Thursday, April 06, 2006

Rise of the Black Racists?

An interesting phenomenon has occurred in this country over the past 40 years or so.

Back in 1966, a person tagged with the term "racist" more than likely had white skin. Back then, it was the Confederate-flag-waving, civil-rights-loathing, black-skin-hating, KKK, Bull Connor, Gov. George Wallace type who wore the label.

More and more, however, I'm hearing seemingly articulate, professional, high profile white folk casually refer to blacks as "racists."

Just the other day, embattled former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) called Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) a racist while threatening to file ethics charges against her. Last month, conservative pundit and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin dissed a young prodigy, Autum Ashante, after the girl's poem, "White Nationalism Put U In Bondage," made national news.

"Meet the 7-Year- old Racist Poet," Malkin wrote in her March 15th blog. According to Malkin, the child shouldn't be blamed; she's just the product of Black History Month in public schools, separate recruiting programs, and government contracts awarded by race.

"Autum Ashante is the natural offspring of militant multiculturalism and government-sanctioned identity politics. We reap what we sow," Malkin wrote.

I'm assuming everyone with a computer, TV, radio or newspaper has read or heard about Ashante and McKinney. There's definitely room for criticism and defense of both individuals, but I'm not going to wade into those murky waters -- at least not now.

Instead, let's discuss the application of the word "racist." Readers of my column sometimes call me racist. It always puzzles me. Yes, I discuss race relations and hot-topic cultural issues and, at times, I even criticize perceived racist actions, but I don't consider myself a racist.

When did it become racist to talk about race? Can African Americans even be racists? Have we enjoyed so much cultural progression that the word has taken on a generic connotation?

I read quotes from several whites that called McKinney and the young poet racists, but they weren't the only ones. Some blacks did, too.

Maybe the word has been revised. After all, rappers claim they've changed the meaning of the words "pimp," "Ho" and the "N" word. Perhaps whites and a few blacks flipped the script on the "R" word, too.

If so, I missed the memo.

I turned to my nifty desktop dictionary for clarification.

"Racist (noun):
The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. Discrimination or prejudice based on race."

So, according to the dictionary, blacks can, in fact, be racist. In a practical, historically accurate sense, however, I don't agree.

Racism without power is like a gun without bullets. Sure, blacks can be prejudiced. I'm sure there are many who don't like whites simply because they're white. And, yes, blacks can be racial opportunists. They can certainly use race to advance their careers or cover transgressions. McKinney might be an opportunist and young Ashante may very well be prejudiced, but can they be racists?

I don't think so.

McKinney's and Ashante's actions and words are not powered by slavery, rape, lynching, Jim Crow, and property theft or the denial of basic privileges like home ownership, voting rights, education, civil liberties and the use of public accommodations. Their words are just words. Their "prejudice" lacks bullets.

In my day the definition of a racist was clear. I suspect it still is. Unless, of course, you ignore the history from which the word was born.


Blogger Intercaust said...

Is Louis Fare-con(man) a racist? He has harsh words for Jews and whites and he has bullets.

Saturday, April 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does seem that any time an African American mentions race they are then called a racist. It appears that we as a people are not suppose to point out the many injustices many of us suffer at different times and in different places in this country every day, if we do we're called racist and sadly sometimes by our own people. Obviously some of our own people need to learn more about our history in this country and not just rely on some PBS specials shown during Black History Month.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006  
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