Wright: White Supremacy from Bacon to Obama: Are We Finally at the Moment of Reckoning?


White Supremacy from Bacon to Obama: Are We Finally at the Moment of Reckoning?

by Professor Tina Wright


A few months ago, I got into a debate online with a white woman I did not know. She was “scared to death” about the direction of this country and felt Obama and his policies were going to ruin the United States. She was worried about the “new world order” and saw Obama as the face of it. While acknowledging “problems” starting under Bush, she believed things were much worse now under Obama.

Her reasoning epitomized white privilege so I asked her one last question which i had a feeling she would not, or could not answer: When were things “better” in this country? Name one time.

as i suspected, I never heard from her again…

maybe she thought she was being set up for a history lesson…and she was. I wanted to ask her if things were better when the indigenous’ lost their land and lives? or Africans and African Americans were enslaved for hundreds of years? Or maybe during the rule of jim crow domestic terrorism? lynching? the great depression? segregation? crack? 50% youth unemployment in cities in the 80s? For her, today’s “sky is falling doomsday” is for many “just another day in the U.S.A.”.

I’m not sure she learned anything that day….but i know i did. James Baldwin’s Fire Next Time may be upon us.

“But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent.

It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.” – James Baldwin

Before Obama won the election, I knew his presidency would be the opportunity for reckoning. I wrote and said many times that this country was not ready for even the symbolism of a black man as head of state. White supremacists would revolt..and in many ways have (politically, rhetorically, and even in some cases, violently).

While Obama has no real power (or desire) to threaten white supremacy, the symbolism of him being the president is more than many in this country can bare. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have decided to employ the same strategy that has been utilized throughout this country’s existence to protect white supremacy and the status quo power structure: stroke white fears.

Bacon’s Rebellion: The Writing on the Wall

Early slavery was “indentured servitude” for many Africans and Europeans that were brought in bondage (some kidnapped). Many worked for years and then earned freedom. That is why there were free Africans in VA and other areas from early on (some of which even went on to own slaves themselves (but that’s another story). Chattel slavery “for life” as it came to be was a result of this fear of the poorer masses (white and black) coming together and threatening the planter class (elite). Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 was a symbol of their greatest fear and THAT led to “African” based “slave for life” system, and white supremacy as an ideology to keep poor whites supporting a system that never benefited them…they were taught one thing: “at least you are not black”.

And the pattern has been used ever since…Birth of a Nation was the visualization of white fear post Civil-War. Reconstruction time was a very progressive time for the African American community, including land ownership (some of which was seized from confederate former slave owners) education, & political representation (to the point we have not seen since – why you often here preface “first Black _____ since Reconstruction…etc.). Black progress was real and Black wallstreet (Tulsa OK) and Mound Bayou (Mississippi) were models of it … but white America was NOT ready and domestic terrorism as a strategy was implemented (KKK, lynching, white mobs and finally Jim Crow by law for a century). Trust me, history does repeat itself when we do not learn the REAL lesson… these days, I hear talk of repealing the 14th amendment?! exactly…

Obama’s presidency has been about nothing BUT the ongoing racial struggle in this country…it is the latest chapter if you will. I want to take a minute to give the historical context…i will use black history but this can also be done with Native Ameican History, Chicano history, and so on…

With progress made, there is always backlash…

TO secure our freedom:

1. David Walker’s Appeal (calling for enslaved Africans to secure freedom by any means)

2. Bacon’s Rebellion (class based revolt)

BACKLASH:

1. racialization of slavery (from indentured servitude to slave for life)

2. black codes for non-enslaved African Americans

THEN WE:

1. Abolition movement to end slavery (from reform tactics like pressure though press and courts to radical revolts to moral religious tactics)..led to whole free state/slave state – congressional politics of representation 3/5 clause etc.

