12 May 2006
Good review of Shelby Steele’s new book by Dr. Helen, a forensic psychologist and half of the weekly Glen and Helen podcast.
Dr. Helen writes:
>>>”As a way of explaining “black anger,” he describes his early years as an African American youth who wanted to be a batboy for an all-white YMCA baseball team. He was eventually rejected by the coach of the team because “no coloreds were allowed” at the park where the team played the away games.
As a psychologist who works with people with anger problems, I admire the way that Steele understands and explains his psychological response to this rejection — he understands that rather than anger to his humiliating batboy experience, he felt calm, the calm that comes from knowing at the time that racism was an “impersonal and immutable feature of the world, like snow in winter or rain in spring.”
Anger came only ten years later, after the world had changed. The change was the civil rights movement that “disciplined America using democratic principles, establishing the point that one’s race could not mitigate one’s rights as an individual.” Steele points out that the term black rage came into use after the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, not before.”
So let me get this straight…Dr. Helen regards Steele’s okey-doke shuffling in the face of blatant discrimination as “admirable.” Hmmm.
A closer look at the REAL story behind Shelby Steele is extremely informative at this point:
>>>”Political commentator and essayist Shelby Steele was born on January 1, 1946, in Chicago. His father, Shelby, Sr., a black truck driver, met his mother, Ruth, a white social worker, while working for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Steele considers his mixed heritage an amazing gift that served to demystify race for him. Because both of Steele’s parents were active in the civil rights movement, he grudgingly accompanied his father to numerous marches and rallies as a child.”
“GRUDGINGLY?!?!” Well, that explains a few things, doesn’t it? This character not only accepted white racism and discrimination as a “natural” occurrence, but was ANGRY at his parents (who could’ve been locked up in many Southern states for their interracial marriage, not to mention Steele’s own subsequent interracial marriage) for actually trying to CHANGE THE SYSTEM TO THE BENEFIT OF ALL AMERICA.
You know, I have some basic tolerance for professional black conservatives. I really do. Everybody can use a paycheck these days in Bushamerica. But the whole story has to be put out about these book-shilling revisionists like Steele and the genesis of their anti-minority agendas.
” … he grudgingly accompanied his father to numerous marches and rallies as a child.”
The word “grudgingly” obvious refers to the fact that he was a child. I “grudgingly” took piano lessons from my father … if I had my way, I’d go out to play with the other kids.
Cobra — You seem to find much to fault Steele for “GRUDGINGLY?!?!” accompaning his father to numerous marches and rallies as a child.
What sort of world-view and interests should an eight year-old have? If he grudgingly accompanied his parents to visit the New York Stock Exchange would that somehow prove Steele was anti-capitalist?
Your characterizing his recognition of existing discrimination as “okey-doke shuffling in the face of blatant discrimination” only illustrates your own blind “black rage”. People are entitled to face the injustices of life in different ways. I happen to believe his approach is less psychologically-damaging than your apparent attitude.
Anger eats you up. It’s destructive to be angry about something you can’t change, which as a child wanting to be a batboy, Steele couldn’t. I don’t see any shuffling there, I see a maturity that I probably wouldn’t have been capable of.
I’m curious, Cobra – what constitutes an interracial marriage for a person whose father is black and whose mother is white?
>>>”The word “grudgingly” obvious refers to the fact that he was a child. I “grudgingly” took piano lessons from my father … if I had my way, I’d go out to play with the other kids.”
Equating learning how to play piano with fighting for one’s civil rights is an interesting, abeit off-key comparison, Dom, especially in light of the word “grudgingly.”
Also take into account that in his own words, his mixed heritage was “an amazing gift.” It was also a FELONY in most of the South, (miscegenation.)
In essence, Shelby Steele resented and bore anger towards attending marches and rallies that would eventually help legalize this “amazing gift” of mixed heritage in America.
>>>”Your characterizing his recognition of existing discrimination as “okey-doke shuffling in the face of blatant discrimination” only illustrates your own blind “black rage”. People are entitled to face the injustices of life in different ways. I happen to believe his approach is less psychologically-damaging than your apparent attitude. ”
I agree with some of what you say here, believe it or not. It’s certainly “less psychologically-damaging” to avoid confrontation with oppression, capitulate to unjust authority and appease those who usurp power and seek to dominate.
