December 20, 2004

UNCLE TOMS and "TOMISM"

I would like to have an open and honest exploration of the phenomenon known as the “Uncle Tom”. Is the phenomenon an outdated pejorative that has no relevance in the modern era of American life? Was there ever in history a valid and objective means of identifying and branding a black person as such? Were those called out, in the past, ever accepting of this label or did they deny and rationalize their actions as being in the best interest of black people?

The origin of the term derived from the name of the hero in Harriet B. Stowe’s novel, Uncle Toms Cabin, (1851-52). It applied to servile black men. The popular working definitions and usage can be summarized as a black man considered by other blacks to be subservient to or to curry favor with whites. Uncle Tomism is viewed as a policy of relationship between whites and blacks involving a benevolent but patronizing attitude on the part of the whites and a willingly submissive attitude on the part of the blacks. Although originally a phenomenon linked to the male, there is no reason that a female could not be or have been guilty of the same.

In light of these historical usages, there is an objective criterion for establishing if the phenomenons exist today. Certainly, one would not expect to map the exact actions of Tomism from the 1920’s to Today, because the means of society are vastly different in degree or kind, even though the motives have not changed much. Thus, although one cannot say that black Toms of today are guilty of replicating the acts of Tomism of the past, we can conclude, from the working usage, whether or not the motives are the same, notwithstanding the different means. In short, the working definition gives an objective means of creating a template or benchmark to test for the occurrence of modern Tomism.

To be fair, one has to admit that we, black people, are nearly all guilty of Tomism, with the matter of degree being the major point of differentiation. I say that because we all know that whites run and dominate this country politically, economically and numerically, with the formers being disproportionately true. Thus, if we are to survive under such domination, it involves some degree Toming. Also, the degree of Tomism that one manifest, in conjunction with other characteristics, the more upwardly mobile one can become. Hence, Tomism offers more reward and promotion from white society than does the absence there of. However, the trade off is that one becomes complicit in the exploitation or oppression of the dominant group. For example, Tomism during slavery would have simply helped to promote and maintain the system of slavery. In those days, Tomism was known by the pejorative “House Negro”.

In light of all this, who are the Uncle Toms that standout to the highest degree in the present? At the top of the list would have to be the black conservatives. The reason being is that conservatism is the dominant ideology of the white masses and the ideology is the only legal conduit to exercise racism via the politics of denial of programs and assistance that is aimed at leveling the competitive playing field. Also, conservatism is the ideology that was swollen by bitter Southern white racist who abdicated the Democratic Party because of the parties push for civil rights and the end of segregation. Thus, conservative ideology in our representative form of democracy caters to a large base of whites who are racist and platforms must reflect this racism if the politicians of the ideology want to remain viable politically.

For black folks to join ranks as zealous outspoken advocates of these platforms is Tomism. Many of the inferences and conclusions of this platform allude to an unstated premise of black inferiority. For example, the conservative ideology places much emphasis on the individual, free will and personal responsibility. Hence, they see poverty as primarily an internally caused phenomenon born from individual laziness, bad choices and irresponsible acts. Thus, the fact that black people are 3 times poorer than whites implicitly concludes that blacks are 3 times as lazy, bad choice makers and irresponsible as whites....in other words...INFERIOR. What gene in black people makes this true, if these discrepancies are not the produce of a racist society? Also, this ideology wants to cut many of the programs, like Affirmative Action, that have helped blacks progress against the obstacles of white discrimination.

Tomism is also high among those blacks who can only seem to find non black people of the opposite gender to date or marry. I can understand demographics realities restricting the pool of available mates, for example, blacks in Vermont may not be exposed to a large enough pool. However, in places were there are large pools; it is hard to believe that one cannot find a qualified black to date or marry….if they really want to. This is not as true for the black female however….but the black male has no excuse. I think that when one makes a choice in a long term mate, it represents a vote of quality, rank and value for an individual. A vote for any group is automatically a vote against the other groups in the pool. When Alpha black males with high income and high profile positions choose not to share that life and success with a black female, that choice makes black women seem inferior, which only helps to promote negative self esteem in black women, relative to white women.

This is not to say that ALL interracial relationships are as such. Sometimes two souls are a better match than color and color should not be a barrier to such love. That having been said, the vast majority of relationships are born from superficialities and not the deepness of soul. Hence, bias often restricts the pool and thus the souls are filtered from superficialities….such as color. Now, narcissism is a natural and healthy bias, in moderation. A healthy self esteem about all aspects of oneself and being should lead one to choose a mate that shares some of these traits. However, if one sees something about themselves with insecurity, such as race, then they may become attracted to those who do not have the trait and this is essentially unhealthy.

In conclusion, we are all guilty of Tomism to a degree, but some are guiltier than others.


3 Comments:

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Scott said...

Great post, it really condensed your thinking on this issue and your unexpressed assumptions that cloud all your reasoning of my posts.

