Don’t be fooled by what you see. Mia Love, the conservative Republican political candidate for Utah’s new fourth congressional district, might look black, but she ain’t like “us.” Despite the well-known racist notion that “all blacks look alike,” there is more to being black than looks alone. Black people generally share in common African ancestry and specific alleles that control for variations in skin color and other physical features; besides that, black folk are as rich and diverse a group as they come with many distinct cultures, languages, and dialects. To most Americans, however, what the casual observer typically categorizes as a “black person” is not always someone who identifies as “African American.” By African American, in this sense, I mean those individuals whose African ancestors where enslaved and then transported to the Eastern shores of what is now the United States, and through natural increase, became the sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters of former slaves. With that history comes a bloody and violent past replete with pain and suffering at the hands of white power and privilege. Africans enslaved in America centuries ago were forced to shape new relationships with former rival tribesman out of sheer necessity, thus developing into a culture that we know currently as African American. With that rich tapestry of African culture forged through a record of struggle and long-suffering, African Americans survived the onslaught of white supremacy by producing rich and vibrant Black communities, tight knit in personal connections, where knowledge was gathered and disseminated about how to survive and agitate for social justice that had long been denied.
This is not to say that Mia Love and others of more recent immigrant lineage are not American, but the category of “African American” illuminates a particular heritage, enticing a certain frame in our minds. Haitian Americans, on the other hand, as well as other black Americans of different emigrant origin and history have their own unique chronicle. Mia’s parents, for example, emigrated from Haiti to the United States in the 1970’s, some 170 years after their homeland gained its independence. With them, then, they brought received wisdoms unique to Haiti from its history of French colonial oppression. But also with them, they brought wisdoms, sensibilities, and frames associated with a history of black rule and sovereignty.
After arming themselves under the direction of military leader Toussaint L’Ouverture and, subsequently, Jean Jacques Dessalines , Haitian slaves fought for their freedoms in the revolution of 1791 and finally gained their independence in 1804 after trouncing Napoleon’s forces for the second time. Mia’s Afro-Haitian ancestry is very similar to that of North American Blacks with equally violent and complicated interactions with Europeans. It differs from U.S. slavery and emancipation in that Napolean and his white army were forced out of Haiti, leaving a predominately black country to govern itself as the second democracy in the Americas. Haitian citizens were now in control of there own destiny, but not before they inherited many of the same European racisms that plague the U.S. mainland such as colorism, which is discrimination on the basis of skin tone. Since then, Haiti has been a predominantly black nation with unprecedented high levels of illiteracy, poverty, government instability, and other challenges. However, Haiti is the only black nation in the Western hemisphere, which means that despite its problems, they are free from white supremacy (within their country at least). Mia’s parents come from a culture that was literally created by a black majority who has experienced two hundred years of freedom and black command.
In contrast, African Americans have only been “free” since the passage of civil rights laws some forty-five years ago and continue to experience discrimination in housing, education, health care, and other forms of civic life in a white dominated culture. In fact, black Americans have merely lived an illusion of freedom. The richness of the African American culture is deeply rooted in social justice and a tradition of fighting against the absurdity of white supremacy that persists even today. From 1619 when 20 Africans landed in Jamestown, Virginia on a Dutch frigate to 1968 when the last civil rights law was passed, African Americans endured 350 years of slavery and near slavery-like conditions. In this country where white privilege and power is the norm, racial and ethnic immigrant groups of lighter, white appearing complexion (mainly from Southern and Eastern Europe) have consistently and inevitably been able to assimilate into the American culture and come to be considered “white” in American context. Immigrant groups of darker skin have not had that opportunity. Instead of being granted government succor in both the guarantee and upholding of justice at every corner of life as our constitution promises each American regardless of their station, African Americans have continually been denied or had limited access to decent and affordable housing, a world-class education, and low cost, high quality health care. And as society’s income and wealth gap widens, systemic racism continues to pervade every facet of American life.
Although weak legal strides have been made to redress some our most pressing racial vexations as a nation, serious deprivations remain for too many Americans of color. These deprivations are centuries-old and fly in the face of our universal appeal toward “go it alone” and “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” attitudes, questioning the validity of these metaphors. The image of successful people who rose from the ashes to make something of themselves is an enduring theme in U.S. society and enough to reinforce the idea in popular culture. Because white America is the architect of these improbable white frames of success, scores of immigrants came to the Americas in hopes of better days ahead. Yet, African Americans whose ancestors were involuntarily brought to this country do not follow a similar life trajectory and, thus, feel differently about race than one whose family voluntarily immigrated here for opportunity sake. Where Mia’s experience is one of hopes and dreams, albeit largely reinforced by popular stories, images, and myth-making of the American propaganda machine, the mass media, African Americans’ experience as a group is one of despair.
