Essay On Racism On African Americans
Reflecting on this history, Ellison muses that considering “how long blacks had been in the New World and had been transforming it and being Americanized by it, the scheme appears . After all, it was white people who obsessed over tests of racial purity, created baroque systems of social segregation, and criminalized interracial touch.
This weakness may not necessarily be a function of the anthology as such, but may actually reflect the inattention and marginalization African-American women have faced within movements that still have not thoroughly appreciated their indispensable involvement and contributions. (One of the most notorious examples of this antiradical polemic is Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education [Free Press, 1998].) It cannot be denied (nor should we feel ashamed) that the anti-racist activists of the 1960s inspire much of our thinking on racism.The various contributors to Black Liberation and the American Dream want us to understand the importance of these movements and their relevance today.Drawing from Abraham Lincoln, editor Paul Le Blanc’s introductory essay defines the American dream as pursuant to the idea that the United States is a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to equality among all — but a dream frequently vitiated by the racist exclusion of African Americans and other groups from attaining the full rights of citizens.A powerful essay by Alice Walker indicts the white man for centuries of crimes against Black women and other people of color.David Roediger argues that the very construction of “whiteness” is an oppressive category that presumes superiority over other races.His essay and others in the anthology emphasize that racism means more than simply negative attitudes towards other groups.Racism is the power one group possesses to dominate and control other races.Roediger suggests that whites must not only confront the privileges they have, but also come to terms with the false claims of superiority that are the foundations of the white identity. 62 percent of all people on food stamps are white; that more than two-thirds of Americans without medical insurance are white.Furthermore, Manning Marable notes that the white working class has material interests in seeing working people of color as allies. Racial and national oppression are very real, but beneath this is an elitist dynamic of capitalist exploitation linked to hegemony, power, and privileges of corporate capitalism over labor.” (301) The anthology also offers a fair passage to a discussion on the intersections of gender, race and class.Historically, since whites have been the group with the greatest amount of power in American society and elsewhere, a critique of racism necessarily entails a discussion of “whiteness.” The relationship between white privilege and racism comes clearly into focus when Le Blanc quotes Reverend Joseph Barndt: “Whether or not we are intentional bigots, we are all locked inside a system of structured racism.As American citizens, every white person supports, benefits from, and is unable to be separated from white racism.” (21) Barndt’s candor prefaces much of what follows in the rest of the anthology.