June 05, 2005

The Spook Who Sat by the Door..

“The Spook Who Sat By The Door” is a revolutionary movie from the 1970’s. This movie is about a brother who joins the CIA after a congressman who is loosing the Black vote tries to win the Black vote back by accusing the CIA of not having any Black folk as agents. The CIA in turn recruit fifty or more Black men to become CIA agents, the white man in charge of their training is hell bent on making sure none of them make it through the school and training to become an agent thus he finds various ways to weed them out in hopes that none of them make it through. However, there is one brother who makes it through in spite of all the tricknology and sabotaging that takes place. Upon graduating the brother is sitting down with his boss the white guy who was hell bent on making sure none of the Black men make it through training and his boss says to him “you are a credit to your race” if all Black men and women worked as hard as you and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps like you have they would make it as well. Doesn’t this argument sound strikingly familiar to that of modern day white folk and the Black middle to upper class bourgeoisie?

I would love to write about this great movie in detail and how it ends but this op-ed is not really about that movie although I recommend that everyone see it. This op-ed is about the attitude of the white CIA boss in this movie, which has now become the attitude and belief of the Black middle and upper class bourgeoisie. There is definitely something to be said about how Black men and women who have climbed the ladder of success or upward mobility in this nation in spite of the racism they had to and continue to face look back and down on those who tried themselves to climb that ladder but was not as crafty or skilled in over coming the problems racism posed to their upward mobility. The reason I referenced this movie is because it illustrates exactly what I am referring to. Here is this white cat who did everything in his power to stop the Black men who were recruited to be CIA agents from actually becoming agents and yet one of the brothers was still able to overcome the obstacles put in his path and in the end the man who sought to sabotage all the Black recruits says to the Black man that negotiated all the obstacles “You are a credit to your race” and if all Black people work as hard as you have and pull themselves up by their bootstraps they would be successful. Never mind if the Black recruits had been treated like the white recruits more than half probably would have made it.

This is the same attitude of the Negro-Con and most scared to the death Negro men and women. They will tell us they had to deal with racism as they climbed the ladder to success, they will tell us about having to deal with racist employers, racist cops and racist professors and yet the only thing they have to say to those of us who stand in opposition to those very things is “Black people need to work hard”. Now I get it, working hard to white folk and the Negro men and women mentioned above is the ability to deal with and accept racism and other structural discrimination that stands in the way of Black upward mobility in spite of the fact that these things are not a problem for white folk. We are to accept the difficulties we face in our quest to have a piece of the so-called American Dream that is not a reality for others. This archaic attitude stems from the attitude of Black folk in the early and late twentieth century that said Black folk must work twice as hard as white folk for the same results and be happy doing it. It was common for Black folk to instruct their children to work doubly hard in order to be successful and that was the accepted norm. Is that really equality? Has equality really been achieved?

Why should we accept racism and other structural problems that stand in our way and say to those of us who are unable to get past these things "you did not work hard enough"? Who is it that we did not work hard enough in comparison to? This is the problem, when one says Black men and women do not work hard enough, their must be a juxtaposition to validate this claim, so my question is who is it that has to deal with all that Black men and women have to deal with in this country on every level, in school, in the hunt for jobs, in our day to day lives being Black in America, the various forms of discrimination that has been revealed to go so far as to discriminate against us by name; Who is it that deals with all of this and over come it as we do and continuously do? The second question is why some of the Black men and women who have overcome these things look down on those who were unable to overcome these things? The third is why can’t the Black middle to upper class bourgeoisie see the correlation between the obstacles they had to overcome and the overall Black condition?

Is the goal of every upward mobile Black person to become that which they hated as they climb the ladder of success? This is what we are asked to believe by those who say it is natural for Black men and women who join the middle and upper class to become more politically conservative. If this is the case, what accounts for poor whites being politically conservative? If ones politics is truly about class, should not poor whites be political allies of poor Blacks? How does a rich Negro see eye to eye politically with a poor white person that works at Wal-Mart? Easy, they both share they same disdain and hatred of the Black poor. The sad part is it took the Negro years of “hard work” dealing with and accepting racism and earning lots of money along the way to end up a political ally of a poor white person. I think that says more about the rich Negro than it does the poor white person.


At 10:53 AM, Blogger Noah TA said...

