Born Black: The Pride and the Pain
Author: H.D. Armstrong

Chapter 4
DECEPTION

CHAPTER 4

Deception

 

     It is complex but simple. It is ingenious but insincere. It is a machine capable of producing the calculated, systematic manipulation of a race of people. It is called deception. How is this “deception” machine constructed? How does it function? The answer to the first question is relatively simple. Deception is made up of stereotypes, lies, half-truths and misinformation. The answer to the second question requires a more detailed analysis. Deception functions as a virus or disease. It spreads, consumes and destroys. Just as a virus spreads through the human bloodstream, deception spreads through the mainstream of American Society. For the purpose of this text, let us define American Society as a civilization that operates on a three-point hinge, consisting of:  1. Government, 2. Education, 3. Media.

 

Government

     What is government? Why is it such an integral function of a nation? The following definition is taken from the 1989 New Merriam-Webster Dictionary:  Government - authoritative direction or control; the making of policy; the organization or agency through which a political unit exercises authority; the governing body.

Let us also, look at the definition of govern: Govern - to control and direct the making and administration of policy; rule; control; direct; influence; determine; regulate; restrain.

The connotation of these two words can be summarized in one statement. They that run the government, control the people. The common misconception is that government is of the people, for the people and by the people. In fact, the history of American government has been a consistent source of deception in terms of whom the controllers are and who are the controlled. Around the time of the Revolutionary War, America began to suffer from a malady that can best be described as The Animal Farm Syndrome.   In a fable called, “Animal Farm,” written by George Orwell, a disgruntled band of farm animals wage war against a tyrannical farmer. The rebellious animals preferred democracy over the oppressive power of the farmer. Following the American Revolution, two political parties emerged. One party supported the ideas of Alexander Hamilton. The other party supported the ideas of Thomas Jefferson. On July 2, 1776, the continental congress voted for a resolution for independence against English rule over the colonies. The colonists preferred democracy over the oppressive power of King George III. According to the fable, the animals were successful in driving the farmer away from the farm. Among the various animals, was a bunch of pigs with ulterior motives. They taught themselves to read and write; then, assumed a leadership role, by establishing a governing council. In their first official act, they established a list of seven commandments. The seventh of which, was particularly interesting. It stated that, “All animals are equal.”  In the first part of The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson expressed the colony’s argument for freedom and liberty:  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. Referring back to the fable, the pigs did very little work, aside from supervising the other animals. As the rest of the animals continued to work like slaves, the pigs took up shelter in the farmer’s house, began to wear the farmer’s clothes and started to walk on two legs. The pigs began to associate themselves with the humans and by the end of the story, the other animals could not distinguish the pigs from the humans. In the second part of The Declaration of Independence, there is a list of twenty-seven grievances against King George III. Summarily, this list included his refusals, legislations, obstructions, impositions, restrictions, constraints and oppressions. Now, let us take another look at the definition of the word, “govern.”

Govern - to control and direct the making and administration of policy; rule; control; direct; influence; determine; regulate; restrain. Isn’t this an interesting parallel? Let us continue.

In the third and final part of the Declaration of Independence, there is a pledge for democracy and independence. Let us look at the definition of democracy:  Democracy - government by the people; a government in which the supreme power is held by the people; the absence of heredity or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.

Within the connotation and denotation of the word democracy, lies the deception in government. The Declaration of Independence speaks volumes about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; yet, it doesn’t call for an end to slavery. The word democracy comes from the ancient Greece, over 2500 years ago. It means “government by the people.”  In that ancient city of Athens, there were 450,000 people but only about 30,000 could vote, because at least half of the population was slaves. Since the inception of democracy, it had never been proven that this form of government could work for a large country. The wisest politicians felt that the mass of people did not know enough to govern themselves. Alexander Hamilton, who was George Washington’s aide during the revolution, was in favor of a strong central government much like the one in England. In fact, Hamilton and his followers wanted a strong government more than they wanted democracy. They believed that the rich and upper class should have the most power. Furthermore, for those citizens that cannot read or write, and are ignorant in other ways, democracy is merely a smokescreen for dishonest politicians who want the government to have ultimate control. Remember the Animal Farm fable? The pigs had an advantage over the other animals, because they could read and write. Thus, they used this advantage to assume a superior status and authoritative position. For centuries, slaves were forbidden to receive any type of schooling, and for decades after slavery, equal educational opportunities for minorities were resisted. Since we are on the subject of schooling, this appears to be an appropriate segue into the next point.  

