Jealous of the old order?

Yesterday I said that the national conversation about race sucks and that I hate even writing about it. Famous last words. Here I am writing another post about a topic I hate. Yes, I hate race. As much as I hate the isms of sexuality. This is not to say that I hate races, or forms of human sexuality; only that I detest identity politics. These things should not matter, and I hate the fact that to so many people, they do. (And I have no illusions, but I do have this blog....)

I think what fries me the most about race discussions these days is the relentless promotion of the idea that if you think race should not matter, you're a racist. "Color-blind racism" is what they call it. Yes, they -- the detestable activists about whom I devoted/wasted so much time complaining. Whether they're called identity politics activists or race hustlers, they are constantly screaming at ordinary people for the crime of not caring about race, and for simply wanting to get along. It is typical of activists that the more they claim to care about something -- no matter how bogus or dishonest their claim -- the more they direct their anger at those who do not care. To an activist, bigotry is defined simply as not caring enough about the activist's cause. (The way these ideas spread, and the way activists work themselves into frenzies of self-important rage, pretty soon not caring about whether someone is gay will be called anti-gay bigotry. If it hasn't been already.)

Anyway, I'm so tired of complaining about the problem that I decided to resort to satire. For the purposes of this post, I want to agree with the race activists' identitarian position that race matters. And by the gods, I'll go one better than that! I will also agree with the idea that there is such a thing as "not black enough"!

Last night I happened to watch Glenn Reynolds' Instavision interview of Mark Levin (excellent BTW) and during their discussion of the NAACP's attack on the Tea Party Movement as racist, a picture of the president of the NAACP briefly flashed by.


OK, so maybe I'm more race-obsessed than I should be, or maybe I'm not enough. But I was so surprised that I just couldn't help doing a doubletake.

Egad! The guy looks white.

Which shouldn't matter in a normal world. And it wouldn't matter to me, except that the NAACP is all about race. Regardless of their history, at this point in time the organization endorses and practices racial identity politics. Everything is reduced to and measured by race, and that's what the attack on the Tea Party is all about. So it came as quite a shock to see an apparently white man as head of that organization. I checked, and that's him. No mistake about it, the picture is of the NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous. And according to his Wiki bio, his father was white and his mother was black. Which would make him half white. Unless his mother was more than half white. Not that there's anything wrong with being half white, or more than half white (or half or more gay), but frankly, he looks a lot more than half white. He's whiter than Tiger Woods, and definitely whiter than Barack Obama. Anyone remember that back in the day, the latter was being accused of not being black enough? I defended him for that crime, but only because in my racist way I thought race should not matter.

But now I know better. Race matters. Which is why having a man who looks white in charge of the NAACP sends the wrong message. The NAACP is on record as supporting racial preferences in employment and education, and supporting racial gerrymandering of voting districts. And having a man who appears white in charge of an organization like that creates the appearance that race does not matter. Which as we know is racist.

It would be one thing if the NAACP and Mr. Jealous had decided to support a color blind society, but they have shown that they do not. Their condemnation of the color-blind Tea Party movement comes at exactly the same time that the Justice Department New Black Panther Party scandal is finally emerging as a national story. Naturally, just as both the NAACP and Jealous have failed to acknowledge the Tea Party movement's black supporters they have pointedly refused to condemn the New Black Panther Party.

And not only have they refused to condemn the new Black Panther Party or the Justice Department's handling of the case, but there is evidence that an NAACP attorney might have specifically urged the Justice Department to dismiss the case.

An attorney for the NAACP, Kristen Clarke, has admitted that she spoke to department attorneys about the case and shared the complaint with others. (In a deposition she also said that a department lawyer sent her news clippings of the case.) She spoke to a voting section attorney Laura Coates (no relation to Chris Coates) about the case at a Justice Department function. Clarke asked Coates, who she assumed was sympathetic, when the Panther case was going to be dismissed. The comment suggested that the NAACP had been pushing for such an outcome, and Coates reported the conversation to her superiors.
Her superiors would include Attorney General Eric Holder -- the man ultimately responsible for the dismissal.

The Justice Department scandal is especially outrageous because it amounts to a declaration of war against the color blind society that so many people support, which the vast majority of Americans believe lies at the very heart of this country's principles.

Think "Justice" and what do you think? To many people, a classical image comes to mind -- the statue of Justitia, the blind goddess of justice holding the scales.


By taking the position that the race of intimidated voters matters, the Justice Department has officially removed the blindfold from the statue of Justice. And officially tipped her scales by placing a racialized finger on one side.