White folks and scared to death Negro bourgeoisie believe that activism and policy aimed at undoing these obsticles is to suggest the idea that blacks are inferior and need special help. As I have stated before, the truth is that the expectation for blacks to achieve on par, in such a climate, is the expectation of black SUPERIORITY.

If there is a high hurdle track race, with some sprinter lanes having more hurdles than others, all other things being equal, the person with the most hurdles will always come in last. The expectation for blacks to be competitive in such a race, with the extra hurdles, is the expectation of black superiority. Let us be clear on that. To actively promote the idea that the lanes should be staggered in the favor of those with the most hurdles is not the expectation of inferiority and hence need for special assistance to be competitive. Rather, it is the offset to unfairness so that equal effort and ability can produce equal results.

At 12:31 PM, Blogger NmagiNATE said...

White folks [et al] believe that... policy aimed at undoing these obstacles is to suggest the idea that blacks are inferior and need special help.

Well, NOAH, my BS-Stopper Answer to those types of notions are simply to ask:
What Does That Say About Whites And The Vast Majority Of American History? How Long Were Whites "INFERIOR" and How "INFERIOR" Are Whites To Have "Needed" So Much "Special Help" For So Long?

I think you had the time frames calculated for how long America has been without blatant White Preference/Privilege Regimes (Slavery & Jim Crow) vs. Post-Civil Rights Era. So it seems like an argument can be made that the very resistance against Social Change For Racial Justice may very well be, deep, abiding feelings of INFERIORITY among Whites.

I mean, think about. You have Slavery and Jim Crow that virturally granted a great percentage of Whites "HAND OUTS" for days... by comparison. And, by their own admission, (anemic) programs like Affirmative Action have only and could only grant "special preferences" to a few Blacks.

This is the weird twist of White Supremacy (which seems to mask a White Inferiority Complex if their logic holds) and Bigot Induced Mathematics (BIM). Centuries Of White Preferences/Privilege whereby (for the sake of argument) 70% of Whites benefitted - if not all, at varying degrees - is somehow dwarfed by less than 50 years of Affirmative Action that has hardly benefitted, say, 30% of Blacks, at best.

Yes, those numbers would give Blacks reason to feel "inferior". You know, because 'they' have been asking for more "HAND OUTS", for more people over a longer period of time than Whites ever have... lol

Yes! By those calculations Blacks are indeed acting like they are "inferior" and need "special help". Even when White Woman have been the main beneficiaries of Affirmative Action all along, it's African Americans who are "inferiorized".

Honestly, though, the 'B' in BIM also stands for BIZARRO. You know, the anti-thesis to Super-MAN. For BIZARRO, everything he does and says is Ass-Backwards. So when the CONSERVO rhetoric talks about "Black Inferiority" as a belief that precipitates advocacy/activism for Affirmative Action, social change, etc. then, obviously, what we're dealing with is an old fashion case of PROJECTION or Guilty Confessions, perhaps, of a LONG HISTORY OF WHITE HAND OUTS!

At 2:54 PM, Blogger Scott said...

One thing you guys have missed is that some aid is more useful than other aid. And some aid is actually bad for you. You know this is true in the case of African "development" and it is also true in term of black Americans.

For example, public housing.

When a family lives in public housing they have the advantage of living in a below market rate apt. So instead of paying $1200 month in mortage you are only paying $600 in rent.

It seems like it a great deal. Your earning will now go futher.

But public housing is actually a trap that will hurt your family's long term chance of success. Do you know why ?

At 3:48 PM, Blogger NmagiNATE said...


Where have you seen arguments for things like Public Housing as done by White Liberals, etc.? WHERE?

Where do you come off with this notion of "AID"?

Are you and yours (B-Con's) calling all of American History up to 1965-1970 The WHITE AID Period? Are you saying that to Whites who come to your site (or vice versa)?

In other words, get out of the Left, Right BOX trap you're in and either speak to what's been said here without jumping to conclusions or learn how to act appropriate when clear information contradicts your narrow views -- i.e. STFU!

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Scott said...

NmagiNATE you are such an ass.

why don't you STFU and learn to read and maybe learn something.

Yes 1620 to 1964 was the WHITE AID peroid. But take a look at how that AID was provided. Did they get public housing NO.

But when they started war on poverty to help the poor in general and the black poor inspecific they came up with public housing.