 

Education  

     As a child, I was taught in grade school that I was an American. I was taught to “pledge allegiance” to the American flag. I was taught to sing the national anthem and “America the Beautiful”. In high school, I was taught American history along with token tidbits of black history. In the American history books, America is described as the great “melting pot”, “the land of the free, and the home of the brave”. This depiction is part of the deception that has perpetuated the mirror image of “true” freedom. From the time that we were old enough to go to school, we were taught to respect the flag, and to honor America with a patriotic spirit. You’re probably asking, “What’s wrong with that?”  The answer is-- nothing, unless you were born black, because America’s founding concepts of freedom, liberty and justice were developed for a “whites only” society. To put it simply, patriotism is just another word for racism. Time after time, America has failed to live up to the suggestion that “all men are created equal.” Keep in mind these two important facts: The Declaration of Independence was written 87 years before the abolishment of slavery. The Constitution was drafted 76 years before the slaves were freed. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that in the conception of these documents, there was no regard for the black race, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Consider the words of Roger B. Taney, former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The case before the court was that of Dred Scott v. Sanford. Dred Scott, a slave who had lived in the free state of Illinois and the free territory of Wisconsin, before moving back to the slave state of Missouri, had appealed to the Supreme Court in hopes of being granted his freedom. Chief Justice Taney, a staunch supporter of slavery, wrote in the Court's majority opinion that, because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue. The framers of the Constitution, he wrote, believed that blacks had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it.”  Furthermore, referring to the language in the Declaration of Independence that includes the phrase, "all men are created equal," Taney reasoned, "It is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. . . ."

This is not what I was taught in school. As I said before, I was taught that I was an American, and that in America everyone is equal. I was taught that it was illegal to discriminate against race, color or creed. I was taught that the founding fathers wanted freedom for all Americans. I was taught that the Declaration of Independence applied to all Americans. I was taught that the Constitution of the United States of America applied to all Americans.

 

 

 

     According to the American history books, Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic in 1492 and discovered the new world. However, the early settlers found many tribes of Native Americans already living in this “new world.”  They didn’t migrate here from Spain or England. They weren’t refugees from Cuba or Mexico, and certainly, they were not imported here by way of slave ships.

     We know from history, that the American Indians were the original settlers on American soil. However, there are no carvings of Native Americans on Mount Rushmore, often referred to as the “shrine of democracy”. Instead, there are huge busts of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. We know from history, that The Boston Massacre was an event, which was a prelude to The Revolutionary War. Former slave, Crispus Attucks was the first person killed in the massacre. However, his birthday is not recognized as a national holiday. Instead, we honor George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, as if President‘s Day wasn‘t enough. We know from history, that Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman elected to congress. However, there are no statues of her in Washington, to commemorate her place in history.

 

     In 1976, an extraordinary novel was published. Roots, written by African American author, Alex Haley, was an earth-shattering, eye-opening depiction of American history. The story was made into a mini series, and in January of 1977, millions watched the eight-night presentation of Roots. It was a truthful saga of how people of African descent came to be on American soil. I was never taught that there were any blacks among the early settlers. It had never been explained to me how a people, who once lived in Africa, came to live in America. Why did I not have an African name? Why could I not speak African? The answer to these questions and many more like it had been answered during the mini-series. Roots was more than just an appropriate title. It was enlightenment for a generation of African Americans that had been deceived. It was apparent that we all had similar roots to that of Alex Haley. We were descendants of Africans, stolen from Africa, brought to America, given American names and taught to speak American. To reiterate my earlier statement, this text is not meant to rehash the horror of slavery, or to incite animosity towards white Americans. The purpose of this text is to provide a new perspective on an old crisis. With this still in mind, let’s continue with our discussion of deceptive education. Slavery began in the colonies in 1619. By 1860, 400,000 of the 7,000,000 whites in the south owned slaves. So, why was slavery still supported by those who had no slaves? Many of the white southern farmers were poor. Only the slaves were poorer. The fear, which gripped the south, was that abolitionists would free all the slaves, making them the equals of poor, white men. Many of the southern whites were uneducated and generally shared the opinions of their more educated leaders who were plantation owners, ministers and politicians. Their voices became the voice of the poor, white farmer. That voice repeatedly told them that all white men would suffer if the slaves were ever to become free. So, who were some of the men behind the voices that spoke to the majority of southern whites? There are too many to name, so for the purpose of this text, let’s just pick out a few at random from the history book.

