Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What is "A White Man" anyway?

[image is from here]

A relatively young white man who appreciates many of the postings on this blog asked me to define what I mean by "a white man".

I'll attempt to do so here.

First, the term "a white man" or "white men" is not ever used here as a biological term. It is not a description of something that occurs in nature as we popularly speak of the nature vs. environment distinction. White men are not the population of grown up people who don't a clitoris when born, for example; nor are they those people who have relatively little melanin in their pale skin. A white man is not a natural occurrence, in other words. A white man is a social-political phenomenon, in person. He is one among a group of people positioned at the top of two social/political/economic hierarchies: the one frequently called the gender hierarchy and the one called the racial hierarchy.

In the gender hierarchy of the white male supremacist West, there are two acknowledged genders: woman and man, with woman historically and transculturally, if not universally, being seen and treated as lesser than man; as inferior to, as in service to, as subordinate to man, naturally or by [a white man's vision of] God's design.

In the racial hierarchy of the white male supremacist West, there are several races, but two are identified most often as being "in opposition" historically and transculturally, if not universally: a race called "white people" and a race called "Black people". Now, we can note immediately that "Blackness" globally doesn't always mean "of African descent". For example, the Indigenous people of Australia are termed "Black". Also, in the U.S. alone, people of sub-Saharan African descent, particularly and especially the descendants of Africans captured and forcibly transported in the Maafa, intentionally to be used/abused as slaves for whites in the U.S., have been termed various things over the decades, some obviously and overtly pejorative, but some that were not pejorative at the time they were most commonly used among and by African Americans. Some of these terms have come and gone with the passage of time and social-political conditions and consciousness. One example is "Colored people" still noted in the civil rights group's named: NAACP. We see this term in Ntozake Shange's play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow Is Enuf. Colored was also used by whites in the U.S. to describe American Indians and people from the First Nations in Canada. We can also note that in the U.K. and in South Africa, the racialised term "Coloured" doesn't mean African American. It refers instead to people of "mixed race". Here we must again remind ourselves there are more than two races, so "mixed race" need not refer only to people whose lineage goes back to sub-Saharan Africa (and, for example, Europe); the online edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica defines "Coloured" this way:

Coloured [people]:
a person of mixed European (“white”) and African (“black”) or Asian ancestry, as officially defined by the South African government from 1950 to 1991.

So we can note that not only nationally and regionally, but also temporally and culturally, these terms do not have fixed meanings; their meanings can and do change over time.

"Whiteness" itself has a history, a social-political one, not a natural one. It is the designation given to those who are positioned above and against people of color. Who is white has varied over time. In this country, for example, I am white. But in Nazi Germany, as an Ashkenazic Jew, I would not have been seen as white; I would have been seen, treated, and likely killed for being "not white" and "impure due to not being Aryan-white".

For much more on the history and unnaturalness of whiteness, please read Tim Wise's writings.

What "woman" means (in various languages) has historically been politically decided by men in various patriarchal cultures. How women define "woman" has significantly more variation, moving beyond the confines and shackles of men's violently enforced parameters for what women can do, and, "are". And women who move beyond men's shallow confines are punished socially, including by being stigmatised, stereotyped, and stoned to death, by stones or fists.

"Man" too is a relative term, historically (his-story being written by men) nonsensically meaning "humankind" or "all of humanity". This is false. If limited to the terms "woman" and "man" in English, if we're going to equate one of those two genders with humankind we ought to use the term "woman" as the synonym, not man. After all, there are more women than men on the Earth. Also, the gender-oppressed are more humane than the gender-oppressors, contrary to what members of the oppressor classes project onto the oppressed with nauseating and insulting regularity.

"Men" and "Whites" mean, specifically, those two groups of humans who oppress "women" and "people of color" respectively. White men, of course, are positioned socially to oppress women of all colors, as well as men of color and all children and animals and the Earth. We white men are not only positioned to do so, but we actively do so, in many ways that we, collectively, take little to no responsibility for. This is important to note: our position is a critical component in how we behave towards other people. Systems of accountability for "decent treatment" for example, are, in white and man-dominated societies, set up to allow white men to get away with murder, rape, battery, incest, child molestation, pollution, global warming, the extinction of thousands of species of non-human animals, sexual slavery, genocide, gynocide, and more.

The young white men mentioned above does not actively oppress women in his life interpersonally (any more), for the most part. But he is still positioned to be able to do so interpersonally; and should he use misogynistic language to or around a woman or women, he would be committing an act of gendered oppression. Regardless of how non-oppressive he is interpersonally, around women he knows or sees, he, and I, and all men, are oppressive to women systemically, structurally, and institutionally. We are cogs in white male supremacy's machinery, whether we like it or not. (And most do like it, tragically for the rest of humanity.)

In liberal societies, it is mistakenly believed that "oppression works both ways" or that women can be just as sexist against men too. Or that people of color can be racist against whites. This is structurally impossible and utter nonsense. It is interpersonally possible that any person can be harmful to any other person, regardless of race or gender, or other factors. But given that the societies white men rule are founded on several institutions that require various structures of support and maintenance, there is never an opportunity, a social reality, inside which women can oppress men--of the same economic class, race, and sexuality. Likewise, no person or people of color can oppress whites. Society isn't set up to make that an option. As noted, individuals may carry very stereotypical ideas about what it means to be white, Black, Arab, Jewish, Muslim, lesbian, transgendered, gay, rich, or poor, but these "ideas" are not manifesting oppressively, institutionally against whites--of the same gender, economic class, and sexuality.

