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Tuesday, April 19, 2016



We weren't allowed to talk about light-skinned and dark-skinned in my family for the most part. Actually, the message I really got was that I wasn't even supposed to see it much less acknowledge it.

That has to sound awfully familiar to a lot of black people if they're paying attention to the subtle workings of their own mind. I hear black people make noise about "We're all black" nearly every single time the subject of light-skinned and dark-skinned comes up.

Just stop talking about it and it'll go away. We'll be united if we pretend
1) Light-skinned people and dark skinned people are having the very same experience AND

2) Black women and black men are having the very same racial experience, AND

3) Black people of different classes are all having a homogenous experience of race in this country,


4) Each experience of being black is completely individualistic, so there's no point in trying to figure out patterns and different pains and triumphs that various groupings of black people might be experiencing. 

These deny-ers, the black people who want to scream "We're All Black. We're All THE SAME!" sound just like white people who claim "There's one race, the human race! If you stop talking about race, it'll go away!"

Well, all of the above is a lie. White people who hate talking about race and the black people who hate talking about color are so very, very alike but hate another

Bele and Lokai, guest characters in the Original Star Trek
"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"

The image above is from an episode of the original "Star Trek" The two characters hate each other because they are different in appearance. When the stars of the show, the"good" characters,  can't see how they are different. Each of the black and white men essentially point out that they are black and white on different sides. The left side blacks have been at war with the right side blacks forever.

Like most metaphors about race endorsed by white people, this Star Trek episode simplistically dismissed the logic and advantage of racism. A lot of people want to think that racism (and colorism) is a silly disagreement about skin color. But it's not.

Racism is about
- a group of people looking around and seeing there are limited resources or limited sources of power then...

- deciding that "I can have a larger share of the resources/power if  I don't have to split the resources/power as many ways, then....

- looking around then saying my group (a grouping based on some observable difference) is better and deserves a larger share. This enables one to say,  'It's fair that members of the other group get less or nothing' without feeling ashamed, feeling greedy, or feeling that principles have been compromised.

That is, racism precedes race.

Identifying the members of the other group as significantly different than you, finding an observable characteristic, then calling one group "the white race" and that group "the black race" or "the red race" then saying "those people" deserve less is a way of grabbing more without guilt. When you follow up by creating fake science to say that there's more to the observable difference, that those people of a different skin color really are bigger brained but dumber or smaller brained and dumber, have less hormonal control, etc. Once your fake science is in place, you can tell yourself you have been bestowed with "more" because it's "natural" and "fair"

This is how racism (a form of greed for resources, money, or power) creates race. 

In this original Star Trek episode the point is made that the guy on the left represents a group that got to the resources, power, and authority first (representing white people) and that the guy on the right was in the group being stomped on (representing black and brown people). But the overall message of the episode was still crammed, by the end of the episode, into that white cookie-cutter mold that shapes racism as just a minor physical difference that stupid people battle over when racism is as logical as it gets.  

Prior to The Civil War, during what I call "Slavery Part 1" the one-percenters were, in actuality, the white 5 to 10 percenters. I've read various articles that say 5 to 10 percent of white people ever  owned slaves. What most of those books don't say is that the white  5 to 10 percent couldn't control slaves on their own so they convinced most of  the rest of white people that they were better human beings just because they were white.  They convinced the non-slave owning white people that they would get a larger share of everything because they deserved it --even when they were probably eating more poorly than the black slaves the white massa was trying to keep picking his crops. 

White status claims, with promises of getting-more-than-those-n-words, is why most poor white people --some of them so poor that they were eating grass off the front lawn for breakfast, lunch, and dinner-- would report catching a glimpse of a runaway slave even when there was no financial reward for having captured him or her.

The poor white person's elevated status above non-white people was all the payment he or she needed.

During "Slavery Part 2," a slavery created by the black codes and Jim Crow, the poor and middle class white people took over the lead in policing, fencing in, and abusing of black people.

Slave masters of old, who owned black people were afraid of losing their investment if they were but so harsh with a slave. They were trying to keep black slaves intimidated but alive, healthy, and working in most areas. And during Slavery Part 2, the white 1-to-10-percenter was forced to turn to things like sharecropping and made black people debt-slaves.

And it was the poor and emerging middle class white that put black people in prison for loitering for the fun and status off it. Then the same rich white 5 to 10 percent was able commandeer prisoners during crop picking season  --another way the white rich commanded practically free labor with the help of the white poor.

When the white poor wasn't helping the white rich stay rich, they were looking to get a feeling back-- and they were more dangerous to black and brown people than the rich white people ever were. The white poor and white emerging middle class wanted their higher status back once official slavery was done. And creating the KKK, the black codes, and Jim Crow laws did just that.

 Racism is as logical as it gets. It always has been. And there are tons of white people trying to re-write history in such a way that whiteness, all whiteness, is not privileged. There are tons of white people who say, "My family was poor and didn't own slaves" in order to deny white privilege.

You tell these white deny-ers of privilege for me that, unless their parents worked along the Underground Railroad, their ancestors were slavery enablers that were twice as vicious and deadly as the richer slave masters and sharecropping plantation owners through the 1960s. 

So the central problem of this old Star Trek episode, which is very symbolic of white racial attitudes to this day, is that it attempts to make equal

those with the habit of sneering superiority,  domination, and destruction of lives


those with the habit of resenting those with powerful one that has a boot over your neck 24/7.

Making both parties, the oppressed and the oppressor, equally responsible and equally damaged in a racism, sexism, homophobia battle is why so many individual people cannot see the areas where they live comfortably as an oppressor among other oppressors.

Again, the oppression is made invisible to the oppressor doing the oppressing so they can feel good about themselves as they acquire more than their fair share of money, resources, power, recognition, etc.

When the oppressor makes his or her own membership 

in an oppressive group 
invisible to themselves, 
they can tell themselves, 
"I worked for every single thing I have. Nobody gave me a thing."

I wish I could say that it is only white people that have this habit of denying privilege and their sites of oppression. But that's not true. All of us do it. White people, especially white males, are just the ones doing it most effectively as far as taking more than their fair share.   

To be continued in