Mia’s history and challenges are not so different from other African Americans. What is different, however, are the philosophical tools by which Mia interprets her experiences; put differently, the way in which she buys into the notion of the American dream and individualism as well as how she views herself as a black woman through the prism of a U.S. white lens. As all “races” in North America view themselves through a white lens, Mia’s hair style, diction, cultural orientation, friendships, mannerisms and habits, nevertheless, are an extension of her degree of acceptance of white supremacist norms and values which induce her unconscious hatred for all things African American. This behavior should not be seen as strange, but instead an effect of living in a white world that has historically devalued black people and their accomplishments. All black Americans do this to some extent. The difference with Mia Love is that her upbringing, stemming from a more recent immigrant state of knowing and being, causes her to continue to believe these “norms” of whiteness without questioning their basis and origin. African Americans, on the other hand, have developed counter frames to protect themselves against white supremacist notions, creating an alternative way of “viewing” their position and circumstance. As Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett detail in their book, The Spirit Level, only once we correct the widening income gap will we see improvement in every major social indicator from health and crime to education and jobs. Such opportunity comes from community as well as a greater sense of fairness and justice.
This tradition of fighting and struggling against systemic racism is distinct for African Americans, something that recent immigrants of African descent cannot completely comprehend. Because Mia Love and others like her have not come from an institution of perpetual battle for their freedom, voice, and right to exist in a supposedly egalitarian society, they have the luxury to be unconscious of the white-black paradigm in this country. However, this much is true about U.S. racial understandings about blackness, it doesn’t much matter if you where born in America or immigrated here, the one-drop rule is still alive and well in contemporary America. No one person of color is free from discrimination in this country. With even the slightest hint of “black” (African) features, white America still sees that person as black. And with that comes the white centered frames of what it means to be black despite the cultural variations of blackness. Mia Love has the unique opportunity to learn two distinct histories and cultures. It would behoove her to understand and embrace the African American social-cultural history because the reality is she looks like “us.” We are all the sons and daughters of former slaves; we share this fight together.
Cross-posted from http://www.darronsmith.com
Darron says: “Since then, Haiti has been a predominantly black nation with unprecedented high levels of illiteracy, poverty, government instability, and other challenges. However, Haiti is the only black nation in the Western hemisphere, which means that despite its problems, they are free from white supremacy (within their country at least). Mia’s parents come from a culture that was literally created by a black majority who has experienced two hundred years of freedom and black command.”
Black command? Her father cleaned toilets in America so his three children could go to college. Did you watch the link on Mia that was included in your post? Her family came to America with literally pennies in their pocket. Her father told her at her college orientation, “You will not be a burden on society. You will contribute.” She is one kick-ass lady! She’s mayor of a city in Utah, has three kids, teaches exercise classes, managed to attract industry to this town that was formerly an agricultural community, her husband lauds her as the perfect wife and mother, and you’re criticizing her? Why? Because she doesn’t wholeheartedly buy into the victimology meme? Because she has courage and strength and believes in herself? That’s disappointing to say the least.
And you are struggling for a “reason” why she’s so proud of herself? It’s because she was brought up that way Darron. It did not start in Haiti. Haiti has been used and abused by the rest of the white western hemisphere for centuries. So technically they rule themselves. So what? They’re all starving Darron. Also illiterate with an unstable government (as per your own article).
Plus, when her parents came to America, and were thus subjected to American white supremacy, her family did not roll over and just play dead. Her father said, in the video, his family never accepted a hand out. They worked for everything they owned. That included cleaning toilets. And you want to take this woman down a notch? Because, she doesn’t identify with the “African American” victimology meme?
Like she had some advantages that black people from Haiti, instead of Africa, were blessed with? The big advantage she had was her family’s spirit. That’s something there wasn’t much of in Haiti either.
I get your point. She’s dismissing and leaving her African American brothers and sisters behind and that’s something she should feel remorse about. Is that it? Any black person in America who has pride and self respect should be lauded, not condemned. And to try to ferret out “excuses” as to why she succeeded and others did not based on race instead of fortitude is taking away all individual effort and just flushing it down the toilet. As if ALL black Americans are merely products of a white dominated society. Robots and automatons with no control over their destiny at all. Is that your ultimate stance?
