RACE AND THE GOP
By James Braxton Peterson | With thanks to NewBlackMan
Friday, January 27, 2012.
Let’s gather up all of the Black children and take them to Niggerhead for a retreat. When we get there we should be sure to share with them the ‘fact’ that many of them would have been better off being born during the era of slavery. Back then they would not have been considered human beings nor would they have had any modicum of freedom or dignity but they may have been more likely to be born into a ‘nuclear’ family. Unless their mothers were raped by their masters/fathers; in that case they would be dogged by the existential tensions of their own miscegenated identities and their sui generis experience with fatherlessness would have been inextricably linked to their condition as human chattel. Let’s remind the black folk of the baby boomer generation that racism is no longer an issue.
Even though they have less access to quality healthcare, shorter life expectancy, and a fraction of the wealth of their white counterparts, none of these facts are a result of racial stratification. Let’s go to the NAACP national convention and explain to their largely professional middle and upper middle class membership that their ‘Food Stamp’ President has put more (white) people on government assistance than any other president in history. Let’s teach the descendants of enslaved Africans about the American work ethic – you know the one where you get paid for a solid day’s work. Let’s explain to them that even though your ancestors built the White House – as enslaved laborers, (as well as the SC capital building from which the Confederate flag waves flagrantly - as enslaved laborers), you have no concept of hard work.
Let’s convene all of the unemployed, underemployed and working poor black folk and lecture them on the value of money vs. the value of public assistance. Let’s tell them that Blah people need to choose earning over entitlement, that Blah people need not be offended by the cavalier ways in which Republican politicians situate the discourses of entitlement within the retrograde racialized discourses of a bygone American era. Let’s use the language of slavery and liberation as a back-dropped prop to bamboozle the middle class and the poor into thinking that the Obama administration is a well-organized group of socialist overseers; that Obama is a demagogue, hell-bent on diminishing their freedom.
Debt, of course is the enemy. Entitlements (not the social safety net) is the term through which these lessons must be framed. Let’s publish and circulate newsletters. We won’t write them but we will put our names on them. These newsletters will tell our loyal readers all about the ways in which Blah people are inherently criminal; why 13 year-old Blah boys are superhuman thugs who will riot in our cities until their welfare checks are ready. If anyone asks us about any of this all we have to do is dismiss those uppity media folk. Best to keep journalists in their place.
If this all sounds absurd yet frighteningly familiar to you then you’ve been tuned into the Republican presidential campaign process.
I am JBP2 and I approve this message.
James Braxton Peterson is Director of Africana Studies and Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University and the author of the forthcoming Major Figures: Critical Essays on Hip Hop Music. Follow him at @DrJamesPeterson.