GUEST COLUMN: Obama's election won't end exploitation of race

Monday, July 13, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 1:02 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 30, 2010

When President Obama was elected, many cockeyed optimists declared the end of our race problems. Race is a tool, which will probably remain. It is adaptive and functional to all who seek to use or misuse it.

We appear to be seduced by its many uses. It has been used to explain sins both large and small, beginning with the exploitation and colonization of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Dr. Joel Spring at the State University of New York states slavery and its accompanying denial of equal education and segregation are directly attributed to the maintenance of a labor source. The exploitation of the enslaved was economic. The further exploitation of African Americans, Mexicans and Asians is still economic. 

Many minority and white students were carefully taught that minorities were inferior. Many  students and their families accepted this classification of status. Most of the literature and other cultural communication all reinforced these accepted teachings. Anyone who challenged these notions were thought to be troublemakers or insane. Whites were able to rationalize this exploitation without feeling guilty.  The only means minorities used to address this exploitation were covert. 

A few blacks such as W.E.B.  Dubois felt it was important to educate blacks to be discontented with their social position. Dubois' ideal was an educated black citizenry struggling against oppression.  Oppression is not as overt as it was during slavery. It is with us nevertheless. Our response to this covert oppression is to ignore it at our peril and celebrate token advances that continue to keep the masses as subservient economic commodities. The judicial system is an economic enterprise.

The United Nations report on racism cites the United States for judicial inequities and discrimination against indigenous people. A most devious and diabolical aspect of this tool is that it enables the perpetrator to enlist the victims to assist in the perpetration of acts against themselves.

Too many minorities bought into this charade and amplified it by behaving in ways that that validated the charade. Much of the literature, advertising, entertainment and required behaviors required blacks to shuffle, be jovial, grin, and pretend to be subservient, ignorant and witless. Many minorities mimicked the reputed white behaviors and habits. Many of these traits were taught and handed down as survival tools. These behaviors were deemed necessary for obtaining employment and acceptance. 

Because the black male was characterized as a physical threat he had to present a particularly docile smiling nonthreatening demeanor.  Remnants of this behavior still persist. Many African American television personalities are good examples of this behavior in action. Because these false values systems were adopted and acted on by both races the “big lie” became a false truth.

Minorities judge themselves by proximity and relationships to whites. They seek any way to enhance their proximity by whites and any opportunity to share any endeavor with whites is perceived as a step up by the minorities, particularly if the minorities step outside their prescribed roles. This kind of move is celebrated by the entire minority community as proof that they are accepted.

Minorities are too hungry for white validation. Black persons who are the first to hold an elected, appointed or a new career position are celebrated as heroes. Minorities who received negative press are shunned as traitors to the community.  Minorities claim they are not a monolith, meaning we are not like “the others."  Blacks were so desperate for this positive validation that they accepted President Clinton being dubbed as the black president because they thought his actions were at least one way to the oval office. 

Claiming Obama as black was not a leap. Even when we knew he was not from a “slave context.” Obamas with an accent usually hang on to their accents to distinguish themselves from slave descendants. Racism has seduced us all. We are all its victims and its perpetrators. The younger generations appear to have more success ridding them of this scourge.

Obama has yet to advocate anything specifically for blacks. He is not alone. Many of the minorities we celebrate have not done anything specifically for us. Our rewards from them are mainly psychic. Most of them fear giving any preferences. The "race thing” at its base is still an economic concoction.

The election of Obama has not changed African Americans' position in the U.S. We formerly hoped that justice would come in heaven times. There is little to indicate that freedom, justice and equality will come while we are on earth if we cannot rely on ourselves to address the "race factor.” We can celebrate race progress while being vigilant regarding its devious dangers.

"Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men's skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact." — President Lyndon B. Johnson

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