Racism is certainly a factor blacks must cope with every day, but to dismiss personal perseverence the way you have and to find “reasons” she had “advantages” (and she’s from the poorest country in the western hemisphere?) is beyond logic. You are negating the power of the human spirit. You’re searching for sociological reasons why this woman is successful and happy. You won’t find them. It came from her family and her soul.
First, as for the dysfunctional state of Haiti, things would be much better if they hadn’t been forced to pay reparations to French slaveowners, a debt they only “paid off” by 1940s. When you think about it, it’s ironic that much of Haiti’s current problems can be traced back to France’s demand for “reparations” nearly two centuries ago. And though the “debt” was only paid off after WWII, just 70 years ago, France has no intentions of repaying or repairing that wrong. White America’s excuse for not paying reparations to descendants of US slaves is that it happened “soooooo loooooonnnnnnnnng agoooooooooo!” As vacuous as I find that reasoning, it does beg the question, what’s France’s excuse?
But I digress.
I agree with you on the influence of her immigrant experience. I’m always baffled by black Republicans. Then I learn that the person in question is either a recent immigrant or first generation immigrant from Haiti or Jamaica, and it all makes sense.
The interesting thing is that African Americans don’t reject personal responsibility or the American dream. We just know it takes more than individual effort and bootstraps to make the dream possible. Especially in the face of obstacles one has no control over such as race or gender, etc. If more Americans, white, yellow, brown or whatever, would open their eyes, they’d see that, too. This whole notion of “individualism” is, in fact, anathema to widespread success and, most importantly for this context, American history re Homestead Act, post-WWII GI Bill, the Great Depression and subsequent stitching of a social safety net.
I can’t think of American individualism, rags-to-riches success story that didn’t depend in some way on the American collective. Whether the availability of an educated workforce or interstate railroads and highways that improved transportation of goods or the unfathomable willingness to send people to war in the protection and development of markets and profits, we all depend on each other. No man is an island unto himself, and few want to be. Only those whose islands are resorts replete with servants and gardeners and waiting staff want to be “unto themselves,” and that’s just so they can keep it all to themselves.
I’m sorry. I’m rambling.
That point is that it’s not the case that immigrant blacks work harder or are more ambitious than native blacks. It’s that they don’t know any better and so don’t fight for any better. We do, on bother counts.
“I can’t think of American individualism, rags-to-riches success story that didn’t depend in some way on the American collective.”
Well, then maybe America should be applauded for contributing to Mia’s rags-to-riches story. Yay America.
Why can’t a black person’s fortitude ever be just attributed to pure fortitude? But noooooooo..it has to labeled as a “special case”. “He had certain advantages.” “It’s a mystery, but if we dig deep enough we can find it’s a total aberration.”
I hope my response does not lead to someone concluding I am stating that African Americans reject personal responsibility. I never said that. I am saying that when an African American surmounts all racist obstacles and succeeds (even if the dude’s from wonderful and free black-dominated Haiti) they should be commended, not berated. “It would behoove you Mia to embrace the African American (victimology) instead of looking and sounding so sure of yourself.” No way Mia. You just keep on, keepin’ on!
Thanks for the great piece, Darron. You made all the points I had rolling around in my head except – it seems Black Mormons (at least those I know who’ve immigrated here from the Diaspora) unwittingly suffer what I can only describe as the same type/but different, Black American Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder, or Stockholm Syndrome, or whatever you want to call it that we, Black Americans do – namely, being a Mormon!
Now I don’t know Mia Love, or if she has, as you say, an “unconscious hatred for all things African American” but, I gotta say that being a Black Mormon certainly seems to, imply, as you say, an inordinae “degree of acceptance of white supremacist norms and values.”
Racism against Blacks in the LDS Church is well-documented in the History of the Church by Joseph Smith, himself – as well as in the Book of Mormon, their doctrines, covenants and “Pearl of Great Price” (probably won’t find much online what with Mitt running to be president “of all the people”). Brigham Young, their second “prophet,” had no-o-o love at all, for “we people who are darker than blue” either – just Google him in the “Journal of Discourses around volumes 7 – 10.
I watched an interesting documentary awhile back on the Documentary Channel entitled, “Nobody Knows – the Untold Story of Black Mormons.” It was quite illustrative. Not sure if it’ll be on again, but it’s worth checking out if it is.
Being “…unconscious of the white-black paradigm in this country” if we’re honest, is NO luxury for Black folk – from anywhere!