Let us begin with America’s first president. George Washington commanded the continental army that won American independence from Britain in the Revolutionary War. He served as president of the convention that wrote the United States Constitution. As we were taught in school, he was a great American and should always be remembered as the “Father of our Country.”  One piece of information that we were not taught, is that Washington managed a plantation of over 20 slaves. What kind of father would condone the slavery of his own children?

 

 Thomas Jefferson was America’s third president. As we were taught in school, he is famous for having penned parts of the Declaration of Independence, including the phrase, “. . . all men are

created equal.”  Here are two quotes from Thomas Jefferson that we were not taught in school: 

 

“Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me that in memory they are equal to the whites, in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid: and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.”

 

“They secrete less by kidneys, and more by glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odor…They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But that may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents them from seeing a danger till it be present….Their grieves are transient. I advance it therefore as a suspicion, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.”

 

Another piece of information that we were not taught, is that Thomas Jefferson was a slave master.

 

James Madison was America’s fourth president. He did most of the work in preparing the new plan of government. As we were taught in school, he was one of Virginia’s most respected leaders, and should always be remembered as the “Father of the Constitution.”  One piece of information that we were not taught, is that he owned a large plantation of slaves.

 

Abraham Lincoln was America’s sixteenth president. He stands in American history as one of the greatest men who ever lived. As we were taught in school, his honesty and humanity earned him the nickname of “Honest Abe.”  As president, he became known as the “Great Emancipator,” due in large part to his issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing millions of slaves. As we were taught in school, he is famous for his address at Gettysburg. Here are several quotes from Abraham Lincoln that we were not taught in school:

“I can conceive of no greater calamity than the assimilation of the Negro into our social and political life as our equal…..”

 

“I agree with Judge Douglas that he (Negroes) is not my equal in many respects, certainly not in color, and perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment.”

 

“I have not purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will forever forbid living together in perfect equality: and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there should be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the supremacy.”

 

I could go on, but the trend is unmistakable, and the ploy is obvious. Historical education was used as a tool to perpetuate the deception that the founding fathers wanted freedom and liberty for all Americans. We were taught to respect them and hold them in high regard, even though they regarded us as little more than sheep or cattle.

 

      Here is a hypothetical situation:  There is a society of people, all of the same ethnic origin. Their society is based on the foundation of freedom, liberty and justice for all. In addition, one of their basic beliefs is their ethnic superiority over any and all other races. Now, what would happen if they introduced a different race of people into their society and subjugated them? In the final chapter, we will discuss the answer to this question in greater detail. For now, consider the possibilities, while we explore the final piece of the deception puzzle-- Media.

 

Media

     What is media? Media is a combination of people, electronic equipment and/or other material that is used to capture and convey information. This information can be in the form of news or entertainment. Various types of media include the following:  radio, newspapers, magazines, books, films, television and the internet. How has the media contributed to the deception in America? This is accomplished in three stages of disseminating information: 

 

Stage 1  

In stage 1, a news item is distorted out of proportion, in relation to its actual occurrence. For example, African Americans comprise only 29 percent of the nation's poor; however, the national news service illustrates 62 percent of their stories about the poor with images of black people, and evening newscasts show black people 65 percent of the time when addressing poverty.

Stage 2

In stage 2, a news item is presented, in which, negative aspects are applied to people of color, while positive aspects favor white Americans. For example, a New York City report on homicide, where the victim and perpetrator are of the same race, indicates that 44.8 percent are Black, 35.3 percent are Hispanic, and 18.2 percent are White. Furthermore, this strategy is used to portray people of color as “criminals”, while portraying whites as “victims.”

Stage 3

In stage 3, news items over-report African Americans as perpetrators, and under-report African Americans as victims. For example, a news report suggests that between 2001 and 2003, blacks were 39 times more likely to commit violent crimes against whites than the reverse. The truth is that white perpetrators kill about 86% of white homicide victims.

 