A far too common response I hear from white men when I speak of this subject is: "What about Oprah? She has way more social power than I do. She owns media. She's a multi-millionaire." Unless I'm speaking to Rupert Murdoch, or any number of other men far more wealthy and powerful than Oprah Winfrey, I respond by saying "please compare people within the same stratas of society. For example, while Oprah may have more power, in many regards, than a poor, homeless white man, that poor, homeless white man can still call Oprah Winfrey derogatory terms for both women and Blacks. That homeless white man still has the means to sexually harass her too, and worse. But more to the point, let's compare the homeless white man to a homeless woman of color and see who comes out ahead, in terms of status, social visibility, stigma, and likelihood of dying of major diseases. (Answer: not the white man.) And if we compare Oprah Winfrey to Rupert Murdoch, he has far more influence over what we know and do than does Oprah. And ol' Rupert and even more visibly famous white men, aren't likely to be refused service and treated rudely by in a chic French shop due to his race and gender, even if he allegedly arrives fifteen minutes after they close.

But when we speak of "position" we are referring specifically to how a society is structured, who most benefits from that structure, who gains status and privileges and entitlements, and who loses them, or is never given them to begin with. We are speaking of what forms of agency and power individuals and groups have within systems that either promote their welfare and well-being or discriminate against them.

This is when many white men who are liberals will chime in that "if I was one-eighth Native American I could go to college for free! You don't call that "reverse discrimination"?!

No. And here's why. The very few laws and policies that exist to try and remedy social inequalities and injustices that have happened only due to the over-valuing and privileging and empowerment of whites and men over time, by white men in charge of social institutions, have not, as yet, produced a society that shows any signs of lessening its white male supremacist power any time soon. While tokenistic efforts appear from time to time to give the appearance that white men want equality among the genders and races, what is never achieved is that actual equality. What is never accomplished, even with that free college tuition for American Indians in white men's institutions of "higher" learning, is the transformation of those academic institutions such that white men's views and values are seen as no better or worse than those of any other political/cultural group. You can get a free pass in, but once in you'd better learn how to "think and behave like a white man" in order to succeed. A wise white lesbian woman I once knew studied theology at Yale for her Ph.D. almost didn't make it through to get the degree because of all the white (and heterosexual and Christian) male supremacist bullshit (beliefs, rules, standards of conduct, notions of "knowledge", etc.). And of course the white men who professed there never understood what was severely ignorant and oppressive about their values and ideas.

What about Obama being president, liberal white men ask? Doesn't that mean that we no longer live in a white male dominated country? First, the U.S. remains white male dominated. Second, he is still operating in an overwhelmingly and predominantly white male supremacist culture (the U.S. government of Washington, D.C.), and is limited in what he can do for women and people of color because of that. Add to that the fact that many of his values and policies are also shaped by that culture, represent that culture, and are culturally imperialistic and murderous globally in ways that most benefit white men and least benefit women of color. And then there's the question of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Here we have a perfect example of how a woman of color's statement is turned against her, particularly when she's identifying something structurally and socially true.

In recent months, Justice Sotomayor was verbally and in print raked through the coals for making what to me seemed like a rather unremarkable statement:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge in the U.S. court system] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life[.]"

When I first heard this comment I thought: "Duh." White men are not positioned to know or care much about most of humanity, are notoriously self-serving in their/our policies and practices, and, given that we are positioned over and against others in the race and gender hierarchies, tend to know very little about what it means to be oppressed by white men, unless we are marginalised or oppressed by white men for other reasons: such as poor white men being oppressed by rich ones, gay white men by straight ones, disabled white men by non-disabled ones, and so on. Even then, though, such awareness of one's oppression as poor, gay, or disabled does not tend to make those oppressed (and oppressive) white men empathically connected to the experiences of people of color--women and men, and white women, generally.

This lack of empathy that comes from not having walked in the shoes of the gender-oppressed and race-oppressed, or ridden in their wheelchairs, means that we white men have to go out of our way, off our privileged path, beyond our myopic world views and values to gain insight and understanding, let alone empathy, for those we structurally oppress.

In my experience, white men do not go out of our way often enough or far enough; most don't go out of our way at all. We tend to want to preserve our social-political-economic position (and the power and privileges that come with it) nationally in the U.S. and U.K., for example. We want the experience of ourselves as "the norm". We hate feeling like "the other"--even while we are, especially in the U.S., which ethically belongs to no white man. We, the trespassers, the invaders, the conquerors, also want and do preserve our social, economic, and political structures globally, through policies and practices we white men created in order to hoard and abuse the world's so-called resources, including by identifying and treating all those people who are not men and not white as "resources" for white men.