I see Ms. Love as another Condoleeza Rice, or a better example would be Colin Powell, son of Jamaican immigrants – and we know what viewing themselves “through the prism of a U.S. white lens” did for/to them!
I so agree with you that, “We are all the sons and daughters of former slaves; we share this fight together” – but sadly, the effectiveness of the divide and conquer of the white frame, coupled with our abject failure to study and recognize it – has, and continues to, successfully make “sharing the fight together” damned near impossible.
Thanks again for you insight…
Yeah, the racism in the LDS church goes deep.
Mitt Romney served as a leader of the congregation in New England and never protested against the church’s racism. Shouldn’t he have to talk about that?
You are exactly right! Where is the discussion regarding Romney’s complicity in upholding a discriminatory policy in the church? How can anyone say they are “for the people,” when they have contributed to an exclusionary policy. Folks do not know much about the LDS Church’s racial background. I am working on Part II Mia Love, and I will specifically remark on what you’ve raised in your post.
@Blaque Swan…“Shouldn’t he have to talk about that?”
Yes he should, and at some point before November, he’ll probably be forced to – should be interesting, particularly since I suspect there’ll be a line-up of Mia Loves waiting in the wings to explain “how much things have changed.”
Actually, I’m thinking the MSM’s pushing her out there now is a part of that strategy (don’t know about you, but I’d be lying if I said I knew little, if anything about her until now!). If you believe in strategies that is. If not, just call it my little conspiracy theory. The Changeling’s now “I believe in gay marriage” announcement also falls in the same category IMHO.
At the end of the day, I’m with Ms. Kimberley over at Black Agenda Report: http://blackagendareport.com/content/freedom-rider-non-campaign-2012 (gotta love that pic!)- I believe both situations, as campaign issues, are mere dog whistles to distract the masses away from the issues the “real” power brokers don’t want “we the people” to seriously consider.
And the beat goes on…
Darron also said that recent black immigrants to America “have the luxury to be unconscious of the white-black paradigm in this country.”
Her father cleaned toilets for a living Darron. How many people of any color would consider cleaning toilets as luxurious? And I’m sure Mia’s family was plenty aware of the white-black paradigm in this country. Few white Americans distinguish between African Americans brought here during the slave trade, and Haitian-Americans, or recent-immigrant-African Americans. As you pointed out, the one-drop rule is enough.
Sorry to repeat myself, but it’s just not a valid argument that Mia’s family had it any easier than any black man or woman living in America. It’s a convoluted sociological argument that simply does not hold water. It also smacks of the very sad but true standard operating procedure due a successful black man or woman: if a white person doesn’t call you “uppity” and insist you know your place, a black person will. She has every right to claim her success as just that, HER SUCCESS.
You are still flatuating up storms around here cordoba blue, eh? Yeah, you sure told Darron *pointing finger at Darron in a scolding manner* Go Libertarians!!! *violently gag*
I hope your comments do serve a positive purpose on this site in terms of providing demonstrations on what it looks like when folks operate out of the white racial frame and sternly demand the same of others, when you leave comments…. There’s got to be some purpose for it…. *shake head*
The Prozac Pusher….
Dear Prozac Pusher (by your own definition),
I have a wonderful idea. Speaking of Haiti, that great little island characterized, as Darron puts it, by being “free from white supremacy (within their country at least). Mia’s parents come from a culture that was literally created by a black majority who has experienced two hundred years of freedom and black command.”
Such a piece of paradise for sure! Just think Seattle, no white “standards” of education or speech for you to grumble about! A perfect Utopia and not that far from Texas if you take a canoe!
Sooooo, why don’t you go there? I don’t see you moving for all your ,”I refuse to live in a white supremacist country! I do. I do. I surely do Auntie Em!” Oz waits for you in the Caribbean. So why would you stay here? Of course it does beg the question why Mia’s family came to AMERICA and she is no longer living in poverty but actually a college graduate, mayor of a city etc etc.
Maybe she knew something about America you didn’t eh? But,,oh hogwash, nobody around here likes that gal anyhow! So just buy a sturdy canoe and off to Haiti with you Seattle! (Me waving tearfully from the pier as you paddle away!) Remember the snorkling gear,,very pretty coral reefs there too!
“To most Americans, however, what the casual observer typically categorizes as a “black person” is not always someone who identifies as “African American.” By African American, in this sense, I mean those individuals whose African ancestors where enslaved and then transported to the Eastern shores of what is now the United States, and through natural increase, became the sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters of former slaves.”