     The news stories that involve white Americans, most often deal with positive situations, such as graduations and awards for accomplishments. In contrast, the stories that involve African Americans most often deal with crime and negative issues. Tables, charts and graphs are commonly used to perpetuate similar stereotypes. First, the race categories are typically broken down into three groups: Black, White and Other. Again, the use of the word, “other” suggests that the only important ethnic groups are black and white. Secondly, the subject matter is usually a high profile topic. For example, a news report on unemployment in Illinois indicates that unemployment for black men is three times higher than that of white men. Regardless of the actual percentages, the focus is on jobs; and the inference made is that most white men are working, and most black men are not. In another example, it is reported that blacks are four times more likely than whites to be arrested on drug charges. The report prompted USA TODAY to conclude that America’s war on drugs is being “fought mainly against blacks.”  Other examples contend that blacks are more likely to be afflicted with various diseases, and more likely to apply for welfare. The element that is more important here than any accuracy in the statistics, is that the information conveys a subliminal message. It suggests that blacks represent a negative influence, have little or no social potential and are a great expense to city, state and government.   The media’s presentation of the facts highlights the group at the top of the scale, while defusing the group at the bottom of the scale. If an act is wrong, it doesn’t matter who commits the act, it is still wrong. Likewise, if an act is good, the ethnicity of the individual(s) is irrelevant; the act is still good. Black people graduate from high schools and colleges every year, but it is not glorified and publicized the way it is for white Americans. There are white people on welfare, but it is not publicized the way it is for black people. There are white prostitutes and pimps, but white people are not stereotyped as such. There are successful, hard-working, educated black people, but we are not stereotyped as such. You might read a newspaper or magazine article about black kids being born to single mothers. You might see blacks portrayed on TV as dropouts, delinquents, drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps or some other type of criminal. Regardless of the medium used, the motive is the same: To discount, discredit and disgrace African Americans.

       Even with the growing number of black characters on television, the majority of them are in subservient roles. Nonwhite characters are more likely to be victims or criminals than white characters. Although there are now more programs than ever with black characters, these shows very often perpetuate harmful stereotypes of African Americans as uneducated, lazy and unsuccessful. Very few are depicted as serious, intelligent, or hard working because most Blacks on television are in comedy programs.  Furthermore, movies and television shows constantly depict black youths abusing drugs and alcohol; however, a study shows that they are less likely than whites and Hispanics.  The study in the journal Health Communications was written by Michelle Miller-Day, Associate Professor of communication arts and sciences at Penn State University, and Jacqueline M. Barnett, Assistant Professor of communication studies at Bloomsburg University in Columbia County. In a sample of 67 seventh-graders from Memphis, Tenn., they found that 16 percent of the black students had used alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, compared to 24 percent of the white students. Stephen Thomas, director of the Center for Minority Health at the University of Pittsburgh, said the study exposes "the big lie."

In a similar study, the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Survey, shows that blacks in grades 8-12 rank lowest in substance abuse. Almost two of three blacks in Miller-Day's study held the perception that black adolescents take more drugs than white or Hispanic youths.

Miller-Day said. "I speculate it's because of media portrayals of blacks."

 

     One of the key components in this deception machine is something called a stereotype. A stereotype is anything undistinguished by individuality, and repeated without variation. It is an idea that many people have about a thing or a group, which is often untrue or just partly true.

In many movies, Africans are depicted as the “bad element”. White hunters in Africa are encouraged to kill the uncivilized, ungodly African natives. When they do, they are cheered, congratulated and regarded as heroes. This type of dramatization fuels the stereotype that Africans are violent, that they should be feared, and that they are incapable of civilized reasoning. Various other movies take a different slant. Blacks are repeatedly referred to as, “niggers”. Blacks are continually portrayed as ignorant buffoons (particularly, any film starring the Wayons brothers). The result of this is painfully obvious. Black children learn to reject their skin color and heritage, in order to escape the ridicule, embarrassment and humiliation of being called, connected or in any way associated with African heritage.