As is now well-known by white men who grossly sexually exploit people worldwide, white men globe-trot specifically and intentionally to appropriate other cultures' people and artifacts, to rape boys, girls, transgendered people, and women, to purchase and enslave human beings who are not white or men, to set up shop--literally, where people of color, disproportionately children and women, do the atrociously repetitive, laborious, and dangerous work that white men, even poor white U.S. men, do not generally have to do because the globalised economy is structured by the white men-led and controlled World Bank, multinational corporations, and the International Monetary Fund, not to mention the white men-controlled religious institutions. the various Christian church leaders who preach what they have no intention of practicing, unless they are preaching about evil-doing. Question: how many white men in the Christian Churches have to be discovered and reported to be rapers of nuns and other female church-members and abusers of female and male children before we stop listening to their racist, misogynist, misopedic "God-inspired" preachings? I am waiting for the answer.

Because white men tend to live lives in great ignorance of the experiences and knowledge of the majority of human beings on the Earth, we tend to have a very myopic understanding of what humanity is, how humanity thinks, responds, and acts in many parts of the world. To use a metaphor, we are positioned on a mountaintop above the clouds; we cannot see what is happening below us. We think all is well--more or less, as we sit perched atop our white man's mountains (made by slaves who are not white, fed and nurtured--kept alive--by white women). We don't consider that our piss flows downward below the cloud line which is our sole vista (if we choose). We don't particularly care who has to endure its stench and volume. When asked to peek below the cloud line, should we do so and notice beings below, we tend to remark cynically, without any regard for the humanity of those we harm, "They can climb up here and be with us. And if they don't that's their own damn fault!" Never mind that these mountains have peaks, not plateaus, and only have room for the few, never the many. Never mind that the white man not only doesn't care to offer a hand up, but shits all over the people below. Never mind that life below would be just fine thank you, if only white men would stop pissing and shitting all over it.

And so our seemingly gracious efforts to equalise inequalities that are structured into society, by offering the free tuition to an American Indian student, for example, doesn't factor in what she has lived through to even get that far: the amount of stench of white men's shit she's inhaled, the miles of wading neck deep in white men's piss. Nor do white men's rather self-serving efforts to "help the less fortunate" measure what kind of social climate she's forced to assimilate into in order to succeed in white men's colleges, teaching white men's ideas and ways of doing things. She may be admitted, but she won't see herself reflected in the canon of great reading materials and examples of great people in history.

This is how it comes to be that the father of this young white man, who is also white and far more self-unaware of his white, heterosexual, and male supremacist privileges and entitlements than is his son, could say to me not long ago that Feodor Dostoevsky expressed the human condition (experience) in his writings in a way that is superior to any other writer. This Christian white man not only said it, but he believed it. Are there actually places that try and demonstrate that Christian white men are the best writers? Yes.

When I immediately asked him, "How does he represent women in his novels", this Christian heterosexual white man who is around fifty-years-old said, honestly, "He doesn't do so well with women characters; they tend to be far more two-dimensional than his male characters." (We can note that Mr. Dostoevsky never did turn out a brilliant book called The Sisters Karamazov.) I then noted that given that most of the world's human population is female, he might want to reconsider how much of humanity Dostoevsky allegedly spoke for.

I would argue that any and every white man speaks to and through his own experiences primarily, and to those of the people he knows best empathically and socially. Given the hierarchies mentioned above, those people in his social circles tend not to be people of color, unless they are his house cleaners, the carers of his children, or his gardeners. This, combined with a significantly limited capacity for empathy for anyone other than white people and/or men, means that his life experiences generate and sustain little to no empathy or understanding for those he hires for help and for every other human being who is not his race or his gender. To him, they are not of equal status and worth, no matter his proclamations to the contrary. And so the majority of the world's population remains "other" to him; he sees them primarily through the tiny, distorted lens his position allows; and to the degree he sees them at all, he mistakenly regards them as lesser in quality, intelligence, and character. No white man writer I know, not Dostoevsky, not Tolstoy, not Hemingway, not Shakespeare, describes "the" human experience or condition. He may describe "a" human experience.

White men's philosophies and politics are so limited in their understanding of the self, the world, and Spirit, that they can scarcely get out of their own way to see what is before them. And how many women of color do you think made the list of "Great Philosophers"? Check here for the answer. What political demographic do you suppose has defined "philosophy" and "greatness"? Answer: "educated" white men. So rather than ask Aboriginal elders how they and their ancestors have managed to live sustainably on the Earth for thousands of years, we look to two white Australian men for the answers to this very important question. It's not that Bill Morrison and Scott Pitman have nothing useful to say; it's that we look to them as holders of great truth and ideas, and as saviors of us all, because they are white men. When whites do go to people of color, especially Indigenous people, for counsel, advice, guidance, and wisdom, it is almost always to exploit them, and enhance white men's quality of life while--knowledgeably or not--continuing our genocide against them, culturally and physically. And when white men go unwelcomed into non-industrialised cultures, we historically assume and believe the holders of knowledge are the men, not the women, and certainly not those who are neither.

The universalising and normalising of white men's perspectives, feelings, ideas, experiences, and behavior is one of the key ways that white men maintain oppressive control over everyone else. Extra status is given to those white men who behave in especially white and manly ways.

So, all of the U.S.'s presidents prior to Barack Obama, being white Christian publicly heterosexual men who were oppressive to women and people of color, including being rapists of slaves and genocidalists, are generally regarded in U.S. society as "heroes" and "great men". Needless to say, I don't agree. If speaking only about U.S. Americans, I think Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Lozen, and Andrea Dworkin were far greater people than any U.S. president, including Barack Obama.