I would like to state where your assumption about other people's thinking is in error.

"Thus, the fact that black people are 3 times poorer than whites implicitly concludes that blacks are 3 times as lazy, bad choice makers and irresponsible as whites....in other words...INFERIOR."

This statement is 100% wrong. I don't doubt that some feel that way but not the majority of the people at the Conservative Brotherhood. We acknowledge the racism of our society and we just disagree what is the best way to combat it.

For example we would love it if black people didn't live on average 6 years less than whites. But we see no effective way to fix that in the short term so we would preferr social security to allow us to accumulate wealth that we can pass on to our children rather than a life time annuity that white people get a larger payment for.

Our personal experence has shown that young black students who go to even low cost catholic and other private schools do better than those in public school so we support a system that will allow our tax money to go to those better solution in the short term and allow us to control our schools in the long run.

We are also conserned that Afirmative action helps more white women then black people, and that is helps people who care black in skin but don't have the disadvantage of coming from a family that was hurt by instutional racism.





About dating ... I don't think there are many Alpha black males who are succesful in American society. White society crushes black Alpha's, starting from grade school. So in that way the succesful black men are Beta's and beta behavor is very Tomlike.
Most with money are beta's. And the women know this, they want Alpha's. The Alpha's are the bangers and the players. The beta's are the nerds with money but quality black women are NOT lining up to date them. My friends are betas and they don't date much. Too much fucking drama. But I am sure you are happy they are not race traitors by dating white girls.
(anyway I don't think dating has anything to do with Tom ism) low marriage rate is a problem all its own. Btw you can check the figures but I believe blacks have the lowest intermarraiage rate of all "races" in America. So despite all the time we waste talking about it, it is not really a problem. Jews keep thier identity with a near 50% intermarriage rate. And we are bitching and moaning over 5%. Its just a distraction from the real issues. Like wealth accumulation.

 
At 3:50 PM, Blogger EG said...

To be fair, one has to admit that we, black people, are nearly all guilty of Tomism, with the matter of degree being the major point of differentiation. I say that because we all know that whites run and dominate this country politically, economically and numerically, with the formers being disproportionately true. Thus, if we are to survive under such domination, it involves some degree Toming. Also, the degree of Tomism that one manifest, in conjunction with other characteristics, the more upwardly mobile one can become.It is still unclear what Tomism is. For example, during the civil rights era of the 1960s, MLK Jr. received little support from the ‘official’ civil right groups of the time. At the time, those civil rights groups thought that working within the system was the better method to protests and the outbreak of violence by white supremacists. Should they be considered Toms today?

Tomism is also high among those blacks who can only seem to find non black people of the opposite gender to date or marry.Very few American Blacks can lay claim that their ancestors are completely African descent. This is not an apology or excuse and you noted the situations of where limited pools could cause this situation. But we also know that the media pushes ‘white is right’ which you noted in a previous post involving your son. When these messages are challenged, as you did, will a person be un-brainwashed.


The definition of Tomism implies the servile black man is supporting the status quo for some personal gain or nefarious reasons (self-hatred). I agree that some black conservatives would have a vested interest. The other group that I contend tie with these conservatives is the hip-hop artists who use exploitive lyrics and videos for personal gain. These artists give the white viewers/listeners a distorted view of the Black community. They are, in many ways, today’s black minstrels.

 
At 8:59 PM, Blogger Noah TA said...

The problem is Scott, it may be true that the majority of black conservatives do not think “that way”, however, your thinking is not creating the conservative platform. You do not get to define what conservatism is or what its platform will be or should be. All you can be are “yes men and yes women” to white conservatives. Thus, what does it matter if the majority of black conservatives do not think this way, if or when the majority of white conservatives who design the platform do? Does is really matter at all what you black conservatives think? Try disagreeing with the white conservatives agenda and see how far you get in changing it. Thus, instead of feeling powerless, like you really are, you simply agree with nearly all of their proposals. However, there is Tomism on the Democratic side as well, but to a lesser degree.

EG, it think that obfuscating the working definition of Toming helps to prevent having the labeled pinned on those whom the cap may otherwise fit. It is like the USA not coming out and objectively defining what terrorism is knowing that such a definition will indict past and present USA actions around the globe, for which they will not be punished as our nations attempts to punish those whom it labels as terrorist. Fear has always been a major contributor to Toming. The fear of rocking the boat and making white folks upset with us is why many blacks initially turned their back on MLK. We all know how Ugly white folks have been and can be and thus many would rather leave things alone rather than risk regressing backwards. However, it is a truism that the greater the risk, the greater the rewards. Our movement forward has always been the produce of those who were willing to risk upsetting white folks. Toming will never move black people to equality, because it is the path of least risk, which is also the path of least reward. If white folks love you….then you are probably a TOM. If white folks despise you, then you are likely doing something positive for your people.

 

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