     America is an information hub to the rest of the world. Since the inception of the World Wide Web, that information is even more readily available. It has been said that “knowledge is power.”  If this is true, and I believe it to be so, then information is a catalyst, and the way in which the media uses information can have a profound influence on what people think, as well as the actions they take. For example, a 1984 TV movie about spousal abuse called, The Burning Bed, triggered a number of violent acts. In Milwaukee, a man doused his estranged wife with gasoline and threw a lighted match at her. In Massachusetts, a man beat his wife to death, fearing that she was going to kill him. In Chicago, an abused wife shot her husband, just after watching the movie. With this in mind, understanding that there are two classes in society: elite and exploited, is it reasonable to suspect that the media uses information as a device to create and/or instigate dissension between blacks and whites?  Consider this-- three quarters of the public, about 76 percent, say they form their opinions about crime from what they see or read in the news, more than three times the number who say they rely on personal experience, about 22 percent. Research has determined that most serious crimes:  homicide, rape, robbery and assault in inner cities are committed by a very small number of African American youth, about 8 percent. However, the media continues to characterize young African American males as thugs, thieves and criminals. Understanding that the elite own and control the major media outlets in America, the question then becomes, why would they purposely instigate fear, bigotry and violence between the races? Let’s analyze this possibility further. The level of racial animosity varies from city to city, and state to state. Any news story that depicts an injustice to one race by another race will intensify the level of unrest that already exists. In what he refers to as the Segmentation Theory, author Michael Reich explains that the ultimate goal of the elite in society is to maximize profits. This goal is achieved in a variety of ways, including: suppressing higher wages among the exploited class, weakening the bargaining power of the working class, often by attempting to split it along racial lines, promoting prejudices, segregating the black community. All of these tactics ensure that the elite benefit from the creation of stereotypes and racial prejudices against the black community. The media has helped perpetuate the stereotype of young African American males as criminals and drug dealers. Such treatment serves to limit their employment and advancement opportunities. As a result, this helps to maintain a cycle of lower-class status for African Americans. For example, films such as Boyz in the Hood and Menace II Society have become multi-million dollar success stories with criminal portrayals of young blacks. During the Los Angeles riot in 1992, the media gave the impression that the black community was solely responsible. According to reports, of those arrested, only 36% were black and of those blacks arrested, more than a third had full-time. Some 60% of the rioters and looters were made up of Hispanics and whites. Yet the media did not report these underlying facts. Race riots in Miami in 1980 had a similar theme. The media refused to research the underlying causes behind the conflict, choosing instead, to only depict African American males engaged in violence and destruction.  In the 1960s, waves of rioting unfolded in connection with the civil rights movement. As a result of the civil unrest, commissions were appointed to report on the events, giving detailed accounts of the incidents and the situations leading up to the riots. Based on the results of their study, the commissions gave suggestions to various institutions, including the news media, to prevent similar episodes from reoccurring. The commissions concluded that rioting would not have been as severe had it not been for some of the media’s actions. They pinpointed aspects of live television coverage, possible sensationalism, and inaccurate reporting that may have intensified the situation. In 1968, The National Advisory Commission expressed concern over the use of helicopters to provide live coverage of racial uprisings. During the Watts riots, KTLA news stations used helicopters to provide live coverage of the disturbance. The helicopters created a military atmosphere; thus, serving to increase the level of tension. Inaccurate reporting during the 1992 riots was consistent with the problem observed by the 1968 commission. The media presented the riots as being confrontations between blacks and white police officers trying to subdue black rioters. The media interviewed agitated white business owners whose property was damaged. However, the riots actually took place in predominantly black neighborhoods where black people’s businesses and property were also destroyed.

    

      I mentioned how information can contain a subliminal message (existing and/or functioning below the threshold of conscious awareness). Literature is a prime example of how information can contain a hidden agenda of racism. We sometimes see and hear various words and phrases, which on the surface may seem benevolent. However, the inference is so subtle that we fail to recognize that they are being used in a derogatory manner. To illustrate, many authors of novels and short stories use a common technique that I refer to as “race-tagging.”  In race-tagging, the ethnic origin of a character is revealed whenever it is a non-white character. For example, in Stephen Crane’s short story, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, the author describes a train porter as being a Negro. The porter’s name is not mentioned, and no other effort is made to personify the porter. The story doesn’t indicate whether the main characters are white, but leads the reader to assume that they are by race-tagging the non-essential characters. The story refers to “Negro waiters”. Just like the porter, the waiters don’t contribute substantial impact to the story, and their names are not mentioned. The story moves on to a bar scene in which the author states that, “There were six men at the bar...”; two of them are tagged as being “Mexican”, and the races of the others are not mentioned. The practice of race-tagging is a racist ploy that invokes fear of non-white characters. It suggests to the reader that all characters are white, unless a specific race is stated. More importantly, it raises a flag to alert the reader that the focus of the story has shifted to a non-white character, and that this could somehow, have an adverse effect on the outcome of the story. Thus, in real life, there is a subconscious impulse to point out and be concerned about the presence of non-white people.      

     Colors can serve to enhance the symbolic nature of a story, but they can also paint a very ugly picture of racism. In another technique that I refer to as “black-bashing,” the color black is used to express the negative, ugly and evil aspects of life. Meanwhile, the use of lighter colors expresses the positive aspects of life. For example, in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, The Masque of the Red Death, seven apartments are described. The room colors of the first six apartments are blue, purple, green, orange, white and violet, respectively. According to the story, the colors of these rooms exist in harmony with the windows and the decorations. The seventh apartment is black, and does not match the color of the windows or decorations. The black apartment is said to be so ghastly in appearance, that people are afraid to enter it. The practice of black-bashing illustrates the manner in which we have been brainwashed to think that everything black is bad. For example, it is a common practice to use the word, “black” in accordance with the weekday of an unfortunate event such as, “Black Friday”, the day in which hundreds of businesses were wiped out, due to the drop in the price of gold. Other examples include the custom of wearing black to funerals, and the superstition that black cats are bad luck. The racist fear and dislike for blackness has carried over into the hearts and minds of African Americans. We have grown accustomed to showing a lack of pride and respect for each other, particularly, in regards to the blackness of our skin. Long ago, a once proud race of Africans rejoiced and praised God for the blackness of their skin. Today, the extremely painful truth is that even some African Americans consider black skin embarrassing, absurd and ugly.