BACKLASH:

SECESSION

THEN to secure freedom we:

POST Civil War – RECONSTRUCTION ERA

1. Federal FREEDMAN’S Bureau

2. gains in education, land, and political representation

BACKLASH:

1. Domestic Terrorism, birth of KKK

2. Legalization of Jim Crow

THEN WE TRIED:

1. Booker T. – building institutions but not fighting racism,

2. DuBois – NAACP, tried reforming system, holding to its ideals,

3. Garvey – actually inspired by Booker T., self determination, building black institutions and economic empowerment with black money not white donors like Booker T. had

BACKLASH:

1. J Edgar Hoover hired first black agent to infiltrate UNIA.

2. Black leaders pitted against each other as tactic (Washington v. DuBOis, Garvey v. DuBois)

3. Internal strife (movements brought down from within/tactic used in revolts earlier too)

THEN we HAD:

1. CRM – Emmitt Till, montgomery bus boycott – masses organizing, SNCC, BPP, etc

BACKLASH:

1. COINTELPRO

2. MLK v. MALCOLM,take sides (tactic divide and conquer which Malcolm X later rejected)

THEN:

hip hop – voice for youth coming of post-CR era

BACKLASH:

commodfied – frame one dimensional and sell for profit while reinforcing stereotypes..see BAMBOOZLED

THEN:

OBAMA

BACKLASH:

1. tea party

2. “liberal” squabbling on politics instead of organizing actions (which i argue is very purposeful and again refer to Malcolm X speech on foxes and wolves..liberals and conservatives)

3. the fear of a brown planet (immigration debate, 14th amendment, etc.)

I write all this to basically point out that we have to make sure we know not only what we are fighting for (freedom, justice, sustenance)…but WHO we are fighting for (people’s class), and who we are fighting against (elite)…because there have been many times in history we have been pitted against each other as a tactic when we could have united and been a powerful force for our own freedom…we can either learn lessons of history, or continue to repeat them…

Ms. Sherrod breaks it down plainly on why understanding and dealing with white supremacy is critical to building class consciousness…it has not only been A strategy but it has been THE strategy of the owning class since before this country formed…back to colonial days..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pa4t4WLuRyI&feature=player_embedded

We cannot be free until they are free – James Baldwin

James Baldwin

For working people to come together (again – see Bacon) they must first recognize the humanity they share…and white supremacy is the roadblock denying that truth. That is what the white middle class has done for this system…people will continue to support a system that only benefits 1% until they recognize that they are not a part of that 1%…they are a part of the 99% masses across the globe of all hues…

so i say all that to say this:

If you really study the struggle of black history and the use of white supremacy to keep iniquity alive, as i have said many times before…even the symbolic aspect of a “black” man being the president of this racist empire and how it is driving white supremacists crazy was change enough for me to believe in…lol.

Obama’s presidency is an opportunity for this country if we seize it..Before Obama rattled white supremacists awake, they were able to hide behind institutional racism and now they have to come from behind the Bushes (pun intended), show their true color (pun intended) and let the fall out begin (AZ, tea party, 14th amendment now etc)…which will FORCE US to do what we have to do to …FIGHT FOR OUR FREEDOM…and THAT is what i’ve been waiting for…The Fire Next Time… it’s time and i’ve been ready..

as my son would say…LET’S GO!!

original story:   http://riseuphiphopnation.blogspot.com/2010/08/white-supremacy-from-bacon-to-obama-are.html

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10 comments on “Wright: White Supremacy from Bacon to Obama: Are We Finally at the Moment of Reckoning?

  1. The dirty little secret is that there’s a lot of black and brown people that support this system too…. Crips,Bloods,and the everyday atrocities that black commit ON EACH OTHER…. My point being white supremacy in this country is very real but ,lets be HONEST. Blacks are a permanent underclass in this country in large part because of OTHER BLACKS. Ask the kids in South Side Chicago, Brooklyn, Ny Inglewood, CA or any other hood in this country if the TEA Party or some “scared white folks” is there biggest fear LMAO. By the way, the majority of whites in this country are not afraid of blacks remember who has been and still is the master and slave in this USA. Give me a break black people are in no condition to go to war. The White man is chilling in five star hotels all over the country .Black and Brown man stuck in a rat infested ghetto with there HOODRAT women.(SMFH)

  2. This is an old and tired argument G and while it seems to make sense on the surface thanks to a healthy dose of stereotypes coupled with news sensationalized news footage, its pretty much a flawed assertion.. Yes honesty is needed..So lets really be honest.. Fear is very real.. its the centerpiece for all of this..