No I ask you mr. know it all, how were white people given aid vs. black people given aid. And why was aid to white people more successful.

At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m jacking in from the airport… you just gotta’ love wireless communication. I’ve got plenty of time to write, so here’s my take on this issue…

I do not believe that conservatism is the wise choice for African-Americans: just as it has proved to be a poor choice for American Jews. In recent years, the Left has become stridently conservative in its policies and practices. College campuses (which are notoriously liberal) have only a paucity of black tenured professors, which is a disgrace. In sum, I don’t believe that either party, or cultural position will ever provide our community with the social equality and resources it so desperately needs. However, in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement (and the greater access it provided), African-Americans will continue to join the conservative ranks – however detrimental it may prove to be. Since the 1980s, non-partisan social conservatism has been on the rise, and increasing minority prosperity has only bolstered this phenomenon.

One thing you must consider is that there are many types of conservatives: neo-conservatives, social conservatives, moderate conservatives, religious conservatives, and economic/political conservatives. The same is true for liberals. Of course, there is a degree of cross-pollination between these conservative constituencies, but in many ways they are different. Furthermore, conservatism does not inherently mean Republican – which is a common misconception. Your suggestion that black conservatives, in effect, align themselves with poor/working class whites is an oversimplification. Poor conservatives have very little in common with rich ones, just like poor liberals have very little in common with wealthy liberals. Also, they have many different reasons for considering themselves such; and there are many different ideological conceptualizations of what conservatism is.

The problem is that conservatives have consolidated and come together post 911, in a manner unprecedented in American political history. Hence, we are a more divided nation. For example, political conservatism has devastated the Jewish community. It has become fractured over the war. Many support the war, and champion conservatism hoping that the U.S. will continue its support of Israel. Others see this as a vain attempt at assimilation that will ultimately foster a future wave of anti-Semitism.

Blacks are in a similar, albeit more contentious and fragile position… and must be careful not to become too divided.

I find that there are different types of minority conservatives. Some are clearly opportunistic, narcissistic careerists, hell bent on generating personal wealth by exploiting race issues. These individuals are usually nauseatingly anti-intellectual, and they thrive on exacerbating sensitive issues (i.e. John McWhorter, Michelle Malkin amongst many others). However, McWhorter, for example, considers himself a conservative, but not a Republican. Malkin, on the other hand, is a rabid, hawkish, foaming at the mouth republican – and a blatant racist. These are the ones who beat up on the poor.

Most minority conservatives find themselves on the social/moral side of the equation – but they remain politically liberal. Increasingly, black churches (in decidedly minority communities) are beginning to push conservatism in their effort to advocate greater moral responsibility. This movement has a corollary with the ever-mounting Evangelical Christian movement, which is currently on a highly successful moral crusade throughout the world, especially in the Middle East, and in minority communities in the U.S.

Other high-profile minority conservatives have emerged from the business world. These individuals are primarily concerned with generating and consolidating wealth. A great many conservatives (of all races) fall under this category. For them, the bottom line supercedes all other concerns; including the environment, domestic jobs, socialized health care, human rights, oppression, etc. These individuals have a vested interest in colonial (wealth generating) efforts like the Iraq war, because they open up new business ventures. And this group is becoming increasingly multi-racial/ethnic and globally dispersed – especially in developing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

In view of the diversity amongst black conservative ranks, I do not believe that “most” black conservatives consider themselves akin to white racists. Certainly, there are those working tirelessly to build careers at the expense of the black community. But their impact on culture and policy (barring Ward Connerly) is minor at best. Basically, a rich black conservative does not have to see eye-to-eye with a working class white conservative. Most likely they have wildly differing understandings of what it means to be conservative.

In many respects, I don't see a huge difference between divisive black conservatives and black nationalists. Both groups merely contribute to the divided character of the nation: one through essentialism and separatism, and the other by inter-cultural racism that denigrates the black poor. Both preach hate in their own way.

Nobody likes the working poor; their only function is to be a sacrifice in the labor trade, and to be utilized as a political football. The real contradiction is that the white poor do not benefit from conservatism, despite their misguided loyalty. Conservative policies merely worsen their condition. But of course, they become easily hoodwinked by the phony heartland, Americana, us against them, white bullshit they’re sold. And it works every time.