I’m sure Patrick Henry, George Washington and the minority of colonists (only about one third) who revolted against King George III would’ve have had a much more serene and metally theraputic existance had they simply “closed their eyes and thought of England” at the time.
>>>”Anger eats you up. It’s destructive to be angry about something you can’t change, which as a child wanting to be a batboy, Steele couldn’t. I don’t see any shuffling there, I see a maturity that I probably wouldn’t have been capable of.”
You see, I agree with you that anger CAN be destructive, but it is also a motivational tool. If people simply accept injustice there is no need or motivation for those who perpetrate the injustice to change. I can imagine the excellent lesson that could’ve been taught to young Shelby by his parents–that their civil rights marches and rallies could (and in my estimation DID) change America to the degree that other little boys like him would NEVER AGAIN be restricted from realizing their dreams and ambitions.
Somehow, Shelby’s brain was wired to believe that banning blacks from being batboys was some “act of God” that will never change, like “snow in the winter.”
>>>I’m curious, Cobra – what constitutes an interracial marriage for a person whose father is black and whose mother is white?”
According to the one-drop rule, Shelby Steele is a black man, so his marriage to a white woman constitutes an interracial marriage. I didn’t make that up, but like “snow in the winter”, that’s just the way things are in America.
Seems like a real advantage these days, what with racial preferences and all. Maybe Shelby Steele should be happier about his one drop than concerned with equality.
“According to the one-drop rule”
You live your life by that, do you?
LEARN from history, don’t mindlessly repeat it.
It’s interesting that Steele actually experienced segregation and Cobra never has.
Cobra, in fact, has lived his entire life as the beneficiary of a racial quota system that favors him. Cobra, in plain terms, has never experienced racism. He’s making it up for dramatic effect. You sort of get the feeling he wishes that he’d actually experienced racism, instead of the boring era of the race hustlers and bean counters.
And Steele is level headed, and has succeeded in selling books on Amazon and writing for the Wall Street Journal.
What is Cobra doing?
We can see clearly just how much this Mau-Mauing does for Cobra. Mike Adams calls the game he’s playing “Pin the Tail on the Honky.” Everybody needs a scapegoat, don’t they?
Of course, the “one-drop rule” is not the way things are in America. The rule these days is used only by blacks when a census is taken. It’s a way of manipulating the house of representatives.
The “one-drop rule” can be used to a university’s advantage, as it was in the case of Ward Churchill, with zero drops of native American blood, but just walked and talked the way other professors wanted him to.
Cobra, you aren’t a helpless child in the face of the way things are. If you sign on to the one-drop rule, it’s because you want to.
Look, the “one-drop” rule is gone. What we have now is more the “does-s/he-look-Black?” rule, and sometimes not even that.
I know Tiger Woods is a tired example — at least, he must be mighty tired of being made one — but if his last name were different, anyone might take him for Thai (as his mother is), or Vietnamese, or Malaysian, or Indonesian. I had many Southeast Asian students at Cal who were just as dark.
Cobra, the point — so far as it involves discrimination — is that Shelby Steele looks to an American eye like an African-American. For American guy-on-the-street purposes, that’s how he’s going to be classified, and that by people who not only don’t know his family history but wouldn’t care if they did. The exact same goes, by the way, for Major League baseball players. You wrote here once that there were a lot of dark-skinned players, but they didn’t count towards the sport’s being integrated, because they were all from Latin American countries, not born here. I tried to argue back that if one of these players were pulled over for being in a posh neighborhood, the “offense” would obviously be “driving while Black” rather than “driving while Dominican Republican.”
Assume, though, that Steele’s daughter marries a white man, and then their son marries a Chinese immigrant. You really think any succeeding child is going to be recognized as Black? The one drop’s still there, yes? But unless the employers in your neck of the woods are asking for genealogies along with resumes, it’ll be invisible.
OK, OK…let’s break all this down.
