I received a very interesting comment from one of my trusty regulars that got me to thinking a bit about how we reason with racism. She quoted Mark Twain: The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won’t sit upon a cold stove lid, either. “Well, if you’re a white guy and the only black person you ever met was a guy who mugged you — and you weren’t a very deep thinker — you might be suspicious of every black person you met afterward.”
While this is true to some extent, I was thinking about how this manifests itself in more than just interracial ways. Since this thinking has actually permeated most communities and not just the white community. I see it as being less a problem of the lack of deep thinking and more a product of the brainwashing stereotyping propaganda that we allow to be projected upon minorities.
See I believe that we as a society already have bad views of blacks and minorities in general. So when one commits some sort of offense against a person that will prompt them to then open the flood gates of racial hatred in the form of stereotyping. I have heard people say things such as “this is why you can’t do business with blacks,” after receiving some sort of bad service or whatever at the hands of a black business person.
The problem is that these people who had this bad encounter with blacks or black business owners and are now prone to be suspicious of all blacks, while they have had even more bad dealings with white people and white owned businesses. Yet, I personally have never heard a person become more suspicious of white people in general after some horrible event.
No one crosses the street to avoid white teen boys who just might pull out a rifle, hand gun or pipe bomb and go nuts like Robert Hawkins, Dylan Klebold or Eric Harris. Nor did anyone ever say “that’s why you can’t do business with whites” after Enron, WorldCom, AIG, Bernard Madoff, Michael Milkin or any of the plethora of other swindlers and bad business people who just so happen to be white that you can name.
Why don’t these thoughts ever cross the majority of people’s minds? This is due to the fact that white people have not been under any continuous character attacks as blacks have since the day we were first seen by white people who came into Africa. Because you see that this type of behavior isn’t exclusive to U.S. These actions are happening and have been happening everywhere around the world.
The constant barrage of negativity surrounding blacks is so bad that blacks themselves have been infected by it. We are suspicious of each other and thus we are some of the biggest perpetrators of this stereotyping. Just look at Bill Cosby, John McWhorter and even Barack Obama. They have all pointed the finger at blacks and made blanket statements about our supposed shamefulness for one reason or another.
The word black has been connected with all that is negative for so long I don’t think that there is a clear way to successfully separate the two. How do you sing the redemption of a word that symbolizes everything that we see as bad? Could we ever see the name Hitler as a positive thing? I doubt it. So in a sense we have created a neat little vicious cycle that will continue to vilify a group based on nothing more than a stereotype of negativity.