Springtime is the season for treating weeds. Every time the grass is cut however, it gives the appearance that the weed problem was resolved, but shortly afterwards, more weeds. The problem is, the roots lie beneath the surface and if not addressed, their return is inevitable.
This is not only our current reality but also our historical experiences here in America. Author and lecturer Neely Fuller stated, “Until you understand racism/white supremacy, everything you think you know will only confuse you.”
America has built its’ wealth on chattel slavery and instituted the race-based divide and conquer tactic since Bacon’s Rebellion 1676-1677, when the rich and powerful devised a technique to ensure their ability to maintain their wealth and power by using the social construct of race as a tool.
Racism/white supremacy is a shapeshifter, adjusting as needed to sustain itself. It is a cancer which pollutes the body of America which often goes unnoticed by the exempt majority culture, giving the illusion of a healthy system, while the disease continues to metastasize and destroy the body it inhabits.
This institutionalized racialized system functions successfully by keeping the populace ignorant regarding the truth of its history, psychology, and sociology, which has evolved into a massive tapestry interwoven into the very fabric of the nation.
When it appears that the nation is progressing, the problem reemerges in a different form. An example of this can be seen in what Michele Alexander calls the new Jim Crow.
Just because laws change does not mean that they are always observed. Yet, what we celebrate is the changing of the laws, while ignoring how they were circumvented and recast. As in Whack-a-mole, you club one mole and another quickly appears elsewhere.
The U.S. slave trade continued until 1860, well beyond the point when it was officially outlawed in 1808. Slavery officially ended in 1865 with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation but reemerged in the form of the penal system supported by Black codes.
Carol Anderson writes about “white rage” as a means of pushing back against any form of progress by people of color. This is observed throughout our history as well. It was prevalent during the Reconstruction era when the newly freed slaves often quickly excelled beyond their “white” counterparts. They were used to hard labor and now had the opportunity to transfer those work ethics for their own benefit.
As a result, Jim Crow was ushered in to retard their progress through violence, disgracing imagery, legislation, and the demonization of Melanated people. When African Americans built their own successful towns and Wall Streets, they were often destroyed by envious homegrown terrorists who also killed many of the inhabitants without judicial consequences.
We cannot afford to continue to ignore and deny the root of the problem, systemic racism. Dr. Kenneth Clark tested children regarding the development of racial biases with his famous doll test which contributed to the Supreme Court decision on Brown v. the Board of Education in 1954, which ruled school segregation illegal. Repeated in 2010 by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, sadly, little had changed. Psychologists tell us that racial biases can be seen in children as young as 5 and 6 years old.
These biases, and how they are instilled can be so subtle that they often go unnoticed, much like the root system of weeds. You do not have to use the words “white supremacy” to teach white supremacy.
By repeating images continuously, ignoring the achievements of other people groups, and presenting history from only one perspective, we quickly learn to absorb white supremacy indoctrination.
Until we address the root by reversing the engineering of contributors to racial biases and white supremacy (a lopsided and racially biased educational system, misleading media portrayals of POC, and self-imposed segregation leading to the embracing of stereotypes in the absence of actual relationships), we simply will continue to promote its continuation in various forms.