John Legend and Wanda Sykes would not thank you for this. http://video.pbs.org/video/2230755107
I am not sure what you’re saying here? I understand that both celebrities have white folks in their lineage so do I and most African Americans whose ancestor were enslaved in North America. I am using the definition you cite above simply to draw a distinction between individuals defined as “African American.” And frankly it doesn’t matter if John Legend, Wanda Sykes or whoever else has European ancestry in there DNA. At the end of the day John Legend or Wanda Sykes has “one-drop” of black blood in there veins (in other words they look like me) and that is enough to subject them to discrimination on some level whether, to borrow from Joe Feagin, backstage or to a lesser extent, frontstage racism.
You’re being funny, right? I know they’re descendants of free blacks, but you’re just teasing, right?
Here’s the bizarre situation I am seeing. If a black person in the US is discriminated against and lives in poverty and denied loans and a decent place to live or work, all hell breaks lose around here,,which is what I construed as the purpose of the blog. And the white racial frame put them where they are. So far so good.
BUT..if a black person succeeds and lives in a beautiful dwelling, has a good job, can feed his family, and has a college education,,,they are in this place BECAUSE they bought into the white racial frame? They are deemed a traitor to their roots? It’s a conspiracy of the white racial frame that some blacks succeed? Divide and conquer? Talk about a gerbil in an exercise wheel. Around and around and around we go,,,where the white racial frame stops,,nobody knows!
Would somebody please explain to me in PLAIN ENGLISH and please ditch the sociological “hegemony social construct paradigm” bingo-lingo-bargain-jargon what the hell the purpose is in berating a happy, middle class black family? Wasn’t that the purpose of the CRM, to create an America wherein blacks could attain a comfortable middle class status?
I don’t see Mia complaining. She looks pretty happy to me in the video (case anybody cares to actually watch the thing). But as soon as a black man attains this status, everybody booos and says,”You bought into the white racial frame! You sell out!”
Plus, if blacks want reparations (that would mean money right?) for slavery,,isn’t that BUYING into the white racial frame too? I mean having money,,isn’t that a “WHITE THING”? For shame. Nope. Doesn’t make sense.
Ancestors of former slaves should not be paid in white tainted money! It’s a sell out! They should be paid in black cultural stuff such as cloth imported from Ghana or tickets to various Kwanza plays and celebrations. Let’s take a poll. How many blacks will accept genuine black cultural stuff like Kwanza tickets over and above hard, cold white racial frame cash?
What kind of convoluted, warped, lack-of-horse-sense thinking is this? The ultimate mind-bending reasoning, while most of the commentators on here have absolutely no idea what it’s like to clean toilets to feed 3 children. You wanna appreciate what it’s like to go from rags to riches? Clean 500 people’s dirty toilets for a few years, and then call yourself a “sell out” when you can finally stop.
Thing is: you can’t have it both ways. Nobody can. You can’t do whatever you want, speak in any dialect you want, show up for work “just when the spirit moves you because if you show up at 8:00 AM,that’s part of the white racial frame”, scorn any and all subjects taught in American schools because they don’t address each and every single situation you in particular are in, and then collect white racial frame money for employment.
White people are also restricted in their behavior! It’s called living in a society. I have to show up for work at a designated time. I have to wear certain clothing so I don’t offend my customers. If I wear jeans, for example, with holes in them, I will look unprofessional. If I smoke cigarettes while teaching students, many parents will object. If I speak very loudly where I teach, other people in the building will object. This is true all over the world, in terms of considering other people in your immediate environment.
If you “just wannna be like..whatever you wanna be..like that’s cool..do what you want man all the time..” you belong on an island! Because it’s not considering other people’s feelings and needs.
If you travel to any other country, you are expected to go along with the customs of that country. If you really hate and despise the customs of that country, then you belong some place else. You can’t expect to just take “the good stuff like the cash” from a country and then spit on everything else. You can’t expect to receive social services from that country and use the roads and have access to free education and then refuse to pay taxes. It doesn’t work that way for ANY WHITE PERSON either.
But I believe some people who write here want EVERYTHING to be exactly tailor-made to their specifications and when something is too much work it’s tallied up to “oh that’s the white racial frame talking. I refuse to do it!” Again, there are many desolate islands available where you are free to do anything you want. But, let’s be realistic, if you choose to live in a society, you are obligated to conform to some rules and regulations, some of which may inconvenience you.
