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Dorothea Brauer <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Diversity Ambassador <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 28 Feb 2000 17:38:39 -0500
text/plain (181 lines)
>From: "Julie W. Innes" <[log in to unmask]>
>Subject:      (Fwd) (Fwd) White Supremacy in Dixie
>truly unsettling..

>------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
>Subject: [BRC-NEWS] White Supremacy in Dixie
>Along the Color Line
>February 2000
>White Supremacy in Dixie
>By Dr. Manning Marable <[log in to unmask]>
>    How far has America actually progressed toward more
>constructive race relations?  Judging by some recent events,
>not much.
>    During this year's legal holiday marking the
>birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I was invited to
>speak at a small, predominantly white Southern college.
>For decades, this school had been racially segregated, like
>other all-white public educational institutions.  The
>college's first black faculty member had been hired only in
>the early 1980s.  Nevertheless, the initial reception I
>received was friendly and positive, from administrators,
>faculty and representatives of the student government
>association, who had sponsored my visit.  Nothing up to that
>point had prepared me for what I would soon encounter that
>    My lecture that night was before an audience of
>perhaps 500 people, consisting mostly of students and a
>significant number of African Americans from the surrounding
>community.  I spoke about the enduring legacy of Martin, the
>necessity to achieve social justice, and the urgent need for
>constructive dialogue across America's racial chasm.  As I
>concluded, most of the audience responded favorably to the
>message, but many sat in silence.
>    A white male student jumped out of his seat even
>before the audience had stopped clapping, and raised his
>hand to ask the first question.  When I acknowledged him,
>the white student launched into an attack against
>affirmative action, which was characterized as "reverse
>discrimination."  He insisted that both he and many of his
>friends had lost scholarships and jobs to unqualified
>minorities.  I replied that statistically less than two
>percent of all university scholarships were "race-based,"
>that is, designated for blacks and Hispanics.  Affirmative
>action was necessary because job discrimination was still
>rampant, and blacks frequently were unfairly charged more
>for goods and services than whites.  I cited one major study
>illustrating that blacks who negotiated and purchased
>automobiles at white car dealerships were charged
>significantly more than whites who bought the identical
>    The white student was unimpressed and unapologetic.
>His precise words were unclear, but his essential response
>was, "then the blacks ought to shop somewhere else!"
>Suddenly, a significant number of white students burst into
>applause, and a few even cheered.  Surprised and saddened, I
>quickly responded that this discrimination was illegal and
>morally outrageous, and that blacks shouldn't have to shop
>in another country in order to be treated fairly in the
>market place.
>    Don't misunderstand my point here.  As a middle-aged
>black man, I spent many summers in Dixie during the 1960s.
>I experienced Jim Crow segregation firsthand, and white
>racism is hardly a new phenomenon to me.
>    But the white students at this formerly segregated
>college had no personal knowledge of what Jim Crow was
>about.  They never saw black people being denied the right
>to vote, or signs posted on public restrooms reading "white"
>and "colored."  Yet they felt no hesitation, no restraint,
>to proclaim their prerogatives as whites, over and above any
>claims that black people made for equality.  In effect, this
>was "white supremacy":  blind to the historical dynamics and
>social consequences of racial oppression, jealous of any
>benefits achieved by blacks from civil rights agitation, and
>outraged by the suggestion that racial minorities should be
>compensated for their exploitation.  The twisted logic of
>white supremacy is that reformers who champion racial
>equality and social justice are the "real racists."  And as
>I subsequently learned, a number of white students were
>e-mailing administrators and others the next morning, after
>my talk, demanding to know why this black "racist" was
>invited to speak at their campus!
>    What particularly struck me by this incident was the
>deep anger displayed by some whites in the audience.  One
>can disagree with someone else's political perspective, yet
>behave in a civil manner.  Something I had said, or perhaps,
>what I represented, had generated white rage bordering on
>irrational hatred.
>    This same kind of white bigotry has been at the
>heart of the recent public controversy over the flying of
>the Confederate battle flag over the South Carolina
>statehouse.  When the NAACP called for the flag's removal,
>State Senator Arthur Ravenel referred to the organization as
>"the National Association of Retarded People."  When this
>racist remark generated widespread outrage, Ravenel
>apologized to "retarded people" for mistakenly linking them
>with the NAACP.
>    In January this year, 50,000 people gathered at the
>state capital in Columbia, South Carolina, to call for the
>flag's removal.  But you'd never guess this from the
>hypocritical and opportunistic behavior of the Republican
>Party's presidential candidates.  Arizona Senator John McCain
>first described the Confederate battle flag as "a symbol of
>racism and slavery," but soon reversed himself claiming it
>was also "a symbol of heritage."  McCain's top strategist in
>the state, Richard M. Quinn, is a proud leader of the
>"neo-Confederacy movement."
>    Texas Governor George W. Bush's response to the
>controversy revealed his political cowardice and moral
>bankruptcy.  Bush refused to demand that Ravenel apologize.
>He held a political rally at Bob Jones University, a racist
>institution that forbids interracial dating on campus, and
>is openly hostile to Roman Catholics.  Back in Texas, Bush
>has done nothing to prohibit the widespread displays of
>Confederate flags in state buildings and even public
>    Why have McCain and Bush refused to condemn a flag
>that journalist Brent Staples has described as "a symbol of
>choice among neo-Nazis, skinheads and other bigots?"  For
>the same reason that the white students became outraged when
>I talked frankly about the history of white privilege and
>racial discrimination.  Many white Americans refuse to
>honestly examine their history, because if they did, they
>would have to confront the moral equivalent of the Nazis who
>ran Germany's death camps.  They would have to acknowledge
>the vast murders and rapes by their foreparents, and their
>own complicity in profiting from today's system of racial
>injustice.  It is far easier to "boo" a black historian
>lecturing about racial equality, or to denounce the NAACP as
>"retarded."  By taking away their rebel flag, we may force
>these whites to finally come to terms with their own
>oppressive history, and themselves.
>    America as a nation has been essentially "silent"
>about its racist history.  As legal scholar Patricia J.
>Williams eloquently stated in the Nation recently, "It would
>be better to feel ourselves unsettled by the full truth of
>these historical horrors before we commend ourselves for
>having buried the past.  As we peer into the unmarked graves
>of the ghosts that haunt America still, perhaps the path to
>peace lies not only in dreaming a better future for black
>children but in awakening white Americans to their own
>history . . . ."
>Dr. Manning Marable is Professor of History and Political
>Science, and the Director of the Institute for Research in
>African-American Studies, Columbia University. "Along the
>Color Line" is distributed free of charge to over 325
>publications throughout the U.S. and internationally. Dr.
>Marable's column is also available on the Internet at
>Julie W. Innes
>Assistant Complex Coordinator
>Main Campus
>University of Vermont
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