That we reward and honor white men, and many men who are not white, with medals and accolades for going outside the U.S. and murdering people of color, and raping both white women and women of color, as well as murdering them, tells us a great deal about the dominant white man's value system.

When I say "the dominant white man" I am often accused of grossly stereotyping white men. I would argue that white men far more powerful and influential that I'd ever want to be do this all by themselves. White men keep each other in line, in check. White men physically beat the shit out of each other for acting in ways that are not white or manly enough. White men use the term "man" all the time; never bothering to say "some white men, but certainly not all". Scour the history books and newspapers over the last hundred or so years: who uses the term "man" the most to improperly categorise and identify all people as one kind of people? Answer: "educated" white men.

White men's legacy on this Earth speaks for itself. There's nothing at all I, or any profeminist or feminist, can say or do to make that history be different than it is. The books have been written, the atrocities have occurred and still occur: the so-called great victories of white men over everything else have been recorded. I just happen to think what we white guys have done isn't all that great, particularly when we consider the cost to most of humanity, and the rest of the Earth's beings, to achieve it.

I'm not going to diss the Beatles' music. I think some white guys are really funny. I love Fred Astaire and James Dean. Believe it or not, some of the people I consider to be my closest friends and chosen family are white men. But, on the whole, what we white guys have done to this place is not a pretty story and it's about time we owned up to the fact that we did it and we have the power to undo it. We own so much of the world; why is it so hard for us to take responsibility for and radically change the destructive things we do?

I welcome responsible, respectful comments or questions if anyone reading this is still confused about what it means to be a white man.

Nigeria and White [Male] Supremacy: an analysis by Chinweizu

[image above is of author Chinweizu, and was found here]

[For the website with the original post, please click here.]

Nigeria and White Supremacy
A Letter in Response to "Nigeria A Failed State in the Making?"
By Chinweizu

My impression in reading Chinweizu is that Nigeria, despite its oil wealth, is not a model African state because of "white supremacy." I derive this impression or conclusion from this Chinweizu statement:

"White power controls Black Africa today through country presidents, generals, company directors and Board chairmen who are all black. White supremacy, as a matter of historical record, does not disappear with the emergence of even a complete phalanx of black office holders. For example, Nigeria is under the thumb of white supremacy, though it has been ruled for some 50 years by black Heads of State, all-black legislatures, all-black armies, etc." (Chinweizu, Commentary in "The Death of White Supremacy?")

From Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh we get an entirely different perspective on Nigeria. He concludes in his Nigeria A Failed State in the Making? that the Nigerian governments and its officials, especially, and its "populaces" are the causes of the lack of support for general free education and other deteriorating aspects in Nigeria, rather than "white supremacy."

Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh allows that there probably should have never been a Nigeria. He says, “The country Nigeria was an imposition. . . . our constitution was an imposition.” Ogbunwezeh points out, “Just like in Animal Farm, we exchanged our slavery to British official whims to the capricious and monumental indiscretions of Nigerian politicians. This exchange created a crop of home-grown colonial Lords, who exploit the people like their former Lords did.”

That is to say, Ogbunwezeh does not allow Nigerians to escape their responsibilities for the present state of their conditions: “The home-grown masters have now new masters: namely their inordinate greed. They shipped their loot to Switzerland; housing it in numbered accounts. The rape of the country assumed the same trajectory in both epochs. Our local pirates in some space of four decades succeeded in out-performing the colonial masters in greed, thievery and plunder of our commonweal.”—Rudy


Like Neely Fuller, Jr. said, "If you don't understand white supremacy—what it is, and how it works—everything else that you understand will only confuse you."

The picture painted by Franklyn, though illuminating as far as it goes, does not go far enough. It is like a picture of a train that leaves out the engine. To complete the picture we need to add the role of the white supremacy institutions of the new imperialism in initiating and maintaining the disaster that is Nigeria.

If we understood the devious ways of white supremacy, in this stage of what Nkrumah called "Neo-colonialism", we would see that my account and Franklyn's are not contradictory or alternative accounts, but are complementary. Franklyn describes the body of the snake, I pointed at its head )albeit in passing, in the context of our discussion of white supremacy). The combined and fuller picture allows us to see how the mess in Nigeria serves a white supremacy which manipulates Nigeria through institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, the UN agencies, The (British) Commonwealth, which link Nigeria to the global system of white supremacy.

Nigeria, like other black African countries, has been misruled by local Black Comprador Colonialists whose paramount interest is to preserve the subordination of their countries to the imperialist interests of their "former" colonial masters. It is that subordination that permits them to loot their own people for their imperialist masters, and allows them, as the junior partners and agents of imperialism, to keep a share of the loot, which is their own consuming interest.

Of course, to that end they have frustrated, in their own local interests, any attempt to develop an autonomous polity that is answerable to its own people, that responds to the will/desires of its own people. A Nigerian polity that responds to its own people would have less to hand over to the imperialist masters, and would come under imperialist pressure and attacks. A current example is Mugabe's Zimbabwe. For so long as Mugabe did not try to take back the land stolen by the whites, he was okay. But when he began to respond to his people's land hunger, he became a pariah and came under sanctions and destabilization from the white supremacist powers like the UK, the USA and the EU.

