Yes, Virginia, It’s RAAAAAACISM!

Ohaha lynching 1919

Omaha lynching 1919

Is racism in America really classism in disguise?  Do White Americans actually discriminate against Black Americans based upon  assumptions about (lesser) intelligence, education, innate moral rectitude,  social responsibility, ambition and financial standing rather than race?  Yes.  And that distinction sounds suspiciously like raaaacism.

Can racism be falsely claimed? Yes.  Can racism be falsely denied? Yes.  Blacks and Whites in America perceive the country and its grand promises through very different experiential lenses, so let’s examine this egalitarian, and I think false, assertion.

Racism, especially the institutional and state sponsored kind, is the oppression, domination and manipulation of peoples based upon their seemingly immutable and inferior characteristics of phenotype and genotype; an unreasoning prejudice based upon belief in the inherent superiority of one exalted race over another naturally debased race.  This quote  in 1887 from Henry Grady, a Southern “moderate” and editor of the Atlanta Constitution (from Trouble in Mind, Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow, Leon F. Litwack) is very explicit:

“The supremacy of the white race of the South must be maintained forever, and the domination of the negro race resisted at all points and at all hazards because the white race is the superior race.  This declaration is no new truth.  It has abided forever in the marrow of our bones, and shall run forever in the blood that feeds Anglo-Saxon hearts.”

Jesse Washinton lynched-burned at the stake

Jesse Washinton lynched-burned at the stake

Black liberation from physical slavery and political enfranchisement weren’t worth the paper the they were written on. Any attempt to exercise these “rights” usually resulted in death.  Through most of the next 100 years after emancipation, Blacks lived within an ever tightening vise of White restrictions, humiliations and intimidation that they were powerless to change. Under the magnifying lens of Jim Crow Blacks did not dare to own their own emotions, their feelings of anger and resentment, as the mildest expressions of other than childlike deference and submission could result in their deaths.  Despite the complaints of bigots that Blacks were childlike, ineducable, and primitive and therefore in need of paternalistic white control, it was educated, and economically successful Blacks were usually the targets of White wrath. Here is the story of the Tulsa Race riot, 1921, the most destructive riot in U.S. history that obliterated Black Tulsa, Ok.

Racist etiquette required that wherever the two races came into contact the negro must be  reminded of his limitations because equality elevated the inferior race and degraded the superior. In a racist society, race trumps class and gender prejudice.  All members of a race, male and female, well off or not are inferior to all members of the other race.  The lowest white man is higher than the highest nigger.  Total segregation of Blacks who had been freed from slavery, dehumanization, false arrest, forced labor, economic terrorism, unpunished ritual murder, and political disenfranchisement are the tools of ideology. In my experience, bull necked resentment, unreasoning unfairness and mistreatment are also racism.

Lynched Black woman

Lynched Black woman

In America, classism, prejudice based on mutable forms of perceived inferiority, laziness, drunkenness, etc., even ethnic prejudice based upon cultural inferiority to superior Nordic races, is usually overcome within a generation as all persons perceived as “white” eventually assimilate into the larger group and enjoy the privileges of that group over the oppressed race.  Since race is a social construct, the Irish, as the “niggers of Europe” were oppressed as a race, to justify their enforced economic dependency and debasement.

Yes, in America, there can be attitudes of class based prejudice within and among both races based upon relative wealth, social standing and sometimes color.  But when the two “races” intersect the bigotry is complex but is usually based on race.

Ida B. Wells, the great African American social reformer and anti-lynching crusader, described news and scholarly media that:

reproduce myths about the sexual nature and sexuality of Black women and girls which leaves them open to assault and unprotected by the law. As editor of a militant Black weekly, the Memphis Free Speech and Highlight, Ida B. Wells published a searing editorial condemning mob violence and the widespread white acquiescence that served to sanction mob rule. Wells’ editorial dismisses white, southerners’ self-righteous defense of vigilantism and suggests that the psychology motivating mob violence is white men’s desire to control white women’s sexuality rather than widespread fear of Black male sexuality. The editorial is scathing, relentlessly incriminating and challenges the white supremacist rhetoric casting Black peoples’ sexuality as loose, wanton and uncontrollable.