It’s pretty difficult to tell when something American that everybody (including African Americans) seem comfortable with on a daily basis, is suddenly chalked up to the insidious “white racial frame”. How many commentators on here truly live totally individual lives. Do they show up for work in tattered jeans? Do they resent having to follow various procedures in the work place? Do they smoke in buildings where smoking is not allowed? Do they go out Fire Doors when the sign says “Don’t use Unless there’s a fire in the Building”? Bet they don’t,,not if there’s a paycheck in it at the end of the day. Just asking. 🙂
Again, don’t misunderstand my words. I am NOT saying African Americans engage in any of these behaviors! I am merely pointing out behaviors that would be construed as not part of customary work habits. So nobody go there please. My point was that living in any society requires doing some stuff you don’t like. You have to weigh the benefits versus the sacrifices. But nobody, and I mean nobody, can live EXACTLY they way they want and expect everyone else to just bow down to their every whim. That includes every ethnic group in America, certainly including whites.
I get headaches trying to get all my obligations straight. Doesn’t everybody? But at least I can feed myself. And if you can do that, why should your efforts be denigrated?
I did not read your response out of lack of time and, interest, quite frankly. I did, however, read the comments you left above which is what prompted me to leave the response I did, and yes, in the same vain as others that have been communicated in the past. It’s the same stuff, over and over and over. You’re trolling not only the commenters on here, those who wish to engage in important and intellectually stimulating dialogue, but those who put up the main posts. It’s BEYOND OLD. I troll trolls, if you haven’t noticed…HINT HINT.
You have boasted of your privileged status numerous times and in many different ways–GREAT, GOOD FOR YOU. You have shared your own insights and personal experiences, which at times, have been interesting and even important in terms of making contributions. But almost always, you push through your opinions based on your few experiences and try to overgeneralize those experiences to the rest of the world. On top of it, you assume everyone thinks like you and you continuously assume you “know” other people–basing your assumption about others from your own privileged standpoint. We all, I don’t care what color or ethnicity or religion or orientation, etc., you are, get enough of this in all the books we read, the media, or any type of engagement with mainstream American society. I think if we, perhaps not all, but many, wanted that, we would be watching FOX News or what have you rather than swinging by here.
Then you’ve demonstrated a patterned behavior of exhibiting hostility towards black commenters, as well as black issues–particularly those with relation to black males. What’s most frustrating about all this, is you communicate yourself as if you’re an expert on the various issues you bitch about. You haven’t even read any of the suggested readings on the reading list at this site, OBVIOUSLY, otherwise, you would be able to follow the posts, the other commenters, etc., and be able to present valid disagreements rather than plain old ranting and fits out of the white supremacist racial frame. For example, if you would have read the Systemic Racism book, you would have read the main article perhaps a bit, if not a lot differently. That’s just ONE book. But clearly you deem yourself as a self-proclaimed expert on everything on this blog presents without reading or learning anything new. It’s ridiculous.
On the flip side, do ALL people have to read the books, etc., to get a “grasp” of the main posts and the more critical dialogues? Psssh no. Many from the most marginal groups sure don’t, depending on the posts and issues discussed, and can have the the capacity and right to present their own critiques, criticisms, and different or alternative viewpoints, ways to look at things that the authors maybe overlooked or didn’t think about–way more than privileged people. The privileged have to become “educated” to even have a remote idea and basic understanding that just really skims the surface of the the majority of issues discussed on this blog. And even if you’re educated, that never compares to first-hand lived experiences–and for knowledge that deep, and for those who have lived and/or experienced similar or comparable lives/experiences, they can empathize. But a mere education and/or degree(s) in whatever, coupled with privilege and a few personal experiences, does not make you an expert on these hard, and often painful, very real issues, no matter how much you try to muscle yourself around here.
I could keep rambling on but it’s a waste of time because you are just one of those people who likes to hear yourself talk, regardless of what comes out and how what you say might affect others, and your thrive on being the center of attention. You prefer to jabber rather than listen, and ultimately learn.
It’s all a waste of time.
Seattle Stoned in Texas
Interesting, and food for thought. I do think we need to be careful about Haiti and Haitians, or other immigrants of color for that matter. Hispaniola being the first place of genocide by Europeans, shortly followed by the first and most intensive race=based slave plantations, and all in the early 1500’s!
True, the Haitian Revolution produced a “free” state, but one that was despised and repressed by all slave-holding states and all colonizing powers, including the United States, which occupied it for more than 30 years in the 20th century, so as some world systems analysis would tell us, the power economics produced a dependent, suppressed state.
Having worked in Haiti, albeit three decades ago, I can also tell you it is riddled with elite stratification itself, and remember one time coming back from Carnival in Jacmel through a town that some of the rich had run a couple of people over, making the poor revelers incensed with rage against injustice.
