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Smart On Race

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.
The Truth Contributor

The struggle is much more difficult now because racism is more entrenched and complicated. 

             -  Angela Davis


Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

Oh, Jesus! The response to Roseanne Barr’s reprehensible racist rant on twitter was not only swift but also strong.  

Barr, the co-creator and star of American Broadcasting Companies’ (ABC) number one rated sitcom “Roseanne” had tweeted: if the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj.” This reprehensible anti-black, Islamophobic and misogynist slur was targeted at Valerie Jarrett, the ultra classy senior advisor to former president Barack Obama.

Within a matter of only a couple of hours, ABC’s Channing Dungey, in a thunderous clapback, personally cancelled the rebooted “Roseanne” show stating: “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” 

Evidently, the fact that the show garnered $45 million in advertising revenue this season made little difference to Dungey, the first black entertainment president of a major television network and also a woman.

Is there a sense of satisfaction or sweet revenge?

No doubt.

While black women have always “controlled things” from behind the scenes, many across the landscape of Black Twitter viewed Dungey’s powerhouse response to Roseanne Barr as a seminal moment in the rise of capable black women in powerful public spaces today who are “taking authority.”

Yet, while expressions of racial hostility have increased and are more open during the current White House administration, which has appeared to provide green lights through its own words and actions, it is a mistake to focus only on the vile and viciousness of the rhetoric.

 For every person like Roseanne Barr, there are millions of  “good-intentioned whites” who are shocked by her comments and their condemnation is sincere, but who also perpetuate the same race-based domination of the past because they do nothing to confront the dynamics of contemporary racism.

This allows “racism without racists” to exist and “regular white folks” to distance themselves from racism, says James B. Duke Distinguished Professor and sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva of Duke University.

“It is their ‘killing me softly’ approach, which explains black and brown poverty, high unemployment and higher incarceration rates as the product of their culture or due to seemingly non-racial market dynamics, that prevents us from moving forward in the race terrain,” he told me last week before jetting off for a Memorial Day weekend get away.

“Although racial animus has increased in Trumpamerica, corporate America has to respond to consumers who wish to see themselves as ‘beyond race.’

 Even most of Trump supporters claim to be ‘not racist’ and decry comments such as those of Barr.

That the person (Dungey) at Disney (which owns ABC), happens to be a black woman, the fact is that Disney has also been working hard at revamping its racial image and adding shows and movies (e.g. Black Panther and Blackish) to signify the change. These things matter and thicken and add texture to what I have called ‘the new racism’ system of racial domination,” he adds.

The truth is, that contemporary forms of racism, although more subtle than the in-your-face racism of a Roseanne Barr, create and recreate racial inequalities and disparities that are silent but perhaps more destructive.

There is, as Bonilla-Silva points out in his work, a higher propensity for the State to incarcerate, arrest or brutalize blacks compared to whites. The median net worth of whites is $142,000 per person compared to black wealth of $11,000. The labor market is less likely to hire blacks than whites even for low-level service jobs and if blacks do happen to get hired they find a lack of upward mobility as an ordinary way of life as they are less likely to receive promotions.

With the courts now requiring a “smoking gun” or higher burden of proof of discrimination, we must continue to condemn the hateful speech of the Barrs, KKK and the Tea Party.

However, if we are smart, really smart, we also need to confront the subtler, sophisticated and silent but destructive actions and forms of contemporary nationalism, supremacy and privilege.

Perhaps dynamic businesswomen like Channing Dungey or powerful black women on the rise such as Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and many others are just what we need to move us forward.

They have the strength. They have the respect. They understand the struggle in all its dimensions. And they are smart

Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at drdlperryman@centerofhopebaptist.org



Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:12 -0700.



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