>>>”Seems like a real advantage these days, what with racial preferences and all. Maybe Shelby Steele should be happier about his one drop than concerned with equality.”
Of course it’s an advantage to be a professional black conservative (PBC) these days. If you’re a PBC you’re not only on speed dial for Fox News and Hate Radio, but you become a darling of white conservative punditry in the blogosphere and the Op/ed pages.
>>>”And Steele is level headed, and has succeeded in selling books on Amazon and writing for the Wall Street Journal.
What is Cobra doing?”
Right now I’m posting to a blog. I’m not surprised that Steele is successful at selling black self-immolation to an eager, overwhelmingly white conservative audience. How many copies have you bought already, Stephen?
>>>”Of course, the “one-drop rule” is not the way things are in America. The rule these days is used only by blacks when a census is taken. It’s a way of manipulating the house of representatives.”
As opposed to the racial gerrymandering of Tom Delay? LOL. Come on, Dom. I’m not OLD enough to have invented hypodescent.
Laura, Dom and Federal Dog seem to feel I’m the ONLY person who thinks that hypodescent is still real in America 2006.
>>>”Many scholars of contemporary race relations assert that the one-drop rule is stronger than ever among Americans today. In a standard undergraduate text on contemporary U.S. racialism, Naomi Zack explains:
The formal basis for black and white racial identity amounts to this: … A person is black if he or she has a black ancestor anywhere in family history. This is known as the “one-drop rule”…. Thus, Americans with both white and black ancestry are always officially classified as black and often encouraged to identify as black in personal and social contexts. … A person is white if he or she has no black ancestry anywhere in family history. This means that in order to be white, a person has to be purely white. This is a condition impossible to prove….14
According to legal scholar Neil Gotanda, American “racial” classifications in court cases today follow two formal rules:
1) Rule of recognition: Any person whose Black-African ancestry is visible is Black. 2) Rule of descent: (a) Any person with a known trace of African ancestry is Black, notwithstanding that person’s visual appearance; or; stated differently, (b) the offspring of a Black and a white is Black. Historians and social scientists have noted the existence of these rules, often summarized as the “one drop of blood” rule, in their analysis of the American system of racial classification.15 … White is unblemished and pure, so one drop of ancestral Black blood renders one Black.16
Anthropologist Michael L. Blakey writes, “The ‘one drop theory’… [is] still operative today, by which one is defined as ‘Black’ when they have any African admixture, or defined as ‘White’ by the absence of non-European admixture.”17 Legal scholar Julie C. Lythcott-Haims writes, “[The one-drop rule] still exists today; Americans who are part-Black are socially considered Black, and only Black by most Americans. … The one-drop rule is so ingrained in the American psyche that Blacks and Whites do not think twice about it.”18
Legal scholar Christine Hickman writes, “For generations, the boundaries of the African-American race have been formed by a rule, informally known as the ‘one drop rule,’ which, in its colloquial definition, provides that one drop of Black blood makes a person Black. In more formal, sociological circles… its meaning remains basically the same: anyone with a known Black ancestor is considered Black.”19:
And you guys think I make all this stuff up
OK, Cobra, I’ll try asking you a simple question, although I know it’s hopeless.
You could quit the Mau-Mauing and make a damned good living. Every corporation in America wants to hire an educated black man as an executive. Every university in America will give you the advantage if you’ll just apply yourself.
So, why are you wasting time with the race hustling? Why do you prefer it to advancing yourself?
Steele isn’t “self-immolating.” You are.
Cobra — I’m very impressed by your references, but really aren’t most of these people expressing a “one-drop rule” that they *want* to be true?
For example, Naomi Zack writes: “Americans with both white and black ancestry are always officially classified as black and often encouraged to identify as black in personal and social contexts.” True, especially by other blacks. As I said, this was obvious in the last census, when many blacks complained about the new classifications of “mixed race” and insisted that any one with black ancestry should use just the black category. Again, this was openly done to manipulate the house of reps.
Or Blakely: “The one-drop rule is so ingrained in the American psyche that Blacks and Whites do not think twice about it.” Again, Blacks and Whites want this rule.