Indeed, it is the frames that those who come to the United States bring with them that often shape their experience and attitudes, first being hit with race and racism, and when insisting that does not apply, being attacked for their foreign status “oh, you’re black and alien too.”
Facing this array of institutional and irregular repressions, individuals produce and respond in a variety of diverse ways, including nearly all those listed in the article and comments. This makes me realize how deeply embedded all these frames and icons and arguments really are, and how important to have a safe place to dissect them, argue over their meanings, and perhaps find some resolutions. Write on….
Thanks for diplomatically saying that immigrants from Haiti didn’t have it any better than African Americans brought here during the slave trade. The power economics of being so close to America and European-dominated South America produced “a dependent, suppressed” state as you put it.
It’s also true that “Facing this array of institutional and irregular repressions, individuals produce and respond in a variety of diverse ways.” Also very diplomatic. Some people (and I would definitely be one) would basically get depressed from the pressure and give up. Others, like Mia’s family, fought against the storm, so to speak, and came out victorious on the other side. Then I guess I must define victorious: able to support yourself and your family without fear, a respected place in your community because you also care about others not just yourself, access to higher education, clean water, decent housing,loans from financial institutions without discrimination.
This family fought the embedded frames and surmounted the odds. Yet she is considered a traitor to other not so fortunate black Americans. A political symbol meant to foil the image of the incumbents. Maybe this is her intent, maybe not. But she does deserve admiration because of the enormous obstacles she has overcome. If she is punished by the black community, I think this sends a message to other blacks that success is something they should be wary of and not necessarily strive for.
As a long time reader, and first time commenter I find this to be very interesting. I am not Black, or African American in any sense, but I have always identified with this general proposition, namely that being part of the Black community entails so much more than skin color.
However, what I find troublesome about this article is not so much this proposition, as what it fails to mention. By the simple logic pattern, if heritage is what makes someone black than the President of the United States should not be considered black.
Certainly, this candidate for Congress has more of a claim to authentic blackness than Obama. Both of her parents are people of color, the experience of a Hatian mirrors that of a the U.S. black community far more than Kenya, and she spent her entire childhood in the states.
If the rubric is that skin + ideology = blackness, than this is absurd. If something is foreign to you, it is simply foreign to you. Growing up in Texas, while not being black, I was at least connected to the culture in far more ways than our president ever was.
People labor as to reasons about why Obama is so mum, or so standoffish when it comes to matters about blackness. The reason is simply, that in a traditional sense, that he is not black, and that he has put on the mask of blackness in order to gain political support. And this upsets me, our first black president should have been someone like Cory Booker that we could have all been proud of.
I’m not sure being black and identifying with the black community are the same thing. But, I do think you need to be black in some sense to claim residence.
I’m absolutely positive Obama’s political life would be much easier if he were white. I don’t think he wears blackness as a mask. I think the reason he doesn’t talk about blackness is that voters don’t want to hear it. All he said in regards to Trayvon Martin is that if he’d had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. The worst thing he said in regards to Louis Gates, Jr is that the cop had acted stupidly. You remember what happened in those cases? You recall the fake controversy over Shirley Sherrod? The demolishing of ACORN? Don’t get me wrong, I wish he’d speak out more. But I understand why he doesn’t.
As for the difference between native-born and immigrant blacks, let me first say we’re all part of the African diaspora. We’re all in this together. I appreciate that you made me personally think about this more deeply. Having given it more thought, I don’t question anyone’s claims to authenticity based on national origin. It just seems to be that recent immigrants believe more in the American dream that native born blacks. That’s not to say that the Condolezza Rices or Clarence Thomases of the world don’t exist. Certainly they do. I think it’s just a matter of trying to understand (if and) how national origin matters in black political opinion. I feel that’s a legitimate question.
But as for Obama’s claim to blackness? At the end of the day, he married a black woman raised on the south side of Chicago. And not just any black woman, but Michelle Robinson. ‘Nuff said.
I just wanted to swing this link by for anybody interested–some great work being done and important projects underway and currently in progress–to accent this site in general as they work on both national and international Black history, as well as racism and comparative works/studies, etc. May have left it before, if so, here it is again…either way, good site too:
I went to Seattle’s link and it’s very interesting, to say the least. Here’s more information on the history of people of African descent living in Germany.Never knew about this before, so it’s news to me.
Apparently Africans/African-Germans were initially sent to concentration camps long before Hitler came up with the demented idea of sending Jewish people there also.