 

     Like the effects of an addictive drug, we are still haunted by slavery. We are persistently reminded of the slave master’s perception that black people are inferior, savage and uncivilized. This perception is consistently personified in movies, literature and the media; so much to the point where even blacks condemn themselves by showing contempt for dark skin, and flagrantly using the word, “nigger”. I am afraid that we have become much too complacent with a simple law that prohibits slavery. I am afraid that we are ignoring the roots of slavery, which continue to thrive like the roots of a dandelion. Beneath the soil of the American flag and the constitution are the same roots of racism that preceded slavery. The philosophy of white supremacy still exists. The perception still exists that anything white is good, and anything black is evil. Roots represent a link to the past, but they are also, a foundation for the future. What will the future be for African Americans, if the roots of slavery are allowed to flourish?

 

 

Now that we’ve discussed the demeaning ways in which the media portrays African Americans, let’s break down the effects of a negative media campaign in the following areas:  Self, Social and World Perception.

 

Self-Perception

     This is the most important perception, because to the rest of the world we are an enigma. From the rule of ancient dynasties to slavery on American plantations, our history is more fascinating than the history of any other people. Other cultures watch us, take notes of how we interact and communicate with each other; then, follow the example, by treating us the way we treat each other. Do we pass by each other without speaking? Do we tense up, in fear of being attacked or robbed? Do we cringe at stoplights, when there are African Americans present and make sure that the car doors are locked?  Are we generally nicer to white Americans than we are to each other? Whenever two or more African Americans pass by each other without acknowledgment, it suggests that there is still a painful cycle in play. There are three possibilities:  1. We don’t like each other. 2. We don’t trust each other. 3. We don’t respect each other. Any one or combination of these three possibilities supports the opinion that the William Lynch theory was accurate and that the psychological enslavement of African Americans is still in force. Furthermore, if we don’t like, trust or respect each other, then we should not expect other cultures to do differently. So, how do African Americans feel about African Americans? Perhaps the best and only illustration needed was provided by a 1939 study, initiated by black psychologists Dr. Kenneth Clark and his wife Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark. They used a set of ordinary black and white dolls to test the ego and self-esteem of black children.

In this study, the children were shown black and white dolls. Then, they were asked which of the two was pretty, which doll was nice, and finally, which doll was bad. Two-thirds of the kids preferred the white doll, saying it was nice and pretty, while the black doll was bad. When the Clarks then asked the children which of the dolls looked more like themselves, some chose the white doll, some couldn’t answer, and some just broke down in tears.

How could we have fallen so far from that once proud tribe of Africans who regarded the blackness of their skin as a blessing and the definition of honor? The afore-mentioned William Lynch theory was devised as a plan to divide the slaves and reinforce their slavery on a psychological level. However, the treatment and the damage went much deeper. As noted psychologist Na’im Akbar wrote, “The shrewd slave masters were fully aware that people who still respected themselves as human beings would resist to the death the dehumanizing process of slavery. Therefore, a systematic process of creating a sense of inferiority in the proud African was necessary in order to maintain them as slaves. This was done by humiliating and dehumanizing acts such as public beatings, parading them on slave blocks unclothed and inspecting them as cattle or horses.”  During the slave auctions, it was common for young children to be separated from their parents. Again, this was done intentionally, to divide the black family. The combination of humiliation, lack of cultural traditions, rituals, family, religion and even names, perpetuated a loss of self-esteem, ripped the pride from the heart of the African slave, and worst of all, created a loathing hatred for dark skin.

 

Social Perception

      In a study entitled, "White's Stereotypes of Blacks: Sources and Political Consequences," University of Pittsburgh Professor Jonathan Hurwitz and University of Kentucky Professor Mark Peffley analyze the images white Americans hold of black Americans. According to the study, 31% of whites agree that most blacks are lazy, 22% believe that blacks are not determined to succeed, and 60% believe that blacks are lacking in discipline. Summarily, most whites view blacks as a hostile underclass of the undeserving poor. In another chapter of Perception and Prejudice, Martin Gilens' experiments illustrate results similar to those obtained by Hurwitz and Peffley. In Gilens' study, white respondents perceive blacks to be more violent, less patriotic, less intelligent, poorer, lazier, and more likely to prefer living of welfare rather than to be self-supporting.

