Why the post-racial label only perpetuates racism (COMMENTARY)

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Hussein Rashid is a professor of Religion at Hofstra University, a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a Truman National Security Fellow. He works at the intersection of religion, art, and national identity. Photo by Ali Ansary

Hussein Rashid is a professor of Religion at Hofstra University, a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a Truman National Security Fellow. He works at the intersection of religion, art, and national identity. Photo by Ali Ansary

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(RNS) Racism is not about racists. It is about power that is directed against marginalized groups to keep them marginalized.

  • We need the Lord. We need the love of God and the love of Christ which comes from receiving Christ as Savior and following the Lord as He guides us by His Holy Spirit. This hatred is such a waste of time and energy. Love is soooooooooo productive, while hate is so destructive. God Bless

  • RNS) The shooting of Michael Brown and the failure of a grand jury to indict the shooter, Darren Wilson, are symptoms of a wider malaise.

    It is part of a deep-seated illness that infects our body politic: racism.

    No, the shooting of Michael Brown is an example of the urban disorder that’s pretty much a constant in American life. Justifiable homicides by police officers are not all that common, but in a metropolis the size of greater St. Louis, your going to have 3 or 4 such shootings in a typical year.

    Police officer Wilson’s testimony tells us racism is an existential part of the American experience. He called Michael Brown an “it” and a “demon.” He shot Brown multiple times, as though Brown were some inhuman beast.

    What he said was: “he looked up at me and had the most intense aggressive face … it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”, That’s a literary form called a ‘simile’.

    Now be honest. What have you read of police training manuals in Missouri, and what would you have said if he’d simply delivered a single fatal shot to Brown and left it at that? He shot Brown in the musculature (several times in the arm and once in the shoulder). Brown’s response was to continue to charge him.

    Racism is not about racists. It is about power that is directed against marginalized groups to keep them marginalized.

    In our own time, it’s about shell games played by academics and professional motormouths.

    May we see a thousand Martins and a thousand Malcolms.

    A thousand ‘Malcolms’? Yeah, we all want 1,000 pimps turned professional loudmouths all over the land.

  • philip

    People in organizations who are racist in America always fail to give details ,no matter if it’s an individual or an organization. I have fought black genocide in America for over 25 years. I wonder if the author has? Let me explain. . .
    Back as far as 1989, I was holding protest signs in front of a building. Another protester came up to me with a young black man in tow. His group were all white, middle class; it was strange to see him there with that group.
    My friend turned to me and asked, “Can you talk to this young man?”
    “Yes,” was my answer. He was in his early 20’s. I realized that he was open minded just because he was willing to listen to me. He did not see me as a bigot or a racist. He saw me as a human being.
    I asked him, “Why are you here?”
    His answer, “I’m with this pro choice group to protest you!”
    I asked him a question, “How many black babies have doctors and nurses of all colors killed since 1974? Is the answer 1, 10, or 100?”
    The young man replied, “I don’t know.”
    I said, “Turn around and look at the people you came with. With their help, hundreds of thousands of black babies never had the chance to live!”
    Hussein Rashid, where is the black leadership’s indignation in America? Write that article! I won’t hold my breath.
    Regarding Malcolm X, your article failed to mention that Malcolm X realized that racism comes in all colors, all religions. Again, you conveniently forgot the facts. Malcolm X was not killed by a white man. Malcolm X was not killed by a Christian. Malcolm X was killed by a Black Muslim.
    The worst of this is when I approach white and black pastors with the racism of killing poor, unborn white and black babies. Their response, as Pope Francis so eloquently said, “We have a throw – away society.”
    In this respect, we have a color – blind racism.
    The young black man walked quietly away, got in his car, not to return.
    PS Malcolm X is a hero of mine. Do not slant his last year of life to fit a political agenda.

  • Jack

    It is a paradox that when a societal problem is raging out of control, nobody wants to talk about it or even admit it exists, but when the problem has lessened dramatically, people can’t stop talking about it.

    Racism is a perfect example.

    Sixty or seventy years ago, when racism was rampant and blatant, hardly a word was uttered against it.

    Today, when it is a complete taboo in society, people can’t stop obsessing about it.

  • Disagree. Sixty or seventy years ago, Eleanor Roosevelt and Elia Kazan were bearers of a particular strain of liberal opinion in public life. There’s a reason the Daughters of the American Revolution engaged in flurry of public excuse-making after they were called out by Eleanor Roosevelt for their intra-office insult to Marian Anderson; it was generally understood that this sort of thing was shabby.

    Also, people who were not racial egalitarians were alienated by and antagonistic to the seamier side of Southern living. My mother could have told you some stories.

    But, as C.S. Lewis said, people are quite vigorous in eschewing the vices of the previous generation.

  • While we’re at it, the only people ‘obsessing’ about ‘racism’ are to be found in newsrooms, college campuses, and parsonages.

  • Fran

    Yes we are called upon to be the servants of God because He sooooo needs us tooo. He cannot do all that work alone without our help. We should love not make posts racial or other posts hatred.

  • Frank

    philip you should not do that now. The world has progressed. Think of all the potential human beings you spill and kill when you play with it every week without a partner. You may not get the chance to use contraception, but even so, every sperm is sacred. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUspLVStPbk

  • Larry

    OMG, its like the Island of Misfit Toys here. We are hardly a “post-racial” society.

