Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Smart People Saying Smart Things: The Treatment of African-Americans is a 'Buried Giant'; 'To be Black in America is to be Evidence of Theft'

I hope that your Memorial Day was restful. I am preparing to tape an interview for Ring of Fire TV where I will be discussing my recent essay on white racial logic. The segment should air tomorrow evening on the Free Speech network.

As I collect my thoughts, two observations about race and the colorline have been hovering over me.

Novelist Kazuo Ishiguro recently gave an interview to the Guardian in which he noted:
The treatment of African Americans is emerging as one of America’s “buried giants”, a subject that the general population might prefer to forget, Booker prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro has said. 
Speaking to the BBC’s Martha Kearney at the Hay Festival on Sunday, the author said he had become fascinated with the idea of “societal memory and collective forgetting” when writing his new novel The Buried Giant, his first book in a decade.
Ishiguro said he had become aware that much of his earlier work was about the memories of individuals, and he wanted to examine the memory of a society, and what societies are willing to forget – the “buried giants” of the book’s title.
Unwilling to be drawn into specifics about Britain’s “buried giants”, Ishiguro said he saw the treatment of racial minorities in America as an example of collective forgetfulness.
Writing at Truthout, Nicholas Powers made this devastating claim:
Stealing Black lives at gunpoint is the most visible and violent evidence of history repeating in the present. To be Black in America is to be evidence of a theft. It is to be a descendent of human beings stolen from villages, stolen from their bodies, stolen from each other, sold and sold again. It is to see in one's family history, ancestors stolen from their language, stolen from their land and left as walking targets. And inevitably, we, their descendants are shot at with everything from microaggressions to all-out physical violence, from suspicious stares to racial slurs, from stop-and-frisk to bullets. 
To be Black in America is to know White supremacy is a culture of theft. We feel it like a tornado that one can try to sidestep but other times, descends on us, ripping us out of our bodies. It's like an ancient vortex that split from another vortex, a slavery split from older forms of slavery that mixed with European capitalism, colonization and scientific racism. A whiteness took shape that churned through centuries and over continents, pulling people from their homes and "blackening" them. Whiteness is a social structure of extraction that rose in the triangle trade of slave ships, auction blocks and plantations, broken by the Civil War then remade as Jim Crow, in segregated public spaces and redlined ghettos, now reinvented again as a war on drugs.
And consider this context: on Memorial Day, the United States, in the Age of Obama, still celebrates and honors those who fought to protect the white supremacist institution of chattel slavery under the guise of the Confederate States of America, whose stars and bars are the American swastika.

How can the United States move forward when it cannot even have an honest accounting of its past?


mr.pop pop said...

There is no incentive for the white power structure to come forward an unabashedly lay claim to the acts and policies they've contrived to denigrate and hold in perpetual servitude people of color.

Political elites can point to the dysfunctionalities in non-white communities , which they've systemically created, and promise the white working class a vote for me will protect you from them while the income gap widens.

An honest accounting of our past will only come from us. Those of us who are talented and knowledgeable must take on this task and push back from the desire of celebrity as a primary goal.

chauncey devega said...

Well put:

"An honest accounting of our past will only come from us. Those of us who are talented and knowledgeable must take on this task and push back from the desire of celebrity as a primary goal."

What do we do going forward?