BTW, I’m getting tired of this race talk. I feel like I’ve been sucked into a sick conversation I don’t want to have. I don’t even see how it pertains to John’s post.
Oh, wow. What a pack of scholars you have there.
The formal basis for black and white racial identity amounts to this: … A person is black if he or she has a black ancestor anywhere in family history. This is known as the “one-drop rule”…. Thus, Americans with both white and black ancestry are always officially classified as black and often encouraged to identify as black in personal and social contexts. … A person is white if he or she has no black ancestry anywhere in family history. This means that in order to be white, a person has to be purely white. This is a condition impossible to prove….
You bet it’s “impossible to prove,” given that were we capable of tracing family trees back far enough, all of us would have Black ancestors. But I assume she meant a little more recently? Oookay.
“A person is white if he or she has no black ancestry anywhere in family history.” OK, right away it’s pretty obvious we are not talking about the contemporary United States here. I can think of an awful lot of Americans who have no traceable black ancestry, because, oh, their parents or grandparents were immigrants from China or Pakistan or Japan or India or Korea or Indonesia or a lot of other places. I don’t mind this writer defining these people as “white” (well, I do mind anyone pinning races to anyone, but it’s not my point). I do think she might recognize that hardly anyone else would.
I like this bit: “Americans with both white and black ancestry are always officially classified as black.” Are they? I thought race on the Census was self-reported, and that in fact practically all “official” racial designations were based on self-reporting in this country.
And this: People of mixed black and white ancestry are “encouraged to identify as black in personal and social contexts.” “Encouraged” by whom? I know who’s doing the “encouraging” now; at least, no one I’ve heard of pays any attention to the “one-drop rule” except people deeply concerned with the size of the African-American population as the term is understood by the government. The people who want to preserve the “one-drop rule” are the people who wanted the Census not to allow citizens to describe themselves as “multiracial.” We’re back to the self-reporting thing again: You are allowed to stipulate your own race, so long as it’s a category on the form.
Cobra, the “one-drop rule” was viable — no, I don’t mean “just,” or “prudent,” or anything of the kind, merely “workable” — so long as most Americans to whom it might be applied stayed near where they were born for most of their lives, and everyone knew everyone’s family tree. That describes the traditional South pretty well, and for all I know there are a few people who really do think of so-and-so as black because they remember the black great-great-grandmother on his father’s mother’s mother’s side, or some such.
The point is that the connection of this with present-day racism as it affects anyone outside that attenuated social sphere is nil. People really do get pulled over for “Driving While Black.” They do not get pulled over for “Driving With a Black Great-Great-Grandparent In Your Family Tree.”
I can’t go through all the references, but I did like this one, from “legal scholar Christine Hickman”:
In more formal, sociological circles… its meaning remains basically the same: anyone with a known Black ancestor is considered Black.
Inquiring minds want to know what’s in the ellipsis. It sounds like a bunch of sociologists have set up their own “more formal” Nuremburg rules, but I am going to give Ms. Hickman the benefit of the doubt.
Cobra, you are the one bringing all this one-drop stuff up and buying into it. You. I asked how Shelby Steele, whose father is black and whose mother is white, could have an interracial marriage, and YOU answered with the one-drop rule. I don’t know why you say that you fight this racist crap when you apparently get so much satisfaction out of it.
“… selling black self-immolation to an eager, overwhelmingly white conservative audience…”
Is that really what you think?
“Of course it’s an advantage to be a professional black conservative (PBC) these days. If you’re a PBC you’re not only on speed dial for Fox News and Hate Radio, but you become a darling of white conservative punditry in the blogosphere and the Op/ed pages.”
Yeah, I see what you mean. I mean, actually being intelligent and thinking for yourself really would put one outside the usual race-hustling, “one-drop” spouting liberal black commenters we see here.
>>>”BTW, I’m getting tired of this race talk. I feel like I’ve been sucked into a sick conversation I don’t want to have. I don’t even see how it pertains to John’s post.”
Ummm…the title of this post is called “White Guilt” and you don’t see how race pertains to it?
>>>”Oh, wow. What a pack of scholars you have there.”