The whole thing is shocking and unprecedented. You'd have to go back to Woodrow Wilson to fine a more egregious example of official racism.

But if that's the way Justice now operates, if we're no longer color-blind, I say shame on the NAACP for sending the wrong message by creating an appearance of whiteness being at the top.

In Jealous' defense, it may be that he suffers from a perverse (if intellectualized) form of self hatred, because in this interview he embraces the old racist view that "one drop makes you black"

Question: How does the experience of "mixed race" Americans differ from that of "black" Americans?

Ben Jealous: You know, the beauty of being black in this society is that black has always been an inclusive definition. White has always been an exclusive definition. I think one of the challenges for white people in the next 40 years is to figure out how to have a more inclusive picture of who their families are, of who they are.

Hey, I have no stake in whiteness, and I am perfectly willing to consider Mr. Jealous to be white, if that is what he wants. I would also drop the illogical "one drop makes you black rule." But I would rather not have race legally mean anything more than height, hair color, or blood type. I also don't think it should matter to people "who their families are" -- although Mr. Jealous does. He thinks his white ancestors on his mother's side were not merely racists, but rapists:
I grew up in a family where my father's white and my mother is black, but if we're honest, the exception may be the two or three generations in between on the black side, most of the male parents - it's hard to call them a parent, you raped the mother, most of the male parents were white for generations. Growing up as a black kid with a white father who loves you, who affirms you, who was part of your life is fundamentally different than what people in my family were subjected to in the 19 century or the 18th century. But unfortunately, it doesn't change the old racial order. I think we need to, in this society, let the old racial order just stay where it is and not seek to improve upon it. Not try to create more racial categories, because all that does is it makes a race stick around longer. And the reality is that race is a lie built on a lie.
And the answer is to keep the lie alive?

Yes. Teach your children that because race once mattered, it must always matter -- even if it shouldn't matter!

The first lie is that people are different, somehow skin color or hair texture is more significant than eye color, or the shape of one's feet. The second lie built on top of that is that then there's a hierarchy that that more significant difference, the color showing up as brown on your skin rather than brown in your hair, or whatever, is somehow more significant and there's some sort of hierarchy. That the lighter you are, the straighter your hair, the better you are. And Obama, Oprah, you know, Dick Parsons, whoever is -- ****, have blown that out of the water, President Obama, Michelle Obama for the country. The trick now is for us to really incorporate that into our family lives and for people to not just, I guess be led by their children for whom race is just much less significant, but to help lead their children, or at least follow willingly.
In other words, let's continue with the old racist system, and tell our children that they're wrong if they think race doesn't matter, and teach them that race does matter! Why? Because it used to matter!

Rarely have I seen a slicker way to condemn color blindness and promote racialized thinking -- and ultimately, race hatred.

Why would a man who looks so white be seeking to uphold the rules of the old racial order?

posted by Eric on 07.15.10 at 12:40 PM


You are on a roll today. Between the above post and this one:

I was rolling on the floor.

M. Simon   ·  July 15, 2010 1:12 PM

Why would a man who looks so white be seeking to uphold the rules of the old racial order?

Better to rule in Hell...

I recommend a book: Lawrence Otis Graham, Our Kind of People. It's not great, but I don't know of a better look inside the racial hierarchy Jealous, Holder et al so bitterly cling to the top of.

guy on internet   ·  July 15, 2010 3:16 PM

Bah, racists are just lazy tools.

There are so many reasons to hate people, why focus on the easy stuff they can't help?

It's just intellectual laziness. Dig deeper and you'll find a good reason to dislike most people.

It's also counter-productive.
I mean, with there being so few people who aren't pieces of chit, why reduce the available pool of friends artificially?

Veeshir   ·  July 15, 2010 4:09 PM

I don't think much has changed over the past several decades. many people of clear mind have known that, for a long time, one could not criticze a minority for any reason; to do so was a mark of racism. Now, with the attacks on the tea party, the New Black Panther debacle and other instances, this underlying reverse racism is simply becoming part of the public marrative.

To carry this post one step further, the concept of minority organizations perpetuating racism (NAACP, La Raza, butthey wouldn't see it that way)is tantamount to saying "Now it's OUR turn to be the racists." Note public comments like Wesley Snipes about Obama "painting" the White House black or the New Black Panther hating every iota of a cracker and the need to kill a few, or most insidiously, Eric Holder's justice dept refusing to attend to civil rights violations against whites, presumably to redress past inaction on civil rights violations against blacks.

T   ·  July 16, 2010 11:44 AM

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