As much as I hate saying it, "racism," or America's inability to cope with "clearly inferior" human beings in positions of power and influence is thoroughly baked into the core of this nation. Bringing attention to this fact is a dangerous endeavor, as is bringing attention to how many American individuals would sooner destroy certain institutions rather than see them occupied by those of certain skin hues. It's an irrational and frightening feeling brought on by a staggering combination of fear and a certain loss of power or personal standing. The last thing certain people want to experience is having their own personal status drop or stay stagnant as the star of the nation's punching-bag and draft-mule classes rise over their own.
Entire political wings have, in various guises, cultivated, promoted and endorsed acts that kept those of a certain hue embedded firmly in their assigned roles as expendable labor for the wealthy, an easily accessible whipping boy for the well-to-do and emotional vent and distraction for the lower classes. From the 1940s to today, the safe harbor for politicians and their supporters who sought to maintain this "status quo" shifted from the Democrats (the former home of the Dixiecrats) to today's Republican party, an evolution that accelerated in pace after the signing of the Civil Rights Act by Democrat president Lyndon Baines Johnson and soon-to-be Republican president Richard Nixon's use of the infamous Southern Strategy.
Which brings us to the following clip of MSNBC's "The ED Show," featuring United States Army Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson as a guest. Wilkerson, an older white man with considerable military experience and credentials, makes the obvious known. It's a fact that would face scathing amounts of disputation if the below words were to have been uttered, as they have before, by people of a certain hue.
My party is full of racists, and the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House, has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as Commander-In-Chief and President, and everything to do with the color of his skin, and that's despicable.
Wilkerson was former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, who himself has lent his reasoned support to current U.S. President Barack Obama's re-election efforts. Wilkerson's comment came in response to New Hampshire Governor John Sununu's opinion of Powell's presidential endorsement:
"Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that's an endorsement based on issues or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama," Sununu said.
When Morgan asked him what that reason is, Sununu said, "Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him."
Suggesting that a person of color's support for another person of color is based solely on their solidarity via skin hue isn't just ignorance squared on its face - it's also one of the oldest methods used by white Americans to discount and discredit people of color in high positions. To suggest that someone got where they are in life solely on their skin color is supposed to call their actual abilities and skills into question. It also quietly reinforces the incredulousness of black Americans being capable of high-level work -- according to prescribed beliefs reinforced over and over again throughout time, they're only suited to physical labor, menial servitude and occasional entertainment.
The funny thing about Sununu's comment would be its absence had Powell simply endorsed Mitt Romney. Not only would that had been in keeping with Powell's political affiliation, it also would have kept him firmly in the "one of the good ones" column as far as many of the unreconstructed were concerned. Having "one of their boys" (in more ways than one) stray off the plantation (in more ways than one) to support "one of their kind" is an unforgivable breech that must be responded to. In lieu of whips and foot amputations, Sununu's cutting remark served as the verbal whip to quickly but obliquely put Powell back in his preassigned place.
Meanwhile, a recent Associated Press survey highlights the remarkable levels of racial antagonism that remains against people of color, most notably black Americans. As it turns out, a constant "anti-black" narrative running in the background of the nation's consciousness for centuries on end takes great difficulty to shut down:
In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.
"As much as we'd hope the impact of race would decline over time ... it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago," said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor who worked with AP to develop the survey.
Experts on race said they were not surprised by the findings.
"We have this false idea that there is uniformity in progress and that things change in one big step. That is not the way history has worked," said Jelani Cobb, professor of history and director of the Institute for African-American Studies at the University of Connecticut. "When we've seen progress, we've also seen backlash."
Obama has tread cautiously on the subject of race, but many African-Americans have talked openly about perceived antagonism toward them since Obama took office. As evidence, they point to events involving police brutality or cite bumper stickers, cartoons and protest posters that mock the president as a lion or a monkey, or lynch him in effigy.
Wilkerson's correct and so are countless others who've said the same thing but without the added gravitas of being an older white male of prestige and authority - there are scores of people out there who, by their own sheer ignorance and embedded programming, simply cannot and will not abide by the presence of Barack Obama or any other black American as their leader. It simply goes against the embedded programming that declares him and his kind to be inherently inferior in mind and morals to ordinary, upstanding white Americans, causing them to overlook the moral deficiencies in their own people as long as it means keeping the blacks in their prescribed social roles, in turn keeping themselves a rung or two above them in regards to social standing.
This is the sort of attitude that had people courting a collection of political caricatures during the primaries and afterwards, throwing their lot in with a capricious, dishonest individual of thin moral character who finds far more comfort among his fellow landed gentry than with ordinary American citizens. Unfortunately, a significant portion of white Americans would rather cast their lot with wealthy people who at least look like them (with the hope of receiving whatever crumbs fall off their table) than to stand with others of similar socioeconomic stature due to these preconceived notions. It's helpful to note that the average poor white southerner kept throwing his lot in with the wealthy planters who saw them just as they saw their black counterparts: as labor and resources to be exploited as needed.
The fact that many people are busy psyching themselves up to defend the social status quo and, at the same time, relieve themselves of the triggers to Extreme Color-Aroused Emotion, Ideation and Behavior Disorder (ECEIBD), is a scary and depressing sign of the lengths we'll have to go towards ensuring anything resembling ethnic equality. It'll have to start with several hard and long rounds of mental deprogramming, a task that this nation never seems to be up to.