Well, for one thing, I quoted scholars because the posters here seemed to imply that I am ALONE in thinking that hypodescent exists in America today. Second, what makes any of the scholars I quoted less qualified than Shelby Steele on the subject of race? Third, your post is quite dismissive of the history of America. Dred Scott, Plessy vs. Fergusson, Brown v. Board of Ed, Loving v. State of Virginia did not occur in Nuremburg…they happened right here, and there was and IS a significant portion of the American population that didn’t see “equality” as you do.
>>>”I asked how Shelby Steele, whose father is black and whose mother is white, could have an interracial marriage, and YOU answered with the one-drop rule. I don’t know why you say that you fight this racist crap when you apparently get so much satisfaction out of it.”
I’ve never even met Shelby Steele, but I do know what he says about his OWN RELATIONSHIP:
>>>”Steele met his wife, Rita, during his junior year at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he was one of eighteen black students in his class. Steele was active in SCOPE, a group linked to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and he met Rita at an activist meeting. In 1968, Steele graduated from Coe and went on to earn his master’s degree in sociology from Southern Illinois University. Steele attended the University of Utah, where he taught black literature and studied for his Ph.D. After earning a Ph.D. in English in 1974, Steele was offered a tenured position at the university, but turned it down due to hostility encountered as part of an interracial couple in Utah.”
There’s your definition, and I believe Steele agrees with me on this one.
>>>”Yeah, I see what you mean. I mean, actually being intelligent and thinking for yourself really would put one outside the usual race-hustling, “one-drop” spouting liberal black commenters we see here.”
You’re not claiming that only paid conservative African Americans can be “intelligent”, are you?
So you quote and agree with him when it suits you.
OK, Cobra, you’re absolutely hopeless.
Racial revenge is all that matters to you.
So, let’s ask the most basic questions. How much revenge is enough? How long must the era of revenge go on before you might be interested in something else? Will you ever be interested in anything except racial revenge?
[Y]our post is quite dismissive of the history of America. Dred Scott, Plessy vs. Fergusson, Brown v. Board of Ed, Loving v. State of Virginia did not occur in Nuremburg…they happened right here, and there was and IS a significant portion of the American population that didn’t see “equality” as you do.
You mistake my point. You know perfectly well that I don’t deny America’s racist past, or even deny that there is racism today. What I do deny is that any significant fraction of racism in America today has anything to do with the “one-drop rule.”
People just don’t judge race by genealogy, because they almost never have access to the genealogy. They assign racial/ethnic categories to strangers by physiognomy, by names, by accent, by whatever cultural cues are easy to hand, but they don’t do it by asking you whether you had any Black great-grandparents.
I did allow that in small towns where practically everyone belongs to a family that has been there for generations, this sort of thing might still operate, particularly in the South. But, please, almost all racial discrimination is done more or less by eyeball. Jim Crow must have been enforced almost entirely by eyeball, especially in larger population centers where everybody didn’t know everybody else. Or large “public accommodations.” Plessy, you’ll recall, was about segregation by a railway company; in the nature of the business, there is no way a railway’s staff could know the race of a traveler except by sight.
(I am not so sure about the anti-miscegenation statutes, like the one struck down in Loving; depends what documents states required for marriage. Birth certificates at least used to have slots for the “race” of the parents, and so if BCs were required as proof of identity for marriage purposes, “one-drop” might be enforceable there, after a fashion. But, then, I don’t know whether the “races” on BCs were self-reported or not. If not, the slots must have been filled in by someone eyeballing the parents, which just pushes the issue back a generation, doesn’t it?)
In any case, the reason Shelby Steele in Utah was perceived as being in an “interracial couple” obviously isn’t because someone got hold of record of his family tree and spread the word that his father was Black; it’s because to an American eye, Shelby Steele looks like a Black man. For that reason, his would be perceived as an “interracial marriage,” whether you disapproved of such or not. But suppose for a moment that Steele’s children have white spouses, and their children in turn have white spouses, and then send the great-grandchildren back in time to 1970s Utah. Anyone think they will run into difficulties dating white men and women? I doubt it.