     Due to the negative profile of African Americans created by the media, law enforcement agencies all over the country focus on African Americans, thus creating a growing trend called racial profiling. In racial profiling, law enforcement officials target a specific ethnic group in anticipation of them committing various crimes. In most cases, the target is African Americans.

In 2004, data was compiled by the Illinois Department of Transportation to analyze trends in racial profiling. The study provided the following facts:  Black drivers are more likely to get tickets than white drivers. White drivers are more often given written warnings. Black drivers are more likely to be searched and arrested.  As a result of the study, Illinois Senator James Meeks concluded, “This study shows what many of us knew all along: that racial profiling exists, and it’s real.”

In Missouri, a similar report showed that black motorists were 38 percent more likely to be stopped than white motorists. In addition, black drivers who were stopped were 71 percent more likely to be searched than white drivers.

In a suburb of San Antonio, Texas, it was found that African Americans were 1.4 times more likely than white drivers to be searched and 0.9 times more likely to be stopped by police. In the city of Baytown, whites comprise about fifty-one percent of the population whereas African Americans make up only thirty-four percent of the population.

 In the city of Lubbock, Texas, African Americans were searched 2.9 times more often than whites and Hispanic Americans were searched 2.2 times more often than Caucasian motorists. In Lubbock, African Americans make up only 7.5 percent of the population and Hispanic Americans constitute just 27.5 percent of the population. The remaining 65 percent of the Lubbock population is white.

Kingston police stop a disproportionate number of young black and aboriginal men, according to a racial profiling study. A study of police statistics in Kingston, Ont., released in May 2005 found that young black and aboriginal men were more likely to be stopped than other groups. The data showed that police in the predominantly white city, were 3.7 times more likely to stop a black motorist than a white one, and 1.4 times more likely to stop an aboriginal motorist than a white one.

     Aside from profiling in law-enforcement, general bigotry is still very much present in other areas of American society. An internet t-shirt company (tshirthell.com) sells a t-shirt that features the image of a handcuffed African American baby with a caption that reads, “Arrest Black Babies Before They Become Criminals.” 

    

World Perception

     In England, police routinely record the racial background of everyone stopped and searched by police. Stats from 1997-98 found that black people were stopped and searched at a rate of 142 per 1,000. Whites were stopped and searched at a rate of just 19 per 1,000.

 

 

     Across the world, racial injustice against blacks is not limited to the roadways. In 2005, a series of five stamps was released for general use by the Mexican government. The stamps depict an exaggerated black cartoon character known as Memin Pinguin, a child character from a comic book, started in the 1940’s and still published in Mexico. The character is reminiscent of the type of derogatory caricatures of African Americans that were widely used in the early 1900’s. The stamps were issued just weeks after Mexican President Vicente Fox made a controversial remark, by saying Mexican migrants take jobs in the United States that “not even blacks” want.

In many Latin American nations, Blacks are systematically oppressed, living in slums and poor conditions. Black children are hunted down in the streets like wild animals.

In one Central American nation, Blacks are not hired for many jobs and racism is rampant. The Blacks in Spanish-Speaking Central America have been fighting European racism since the first Spanish ship arrived in the West Indies.

In North America, all types of tricks and legal schemes are used as a means to return Blacks to enslavement. In Australia and Britain, new tricks such as using drug abuse by some Blacks to return Blacks to modern slavery is in effect. In fact, Australia has laws like "three strikes," and "Mandatory Minimums," some of the most racist laws directed specifically at Blacks, many who are victims of alcohol and drugs deliberately introduced in Black communities in Australia.

Racism based on religion and race is rampant in West Papua, the western half of the Island of Papua-New Guinea. For many years, Black Melanesians in Papua-New Guinea and the Melanesian region, including New Caledonia's Kanak People, have been fighting both racism and neo-colonialism against the Malays, who are trying to apply the racist "Asianization Policy," on the Aboriginal Black nations of Indonesia and Melanesia. The French settlers in New Caledonia and caste Indians in Fiji are also involved in racist schemes and economic discrimination against Blacks in these lands.

Throughout the world, racism against Blacks is rampant and in some places, it is acceptable policy. Tribalism and neo-colonialism, where Blacks are used against Blacks in order to keep them weak is also a major problem in much of Africa and parts of Asia and Melanesia.

