Thursday, September 28, 2017
Is this the new language of the KKK: Deconstructing the racial divide
Is this the new language of the KKK?
Are the terms of their resistance showing up in ways that hide behind a new version of white sheets?
Is this a new strategy aimed at keeping black people on the short end of the American dream?
These are the type of questions that divide America. Anyone not living under a rock knows something new is brewing in America. It’s easy to blame Donald Trump and his cohorts for expanding a form of nationalism that demands the silence of black people. While the people waving Confederate flags hail the resurgence of their right to celebrate racism, there’s a brewing form of messiness that challenges everything we believe.
What does it all mean?
There are multiple answers to that question. For the most part, the way we query depends on a set of variables. Things like family demographics and political ideology play a part, but, more than anything else, the answer depends on a person’s race.
The consensus among many white people is they’re tired of talking about race. They’re tired of it showing up in conversations about sports. They want to live their life of leisure without witnessing men knelling during the singing of the national anthem. They don’t want their sports talk radio show to be dominated with updates regarding the ongoing drama involving Colin Kaepernick.
They want to move past conversation related to the sins of their long dead ancestors. In other words, get over it.
How that is heard and felt by black people adds to the tension. The response, more than the events, obscures the conversation. It’s a complicated mess that keeps Americans entangled in a web that is hard to escape.
For black people, it feels like the resurgence of the KKK. It’s hard to trust. It’s difficult, no, it’s almost impossible, for black people to understand why white people don’t understand. It’s hard to listen when moving forward demands silence.
American Patriotism as a construction of silence
Exhibit one, the American flag and the National Anthem.
Many white Americans view knelling an unpatriotic act. It’s regarded a slight of the men and women who fight for and die to preserve freedom. No matter America’s history of racism, the ideas reflected in the Constitution, symbolized by the flag and affirmed in the National Anthem, are more important than our past mistakes.
Black people are challenged to overlook history.
This is an example of white privilege at its worst. This is what it means to press an agenda on individuals with a different perspective. It’s offering an assessment related to patriotism that demands allegiance to white Americans understanding of freedom.
Being an American demands silence. You don’t discuss the shooting deaths of unarmed black men and women by law enforcement officers. You don’t cry Black Lives Matter as a statement of the affirmation of black identity. You don’t protest when you have questions involving the judicial system.
You get over it. You trust the system. You do the very thing that has never worked for black people – pretend none of it matters while trusting Americans care about you.
Is this the new strategy of the KKK?
Do you remember the lessons of history?
The purpose of lynching was to make a point to those who contemplated freedom. It happened when slaves attempted to run away. It also happened when black people attempted to vote or protested to obtain the right to vote. It happened when black people sought access to housing, education and employment.
It was used to send a message.
If you step over the line established by white people, you will be punished for crossing that line. Those with the power will attack your ability to work. You will be labeled al Lightening rod – one who brings trouble by virtue of their mere presence. You will be measured by your advocacy of justice rather than your ability.
You become too pro-black to share in the profits afforded those who embrace the white American dream.
This is the point many white Americans miss. They fail to understand the power of economic lynching. It’s used to keep black people silent. Families have suffered massively when mama or daddy attacks racism. It makes it hard for black people to protest. It’s why some stay home. It’s why others compromise.
It’s a question that most black people face at some point in life. What’s more important – fighting for justice or making enough money to pay the bills?
This is at the root of the immense gap between how black and white people view Colin Kaepernick. Black people know the pain of his decision. White people, in some cases, merely see a rich athlete taking a position that attacked their views of America.
Redefining legitimate blackness
This is when it gets tricky. What does it means to be black, and who establishes the terms related to the answer?
The answer to the question reflects the continuing struggle among black people to fit the terms of the American dream. What does legitimate blackness look like? How does it dress? What are the legitimate hairstyles? How does it sound? What positions does it take? How does it vote? Where does it go to school? How much money does it make? How does it make money?
All of that is used to qualify legitimate blackness, but, at the root of it all, is the question is the person white enough, in their approach to life, to be considered worthy of a place within the white American dream? In this sense, the terms of legitimate blackness is managed by the white people who extend black people a place at the table.
This, again, reveals the massive tension black people carry related to the treatment of Colin Kaepernick. The owners of the NFL are making a critical statement regarding how they view legitimate blackness. They are using their power and money to make a statement concerning who and what it takes to be a quarterback in the NFL.
Let’s take note of the checklist. One, his hair is too long. Two, he’s not American enough. Three, he stands for the wrong causes. Four, he sits for the wrong reasons. Conclusion, he is the wrong type of black person.
He must be silenced.
Apply economic lynching to make a statement to other players. Do it before they try to run off our plantation.
He’s too black to reap the benefits of the white American dream
Is this the new strategy of the KKK? Probably not, but it sure feels that way when you’re a person still searching for freedom
Let’s talk about that American dream.