Um, Shouting Thomas, please, cut it out. “Revenge” isn’t Cobra’s point. Compensation, maybe. I disagree with him there, but we manage to disagree with some civility. Do him the justice to read what he posts and not read into it things that aren’t in there.
This is why I enjoy posting at “Discriminations.” You can get a full range of responses and perspectives.
>>>”So you quote and agree with him when it suits you.”
I never said Shelby Steele is ALWAYS wrong. His academic acheivements are indeed something to be proud of, no matter how repulsive I find many of his arguments and “whack-a-black” book promotion schemes to be.
And what is that old adage again?
“Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”
>>>”Plessy, you’ll recall, was about segregation by a railway company; in the nature of the business, there is no way a railway’s staff could know the race of a traveler except by sight.”
I agree with you here to a degree, because that’s exactly what happened in Plessy:
>>>”In 1890, the State of Louisiana had passed a law that required separate accommodations for blacks and whites on railroads, including separate railway cars. Concerned, several black and white citizens in New Orleans formed an association dedicated to the repeal of that law. They persuaded Homer Plessy, who was one-eighth black (an octoroon), to test it. In 1892, Plessy purchased a first-class ticket on the East Louisiana Railway from New Orleans. Once he had boarded the train, Plessy informed the train conductor of his actual racial lineage, and after Plessy had taken a seat in the whites section he was asked to vacate it and sit instead in the “blacks only” section. Plessy refused and was immediately arrested.”
Plessy v Ferguson
And when you look at a phot of Homer Plessy, you can see why he had to TELL the conductor what was up.
ZZ Top got nuthin on Plessy
This even FURTHER demonstrates the insanity of American society when it came to race.
>>>”In any case, the reason Shelby Steele in Utah was perceived as being in an “interracial couple” obviously isn’t because someone got hold of record of his family tree and spread the word that his father was Black; it’s because to an American eye, Shelby Steele looks like a Black man.”
I’m on the same page as you again, here. In fact, I put the same theory out there on another thread about approximation of caucasoid features, between Cuban and Mexican immigrants. We’re not disagreeing here. My argument is that once that geneology has been established, whether accurately or not, and the racial designation has been acquired, the weight of racialized American history and society comes to bear.
>>>”But suppose for a moment that Steele’s children have white spouses, and their children in turn have white spouses, and then send the great-grandchildren back in time to 1970s Utah. Anyone think they will run into difficulties dating white men and women? I doubt it.”
That’s a concept called “passing”, and believe it or not, I agree with you here AGAIN. There’s far too much literature on passing for me to link up on this thread, but to tie it all back to “white guilt”– Isn’t it so IRONIC that even you agree with me that the closer one gets to being “white” in America, the fewer barriers to assimilation there is? Your own hypothetical is indicative of my very point. Shelby Steele, an admitted VICTIM of racial assimilation barriers would have you believe that these barriers are acts of nature like “snow in the winter.” I would have you believe in simple justice–
If there is a victim, there must be a perpetrator, and it’s not my duty to absolve the GUILT of the perpetrator.
Cobra, you think a person who has one black great-great-grandparent is “passing” for white? For pete’s sake. I could talk about the old myths that concept plugs into, but I don’t even want to type them. And I don’t know why you want to drag all that baggage around.
>>>”Cobra, you think a person who has one black great-great-grandparent is “passing” for white?”
The Plessy v. Ferguson decision said exactly that. Homer Plessy was an “octamaroon”–1/8th black. Again, I didn’t make all of this stuff up, nor can I change how American society thinks about race.
I’m also not discounting that there are people like you, who don’t subscribe to this type of thinking. I would hope that you understand that there are many Americans who aren’t as enlightened about the subject as you. Are things changing a little bit for the better? I’ll concede that some progress has been made, inspite of the mercenary black revisionist movement led by people like Shelby Steele.
You do realize, I hope, that _Plessy_ dates from the nineteenth century and was overruled as a matter of Supreme Court jurisprudence? Time to update how you think about race relations for the twenty-first century.
Federal Dog writes:
>>>”You do realize, I hope, that _Plessy_ dates from the nineteenth century and was overruled as a matter of Supreme Court jurisprudence? Time to update how you think about race relations for the twenty-first century.”
