Racism and the Anatomy of a Solution
BY LARRY ‘KEY’ MITCHELL
Excerpted from San Francisco Bay View, September 8, 2004
“I believe the biggest hindrance Blacks have ever faced following the abolition of slavery is racism. While it is the chagrin of many whites to discuss openly and publicly, it continues to execute its domination through legislation, capitalism and regulation, solely because the ethos of superiority continues to dominate the psyche of white America” (Cecil Rhodes, 1877).
… “Racism” [is] the nemesis of Black progress that we all have to individually and collectively endure in one fashion or another throughout our lives and that past generations had to endure. [C]apitalism is the economic vehicle that keeps racism in effective control.
Although it is highly important that Afrikan history – Our-Story – serve our struggle, we must remain acutely aware, in developing solutions, that they are not based upon the romanticisms of the “Great Afrikan Civilizations” of Egypt, Kush, Axum, Mali, etc., for it is romanticism that under-serves the historical understandings, meanings, values, principles and social tolerance of our ancestors’ communal social behaviors, which we can use today to mobilize ourselves as a people.
Walter Rodney, the late Caribbean philosopher and political activist of Guyana and author of the legendary book, “How Europe Undeveloped Africa,” wrote that “even within those kingdoms, the historical accounts often concentrate narrowly on the behavior of the elite groups and dynasties; we need to portray the elements of African everyday life.”
Thus, the anatomy of a solution can only begin only with an objective analysis of our dilemma.
Since our arrival here in the Americas, our skin color has been the identity of our prescribed condition, and yet the beautiful shades of our Blackness are not “our” dilemma, but that which condemns us to it. To further understand our condition, I turn to the dynamic political theorist, Manning Marable, who was inspired by Walter Rodney’s book to write “How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America.”
In it, Marable writes: “Afro-Americans have been on the other side of one of the most remarkable and rapid accumulations of capital seen anywhere in human history … each advance in white freedom was purchased by Black enslavement; white affluence coexists with Black poverty; white state and corporate power is the product in part of Black powerlessness …”
I believe to get a better understanding of the application of racism and capitalism, referencing a textbook or two and going over a little history of both is sufficient to provide you with some insight on how the two interpose upon humanity, causing one ethnic group to dominate another. [My hope is to] plant a seed of revolutionary consciousness that evolves into a fearlessness to challenge “the system” of racist, imperialist capitalism.
Be vigilant to avoid the pitfalls of perceiving all whites as “devils” and all Blacks as “saints,” and do not allow the atrocities of the past to turn your passionate anger into hatred towards others based upon their ethnicity. For hatred destroys the spirit that allows one to discern the bond of our humanity.
My words are intended for all, with emphasis toward those of us whose persecution throughout history has been stamped in the color of our skin. The analysis of white racism is intended to show its evolutionary imperialist nature and relationship with capitalism and its impact on us as a people from an historical perspective.
I want to show how racism in today’s America is the number one obstacle to collective Black empowerment.
What is referred to throughout American history as the “European expansion,” especially within school textbooks, is nothing more than a white imperialist role of implanting historical myths in the minds of Blacks to keep us subjected in a permanent state of inferiority. Like enslaving Blacks, capitalism and white racism are exclusively European creations, all evolving around the same period of time – about the 16th century.
Upon studying the economic and social history of Europe, the advent of white superiority and the goal of racism become apparent… Learning the truth shall liberate our minds and ultimately trip the trap door that will leave white supremacy dangling by the weight of its own guilt.
Check out some of the revealing science. The definition of the word racism in most dictionaries today is definitively misleading: “The belief that a particular race, especially one’s own, is superior to all races.” That defines what one would call a “supremacist.”
Racism in actuality is one ethnic group having the power to control things like the means of production and distribution, the socio-economic functions and foundations, political and judicial structures, education, and even the psychology – the imagery and language – of another ethnic group of people.
[E]tymology reveals some interesting details in regard to the evolutionary process of words and where they were derived. It places the true meaning of the term “human race” in its correct context.
[I]n most dictionaries, there are two definitions of the word race. The first, “A contest of speed,” came into the English language about 700 years ago, deriving from the Icelandic word “ras,” meaning “ a running or strong current.” Then there’s the second definition of the word race, “A division of all human beings,” which came into the English language about 450 years ago, originating from the Italian word “razza.”
It seems to me that the first definition of the word “race” evolved into the second definition. That would clarify the term “human race” as a competition of conquest initiated by the Europeans for which ethnic group would rule and dominate the world, without the consent of the rest of humanity.
[B]y the 19th century, over half the world was ruled by eight small European nations. The British, French, Italians, Germans, Dutch, Spanish, Belgians and Portuguese, had spent the previous 50 years competing with each other to colonize any part of the world unclaimed by whites. By 1900 they had imposed their laws, their methods of government, their economic systems and, in may places, their religious beliefs and myths on more than half the planet’s population.
One of the ways in which this endeavor was undertaken was not only by developing an ideology of racial superiority, but also by acquiring so much wealth through slave trading and free slave labor that the tradition and stronghold of the feudal system in 16th century Europe – lords and serfs, or Europeans enslaving each other – would eventually be wiped out.
Although it was no secret to the European that human beings existed in other parts of the world, under the illusion of his own superiority, he developed a skewed vision of a “New World” granted to him by God and, in the process, myths regarding the European variant of Christianity to justify pillaging the planet. He then set out to “discover” this so-called “New World.”
