by Danny Haiphong
The very suggestion that the U.S. has entered a “post-racial” era, represents a racist assault. “The Commander in Chief and Attorney General may not have white skin, but their policies in relation to mass imprisonment and the economy have exceeded expectations for the white imperial ruling class for whom they ultimately work.”
The Absurdity of Post-Racial Theory in Racist America
by Danny Haiphong
“The state of Black America here and now should quiet all discussion of a ‘post racial’ America.”
Poor people of color, and Black people in particular, are the most exploited class in the US. Despite evidence to the contrary, the idea that the U.S. is a "post racial" society has risen out of the ashes of the historic Black movement for social justice and the subsequent ascendency of a neo-colonial, Black political class. The mere presence of a so-called "Black President" has released a flurry of debates and conversations about whether the United States is now a "post-racial" society. Just last year, it appeared the legal lynching of Trayvon Martin would bring these debates to an abrupt end. However, the "post race" debate is far from over and it is crucial that we debunk and reject its mythology.
In a "post racial" society, race as an indicator of social status becomes subject to white scrutiny. White people vocalize elaborate explanations of how they have Black friends and don't own slaves as a means of denying their participation in a racist system. Black people and oppressed people of color are expected to silence themselves on matters of racist oppression in America. This social contract of white denial and Black silence creates favorable conditions for the US ruling circle to continue their racist onslaught both here and around the world with impunity.
"Post racial" discourse is most dangerous when political history becomes entrapped in its mythology. Elitist academics, revisionist liberals, and corporate media pundits have grafted the Black freedom movement onto "post racial" doctrine. To distract people from waging a struggle against racism in the present, these agents of deception boast about "how far we have come" but "how we have a long way to go." By bridging the latter statement with the former, historical reality is erased with pure fiction to fit the agenda of American imperial hegemony.
How "post racial" is America? How far have we come? If the lives of Black Americans are any measure, then not very. Black America owns considerably less wealth than white America and makes substantially less income for the same work. Black unemployment is twice that of white America. Austerity and privatization are blatant assaults on Black life. The US business and political class have aligned themselves to cut and privatize Security, Medicare, and what is left of the New Deal and "War on Poverty" programs. Black cities are being turned into satellites for gentrification (white corporate development), school privatization, and the complete rule of finance capital (Detroit). In truth, the economic and political power of Black America in relation to White America has declined since 1963.
“Black people and oppressed people of color are expected to silence themselves on matters of racist oppression in America.”
The response of the US imperial state to economic de-industrialization and Black political unrest of the 60's and 70's has been the erection of a massive prison and police state specially made for poor Black and brown Americans. Barack Obama may be the Commander in Chief but Black America fills over 40 percent of prison cells in the US, the largest prison state in the world. A Black person in the US is killed every 28 hours by some form of law enforcement. Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to reduce drug sentencing disparities between crack cocaine and powered cocaine from 100 to 1 down to 18 to 1 is a virtual insult considering that no clemency was given to Black prisoners living the rest of their lives behind the walls because of the inherently racist "War on Drugs." The Commander in Chief and Attorney General may not have white skin, but their policies in relation to mass imprisonment and the economy have exceeded expectations for the white imperial ruling class whom they ultimately work for.
Some 40 plus years ago, the conditions of Black America prompted assassinated political prisoner George Jackson, in his manifesto Blood in my Eye, to refer to Black America as the "Black colony." The state of Black America here and now should quiet all discussion of a "post racial" America. In any other point of US history, the theory of a "post racial" US society would have been considered absurd by both White America and Black America. In this period, however, this doctrine is useful to the US establishment and the Black political class who only care about their careers and profits. Our resistance to US racism and corporate imperialism will require us to tell the truth, not only about the incorrectness of "post racial" theory, but also about who promotes it and why. This means confronting the Black political class and white corporate establishment who seek to render Black America's historic and current crisis invisible.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and case manager in the Greater Boston area. You can contact Danny at: [email protected]