’ wants it both ways; racism is sub conscious, embedded, there is nothing you can do about it, but……………the Founders should have overcome it and not created the social construct he refers to??? He points to the success of Black Americans as a sign of progress and immediately rejects it quoting Arundati Roy; “like the President pardoning one turkey and then eating another”. No way out folks, you’re just a bunch of racists……………no matter what!

He utilized Michelle Alexander and her book ‘The New Jim Crow’ in support of his argument for perpetual racism. Ms. Alexander, however, has suffered significant criticism for broad assertions and the inability to support her central contentions. She’s entitled to her perspective and opinions but her academic peers contend that her work is weak.

Ah, but then Toure’ lets us off the hook of immutability; “The racist mind does not have to hate every black person it encounters, and indeed not hating all may serve as a valuable safety valve, releasing pressure and proving to the mind itself that it is not a racist. Few people want to think of themselves as evil.”

There are, of course, from Toure’ no prescriptions for correcting the facts of racism in America other than, one must surmise, continuing to beat us to death over not only actual failures and racism but the mere perception of a failure as well as sub-conscious programming. Toure’ knows what’s in your mind, nice trick; what’s next the Vulcan Mind Meld?

It is, for Toure’ not racism for Toure’ to assume that each and every non Black is, has to be, a racist! The proof? Not to worry there are unspecified ‘studies’. While he points to Black stereotypes that we best leave behind, he does not address behaviors in the Black community that give evidence to some of those stereotypes. It’s no different than outrageously costumed parade makers on gay pride day insisting, cut out chaps notwithstanding, we take them seriously. Sorry folks pick one of the above; trying to have it both ways always limits credibility.

Toure’ may have held up the mirror that Shelby Steele did in the interest of context; “Before the 1960’s the Black American Identity was based on our common humanity, on the idea that race was always an artificial and exploitive division between people. After the 60’s in a society guilty for its long abuse of us, we took our historical victimization as the central theme of our group identity. We could not have made a worse mistake.” Steele goes on; It has given us a generation of ambulance chasing leaders, and the illusion that our greatest power lies in the manipulation of white guilt.”

There is racism in America! There is also a multi decade’s long effort on the part of the majority to insure that our ‘sub-conscious’ does not overwhelm or control our conscious, accepting, for the moment, Toure’s central theme. Many subscribe to the idea that our behaviors are the only available place to begin to de-program the programming Toure’ references. Oh, by the way Mr. Toure’ most of us did not program our children the way our parents programmed us. We contribute to the generational effort to eliminate racism to the degree we have it in our power to do so.

Although if things go according to the script Toure’ follows, it’s still not worthy. Some ‘study’ will conclude our sub-conscious racism will have, somehow, also been transmitted to our children. Sub-consciously of course! Toure’ knows your mind!

Perhaps William James’s advice is well remembered; “if you want a quality, act as if you already had it!”