Reaching first the West Indies and South America, he came upon evolved and intelligent peoples – the Incas, the Arawaks and Aztecs – purely living in their own civilizations… It was this evolved Neanderthal – Cro-Magnon man from the Caucasus Mountains of Europe – who called the Indians savages, who brought to the so-called “New World” the “fruit” from the “tree of knowledge” that God forbabe Adam and Eve to eat, propagating even today that “he” brought “civilization” to the “savages” of the world.
And while he delivered the “sinful consciousness” of nakedness to the indigenous inhabitants of this “New World,” he found silver and gold.
Through mythical manipulation, religious indoctrination, proselytizing and ultimately coercion, the Indian was enslaved to mine for silver and gold that was shipped back to Europe, which increased its wealth. And as Europe’s wealth increased, the Indian population decreased, from being literally worked to death and dying off from the disease the European brought with him.
With their source of free labor decreasing, the European sought slaves elsewhere to tend sugar crops, pick cotton and mine for silver and gold and perform other laborious duties. He turned his attention toward Afrika, where he provided his effective but cowardly weapon, the gun, to certain Afrikan communities who were at war with other Afrikans -thus giving certain communities an advantage over others. By provoking hostilities and agitating conflict between what the European called “tribes,” he benefited from “tribal warfare” by enslaving those who lost in these communal wars, subsequently institutionalizing the exchange of inferior guns for slaves.
Another method he used was sneaking up on small villages and kidnapping its members for enslavement, which came to be known as “slave raiding.” That continues today in the form of Police Task Forces raiding our communities of Brothas to throw in prison for various law violations.
[A]s more Black slaves were shipped into the West Indies and South and North America aboard slave ships named Jesus, Justice, Brotherhood and Integrity, the sacrilegious indignity of white supremacy was revealed and capitalism emerged as the economic weapon the European would use to subject the world to his dominion. As capitalism began developing slavery into an industry, Blacks began threatening their enslavement by fighting back, rebelling and revolting against the yoke of slavery.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the spirit of Afrika shouted to the world, “Up you mighty race,” resonating throughout the “souls of Black folk” worldwide, impassioning Toussaint L’Ouverture in Haiti, Antonio Maceo in Cuba and Sam Sharpe in Jamaica, who proclaimed: “ I would rather die upon yonder gallows than live in slavery.”
And all the preaching of Nat Turner in North America came down to one Biblical verse, “an eye for an eye.” There were over 400 revolts, each involving over a thousand slaves, in the West Indies alone.
As the time was drawing close for Blacks across the globe to confront white superiority in the form of slavery, capitalism switched the script, becoming the veil behind which institutionalized racism hides.
The manumission of slaves was not produced from a white “moral conscience” to free Blacks because our slavery was wrong. In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation was only capitalism defending its own interests, precluding us taking our freedom by force.
A primary example is that in the beginning of the 19th century, mercantile capitalism – basically slave trading – began falling to industrial capitalism, to the degree that leading capitalists, who were in fact industrialists, found that the trade in slaves and the use of slave labor was no longer progressive toward industrial development.
The transformation of slaves into wage laborers meant an increased market for the developing industrial capitalist, and an increased market meant an increase in production, which meant increased profits, becoming the fundamental point that abolitionists used to argue for emancipation. Although racism was a prelude to capitalism – which certainly evolved from the enslavement of Blacks – racism maintains its power and function today through a symbiotic relationship with capitalism.
The racial disparity of the political and socio-economic structure in contemporary America is indicative of the economic interests of a racial agenda, a paradigm that must be maintained if white dominance is to govern.
“Our shining prince,” Malcolm X, revealed this dynamic 40 years ago when he stated, “The political, economic and social system of America was produced from the enslavement of the Blackman, and … is capable only of reproducing that out of which itself was produced … and this system is not only ruling us in America, it’s ruling the world.”
Thus, the slavery, subjugation and oppression which produced America are the very ingredients it needs now in order to maintain its exploitative powers so as to keep us economically anchored in the crafty design of our own exploitation. We must realize that educational centers and other social institutions of America produce a “status quo” that keeps us psychologically straitjacketed to principles, ideas, values and goals that economically bind us to a neo-slavery that furthers the life of this racist-capitalist system.
Unfortunately, we as a people, since slavery was abolished, allowed ourselves to be divided by carrying over from slavery into our emancipation the class divisions between the “house Negro” and the “field Negro,” a distinction that became an historical analogy of class division among Blacks illustrated to us by Malcolm X. Although racism and capitalism have been on the horizon of our collective challenge – the “ism” that maintains division in place of our unity and collective mobility is classism, a dynamic that we do possess the power to put in check without trekking upon the fruitless task of moral suasion of the white power structure.
The “haves” versus the “have nots” – herein lies the crux of our dilemma – requires the separation of our brotherhood and sisterhood that prevents our ability to reconcile. We can no longer afford to be divided by the size of our purses or wallets. Nor do we need the permission of a politician, for our unity cannot be legislated.
But first we must psychologically “break da chains” that confine us to Willie Lynch practices that cause us to “hate” instead of “congratulate” one another upon our financial and material acquisitions.
The message is by no means anti-white, but by all means pro-Black…
“So long as there are people who deny our humanity as Blacks, then so long must we proclaim our humanity as Blacks.” – Walter Rodney
“The times we live in call for harsh measures, both behind the cloistered towers of the university and in the streets.” – Manning Marable
Larry P. Mitchell Jr. (D63937)
P.O. Box 7500
Crescent City CA