Preferential treatment and White privilege are either positive or negative based of your socio/political persuasion. They both concern racism but one involves providing favorable advantages to persons based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin, age and sexual orientation, whereas the other refers to unfair societal advantages certain people are deemed to have over others. But I’m primarily concerned about another racial phenomena, race hustlers.
When slave labor ended, many freed slaves and former masters negotiated future working arrangements and continued their association. But other freedmen had to seek employment wherever it could be found in the larger society. Practical difficulties involved in transitioning slaves into freedmen have had long-standing consequences. The process simply hadn’t been thought through. So in the contentious era following emancipation, Whites and Blacks had to assume new roles and adjust to new ways of coexisting.
Government coercion, Reconstruction, made the already strained race relations worse and the term “racism” has become an essential part of our vocabulary. Over time, the media-hyped phenomenon ‘racism’ has helped create a new profession, race hustlers. These are persons who exploit racial situations to serve their own interests. The race hustling of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson literally built empires. Race hustling has become such a profitable and newsworthy career that some of this generation’s race hustlers have become celebrities.
A popular race hustler is Ibram X. Kendi (Ibram Henry Rogers) , a college professor and the director of the Center for Anti-Racist Research at Boston University. Kendi is obsessed with racism and finds it everywhere: “When I see racial disparities, I see racism.” Others may offer various explanations for these disparities but for Kendi, racism is the cause of all racial disparities. There are no shades of gray for Kendi, everything is “racist or anti-racist”.
I find his conclusions on racism and antiracism simplistic and unacceptable but he has a large following, who, we assume, are taken in by his reasoning: “Racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas.” And he makes this cynical assertion: “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
I’m surprised that Kendi publicly admitted the following truthful admission: “Racist ideas love believers, not thinkers” And consider this quote: “The opposite of “racist” isn’t “not racist.” It is “anti-racist”. In other words, those who don’t actively oppose racism are supporting it.
Kendi’s disparagement of capitalism shouldn’t come as a surprise., he says: "Capitalism is essentially racist," and "racism is essentially capitalist." This sounds like a rehashing of the opinions of Angela Davis, the 1960s counterculture Marxist/Feminist. She said: "I am convinced that the ultimate eradication of racism is going to require us to move toward a more socialist organization.”
It is claimed that Ibram Kendi is” the closest approximation we have to a national guru on race relations.” But before we make him a guru, we should consider his superficial cliched comment about America. “The full arc of American history can be understood as a battle between these two souls (Trump and Biden) with genocide, enslavement, Trump and bigotry on the one side and equality, science, Biden and empathy on the other.”
I’m opposed to constant societal upheavals because our country has been so successful. So I think our minority groups should assimilate into the White majority, preserving only essential aspects of their own culture. But Ibram X. Kendi objects to assimilation:“Assimilationist ideas are racist ideas. Assimilationists can position any racial group as the superior standard that another racial group should be measuring themselves against, the benchmark they should be trying to reach.”
Professor Ibram X. Kendi has even proposed a Constitutional Amendment that would create a Department of Anti-racism to pre-clear all proposed public policies to assure that they wouldn’t cause any inequalities. A department to assure proposals wouldn’t cause inequalities? This is what I would call a “Kinder Garden” proposal.
I strongly disagree with Kendi’s self-serving opinions about racism in the 21st century. The harm it is supposedly causing Black society is greatly exaggerated and will not stand up to scrutiny. Kendi and long-time associate, Bina Venkataraman, editor-at large of The Boston Globe, hope to create a publication to focus people’s attention solely on racism. Hopefully Ibram Kendi’s temporary celebrity-hood will end before this anticipated publication comes to fruition.
Gail Jarvis is a Georgia-based free-lance writer. He attended the University of Alabama and has a degree from Birmingham Southern College. His writing is influenced by years of witnessing how versions of news and history were distorted for political reasons. Mr. Jarvis is a member of the Society of Independent Southern Historians and his articles have appeared on various websites, magazines, and publications for several organizations. He lives in Coastal Georgia.