Apparently in 1907, Germany was at war with a group of the Herero nationality in Southwest Africa.They sent a Lieutenant Lother Von Trotha to “control the situation.” He basically exterminated most of the 80,000 population. The rest he shipped to German concentration camps, and much of the brutality they received was a fore-runner to what Hitler would do to the Jews.Thus, Germany was using humans for medical experiments (exposing them to typhus and polio and other diseases deliberately) for a long time before 1940. Also included some African-Germans telling their individual stories.
Please google: “Were Black Germans forerunners of the Holocaust?” for more information beyond Seattle’s link. You can also google “German war with the Herero people of Africa.”
I gotta share this before I forget again – regardless of their nation of origin, a lot of black conservatives have the attitude, “I might look black but I ain’t like y’all.” Armstrong Williams, Larry Elder, and Ward Connerly come to mind. Sort of a, “Don’t put my name in that mess!” attitude.
That’s so true and I think the main point the author of the main post was trying to make. And for the record, didn’t add that link above to divert the point away from the point you just made…quite the opposite lol…what I appreciate about that link is it keeps the focus of African issues straight and does not blur or confuse the unique histories by nation (both issues that exist within and between), or get into the horrible arguments of “whose had/has it worse” type of diatribes, yet clearly shows how it’s an issue that affects all and promotes unity, understanding, and support for all–within and between groups. I have a dear reason for finding that particular site of great importance and very valuable and thought would share here…. My main point of suggesting the site here though, was for the characteristics of the site just noted….
But I left that site also in response to a perplexing phenomenon–how non-Black/African Americans can have appearing interest and sympathy for people with African ancestry in other places throughout the world, but so much disdain for folks of African ancestry here in the U.S., particularly those whose histories tie back to slavery. In this sense, there is a failure of white society in particular, to see the oppressive similarities and draw very real and important comparisons between the U.S. and other nations by “otherizing” nations and holding the U.S. as somehow superior to all others, etc., in the collective white national social psychology of the masses. This occurs among both the “left” and the “right”. Very very old now is the example of holding Nazi Germany as “the prime example” of what “real racism” looks like, while actively practicing and advocating for racism here (conservative) or passively reinforcing racism by failure to get involved with issues that affect Black American society at a level so significant that it affects radical changes in the systemic social structures that could otherwise lead to greater equality for all and reparations for those who are entitled(liberal)–goes back to the posts on Occupying Wall Street and why Black society didn’t flock to the cause…well, once the more privileged are pacified, they will return back to their dwellings and Black society will be abandoned. People can disagree, but whatever.
I think what you mentioned is so true of conservatives of all color–the social distancing that takes place. But for whites, they aren’t distancing themselves from the various negative stigmatization their group has suffered as a result of various forms of oppression they’ve suffered from a dominant group, rather they celebrate their role, with great pride, as AS THE OPPRESSIVE group. I’m going to pass on addressing Black conservatives here.
I really don’t know how the republicans can constitute a legitimate political party. I mean I can provide a scholarly answer, but their present existence and so-called legitimated power and place in society, from a Humanist so-to-speak standpoint, makes absolutely no sense…and that might be because I’m more attuned to liberal racism as Democrats have their issues too and are incredibly racist–colorblind racism. But perhaps with that, to a point, I can see how colorblind and covert racism might be difficult for people to identify–the conservatives on the other hand are blatantly racist and classist–it’s right there. But regardless of which nation we are talking about, or which label we assign to any political party, fascism is fascism, and bigotry and hatred is bigotry and hatred, which all feeds off exclusionary and exclusionary social dynamics and social divisions that play a key role in holding racist and classist social hierarchies firmly in place. It also feeds into pitting people/groups against each other, including those who should otherwise be allies.
Anyway, wanted to thank you for reiterating the focus here and leave a brief explanation for my leaving that website as a suggested supplementary/complimentary resource to this site in the event it was misunderstood for anybody…the point or goal was not to derail or undermine the topic of the main post….
TTYL Blaque Swan and good evening to everyone else
Oh, okay. It really was a random thought of sorts. It had nothing to do with your website. I can hardly even put you and ‘derailing’ in the same sentence!
ah wasn’t sure and I am guilty of leaving comments, links, etc., that come to mind when reading on this site–sometimes directly related and others seem more helpful for supplementing/accenting, etc., yet many probably either seem un-related or off topic :S Anyway, shifting back to the main focus of topic of the post was needed anyway, soooo ty ty ♡