Here’s the problem, as I see it.
Racism in America is a part of its heritage and legacy. It was built into the democratic system.
This racism, which I will define as a system which keeps one group in power over another group of people which has no rights, was written into the United States Constitution. The words “all men are created equal” were never intended to include African Americans or American Indians or, I guess, any other ethnic group, especially groups which were or are noticeably different.
To escape the systemic inequality embraced by the Constitution one had to find a way to fit into the dominant group, which happened to be white, Protestant men.
Those who could not or did not fit into the dominant group were and are openly discriminated against, with the blessing of the government. In our history as a nation, the dominant group has systemically controlled African Americans. The control has been on all levels, in all areas of life, but most especially on the economic level. The dominant group controlled African Americans and forced them to work for them, with little to no benefits.
To keep their workers under control, they objectified them, meaning, they looked upon them as objects and not as subjects, people. If one does not see another person as a person, it is easy, or easier, to treat them as objects, worthy of being misused and abused and killed.
Men who beat women objectify them, or parents who beat their children objectify them, though they say they love them. One cannot beat one whom one loves.
The person who is hated and objectified and denied rights begins to hate himself. The beaten woman begins to believe the rantings of her crazed, controlling mate, or the abused child begins to believe that he or she is “bad,” and rationalizes that that is the reason he or she is being beaten.
As the beaten woman or child will always try to “be good” so that their beatings will stop, so has been the history of African Americans, trying to “do good” in order to be accepted.
One of the saddest results of “this racism thing” has been the self-hatred African Americans developed in this country. As we were hated, so we hated ourselves. The dominant group might first have used the term “nigras” as a term of endearment, speaking of the people they owned as beloved possessions. A “nigra” was simply a black person, stupid, of course, and needing to be cared for, which the dominant group was willing to do.
As the debate over race grew, however, the term of endearment morphed into a term of anger, derision and contempt. The term “nigra” became “nigger.” The dominant group called the name; African Americans internalized the name and began calling themselves the same.
One could get no lower than a nigger. African Americans knew that. They/we felt our status in this land of the free. African Americans were not free and were not worthy of freedom. The dominant group taught that the Bible did not teach racial equality and they completely cleared up any misunderstanding about the words “all men are created equal” being applicable to African Americans or women.
Racism, then, became the inner lining of this democratic system. This democracy was from the outset, unequal, and meant to be. Racism was the government, and therefore the power to keep a group of people under control and keep the dominant group in control. It was and is an economic and political oppression based on race.
In the era when the dust storms nearly annihilated a part of this country, signs were put up that said “no niggers” need apply for work until all white men had jobs. That kind of thing is a part of the legacy of this democracy.
I wish the young African American rappers realized and understood, then, what legacy they are perpetuating when they use the word “nigger” in their lyrics. It is not cute, funny or good. It is yet more evidence of the self hatred which still exists among African Americans.
The racist lining of our democracy is sewn into every aspect of American life. Little white kids still think little black kids are bad, stupid and ugly, and too many little black kids still think the same about themselves.
When Dr. Laura said “nigger” over and over in her rant last week, she showed a lack of professionalism (she is a psychologist, for goodness’ sake!), insensitivity and a capacity, still, to objectify African Americans.
I have purposely said “nigger” in this piece to make those who read it look at it and think about what it means. I guess I am trying to begin ripping the lining of racism from the cloak wear called “democracy.” We cannot heal the sore until we look at the sore and see how infected it is, and how infectious it is.
I know I have to take this a little deeper, but this is enough for now.
It is a candid observation.