Considering the big picture, I do not believe that attempting to gauge the degree to which black conservatives look down on their less fortunate brethren is meaningful. Some people look down on others, some don’t. That cannot be controlled or measured. Certainly there will be some black conservatives that do, but I’m sure there are many prosperous black liberals that do the same. I would wager that middle and upper class condescension directed towards the working poor has its roots in class divisions. I fail to see this as a black conservative phenomenon. This nation has its fair share of elite politically Democratic, upper class “black” gated communities, institutions, and society groups that are at a significant remove from the African-American working class (and they work tirelessly to maintain such divisions). Similarly, America’s elite universities are bastions of elitist old-world snobbery, and they are “all” rabidly leftist and racist as hell.

Working class blacks and whites’ seething opposition to each other has been methodically and systematically orchestrated since the 1700s. Early on in the slave trade, Africans, Native Americans, Hispanics and white indentured servants mixed freely. There was no legal, or social prohibition. However, because most slaves were African, this rampant miscegenation muddied the bloodlines to such a degree that it negatively impacted economic returns. In other words, it was necessary for slaves to possess distinct physical characteristics so they could be easily identifiable. At this time, anti-miscegenation laws were implemented to prohibit racial mixing.

Coinciding with these laws, were mounting propaganda designed to paint a picture of black inferiority, degeneracy, lawlessness, and general barbarism. These social divisions were created purely for the purpose of maintaining the economic prosperity engendered by slave labor. Post abolition, a similar wave of propaganda emerged that constructed blacks (especially black men) as violent brutes that would rebel, rape and pillage.

To this day, politicians attempt to maintain these divisions for purely economic reasons – it is still very effective. The problem is that this propaganda has been equally effective on poor blacks, as it has been on the white poor. Both groups eye each other with suspicion, and both work to maintain a divided front. Put another way, the exploited white poor only lobby for themselves, and the downtrodden black poor do the same; hence the cycle of essentialism and hate prevails. That is the problem with race in America; the few (policy makers/capitalists) set the tone for the many – they tell us how to feel about each other – and of course, we drink the Cool Aid.

Should we as a society (all people, all races) continue to fight the presence of inequality in this great nation? I would say yes… emphatically! Conversely, should black people encourage each other to work harder, to be more upright, and accountable? Yes, absolutely! Attempting to gauge the degree to which one constituency looks down upon another is a waste of time. There's much more important work to be done.

I hope all this writing doesn’t wear you down too much… I simply couldn’t help myself!


At 5:49 PM, Blogger Faheem said...

Scott, you are right.. while we were given public housing, white folk had the homestead act, and the VA housing loan. Do we need to revisit redlinning? Public housing is not comparable at all to the benifits afforded to white folk for living spaces over the years.

What relevance is public housing to what I have written anyway? Maybe I missed something in my own writtings.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Faheem said...

Renu, You must have had some time on your hand to write all that you did, I think it is longer than my original piece, but that’s cool you make some interesting points, however I want to add clarity to what I said in light of your response.

I did not limit my critique to simply a Black Conservative versus a Black Liberal. I spoke of the Black middle to upper class bourgeoisie that in my critique can be apolitical, or on the left or the right. I am well aware of the Black folk who identify as liberal or independent that has the same disdain for the Black poor as white folk do. The mistake people continue to make about what we write on this Blog is that our criticism of the Negro-Con is some how us taking a defensive position in regards to the Black Liberal. Similarly, our critique of white supremacy and the problem it pose to black upward mobility is mistaken for a defense of the status qou, you have never and you will never read anything on this blog that tell Black men and women, don’t go to school, don’t get a job, sit on your ass and do nothing but yet our defense of our people is continuously mistaken for that, mostly by negro-cons and those who defend the system.

I understand that there are varying degrees and kind of conservatism but as you noted, in the post 9/11 world it has been increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the different kinds of conservatism because a vote for one form or support for one form has been as of late support for the whole republican agenda. I am convinced the Black clergy is selling Black folk out. The Black clergy would not be aligning themselves with white evangelical preachers and politicians were it not for the faith based program that has funneled millions of dollars into their churches and is enabling them to build these big churches and do repairs to their already existing churches. The latest Savoy has a great article on this.