    Yes, we elected a person of color to the White House. Since then some of the most vile, openly racist nastiness has come out of the woodwork under the guise of “opposition”. It became safe to be an out-and out racist because you can just say you are opposing the president for political reasons.

    People complain about “playing the race card” which should be an attempt to show that accusations of racism are unwarranted or false. But it inevitably comes off as simply showing annoyance rather than a refutation of the label. Bigots getting annoyed at being called bigots, but not bothering to say why it is somehow untrue.

    Bigotry has become a badge of honor. Of not being “politically correct” and somehow a sign of freethinking and rebelliousness (when it really isn’t any of the above).

    My take on the whole Michael Brown thing is that stupidity guided the events here. An armed cop who can’t control an unarmed suspect who does not even carry the appearance of being armed, is an incompetent idiot. A prosecutor who can’t even get a criminally negligent homicide indictment out of this incident is also an incompetent idiot. Where racism comes in is the perceived indifference to the victim and how often this sort of thing occurs. Brown’s criminal activities do not change the fact he was unarmed and shot dead under circumstances where he was not even perceived as an armed threat. So yes he is a victim here.

  • Prejudice means to categorize events & people-groups according to one’s own pre-existing bigotry rather than with regard to the individual facts.

    This article began with such a prejudice. The writer no more knows the facts presented to the Grand Jury than I do yet he has already pre-detetermined that they were racists.


  • CM Roberts

    Well said, John W.
    As I read the article I became kind of disgusted with his take on the whole thing… certainly biased toward “the victim” without saying one word about the role the “victim” played in his own demise…

  • Larry

    The role of the victim in being unarmed without the appearance of a weapon. The fact that police couldn’t subdue someone like that is a sign they acted stupidly and incompetently under the circumstances. Given the low bar to meet for an indictment also shows a level of incompetence on the part of the prosecutors here.

    I think what annoys people is not that a criminal suspect was shot dead by the police, its the indifference and excuses made for what happened.

    Racism definitely informs a lot of the discussion exculpating the police. As if an angry unarmed black man has superpowers which can only be stopped by a bullet. There is the not unreasonable assumption being made that a stupid violent white kid in the same situation is far less likely to be killed by cops in such a manner.

    As with the Zimmerman case, a white guy gets lionized for being an idiot, who couldn’t control a situation. This is despite being armed and the other person was not. It may not be murder, but it certainly doesn’t deserve the kind of nonsense being said in defense of it.

  • Karla

    Obsession is one of Satan’s tools.

  • Pingback: Ferguson and the return of Martin Luther King’s dream | Philosophical Politics()

  • samuel Johnston

    ” We see this in American history directed against Jews, Catholics, Irish, Italians, Muslims, gays, Sikhs, women and so many more, but always against blacks. It is about prejudice mixed with that power, so that those with power always preserve themselves.”
    This set of ideas are the propaganda that destroys lives, and may ultimately destroy our society.
    “Jews, Catholics, Irish, Italians, Muslims, gays, Sikhs, women and so many more”
    have got on with their lives without rioting, and in general, without demanding special consideration or compensation. Chinese, and other Asiatics were treated as badly or worse. Slavery (so named from the from the tribe Slavs), racism, tribalism, and other conditions of men are universal, historically speaking. Only in the West, particularly in modern times, has this practice been condemned and then virtually eliminated. The Catholic Church owned Indian slaves until in the 1880’s, it hurriedly revised its policies.
    ..”those with power always preserve themselves”. I am white and of mixed blood (American Indian). I have never owned slaves nor been a party to deliberate mistreatment of Blacks or any other ethic group. I have, however, been a witness to all sorts of malice towards Blacks and the other minorities mentioned. I grew up in Birmingham Alabama, which was very much a center of the civil rights movement, so I have a lot of stories I could tell. But that doesn’t matter. The the important question is, what is the better path for the young today?
    I live in a suburban neighborhood of Birmingham composed of roughly twenty percent Black, and another ten percent, other identifiable minority groups. I could easily live in a white only neighborhood and my neighbors could behave similarly. We are, I suppose, some of the folks who actually believe in integration. I see the young people around me getting on with the normal business of life. We are simply neighbors who know each other by name and familiarity.
    When I first retired I drove a school bus for the city school system. My passengers looked (and sometimes acted) like the United Nations. The Pacific Asians segregated themselves by tribe, as did the Asian Indians and Pakistanis. The rest pretty much mingled.
    I submit that many poor Blacks are very much in danger of being left behind because they are unable to compete, not because of their history or color. They need skill training, not excuses or neglect. Many of their self proclaimed “supporters” are in fact their worst enemies. Jobs are the basic element of social integration.
    Programs that lead to jobs give power and independence. Teaching the young how to justify their powerless condition is contemptible. It just keeps them “in their place” and gets some middle-class academic his PhD.
    Really helping is difficult and requires long term commitment that few will accept, since the media will be long gone.

  • John Dowd

    This video editorial from msnbc did the best job of laying out exactly what the injustice was, that was done in the Ferguson case: http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/watch/shocking-mistake-in-darren-wilson-grand-jury-364273731666