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The ugliness of Whiteness is a bunch of thieves who should own their history. They benefit from wrong but can wash their hands of it with innocence and denial, where the greater umbrage is that someone would dare to question the origins of their self-made myth of uplift and righteous individualism.
When Rick Perry's Niggerhead "scandal" broke a few weeks ago, I suggested that the more interesting element to the Washington Post expose on his family retreat and racist nostalgia was that he heralded from a sundown town.
While a few folks signaled to this hidden history--where black Americans were forcibly expelled from their homes and communities throughout America--most among the pundit classes went with the simple frame where racism involves mean words, a bogeyman still lingering like a crazy grandma under the stairs or secreted away in the closet...even into the Age of Obama.
The documentary Banished is a real gem. It explores the ethnic cleansing of Forsyth County, Georgia and the material, psychological, and material consequences of that crime which linger into the present some hundred or so years later. The history is the present: when sociologists and economists discuss the causal variables that explain a wealth disparity in America where whites have 2 dollars for every 10 cents that black Americans possess, they need to look no farther than the events documented in Banished.
White racism involved the systemic denial of opportunities for wealth creation and wealth accrual by black Americans. The Racial State subsidized the enrichment of whites as a privileged class in a zero sum game which involved the denial of the same opportunities to all citizens across the colorline. Perhaps, one day policy makers will be able to have a reasonable and mature conversation about justice--reparations in this case--where making communities and people financially whole will be understood for the public policy imperative that it is.
Do check out Banished before the copyright monster comes and takes it down.