Your shuttle is ready Lord Vader.
We have not had a salon on black prejudice and white racism in a while; I save those occasions for special moments; it would seem that we have one now.
In this interview on the BBC, Brother James Earl Jones describes his grandmother as the most racist person he has ever met. She was part Native American and black. As Jones describes it, his grandmother was a "defensive racist."
Racism is the particular crime, of a particular group of people, who happen to have power. Racism is not existential. Racism has nothing to do with skin color. Racism has everything to do with skin color.
To maintain, continue with, circulate, and support racist practices is an active choice, and also one of tacit consent. Thus, while James Earl Jones' First World, indigenous, black grandmother, may have been bigoted or prejudiced, she was in no way racist--for racism is a particular and unique sin of white people, whatever their class or social location, in modernity and beyond. Her pain and anger, were also totally understandable, reasonable, and just.
Brother Jones' reflection on his own upbringing is also a bit of powerful sharing. His grandmother was "racist" against blacks who to her eyes "enabled" slavery, and "let themselves be taken." She is also upset at her own Native American kin for their own Holocaust. These feelings are examples of the deep pain, angst, and sadness, as well as loss, that racism perpetrates as a crime on its victims.
How powerful a social force it is, when a people internalize and reproduce the terms of their own oppression, like some type of Stockholm Syndrome...
James Earl Jones' sharing of his grandma's upsetness at her own people is also an example of pulling aside the veil, and making public, our own private talk as first world, black and brown people, about our racialized predicament in the Americas (and throughout European empire, more broadly).
By implication, what follows is an uncomfortable question for some.
As you know, I always take it to the limit: If "we" were so "great," how could "they" conquer the world? Put us in chains? Steal our lands? Kill us by the tens and hundreds of millions? How did Europe, a resource and population poor part of the world, a group of people who were quite literally "cave dwellers," conquer the great empires of Latin and South America, as well as sub-Saharan Africa?
We brought knowledge to the world, and preserved its greatest mysteries when white Europeans were living like animals during the Dark Ages, so how could black folks be put under the chain and lash in the bowels of the hellish slavers during the Middle Passage? How is this even imaginable, or within the boundaries of the conceivable?
And please, do not run to the claim that Europeans were "evil." Such arguments are lazy thinking, difficult to operationalize, and do us no service in the long run. They also keep us safe from hard answers, for such existential and ontological defenses are difficult, if not impossible, to rebuff or model in practice. Such claims are comforting; yet, they teach us very little.
As frequents readers of WARN know, I have shared more than a few beers with Neo-Nazis and Klan members over the years and debated these matters. I have an answer to the riddle. In the interest of sharing and learning, I ask what is yours?