Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Say it [Not So Loud]: [Swarthy] and NOT PROUD?

The German Flag
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government just set America back 300 years by freeing German students from the shackles of tuition, making it a human right in Germany to acquire knowledge. Here in the U.S., students are going into credit card debt to get college degrees that they will likely be paying on for 20 to 30 years, because college education is now a big business, not a right. In law school, I was flummoxed to learn that education was never an inherent right in this country, which we say was founded on basic fundamental freedoms of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The acquisition of knowledge for every American was never a category to which this country aspired.  Ergo, instead of extolling the value of education, our nation has always protected the right to be dumb.

When I graduated from college, I paid off my $5000 student loan and was grateful for the opportunity to do so. Yep. $5000.  I paid my law school loans of about $9000 (I don't even recall how much they were) in due time, also. I didn't pay a lump sum, so my lender definitely received a nice sum of extra money for my delays in paying the loan off, but I paid my debt back to society.  And I am grateful for the patronage of those creditors who gave me the opportunity to go to school.  Knowledge in America has never been for free. There was always a price tag. Black slaves weren't allowed to read and write, and even our current educational system has let [most] Americans down. We spend big money on  sports in college rather than on education itself.

We will never have free education in the United States (except here) as long as minorities want to attend college, in the same way that we will never have single-payer health care; because that would mean that minorities get a benefit that only Whites have been allowed to have, like the way it used to be: separate drinking fountains for Whites,  Whites-only restaurants, clubs for Whites only, Whites only golf courses, Whites only neighborhoods, white... you get it (I realize that not all Whites have these opportunities, either. But the presumption is that they can aspire to them, and even if they don't achieve, they still receive jobs with less pedigree). This country is not for the masses. It is only for certain individuals--especially for the ones who look like those traditionally in power, or as close to them as possible. Let's hear it from another [liberal] source, social worker professor, Deborah Foster, writer at Politicususa.com:

While the Republican platform has always included the mantra of cutting government spending on the poor, minorities, and immigrants, lately they have been willing to attack previously sacrosanct, widely used programs like Social Security and Medicare. They have come after programs like Unemployment Insurance and the Earned Income Tax Credit that support the working class. It seems like pure folly politically, given that nearly 44% of households receive one of these benefits. That’s a lot of voters. So what is the Republican strategy? What could they possibly be thinking?
For starters, they have come up with the phrase “entitlement society” and have spent a lot of money trying to get “Real Americans” (particularly White  Christians) to worry that we have one, and that it is ruining the country. They have preached that entitlements are going to bankrupt the nation and doom its children and grandchildren to lower living standards, debt, even some form of slavery. In short, they promote what Jeffrey Sachs has called “entitlement hysteria,” the irrational fear that social programs will wreck the country, encourage dependence and sloth, and benefit unworthy groups who don’t deserve them, despite a considerable amount of available evidence to the contrary.

We have our own Founding Father Benjamin Franklin to thank for his views about the whiteness of America, although he admitted his bias (not a consolation, of course):

Our Founding Father Preferred Whites
"Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white people in the World is proportionally very small. All of Africa is black or tawny. Asia is chiefly tawny. America (excluding the newcomer Whites and the descendants of enslaved Africans) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French(some) Russians and Swedes, are generally of what is called a swarthy complexion. So are many Germans, the Saxons and some Prussians only excepted, who, with the English, make up the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. They can only wish that their numbers were greater. And while we are, as I may call it, scouring our planet by clearing America of its forests, and so making This Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Earth's Inhabitants on Mars or Venus, why should we, in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken Earth's  People? why increase the Sons of Africa by planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Complexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind."
This quote is cited on a white supremacist website as gospel for their own beliefs in white supremacy, but I won't use their links, for obvious reasons.

There is a whole religion once based upon the aspirational status of whiteness as religious dogma; and many once-pilloried ethnic American immigrant groups that were formally disparaged have now eagerly jumped at their ascension to the ranks of Whites, absolving their former detractors who called them swarthy and other names for not being Anglo-Saxon. And for a country that doesn't care about race, the U.S., as a government, spends a lot of time collecting data about it. The scuttlebutt is that the government tracks racial data to protect the civil rights of different groups.  But only on paper, it would seem.  Here's how the White House Office of Management and Budget explains the need for data about race:

In 1977, OMB issued the Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting that are set forth in Statistical Policy Directive No. 15. The standards in this Directive have been used for almost two decades throughout the Federal government for record keeping, collection, and presentation of data on race and Hispanic origin. The standards have been used in two decennial censuses and in surveys of the population, data collections necessary for meeting statutory requirements associated with civil rights monitoring and enforcement, and in other administrative program reporting.  Furthermore, "data collection agencies have legislative authority to collect racial and ethnic data needed for Federal programs and in the case of the decennial census, for redistricting. They also use racial and ethnic data for analyses of social, economic, and health trends for population groups."

So much for our color-blind society.

And here's the rub: when asked for public comment, it would appear that representatives of certain groups didn't want to be lumped into certain categories that might cast them in a more pejorative light (my words). http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg_race-ethnicity/

In the 1990 census, in California, nearly one-fourth of children with any Asian background were White and Asian.  Children of these marriages are more likely to identify themselves as "White" rather than "Asian." Others tried to distance themselves from being associated with the darker masses of the world; and those who belonged to the darker-skinned races still thought it appropriate not to be affiliated with Black Americans, and suggested the following:
"Collect data for Black ethnic groups according to geographic origin of Black ancestors (African, Haitian, Jamaican, Caribbean, West Indian, Brazilian, Ethiopian, etc.)."

"Create a separate category for Louisiana (French) Creoles. They objected to categorization with Blacks as they are a multiracial/ethnic group (African, French, American Indian, and Hispanic)."

"Blacks born in Brazil or the Caribbean (especially immigrants) do not identify with the term, 'African American.' Several studies of Blacks with roots in the Caribbean or Africa show they do not feel they share a common history or culture with American-born Blacks and distinguish themselves from this population.""Some Blacks who have been in the United States for generations have no record of where in Africa their ancestors were born and do not wish to be called 'African-Americans.'"
"Provide a separate category for Cape Verdeans (Portuguese and African ancestry from Cape Verde on the western tip of Africa. This is mostly a multiracial population."
I am not sure the categorizations of Blackness has done anything to help civil rights, except to isolate indigenous Black Americans. Indeed, it is a challenge, reconciling the earnest of the government to protect minorities with the realities of our present day snapshots of civil rights.

The Black Man Then...

and Now...
[photo by Wiley Price, St. Louis American]

Let's not forget the outright nuclear attack on voting rights in the United States, led by conservative  gerrymandering to keep black districts black and white districts white.

The Black American flag
I love my color, my hair, my Negroid features, and, most of all, my American-ness.  But don't hate me because I'm from here and have no place else to call my original home.  I don't have a foreign language or a foreign country that will welcome me back home, or other trait or custom that makes me more indigenous to another country. That is not "my bad." That's our country's "bad."

So, go ahead:  be proud of your heritage, but don't disparage mine.  Post  your thoughts about race here and join the discussion: http://theracecardproject.com


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