In contrast, Nigeria, under Obasanjo, handed to the foreign creditors a whopping $12bn to allegedly get Nigeria debt-free (which it did not) while leaving Nigeria with badly decayed roads, power supply, education, etc. that still need massive capital injection to refurbish them. Needless to say, the debt-free mirage was just a scam. Nigeria is still not debt free and still goes aborrowing.

But since Obasanjo was a loyal servant to the white imperialist powers, he had a free hand to rig elections, sack villages that contested his misrule (e.g., Odi in the Niger Delta was sacked by Obasanjo's soldiers), and to loot to his greed's content. By the way, the bulk of the loot from what is misnamed "corruption" gets stashed away in the banks of Europe and America, thus adding to the total plunder that the imperialists extract. In that way, even the much decried corruption of the Nigerian elite ends up serving the white powers. It also bribes the Black compradors with part of the imperialist loot so they don’t buck the system.

We need to keep this fuller picture in view if we are to understand the so-called "failed state" of Nigeria. Nigeria, from the viewpoint of its population, is a failed state, has always been a failed state, i.e., a state that has failed to serve them or address their interests. And it has been that way right from its founding by the British a century ago. But it is not yet a failed state from the standpoint of its British and other imperialist masters. It has always served the white power interest, and consistently, at the expense of the interests of its population, during both the period of White Expatriate colonialism which ended in 1960, and the period of Black Comprador colonialism that began in 1960. We need to be ever mindful of these two senses of the phrase “failed state”.

Incidentally, though Nigeria is financially in a position to give free education to all its citizens—let’s leave aside the matter of the damaging white supremacist content of that education—part of why it does not do so is that much of its resources is pumped abroad to the coffers of the white supremacists through "debt" repayments and the routine looting by the foreign companies and their Nigerian comprador agents. If Obasanjo had chosen to apply to Nigeria's needs the $12bn he eagerly handed over to the white shylocks, there would be more than enough funds for the free education Franklyn is talking about, and for much else.

Nigeria could become like Kuwait, Dubai etc., or even like Cuba, if it organized to use its oil earnings in the interest of its population. But for 50 years, the Black comprador colonialists have not seen fit to organize that. With their Eurocentric education and blancophile brainwashing and their mental allegiance to White supremacy, they have fallen for every conman advice that the white supremacists gave them on "development", especially through the IMF and the World Bank and the foreign aid outfits like Britain's ODA and America's USAID.

The ways of white supremacy are comprehensively devious. In fact one of its uses for the "independence" imperialism granted its colonies was to enable it to deny responsibility for what its Black comprador agents do to their own people, even though it is all part of what they are prompted and encouraged to do for the continuing imperialist plunder of these "ex-colonies". These black misgovernments are serving as monkey's paws and fall guys for the plundering of Black Africa by and for the white powers.

Like the Black Slavers in the era of the Chattelization Wars, a.k.a. the Slave Trade, and like the plantation overseers and house niggers of ante-bellum USA, the Black colonialists of today operate within the framework and mandate given them by white supremacy, but they add their own peculiar twists to the master's mandate. The executive anarchism of the Nigerian comprador elite just happens to be, perhaps, the most abominable of these local twists to the basic mandate given by white supremacy to its local black agents.

We all need to continually deepen and update our understanding of white supremacy and its manifold and morphing ways if we are to see its dominant and directing roles in our condition. We also need to understand the roles of its black colonialist agents among us, and their own special contributions to the mess. If you want more insights into the Nigerian case, I can send you "Black Colonialists"—an interview I did two years ago on the roots of the trouble with Nigeria. You could also read The West and the Rest of Us, for insights on the ways and means of white supremacy especially during the post WWII transition to Black colonialism in Africa.

* * * * *


Nigeria: White Supremacy, Criminal or Traitorous Behavior

Chinweizu, the criminal and corrupting behavior of African heads of state, I suspect, existed long before there was the British, the French, or the Americans. This point was made by the Malian writer Yambo Ouologuem in his novel Bound to Violence and in his 1971 interview in Commonweal. Yambo said, "It was the black aristocrat who made black people become Negroes. If you look at the entire history, you find there were three stages of oppression: blacks oppressing blacks, Arabs oppressing blacks, and whites oppressing blacks" (Yambo Ouologuem). So we have come full circle. Now we have again "blacks oppressing blacks."

There has always been a "global" struggle for resources and power. Indeed that struggle has "morphed" in magnitude and character. And there probably has always been enticements from foreign powers. But because there are external enticements (say from the West), there is no reason to conclude that the enticing power (say USA or France or UK or white global corporations like oil companies) or the powers that lend some sort of assistance in a nation's reign (say China's recent sale of tanks to the Khartoum government) that we can conclude that that nation (say Nigeria or Sudan or South Africa) is a mere puppet of foreign influence (the agents of "white supremacy").

Nigerian (or South African or Sudanese) leaders made political decisions—without an American gun at their heads, or a French tank on the lawn of government house, or UK threats of invasions—about Nigeria (or South Africa or Sudan), its people, its economies, its internal development. We (Nigeria or South Africa or blacks leaders in the diaspora) will never have a situation in which there will be no foreign power that will not provide enticements as well as threats. The onus of the national oppression problem settles on black leaders and heads of state, not on the heads of foreign states or the heads of global corporations.