My point is this, Black folk should be willing to forgo supporting a political party that attract the other half of their constituency by using race, particularly racial matters that speak ill of Black men and women and adversely affect our lives. Considering all the other things that republicans and Conservatives stands for it is betrayal in my eyes for a Black person to vote with them simply because they are against abortion and gay marriage.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger NmagiNATE said...

Why was aid to white people more successful?

SCOTT, 1620-1964 (and beyond...)
Umm... Did you? Are you going to do a quantitative and qualitative comparison or just say dumb shit?

"Did they get Public Housing?"

SCOTT? What part of this question did you not understand?
Where have you seen arguments for things like Public Housing as done by White Liberals, etc.? WHERE?

So why are you repeating that bullshit?

Obviously, your L/R BOX got you trapped and scratched on the Broken Record tip. Briefly, as FAHEEM noted there were much more MASSIVE programs, DESIGNED BY WHITES and as the history tells FOR WHITES that WHITES CONTROLLED, directed... manipulated.

Come back when you have something new and relevant to say. You bring up 344 years of WHITE PRIVILEGE and then ask the question about 40-50 years of supposed Black Privilege that has always been a FRACTION in the relative scale as White Privilege... You know, virtually ALL ENCOMPASSING for them (i.e. No WHITES Left Behind, more or less)...

So you really can't be serious. You really can't even elevate your discourse on the appropriate level. You're still talking about bullshit WHITE Left vs. Right shit.

Your question...
Your answer: DESIGN & CONTROL

Now, who designed and controlled the Public Housing bit?

Please get a clue.

At 8:55 PM, Blogger Scott said...

faheem I was taking this opportunity to move beyond the facts of white racism or about the trivial issue of how one individual or another feels or what motivates them.

I took it to the next level which is what policies do we want the government to institute to balance the scales.

This is something that I have not seen discussed on this blog. Except for one post about reparation checks. I also remember your support for the poorly thought out Africa town. Noah also seems to support welfare transfer payment.

Nor do I know whether you are pro or against integration, I am for it but a side effect of it was the destruction of public schools in black neighbourhoods.

The facts are the prescriptions provided to help blacks from the civil rights movement have been of mixed success. Obviously affirmative action has helped a small minority become very successful. The end of legal discrimination has allowed the majority to progress into middle class since legal racism is no longer holding them back. But there is 25% who are arguably are doing worse than 40 years ago.

Part of the reason this is so is because of specific policies they were told that would help them which have hurt them.

What policies are you advocating for?

One policy I am trying to put out there is giving all public housing to the residents as condos. Turning them from renters into homeowners. And in the future all public housing should be giveaways of homes never rentals which don't allow people to build up equity.

At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is right on point, I agree completely. I’ve always wondered how blacks could feel it is an honor to have to work twice has hard if not more so than whites. In the workplace I’ve seen blacks be harassed, exploited workload wise, or used for their ideas and contributions then alienated, marginalized, and put through all sorts of tricknology to keep them from advancing or to justify their termination.

While targeting some blacks, they always seem to stroke the egos of others and Uncle Tom types enough to ensure they go along with the racist game plan and perform much of their dirty work for them…some are promoted to supervisory positions for this purpose. One of the primary ingredients for blacks being promoted to management and remaining there appears to be a demonstrated willingness to ‘see’ other blacks through the eyes of whites and act accordingly. After centuries of brainwashing, many blacks are conditioned to conform to this Willie Lynch ideology, and those who refuse or are most vulnerable tend to end up being picked off first.

The story about the racist who hindered the black trainees and played the only one succeeding against the others is so true to life. That is exactly how it usually goes down. I believe that in some cases those blacks who succeed are so honored to receive the ‘approval’ from a white person and be informed that they are essentially ‘better’ than other blacks that it goes to their head. I think a lot of it pertains to catching the ‘white man’s disease’ of desiring to exalt themselves by demeaning other blacks…Because, after all, they’ve made it now, and like the white man said, they’re not like the ‘other’ blacks.


At 6:01 AM, Blogger Scott said...

You guys have it backwards. Black are not forced to work twice as hard. Or be twice as competent. It thats whites are allowed to work 1/2 as hard and be incompetent. One of the reasons white people fear outsourcing is they know that if they are not able to compete in the world market.

I work in very diverse environment, Chinese, Indians, South Americans and all of the non whites are very competent. Some of the whites are competent some are not. And of course they are the last to be fired.

