The Black Substandard

The White Liberal Question needs answering?

There’s a lot of racecraft going on in the subscriptions that I have. Most of it is racesplaining the wackness of the woke. Some of it gets a bit deeper in its analysis of particularly boring events sold with outrageously unprincipled rhetoric. While we in the States have grown accustomed to the foolishness of marketing sex and healthy lifestyles, I see more of this kind of transference happening with policy hand in hand with that same kind of marketing. There are two operant colors, green and black.

This is one of the black colored events from Discriminations.

Fortunately, according to the NEJM authors, there is a clear, equity-suggested path out of this racist morass. “Framing the conversation about distrust in Covid vaccines in terms of everyday racism rather than historical atrocities,” they write, “may increase underserved communities’ willingness to be vaccinated.” The solution suggested by this “framing” is not surprising; it is the equity-suggested solution to ever disparity problem: hire more blacks:

… we need Black physicians and investigators at the forefront of vaccine-rollout efforts…. we need more public health messaging coming directly from Black health leaders…. Black scientists sharing their stories is paramount because they can more directly relate and speak to their communities’ needs.

The requirement of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that employees be hired without regard to race seems as antiquated to today’s equity warriors, and just about as evil, as the Fugitive Slave Acts.

As for the green, you and I know that a zillion things are sold in America as being good for you because they are ‘green’, therefore good for the planet. I shan’t belabor the point. But where is the black planet the other stuff is supposed to be good for? I say it exists in the imaginations of a cadre of some class of politicos who are comfortable with double standards. We have a long history of this which was baked into the Civil Rights movements. The phrases to mind are ‘black leaders’ and “What do you people want?”. Once upon a time I answered that question.

1. Black people want everything worth having, and the other things too. We want to have it as black people, but only when we say so. We will do anything it takes to get it, and anything else we feel like doing whether or not that's useful. You can't figure out our reasons unless we tell you, and if we don't feel like telling you, so what? And if you guess, so what?

2. Black people want to be invisible, except when we don't.

3. Black people want to be called African Americans, so forget everything you've heard about 'black people'.

4. African Americans want to be black, except on those occasions we feel like that's not necessary.

5. Black people want to be treated, most of the time, as follows.

That poem from Adrian Piper is art, so it still holds after these intervening decades. I think my answer does too, especially the fine print which reads:

All of the above is subject to change without notice, some restrictions apply, participating blacks only, your mileage may vary, see individual blacks for details and specifics, void where prohibited, you must be 18 or older to play.

Recently, the good professor McWhorter said of Kendi:

"I am unaware of a single instance of Kendi actually taking a deep breath and defending one of his ideas, as opposed to batting away criticism as somehow inappropriate. This does not, contrary to popular belief, mean that he is a megalomaniac or a huckster. However, it does mean that he is in way over his head. He strikes me as a deer caught in the headlights, and I don’t blame him for trying to make the best of that regardless. There is a certain mystique in his name, upon which we might consider that he was born Henry Rogers. Henry had no idea this fame was coming, and he’s doing his best.”

And this statement rather slams it home for me. Let’s call it the White Liberal Question, which is both heartfelt and disingenuous at the same time. If you cannot fathom, because you have to ask, what it is that people want out of life, is it because you’re too dense to empathize or that because you truly expect that they are so Other that such matters need to be explicitly stated? I don’t mean to make it as if askers of the White Liberal Question are damned coming and going because of some original racial sin, but that there’s some slow thinking going around if one hasn’t been able to deracialize basic human empathy. Still, one cannot be blamed for thinking Christianity hasn’t solved the problem, nor has democracy. Human conflict persists. Racial conflict is just another side of the same rock David pitched at Goliath’s head. The difficulty beyond that is that every ‘black leader’ is not King David. Nor are they all scrawny teenaged shepherds. So why do we listen to ‘black leaders’ in the first place? What kind of standard is applied to those who claim to speak for the dark masses? What makes the White Liberal Question troublesome is that whatever the answer is today wants to rewrite the history of race in America. This is why I point the ownership of the White Liberal Question to that cadre of politicos with double standards. The rest of us generally figure out how to be friends and associates without becoming certified ‘allies’.

Once you have enlisted into one of the many combatant squads of race relations, you have a different set of incentives from the rest of us. I have been fortunate enough to have learned the hard way that black diversity is much to pervasive and indestructible to have a reasonable permanent class of leaders. It is why I abdicated my Talented Tenth inheritance and stopped trying to cash in my black leadership credibility cookies. It wasn’t easy because those incentives are powerful. If you are nominally white, imagine what it might mean for you to have actually ridden on a Freedom bus with John Lewis. How entitled you would be! You don’t have to imagine what entitlements flowed to John Lewis himself. Nobody in his Georgia district could unseat him from Congress for 33 years. I’m hardly the man John Lewis was but all of us in the Tenth have been called to speak up on behalf of our people. Since the White Liberal Question persists, lots of us have opportunities to answer. Can we be taken seriously? What’s the benchmark? How does the lived experience of a black American qualify any of us to become proxies for The Black Experience? This is a dynamic that is constantly in motion and more or less important depending on where you go. There is no Black vs Jew problem in Los Angeles that comes anything close to the tensions in Brooklyn. We settle for stereotypes because there are no typical ‘race relations’, we approach them conceptually in the abstract, as if there were and are permanent interests that supersede basic human dignity. We may be particularly sensitive to todays color consciousness, but individuals making headlines have been around for a long time.

In a way it’s like asymmetric warfare, this racecraft. Any racesplainer who gets a national audience in America can stand astride the world of race relations for decades and never has to be held accountable. Because all Chinese look alike, right?

The national conversation on race wants us all on the same page. The lowest common denominator for black testimony is required.