The lynch-murder of three highly respected Memphis, Tennessee businessmen in May of 1892, was the event that transformed Ida B. Wells into an ardent anti-lynching crusader of unparalleled historical significance. In 1892 lynchings were nearly a daily occurrence in American society. Tragically, more U.S. citizens fell victim to mob rule in 1892 than any other year in the countries recorded history. Wells-Barnett was outraged when in less than one week across the South, eight Black men were hanged till dead, and their lifeless bodies filled with bullets. In no instance were legal actions taken against any white person or persons involved in the men’s deaths. Although the justification “excusing” five of the mob executions was what Wells called “the new alarm about raping white women,” the three businessmen were killed by the mob for daring to own, operate and protect a prosperous cooperative grocery in competition with a nearby white-owned store. The murders of the Memphis grocers caused Wells to critically reexamine and challenge not only vigilante violence, but the rhetoric used to defend lynch-law as well.

Yeah, it’s racism.


6 Responses to Yes, Virginia, It’s RAAAAAACISM!

  1. Cinie says:

    Thank you. I have always found the “racism vs, classism” argument silly. Racism is classism based on skin color. Why else is the phrase “know your place” such a prominent legacy in black America?

  2. Dead Girl says:

    PB, It really became something you could reach out and touch, after Skip Gates’ arrest. It became much much bigger than the situation at the house between Gates and Crowley. I am still catching up on all that has been said regarding that situation, and without flinching, I say the majority of whites in this country are still flagrant ugly racists ~ except they really do not seem to realize it – they actually think they are the post-racial white.

    Their complete and utter defense of the Authority Figure (White cop), (absent any real evidence he is deserving of such “hero” worship) who Dr. Gates dared to “defy”, and complete and utter castigation of Gates disgusts me to no end. I have had some very heated discussions with colleagues (none of my friends were against Gates or for a white cop) about this matter, and when I spell it out for them, that they are. indeed. racists. for blindly and with a great deal of animus, hating Skip Gates.

    It was simple, I ask them what has Skip Gates done in the past to lead them to believe he was such a bad person he deserved to be arrested on stepping foot outside of his own domicile… they cannot answer. The punishment (the whites’ hating Gates’ for defying an “authority figure”) does not fit the crime (Gate’s talking back to a white cop). Indeed, in two of them, I have seen their realization that they are possibly deeply racist.

    And these were both people who characterized my rejection of Obama as racism. After much heated discussion, when I finally asked the question “What has Henry Louis Gates Jr. done, that makes you so sure he is a bad person deserving of this arrest, and deserving of your judgment of him???” These are people who in the course of their work, have worked for him, or assisted him, in one way or the other. Yes, he is a bit of a Prima Donna, but then, so are most of the other Faculty and Top Tier administrators at Harvard. He certainly did not deserve such hostile judgment and I have no conclusion other than the fact that this, is, racism, and it is the reason we get no where, as people, together.

    So what do we do? How do we transcend this? Can we transcend this? Should we talk about it? Can we talk about it, two or more races, getting intimately familiar with all of the evil of the past, the hidden evil of the present, and the eternal evil that will prevail if we do not acknowledge the damage done, and the damage still being done. While sex and orientation equality are important, how do we fix those if we have not fixed race issues yet?

    I am not sure if this is good news or not, but liberal republican colleagues agree with me, that “reparations” via the schools, is a reasonable idea. I have learned a bit about this, as I remember the RW hysteria about reparationists in the Obama administration from last summer. I think it is the right thing to do, though there is so much more to be done, but I think it is a start. Education will move people forward. What do you think of this PB?

    For what it is worth though, whatever racism dwells in me, as a white person, I am ashamed and sorrowful when I see the pictures above. It is good to be reminded of these things. It is time for whites in this country to face the truth. Our skin gave us mastery of the universe, and we abused this mastery, and caused great harm, and did great sin with it. How do we pay for such evil done in the name of our skin?

  3. Jorge Mendez says:

    I am a Puerto Rican male and would like to believe that even back in those days I would be for equal rights. I am for equal rights now.
    I am on this page, because I just read the James Patterson book: Alex’s Cross’s Trial

  4. Tai'Meer Hunt says:


  5. Jasper Coon says:

    Burn baby Burn !

  6. Joe C. says:

    Since the 1960s, over a quarter of a million white people have been murdered by black males in the United States. Therefore, is it really so surprising that black males of a similar character content to those who committed ALL OF THOSE MURDERS, were lynched back then? Quite frankly, I would like to have seen those “quarter of a million” murderers lynched in more recent times. Black males are such poor poster children for victimhood.

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