By PAT WATSON
Within the worldwide phenomenon of White supremacy racism, African-Americans express a tenor of anger that is distinct along the range of people in the African Diaspora.
It is understandable. Within the history of the United States, a considerable segment of society has been blocked from participating fully in the very principles upon which the United States of America is based.
African-Americans, as a nation within a nation, face a reality that contrasts America’s grand principles. Here is a country that continues to enact laws to deny “unalienable rights” to a portion of society.
The ‘Land of the Free’, a place millions flock to because of the declaration of the American ideals as “unalienable rights” for all human beings such as “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, these are all hollow for a nation still burdened with White supremacy racism, where African-Americans are denied rights that should be accorded to all Americans.
In some States in the U.S., Florida being one example, a person who has served time in prison is not allowed to vote or to participate in some professions such as the legal profession. This law affects close to 15 per cent of African-American men; that would be more than one million individuals.
In 30 of the 50 States, there is now a law that requires persons voting to present photo identification cards. Critics and civil rights activists argue this is discriminatory since lack of such forms of identification would disproportionately affect African-Americans. The argument is that this change, along with a number of others that impose restrictions to voting, will minimize voter fraud. The irony of this particular strategy would have to be placed against the backdrop of the U.S. presidential election in 2000 in which Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush was declared president through America’s system of Electoral Colleges.
Along similar lines, voting districts are now being gerrymandered to the advantage of the Republican Party. That is because, for decades, African-Americans have leaned in greater numbers to voting for the Democrats.
So, not surprisingly, I’ve come across some truly caustic words from African-American bloggers, which, if White Americans had written them would be understood as pure hate. Emotions translated into words stand as evidence of the kind of pain that people with brown and black pigment experience in a place that presents itself as a haven for “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.
The world was exhilarated when Americans voted in Barack Obama and many saw this amazing outcome as an indication of the dawn of a new day for Black people in America. Post-racial, they called it. Yet, it would be unrealistic to expect one individual to reverse half a millennium of racial aberrations. This messianic and impossible fantasy has placed Obama’s standing in a now precarious position in the eyes of many African-Americans.
What actually followed was ascendancy of the Tea Party, the latest manifestation of the fear White America has of drifting into insignificance, of becoming just one more (disadvantaged) minority among many.
Here in Canada, where White supremacy racism is also pervasive, there is no distinct organized movement for the suppression of people of colour. However, programs that result in targeting especially African Canadians cause as much abuse. The police in Toronto have already been documented as targeting young Black men disproportionately. They may deny racial profiling, but the numbers speak for themselves when Black males are stopped, questioned and recorded in police data at least three times more frequently than the general population, and records are kept so that people who have not committed any crime are nonetheless ‘known to police’.
The matter of White supremacy is something that segment of society absolutely must open up and come to terms with for their own sakes, for there is a lot of shame and resentment around it. The matter of how to deal with pervasive ill-effects of White supremacy is something people of colour must contend with. We need strategies and policies, not mere reaction.
A note on an intervention strategy…
People close to Rob Ford who truly care about him may consider holding another intervention to get him to face what his lifestyle is doing to himself, his family, his co-workers, and the city. Also, many, many people have gone to rehab and become better as a result.