The war that Blacks face against racism is not a new war. It is not a domestic war. It is the continuation of thousands of years of struggle on a worldwide scale.

 

     It’s worth pointing out that African Americans have made tremendous strides in American society, despite the resistance from those who weren‘t ready to see it happen. We have become leaders in sports, education, science, medicine, politics, etc . . . We’ve already discussed government, but since politics is such a vital issue to any country or people, let’s take another  look at African Americans in the American political system. It’s a prideful thing to have African Americans involved in the political arena. Between 1970 and 2001, there were over 9,000 black elected officials. Sure, on the surface, this looks to be a positive aspect, but keep in mind the lesson we learned in Chapter One. Things aren’t always as they appear.  While a large number of African Americans officially registered as Democrats, a significant portion registered as Republican, and still, more registered as Independent or other. Dating back to the end of the American Revolution, the United States has had a two-party political system. Republicans and Democrats represent the two major parties.  The census is the basis for determining the number of representatives each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. States with larger populations have more representatives than states with smaller populations. Each state must have at least one representative. Congress determines the number of seats in the House of Representatives, which is currently set at 435. The process of dividing the 435 House seats among the 50 states is known as apportionment. As of the 2004 election, Republicans hold 231 seats, Democrats hold 200, Independents hold one, and the remaining three seats went undecided. Now, what does all this mean for African Americans? Well, let’s think about it. First, those who register as anything other than Republican or Democrat are not well represented in Washington. Secondly, one more black democrat or republican elected to office is no guarantee that the interests of African Americans will be served. It’s as if we’ve been invited to a dinner party, but we end up serving everyone except ourselves. Finally, what is being accomplished by having black democrats and black republicans? This is analogous to having a horse hitched at both ends of the wagon. Clearly, very little, if anything is going to be accomplished by this black tug-’o-war in Washington. Historically, neither democratic nor republican interests have ever been 100% pro black. Now, I don’t want to be labeled as an extremist, but it seems to me that the major political problem facing African Americans is that our needs and interests are taking a back seat to the needs and interests of “the party,” be it democratic or republican. So, how do we ensure that top priority is given to the political needs and interests of African Americans? It makes sense that we must have an infrastructure that focuses 100% on African American issues. Having said that, it is clear that the only way we can accomplish anything significant on a political level, is by forming a unified black party. The black vote is still a significant factor in politics. We represent a large number of votes. A number great enough to make a difference in the outcome of an election. This is why it is imperative that we proclaim and reacclaim our African American status. We will discuss this in greater detail in the next chapter, but for now, ask yourself these questions:  Where is the Native American representation in politics? Why are politicians not concerned about the Native American vote? As I was saying, the black vote is important, but don’t be “deceived” about the importance of blacks in politics. In an interview with the Associated Press, former presidential candidate, Howard Dean noted that black voters were upset with the Democratic Party for coming around just weeks before elections, seeking votes. “Taking black voters for granted is a long-standing problem for the party that dates back to the 1960’s,” said Dean.

Don’t be further “deceived” by Dean’s sympathetic view. During the 2004 presidential race, Dean said he wanted “. . . to be the candidate for guys with confederate flags on their pickup trucks.”  In addition, while Dean professed to support diversity, it was noted that he had no blacks in his cabinet, while governor of Vermont. This further supports the need for a unified black party. The immediate goal of this party would be to maintain the significance of the black vote, while also, maintaining the importance of blacks in politics. The ultimate goal of this party would be to nominate an African American for the presidency. I wish to state that the first African American president should be male. Now, before you ladies start ripping pages out of this book, allow me to explain. As I stated earlier, the media, stereotypes and domestic racism have already served to put African Americans in a bad light on an international scale. Keep in mind that in most, if not all societies throughout the world, the man plays the dominant role in providing food and shelter, protecting the family, and in leading that society’s political system. Centuries ago, the African man was not able to protect his family from the slave ships. To this day, the black man continues to be mocked as a family provider and protector, husband and father. We continue to be ridiculed, disrespected, stereotyped and profiled as little more than criminals and thugs. Now, imagine just what the perception of black men will be, if a black woman is elected president first. You may as well put a gun to our heads and pull the trigger. On the other hand, if and when a black man is elected president of the United States, then perhaps some measure of vindication will be gained. Perhaps, some small sum of atonement will be credited against the sins of the past. Perhaps, black men in America will be able to stand a little bit taller and prouder. Certainly, the world will take note of this landmark accomplishment and acknowledge the hour of redemption for the black man and his people.

 

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