If you want to call the present black national oppression, "neo-colonialism," okay. But do not make a fool of us and common sense and say that this neo-colonialism was instituted and is sustained by "white supremacy" and there is nothing these leaders can do about it. If you insist on doing so, you must offer much more evidence of this "Black Comprador" relationship in which black leaders are being compelled to oppress and murder their own people and that they are receiving direct payments from Western corporations and Western states to do so.

As you have pointed out with regard to the Khartoum government, it is not so much that they are subject to the foreign powers who sustain "Arab Supremacy," that is, that they are not puppets of Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Syria, but rather that their heads are filled with Islamic political ideology that they are willing to slaughter and displace their own citizens because of native greed. If you are suggesting that the heads of states for Nigeria and South Africa are operating in such a was as they are in oppressing their native populations because their heads are filled with foreign ideologies and greed, I might agree. But that indeed is a far cry from saying that Nigeria and South Africa are the puppets of "white supremacy."

Chinweizu, your view of "white supremacy" as the primary culprit in Nigeria or South Africa's present difficulties is essentially different from that of Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh, who says, “The home-grown masters have now new masters: namely their inordinate greed. They shipped their loot to Switzerland; housing it in numbered accounts. The rape of the country assumed the same trajectory in both epochs. Our local pirates in some space of four decades succeeded in out-performing the colonial masters in greed, thievery and plunder of our commonweal” (my italics).

That is, you place your emphasis on external influence and puppetry (rather than traitorous behavior), whereas Ogbunwezeh places his emphasis on a problem of internal governance and national or individual character (that is, criminality). If you eliminate such individuals whose emphasis is greed for money and power, he implies, Nigeria and South Africa and others such black states have a greater possibility of building up individuals who dwell on the true and good and thus the likelihood of developing model states. The political problem is not across the ocean but much closer to home.—Rudy

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Pre-Obama White Supremacy

I have Pre-Obama thoughts about "white supremacy". I have been thinking about this phrase "white supremacy" for a long time, especially ever time you, Rudy, have brought it up again and again to prove your several points about it. Almost three years ago, your arguments suggested that you believed it existed in large measure. Lately, you seem to be arguing from the point of greater responsibility among Blacks, as if White Supremacy is not monolithic. Then I noticed that I tended to agree with both the new you and with Chinweizu, which really made no sense to me. How could both of you be correct, I thought?

But then, lately, as I have tried to imagine a pre- and a post-Obama America, I have come to this conclusion: Even where and when only one of us in America or the world is confused about White Supremacy's existence, that confusion suggests that White Supremacy's hegemony over us is, indeed, in our cognitive struggles. The thing about this white supremacy is that even if it were never again practiced—if white America did nothing to racialize us ever again—it would not cease to exist. Its greatest control over us is in making us think that it does not exist in any degree any longer.

Here is my best example of why I believe it does exist in a palpable way and does hold sway over our cognitive activity. Remember—my example does not assume that there is a Barack Hussein Obama on the horizon. If Obama becomes our next President and proves to be what we hope he will be for all America, then my example may no longer make sense (for me at least).

So here's my pre-Obama thinking about white supremacy: It does not matter one iota which party is in the White House. And it does not matter which Ray Nagin or Tavis Smiley or Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or Mark Morial or black police chief or black school board superintendent is in position. No, it especially does not matter which party is in the White House! When the Democrats or the Republicans lose the White House, the outgoing party—all the aides and staff people, and some Congress administrators and members—spreads out into the Greater Washington, D.C., or into home states, and assumes lucrative appointments.

They simply await their turn to return. Nothing transformative emerges. And then the next party gets in, and the outgoing folks take up their appointments in the land and await their turn to return. Nothing transformative emerges. The two parties simply swap positions, dust off the chairs, and assume business as usual in this land of free-market politics.

And Black on Black crime in America and Africa continues to increase. You can not convince me that down in our counties and cities and states, and among the tribal and sectarian divisions of Africa, that we cannot halt crime on this planet. I am convinced that Supremacy does not want to stop it, because it's the best way to rid the planet of unwanted peoples—just let them kill one another. Let them die on dope and sadness and religious slogans.

It is because the face of White Supremacy is sometimes also black that we think that White Supremacy is diminishing and that we are our own responsibility. But it's the same lesson being perpetrated over and over again! We argue about its existence while it exists. We commit crimes against one another while it exists. We are still as a nation and as an African continent on lesson one. Supremacy was our first teacher in the New World and all we are doing is mimicking our First Teacher.—Mackie

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Two Aspects of White Supremacy: Practice and Cognitive

My changed view on "white supremacy" surfaced in 2008 after Iowa voted for Barack Obama. So it is a recent thinking. It's an inward questioning that is going on. In some sense in these correspondences and editorials, I’m thinking out loud. I expected that in Iowa Obama would come in at best in third. He came in first. It shocked me and many others Americans—black and white. I concluded that white people I had in my head did not correspond to actual white people in America. This vote suggested that no position in America existed that a black person could not occupy. In short, that Jim Crow politics and any extension of it were dead in America.