The workplace is NOT a meritocracy. In general those that kiss ass best go to the top. And believe it or not whites have the advantage in kissing white ass because they have a better understanding of the motives of those above them.

I have never seen a black in power because they keep other blacks down. In fact I have seen the opposite with the higher they get more they more time they spend looking out for others.

I am not saying that my experience is at all universal. But I suspect that the percentage of black backstabbers is no greater and probably much less than that white backstabbers.

Your time would be better spent, getting you skills in order and helping other brothers and sisters get their skills in order, and providing emotional support for each other rather than assuming that any black in power is there because he puts down other blacks. Which is what you all seem to be agreeing on.

That is a loser script, will blacks in power do your work for you or cover up you incompetence of course not because their position is not secure enough to play the white privilege game. But will they exalt themselves by putting you down NO.

And if you think you are working in company that has that kind of vibe. Then you need to get a new fucking job. Because if you have the skills to pay the bills you will find a better job.

Competence is in short supply.

Final note, you will NEVER be paid what you think you are worth if you work for another person.

At 6:27 AM, Blogger Noah TA said...

Scott, “twice” and “1/2” mathematically represent the same thing in the context of the argument, so no one has it backwards; it’s that different semantics are being used to quantify the same phenomenon.

White people fear outsourcing, I believe, not because they feel they cannot compete in work, but rather, in price. They do not fear their incompetence, rather, they fear their standard of living is threatened by a global free market of labor….which is true.

I think that Clarence Thomas is in his position because he was a black voice the worked counter to the aspirations and policies that manifest to make things better for black people.

At 7:27 AM, Blogger Scott said...

Noah --> "twice” and “1/2” mathematically represent the same thing in the context of the argument"

No they don't. Twice means you are doing double the work required to do the job.

The job requires X amount of work.

Black person has to do X amount of work to keep his job.

White person does 1/2 of X. So that white person is not doing the required amount of work for the job.
So the work quality or quantity suffers.

The black person is not suffering from racism, the white person is getting over due to privilege. There is a difference, you should think on this.

I hope your readers also take a moment to think on this.

I am not a victim of racism if the cute girl with the large breasts gets the easier assignments or gets to pick her own hours at the job because the boss thinks she is cute. It is UNFAIR but that doesnt' make it racism, that just makes it life.

Just because two events have the same ending point it doesn't mean the same thing happened.

At 7:53 AM, Blogger Faheem said...

Scott is definitely playing a game of semantics.

I was not nor do I believe Shemika was arguing that every black man or woman in positions of power got there by tomming and seek to stop other Black men and women from growing. That’s not my experience, but I have come face to face with a few Negro men and women who goal in life was to make sure no other Black person gained power while they were still around.

Scott why do you believe it is necessary to say to us yet again that our time would be better spent getting our skills in order as if those of that come to the table do not know this and have not done this. This topic was about Black folk who have their skills together and have to work twice as hard as white folk for the same results and then you come here an insult our intelligence by stating our time would be better spent getting our skills together.

At 8:00 AM, Blogger Faheem said...

White Privilege equals Black disadvantage. The privilege is granted to white folk by other white folk because of their white skin, Black men and women are at an disadvantage because of their Black skin. What part of that is not racism? We all know white skin privilege does not come down to some big breast woman getting something over a Black person. By the way, if you are more skilled and better qualified than the big breast woman then you should have a problem with her getting the job over you, and ask yourself if the woman was a dark skinned Black woman with Big Breast would she have gotten the job! You think on that!

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Noah TA said...

Work is the expenditure of energy Scott. Saying blacks have to supply twice the energy as whites, to produce a given output, is the mathematical equivalent of saying that whites only have to supply ½ the energy of black to produce the same output. It is the same difference between describing the amount of water volume in a cylinder (glass) as half empty or half full. Its just a semantics or perception different…not a mathematical one.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Scott said...

Noah please read my post again. I said specifically that whites do not get the same amount of work done. You are rewriting my words, because you don't understand what I am saying.

At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Locating institutionalized racism in the work place can be difficult to do. I once worked for a very large American corporation. This firm continues to enjoy a reputation for being an exemplar when it comes to the hiring and promotion of minority employees.