  3. G’s argument is white supremacy propaganda. Blacks are the reason blacks are poor, G said. Sure it’s not institutional racism, like Prof. Wright broke down historically?
    I think deep down, many whites still fear Blacks, as Dr. Frances Cress Welsing suggested, due to the fear of genetic annihilation. A few conversations I’ve had seem to confirm that, although it was deep down and had to be unearthed.

    Lastly, I don’t know where you stay, but there ain’t no hoodrats in my hood. But we got some beautiful Black women and girls there. You probably wouldn’t be welcome.

  4. When were things better? To say they are better now is to somehow mistake Obama as the ratcheting up of either radical Reconstruction or the Civil Rights movement. His Presidency is neither and you ignores that nowhere are there equivalent mass political possibilities comparable to these two periods. Obama is nothing more than the playing-out of the failure to meet the challenges presented by both these movements. His Presidency should be met with a lot more opposition from the *Left* than it does (and it should be a bigger problem that the only populist critiques of Obama come from the Right).

    Yes, you are correct, the Obama victory is only symbolic, because to see it as otherwise would be to suggest that he could not be an ‘elite’ on account of his skin colour (a racist assertion, no?). Yet, by casting this history as simply the struggle to overcome racism, it cannot see how it ultimately does much more than “symbolically” support Obama; it affirms his Presidency’s attempt to reorganize the system of the “elite” to their benefit.

    It also misses how the politics of “racism”, in the wake of the real successes of Civil Rights movement, were tragically domesticated to the ends of reproducing the rotten US political system, which Gore Vidal pithy described as consisting of “only one party in the United States, the Property Party…and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat”. The anti-racist politics of Obama ultimately serves the ends of reinventing the idea that the Democratic Party is somehow the party of the “black cause”. Once as tragedy, twice as farce.

    If you follow this line, don’t you at some level believe that a successful Obama Presidency will translate into the overcoming oppression more generally in the US (if only the Tea Partiers would move aside that is (as if they are the real obstacle to this being realized))? Doesn’t this ultimately translate into working hard to defend Democrats against Republicans? Doesn’t this end up sapping valuable of energy from the difficult and necessary work of building an independent Left.

    We should want no part in this charade.

  5. Quote form the article:

    “When were things “better” in this country?”

    I think this article doesn’t go far enough. I would even say that things have never been better for such a large part of the population. There is more food, housing,energy,social entropy,movement,education,exchange of ideas … etc etc etc than any time in human history. Domestically and globally.

    This is a quote from the article:

    “I write all this to basically point out that we have to make sure we know not only what we are fighting for (freedom, justice, sustenance)…but WHO we are fighting for (people’s class), and who we are fighting against (elite)”

    After reading that quote I look at this authors fascination with power relationships as no different than the example of the white womans she mentions at the beginning of the article. It’s the same kind of vague “let-your-mind-fill-in-the-blank” psychology. It’s just the authors packaging is different.

  6. @G As Professor Wright was stating the facts of racism is still very prominent & having an African American president has really brought this back to the forefront , when before people were more concerned about the feelings of all races.
    More than that, she went back to history. So, if we go back to history, their is no gun factories in your conception of any “hood”, especially any ak’s or military weapons.
    There isn’t any cocaine or heroin that is grown over here in America. So since your people are in charge, they are responsible for every crime that is committed that is drug related with cocaine, heroin, ak’s and any military guns that are on the street people use.
    Professor Wright, and congratulations to all of our people that have learned how express ourselves with a pen and not anything illegal. Of course I can’t leave my parents & grandparents out for the high moral standards that were set before me.

    Sherry

  7. thank you all for taking the time to read and post some thoughtful comments. There are also some thoughtful and thought-provoking comments at the original link for any interested in the continued dialogue. I posted replies to comments there.

    @Tim – I think Davey is just showing respect and I appreciate that. I am tenured track at Southwest College in LA, a community college serving the South Los Angeles community. Before that I was adjunct faculty for years at UC-Irvine and Cal State-Long Beach. While my official title would be “Assistant Professor”, you can just call me Dr. Wright… 🙂 lol

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