Your view of “white supremacy” is most serious and thoughtful, especially since it is not wholly and entirely political as was the case with my previous discussions in the pieces Nigeria and White Supremacy and The Death of White Supremacy? Yours is a far more nuanced perspective. That’s the path, I think, we should take by necessity if we are to be fair and balanced in talking to ourselves and talking to white people about "white supremacy."

For one of the truisms of Obama's rhetoric, I believe, is that we Americans (black and white) are more alike than different and that white Americans are more accepting of black Americans than we think. The former hostilities and hatreds and prejudices are declining rapidly, especially among the younger generations, who have had no experience of Jim Crow or no sense what it was really like, as we of our generation have no real sense of the antebellum slave world of the Southern states, except through literature.

You have broken "white supremacy" up into two aspects 1) as practiced and 2) as cognition. In some sense I can testify to both aspects. The first relates to the palpable easily perceivable racial exclusion whose basis is the inferiority of the Negro; in short, that the Negro is another species of being who should not be granted the same rights and privileges of citizenship as whites. I was raised in this segregated world and observed and experienced it in separate educational facilities and in transportation on buses between southern Virginia and Baltimore. I had little or no contact with whites except in public places, at stores or in the fields of work.

Jim Crow politics laid the ground and conditioned my adulthood. It only began to change as I was making my way to college with the federal passage of the 1964 and 1965 racial integration laws. Probably by the 1980s they were more or less fully in force. But my Jim Crow conditioning was not fully wiped away. As Dick Gregory pointed out recently, he hears a police siren behind him and he holds the steering wheel tighter and when the police car passes him by he thanks God. I do not think that black kids today have the racial fears that their grandfathers have or had. So in some sense I see this as the cognitive aspects to which you referred.

That is, that "white supremacy" exists in our minds and hearts because of its former palpable existence in our lives and that our recognition of it was a means of survival. Possibly older whites retain some of this white skin privileging and wish for its return. But for many blacks every act or symbolical aspect of racism reminds us of its former sway and the possibility of its resurfacing with its former sway. One might compare this mental state to those Jews who survived the reign of Hitler or their descendants and that any or the slightest hint of anti-semitism unsettles, whether that person is a practicing Jew or whether he or she has only a Jewish grandmother.

Now for the second part. I suppose indeed that "white supremacy" can have a black face if that means that a black person can assert racist opinions with respect to blacks and commit racist acts against blacks. But these are insignificant vestiges or shadows of that which was a state of white supremacy. There were such persons as Anglo-Africans, but often these persons were also black nationalists and Pan Africanists, such as Alexander Crummell, the mentor of W.E.B. Du Bois, who thought that English should be the language that all Africans should adopt and who thought as well very little of African languages. Of course, he did not view blacks as inferior, which I think one must assert as the key aspect of white supremacy.

Have we eliminated every vestige of racism in our society? No. Will racists with white supremacy views continue to exist? Yes. Are there sick white people who receive pleasure from black deaths and suffering? Possibly.

The world we grew up in has changed, Mackie. We are far beyond the world of our childhood. Many more opportunities exist now for blacks and their children. The world is changing quickly for better and worse, but not necessarily in the old categories of the past. Admittedly, race and ethnic distinctions will for sometime yet be used in economic exploitation and for political positioning. They have some impact in our justice and educational systems which remain in great need of reform.

But many of these problems are the result of economic policies that have been signed onto ignorantly or thoughtlessly by both blacks and whites, for more selfish economic reasons than for racial reasons, though these policies may have an anti-black impact. For instance, there are too many Americans working more than 60 hours a week for less than $10 an hour. Deregulation of the economy and anti-union practices have had an impact on the expansion of the criminal justice system as well as deleterious impact on the education system, and have had a greater impact on blacks than whites, for blacks started farther down the ladder of success because of past racial crimes.

In turn, blacks have to adapt at a quicker rate to cultural, economic and political changes. As presently organized, American society, less tolerant, provides fewer chances for catching up. This new state of things requires more restraint, more focus, more discipline, more discretion. These internal changes cannot be organized on the basis of racial pride. There might indeed be too much racial pride, especially of the warped kind. Immigrants are coming into the country and on the basis of character they are out achieving our young men and women.

These positive acts of awareness and social consciousness by politicians, religious, social and business leaders, I think, combined with a friendlier economy of corporate regulation for the working man will cut into those markings and statistics that ideologues brandish as emblematic of the existence of white supremacy.—Rudy

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Dear Rudy,

What you are ignoring is the fact that 90% of Black people in any Western culture are also "White Supremacist".You can't be Culturally British or Culturally French or Culturally American without being "White Supremacist".In Africa, as well, a very large portion of the most Colonized areas are made up of people who have a "Quasi White Supremacist" mentality. The fact that they still have their own languages, traditions, names, etc. is what keeps them from being totally WS, but they are still carriers.

The description you gave of Blacks and our "self-undoing" is true, but then so is Chinweizu's argument.

Otherwise, why would 90% of black women wear processed hair? Why would 90% of black men desire Mulatto women and consider them black? Why do we accept the idea that Mulatto OBAMA is to be the "first Black President" when in fact he's the first "Biracial" President? We accept all of this, because we, too, harbor White Supremacist belief systems. You can't have a SEXIST society, Rudy, unless the Mothers of the boy children are also predominately sexist.

