Years ago we did a Free Black Space Blog post on articles written by Jelani Cobb and Ta-Nehisi Coates on white supremacist and Dixiecrats. What I found interesting back then was the same stock photo of young men with confederate flag, which accompanied both articles.
Back then storming the Capitol was historically possible but distant. It may be White Supremacy as an active agent has grown in sync with the market economy of blackness. Blackness is more powerful than ever in the digital world. It is capable of invoking an instant response.
Maybe it has always been that way.
Even those who truly devalue blackness are still interested in what blacks have to say. The slave is not simply a symbol of powerlessness, but also a symbol of power. To completely eliminate the slave from society also eliminates the power to help the slave. A Poor white becomes the bottom when the slave is gone.
The look towards the black is to affirm ideas we already know, whether they be resistance or confirmation. Much of the rhetoric is like a master looking to a slave and saying are you my nigger. The riddle of the black is saying yes I am, or hell naw can be reduced to the same response. Hell naw, is quintessentially America. It is like throwing tea into the sea without getting the land and reparations.
Do you remember The Case for Reparations. Study the phenomena of it. It is an excellent example of how to make money through the refinement of argument and rhetoric.
No matter how bad things seem, black writers have done very well.
The matter has everything to do with the trade in ideas about race. If nothing else race is the perfect American click bait. A murder, a protest, a speaking of truth to power guarantees views from both the right and the left. The right is clear that people are making America worse than it is; and the left is clear that the America is not what it projects itself as.
What would or what could America be without race?
Next time you read about black history think about poor white people and what they think and feel. Try to imagine what rhetoric or set of ideas about the black are capable of influencing them. If you imagine that there are no ideas that can be cast across the racial divide that can change the opinions of a white supremacist you might be a true American.
We are a strange country.
I have traveled the path of a writer for many decades, but still am a bit confused by the power dynamics of writing.
This blog was started to investigate an independent approach to content distribution. After ten years it seems evident that most content distribution is a download from the corporate media infrastructure. The world of ideas is for the most part controlled by money.
Free Black Space is different. The world of ideas is dictated there by who is in the room.
We imagine writers as individuals who wrestle with the great problems of society and the human condition, but in many regards they are simply knowledge workers-much like the computer programmers who write code for computers. Their decisions are regulated by the need to make a living, to be published, and to appeal to the gaze of editors.
There is little profound about the observation; however, if you apply it to the annals of black history-it will transform the way you view the history of the African-American. For the beauty of black history is its Americaness. The black author speaking of freedom, resistance, and fighting the power speaks the same rhetoric as the rest of the country. What makes many in America pause and stop is how much our cries for freedom sound like the same song everybody else is singing.
Yet, back to the future, the blog, and the power dynamics of writing, and poor white people.
It would be interesting to hear a black activist who sings the woes of America's racist past talk about poor white people. The Trump moment is doused in the sauce of the opioid crisis, the break down of manufacturing, and America's waning influence on the world stage. Poor white Americans feel useless like other poor Americans. Opioids are like the crack of the eighties and early nineties.
Dr. Valerie Prince has told me more than once about the citizens of Allegheny, Pennsylvania where she lived for a few years while teaching at Allegheny College. Some of the homes had holes in the wall. It gets cold in Allegheny. A few years back Erie Pennsylvania, just a few miles North of Allegheny, had the most snow fall of any city in the country. Almost everybody there is white.
There is probably nothing more abstract for poor people than race. If I were a poor white person in America and saw black folks getting rich talking about how racist this country is, I would vote for Trump. I would not read the books on the tragedies committed against black people or speak about mass incarceration. I would watch Fox News everyday and entertain myself by listening to talk of making America Great Again.
If you sent me an article about The Case for Reparations while the cold North wind blew through the holes my house; I might believe what Trump and others say. The mystery of the predicament are the issues people face.