Tuesday, July 23, 2013

White Fear of a Racist Society - A Response to Romany Malco's Huffington Post Article

Earlier today we reposted a previous WhatUpWally? post on Facebook and received some expected responses. 

The usual OJ comment and then the angry, "I'm defriending you" comment. (Always wondered why some people make a big deal about unfriending someone of Facebook. It's just Facebook, not like you are forced to be friends with someone or read anything they post.) But then a good friend of the WUW? crew posted a link to a Huffington Post Article by actor Romany Malco. 

(We encourage you to read Malco's article before preceding, Click here to read)


Here is our general response:

We have seen this article posted a lot on Facebook today (all by white people). Our thoughts on the article have less to do with the article as much as why so many white people are excited to see a black person blame the black community for the death of an innocent kid.

In fact, we think that it highlights how strongly whites want to shield themselves from the actually existing racism in America. 
(For a great account of actually existing racism in America, read Questlove's recent article on Okayplayer)
Romany's  argument is a rehashed culture wars argument about how hip hop has ruined the black community when in reality the interaction between the media, music, white, blacks, and historically reinforced negative racial attitudes towards blacks and the black community. In short, the white community is not profiled and called to answer for every manifestation of negative imagery in the media or in popular music, Malco infers that black rappers are responsible for the style of music that record labels decide to release, radio decides to play, and whites decide to consume. He doesn't speak to the muti-dimensional aspects of hip hop that do not reinforce the negative images of the black community and why those artists do not receive radio play. 

The defense lawyers did a great job of reducing Trayvon Martin to a one dimensional representation of blackness by calling on the negative manifestations of the culture industry. They strategically played on the negative images of blackness to project this one dimensional caricature of blackness onto Trayvon Martin.
(For further reading on hip hop and white racial attitudes read this: "THE CULTURE INDUSTRY, HIP HOP MUSIC AND THE WHITE PERSPECTIVE: HOW ONE-DIMENSIONAL REPRESENTATION OF HIP HOP MUSIC HAS INFLUENCED WHITE RACIAL ATTITUDES")
We do agree with Malco's assertion that any commentary on the Trayvon Martin case must be grounded outside of the mainstream media. The news media is in the business of attracting an audience in order to sell advertising. 

That is as far as we can go in a critique on a dialogue within the black community. Not really our place.

But when it comes to ending racism in America, it is not black youth that we should be pointing the finger at. It is not rap music. And it has nothing to do with black on black crime.

As a nation, we can only move past racism when whites own up to the system, recognize the history of injustice, stop blaming blacks for their own oppression, and begin listening to the voices crying out for justice and equality.

The burden is on white people. Whites built this country on genocide and slavery. Whites were given unearned opportunity through Jim Crow, and whites now marginalize blacks by blaming them for the system that whites created.

This isn't race baiting, this is history. This is an introspective look at the tragedy and privilege of whiteness. This isn't choosing one incident of murder to publicize, this is connecting the dots between Trayvon and American History.

So the real question is, why are whites so afraid to admit to complicity in a system of injustice? Why are whites so afraid of the racism that exists in society? Why are whites more concerned with being called out on their racism rather than eliminating the subconscious formation of racism that informs their worldview?

Maybe Chuck D was right,
WhatUpWally?


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