You can't have a EUROCENTRIC society unless most of the people in it adhere to Eurocentrism.

How many Black men in America dress in African garb every day, Rudy? How many Black men in America have endeavored to speak an African language in their daily lives? No, to be culturally American, is White Supremacy itself.

Who is featured in the Black man's music videos, Rudy? The white man's mother (or an imitation of her).—Kola

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Kola, I love you too much to argue with you.

But let me say this. All the instances of incongruence you point out are in some ways humorous and point out contradictions in the racialized life of the modern as well as the post-modern world, and attempts to reconcile them. They are one might say hangovers passed down from an experience of white supremacy. Or they are the result of nonwhites living in a society in which the majority of the population is of European extraction. Most of the acts you have chosen to highlight are choices rather than impositions. Some of them I do not care for but I find most tolerable or desirable.

I am culturally an American. And I in no way consider the popular culture "white," neither in its music, its dance, its speech, in contemporary art, in body language, its food, its literature, even in its dress. The cultures of the world have come to this land and found a place. American culture is, what they say in New Orleans, a gumbo, very unique and very global.—Rudy

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Rudy, I love you, too, King.

Feel free to argue with me anytime, because I respect your opinion so much. You and Chinweizu are my Lion Kings. Also feel free to curse me out. If people could actually see my movements, facial expressions and tone of voice when I say things they find "volcanic"---they would see that I am a comical, loving wise-talking black mother. Not the serious bitch they envision. I am always prepared to change my mind, but no one ever tries to change it. They fear me. Which is ridiculous. My thing is this—I love my people. You are one of my favorite ones.

On another note: Rudy, I still have not gotten the book deal that my agent expected,therefore, I am not able to send you the money I had planned just yet. Hold tight, however, because it will happen.—Kola

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Blame-mongering vs. Factor-analysis‏

First of all, let me make it clear that I am not interested in "blame". I am a scientist, my interest is in investigating the factors relevant to a phenomenon, not in assigning blame. I HOPE YOU UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE!!! Blame mongering is for moralizers; factor analysis is for problem solvers."—Chinweizu

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Chinweizu, Is "white supremacy" some unembodied phenomena unattached to persons that one studies like one studies say AIDS? The social sciences are among the weakest and most inexact of sciences and some might say that it is not science at all, except when statistics are used. In any case, all science must in some way deal with morality and ethics, especially when one is dealing with human behavior.

I did not note any factor analysis in your expositions. What stood out was racial ideology."—Rudy

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Rudy, I suspect Chinweizu thinks that your goal or end in everything you write is to establish blame. I think he believes that that is your conclusion and not one of your several premises leading up to a more significant facor. So you need to clear that up. Of course, one way to clear all of this up is for all of us to keep reading Chinweizu and you. So, for me, you do not need to withdraw your own personal take on Chinweizu's scholarship.

I am sure—well, certainly, I hope—that when Chinweizu calms down and thinks about it, he'll reason that while scholars can have no hold, outside of the classroom, over how readers process, experience, interpret, read their scholarship. Chinwezu calls his work factor analysis. Rudy suggests -- for him as a reader—that Chinwezu's work is blame analysis, and Rudy does not mean this negatively.

Failure analysis might be a better term, because the way factor analysis is used in the "The West and the Rest" scholarship—whether the term is mentioned in the scholarship to hand or not, these texts concentrate on the failure of the West against Islam.

There is a whole slew of The West and the Rest texts in print. Here are just two Google lists.

Chinweizu's work is, indeed, a comprehensive example of factor analysis. Whether implemented in the physical or mathematical or psychological or sociological sciences, factor analysis reduces the plethora of variables under observation and discussion by grouping and then analyzing these variables down to the most overarching category or factor. What Chinweizu has published on this web site certainly amounts to being very excellent examples of factor analysis in the social sciences, particularly on the clash of civilizations between the West and the Rest.

This West and the Rest scholarship—not necessarily Chinweizu's, I hasten to add—is usually framed as The West and the Rest Against Us. The rest here are the Arab or Islamic lands. Roger Scruton's work falls into this frame:

http://www.morec.com/scruton/ [VIDEO LECTURE]

Chinweizu's scholarship, I believe, analyzes the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial criminality of Africans against their own people and sets this criminality up side by side with that of the West in equal weight and measure. He points out the failure in both our houses. He does not blame. He shows where and how we have all failed. That said, if readers wishes to use this scholarship to place blame where blame may need to be placed, these readers need to reveal what end they have in mind. We already know that the goal or end of most of the The West and Rest scholars is to privilege Christianity over Islam, the West over the Rest.

I would also suggest that Chinweizu could be more forthcoming and reveal his underlying end in his scholarship. What motivates him to do this scholarship and not some other kind? What end does he want to accomplish? Surely, his aim is not only "objective scientific scholarship." We have known far too long now that such a motivation driving our scholarship is a myth. Everything has subconscious as well as conscious slant.

A BUDDHIST ANALYSIS OF FAILURE (BLAME/FACTOR) ANALYSIS http://www.bpf.org/tsangha/loy-westrest.html