It’s Always About Race
Baldwin’s impassioned plea 50 years ago shows how little has changed.
Wealth, power, control always lead back to race. Because the supposition of race, the conceit of race, was a division created to allow one group to take advantage of anyone stupid enough to believe in it or unable to protest it under fear of death.
The people telling you to NOT talk about race are members of a group which uses this very conversation to ensure they remain in power while weaker minds and less effective rhetoric fails to overcome their well established tools of control: religion, education, cultural and social manipulations built into the very fabric of our national reality.
So deeply embedded, most don’t even realize they CAN protest it, let alone that they SHOULD.
If you are bold enough to tell any minority to shut up and stop talking about race, you haven’t heard James Baldwin speak. He makes it perfectly clear why the psychological pressures on a Black creative like himself, prevented him from being his most productive.
He spoke of an all-consuming dread of the state of the nation, its preoccupation with Whiteness, its fear of Blackness and its dependence upon religion as an arbiter of how to discriminate humanely, promoting a separate but equal doctrine in word only.
The reality was: no matter where you look in Black life, our options were fewer, our capacities were crippled, our lives damned with the Sword of Damocles hanging overhead classifying and defining our opportunities as bad or worse.
White people standing over us and asking “why are you talking about race when we are all men?”
Because we are ALL men. But you keep defining us as LESSER men. Men not deserving of the Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness which you reserve for yourselves under the guise of being the founders of this Christian nation, founded on the near-wholesale genocide of its indigenous people and the subjugation of another entirely different group of people deemed chattel, less than furniture, less than livestock, beings fit only for abuse, rape and murder.
So when you want to look at me and ask me why I have no interest in your worldview, why I reject your perspectives, why I don’t look at the West as this enlightened bastion of greatness and instead see it as the result of a murderous capitalism coupled with a missionary rhetoric of subjugation, domination and exploitation, it is because I am awake and aware of the dubious history of this nation.
Of the dubious standing of its ruling classes, of the hypocrisy of its meritocracy and its idiocracy which discards the brilliance, the talents, and the sheer magnificence of people who could withstand such brutal treatments, and still seek peace, love, understanding and brotherhood with people who if their own justice meant anything they would turn and walk into the sea until there were none left.
And yet we have never demanded this. We simply want a place in the sun to raise our children and relish our hard-won, hard-fought, blood-purchased freedoms.
And we can’t even do that without some entitled White passerby calling the police and claiming some erroneous crime in an attempt to weaponize the police in a desperate gambit to maintain power over this nation, and in particular, my people, for a few more years while the current power structure continues strip-mining the middle class until there is nothing left but the rich and everyone else.
Tell me how this is about how great the West is. Tell me the isolationism, the wall-building, the war-mongering, the fear-peddling, the religious fundamentalism is making America great again.
And I will tell you of a nation returning to its roots out of fear of true equality springing up everywhere but in the nation which made the idea a nationalist one, and reneging on the promise of Equality for All.
Yes, America, I’m talking about you.
This was Thaddeus Howze and I am your…Cognitive Dissident
Thaddeus works as a writer and editor for two magazines, the Good Men Project, a social men’s magazine as well as for Krypton Radio, a sci-fi enthusiast media station and website. He is also a freelance journalist for Polygon.com and Panel & Frame magazine. Thaddeus is the co-founder of Futura Science Fiction Magazine and one of the founding members of the Afrosurreal Writers Workshop in Oakland.