How would an “originalist” or a “strict constructionist” view Plessy v. Ferguson?
Well, let’s ask our recently dead friend William Rehnquist:
>>>”Rehnquist went to Washington, D.C. to work as a law clerk for Justice Robert H. Jackson during the court’s 1951–1952 terms. There, he wrote a memorandum arguing against school desegregation while the court was considering the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. Rehnquist later claimed that the memo was meant to reflect Jackson’s views and not his own. Rehnquist’s memo, entitled “A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases,” defended the separate-but-equal doctrine embodied in the 1896 Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson. Rehnquist concluded that Plessy “was right and should be reaffirmed.”
In other words, if you pack a Court with folks who think like Rehnquist, you might have some really scary outcomes to things you take for granted.
Cobra – now you are quoting Plessy v. Ferguson. Do you think this way? How enlightened are you?
I’m serious. Quit worriying about American society and look in your own heart. It’s going to take more and more of us putting down the Confederate flag and letting go of the one-drop rule and doing some serious original thinking to get where we want to be. It can’t be all on one side or the other.
Is it really fair to criticize me for referencing Plessy v. Ferguson on a blog with posts titled:
“Did The 13th Amendment Bar All Slavery?”
Seems perfectly fair to me (but then it would, wouldn’t it?), inasmuch as the point of that post was to argue that if the courts interpreted the 13th Amendment with the same approach they’ve applied to the 14th, it wouldn’t (abolish all slavery), especially since I also argue, there and elsewhere, that the preferentialist view of the 14th Amendment stands on the shoulders of the majority opinion in Plessy, which rejected, as preferentialists now reject, the view that the right to be free from racial discrimination is colorblind.
This message is in response to a column on Shelby Steele:
My husband purchased a copy of White Guilt by Shelby Steele. After finishing it, he suggested that I read it; he thought that Mr. Steele had written a worthwhile book. Having heard Mr. Steele speak on cable TV, I had already formed the opinion that his Black conservative rhetoric just wasn’t my type of reading. Nevertheless, since the book was close at hand, I would give it a try. I read several of the first chapters, most of the middle, decided I couldn’t take it, and skipped to the last few pages. I called My husband and asked if Steele had talked about his wife in the book, since his father-in-law had been mentioned. My husband couldn’t recall. I explained that it had been my experience that mixed-race authors (usually white/black) and black writers married to white women seem to think that their social perspective (being part of a white family) allows them to print all of their musings, criticisms, and conclusions about Blacks without being challenged. Conservative Blacks really don’t deserve a separate label from conservative Whites; there is no distinction. I am disappointed that my spouse spent money on this book which is sure to further encourage Mr. Steele to continue to spew his (hard fought for) White perspective on what is wrong with Black America while excusing Whites (their culpability is generation-specific and needs to be contextualized and forgotten) in what he perceives as Blacks’ flight from responsibility. Obviously, I agree with your column on Mr. Steele and wish to commend you for not following the blame the victim mentality (most people would agree that slavery, segregation, and institutional racism are not victimless occurrences) that conservatives have today (the gimme intellectuals who want all they can get, but scorn those who are not like them who want to do the same). As for Blacks like Steele and Clarence Thomas, it appears that their efforts to breed a better race of Blacks by marrying white women is gaining momentum. I am all for race mixing and interracial marriage but not at the cost of my being degraded as part of a race not willing to take responsibility for itself. And by the way, unlike Mr. Steele, 53 years of exposure to covert and overt racism has damaged my self-esteem. Perhaps, if I had had a White parent like Mr. Steele to soften the sting of racism, I too would have been less affected. Just imagine what even worse exposure did to generations before me. Near the end of his book, Mr. Steele states, “It is the rare black who gets to live without the world expecting him to pretend. So I don’t mind so much that little bit of hot tar the world has poured on my head”. I am glad that Mr. Steele found his freedom, due in large part to certain advantages (whether he admits it or not, to his whiteness), I just don’t want his ilk to dump on what freedom my family has been able to achieve (despite American racist tendencies) without the same advantages he so freely exploits.
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