Despite this reputation (which is indeed accurate) I did experience systematic racial discrimination. You see, within this firm there are many divisions and departments. Of course, each division has its own leadership. When I began working there, I was in a department where I enjoyed fair and equal treatment, as well as advancement. In fact, I passed over scores of very competent whites that simply were not as efficient and/or knowledgeable as myself. That advancement led to a transfer to another department within the same division. Unfortunately, my boss in the new department (a white man) was a vicious racist. He was such a bigot in fact; he would make racist comments directly to my face.

This man made my life a living nightmare. In this new department there were two other minorities, one was a black man and the other an Asian woman. Both were fired within six months of my time there. The woman filed discrimination charges, but they proved to be without merit. Eventually my experience became unbearable, so I went to Human Resources to seek advice. This was a huge mistake because, as I was to discover, the Human Resources department was there to support the managers, not the employees – who were seen as expendable potential troublemakers.

Ultimately, I was granted a transfer to another division, and was able to excel even further. I was only able to survive the racist wrath of this man because my role in the department was too essential.

My point is that while American companies no longer practice racial discrimination on an institutional level; that does not prevent individual racist managers, executives, and supervisors from discriminating from there little corner of power. However, this does not constitute the kind of institutionalized racism that requires African-Americans to out-perform their white counterparts.

In our current moment, I do not believe “universally” that blacks must work twice as hard as whites – unless they come from a disadvantaged background (that carries with it it’s own problems, many of which do not have direct roots in white racism). In today’s society everyone (barring the privileged) must work extremely hard just to stay afloat. Throughout my many jobs, I’ve seen scores of whites fired, demoted or let go for various forms of incompetence, laziness, poor performance, lateness, no-shows, theft, fraud, etc. Only in isolated instances where there was a particularly racist boss did I encounter/witness the intentional mistreatment of minorities. In fact, most companies will go to great lengths to avoid such problems, and they urgently weed out racists once they have been designated. A public charge of institutionalized racism is often a deathblow (and massive financial loss) for many companies. Most companies fear this!

I would bet that any instance where a black employee is expected to outperform whites to advance, or simply keep their job; there is probably a racist boss, or supervisor nearby. However, this may not necessarily be a reflection of the institution as a whole – or of the nation for that matter. I don’t doubt that institutionally racist businesses exist, especially in the private sector, but I think they are few. It’s simply not efficacious to engage in such practices today, as there is little benefit for the company. In many depressed and working class communities, ethnic minority groups (and I’m also including Russians, Poles, Jews, Arabs, etc.) will attempt to horde a given trade, as a means to create jobs for their own kind. This is not uncommon. As far as the “paucity” of Uncle Tom’s in the work place are concerned: they’re out there and there’s nothing we can really do about it.

I’m not offering this anecdote as a means to speak on behalf of all blacks. It would not be possible for me to do so; nor would I try. My point is that despite the outlawing of legal discrimination in the work place, it is simply "not" possible to eliminate racists and other jerks entirely. I have been in work situations where I had bosses that were Mexican, Korean, and Jewish; and each one of them worked tirelessly to hire and advance people of the same race as themselves at the expense of others. In fact, many of them rationalized this behavior as a redress for the many inequities engendered by white racism. While they have a point, ultimately they simply perpetuated the practice of discrimination.

I think it’s important not to forget the subtleties and complexities of this issue. For example: we must consider what type of company we’re dealing with (large or small, public or private, skilled or unskilled, local or global). What are the demographics of both the firm and the community in which it is housed? Where does it invest it's profits? Does the company have political ties or leanings? Many company heads and C.E.O.’s are actively engaged in partisan politics – and often make huge financial contributions to political campaigns. Is it philanthropic, or purely capitalistic? If it manufactures a product, does it do so from abroad, or local? Does it support overseas governments engaged in unscrupulous dealings, or oppressive politics? For example: many people I know will not patronize Starbuck’s Coffee because it supports Israel. All of these factors (and many others) influence how employees are treated – especially minority employees.

A charge of work place discrimination is a serious one; and can have dire serious consequences if carelessly levied against the wrong individual/s (I’ve seen this happen before). America is a racist nation; we all know that. And frankly, I think it’s a good idea for black people to strive for excellence beyond that of their white brethren. It can’t hurt…

It’s not easy to get and keep a job; we just have to learn to play the game with acumen.



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