Who are the real Racists?

I’m reading Joe Clark’s book titled Laying Down the Law: Joe Clark’s Strategy for Saving Our Schools, and I came across an interesting dialogue he had with a former male student of his where the young man referred to one of his teachers as racist. [If you work in the schools in practically any fashion, or if you observe the sentiments of Black America closely enough, you’ll find that this type of race-baiting is all too common and usually used as a cop-out or excuse for inexcusable behavior as opposed to holding oneself accountable for said behavior(s).]

Anyway, so Mr. Clark sat down with this young man and his first question was, “Tell me, Lester. Tell me what a racist is. What is a racist?” The boy responded, “Someone who hates Black people.” Clark jumped down his throat, “WRONG! A racist is someone whose words and actions are destructive to a particular race, any race!” Mr. Clark proceeds to ask the boy to describe what a Black dope addict is. Of course the boy is confused and doesn’t really know how to respond to his principal’s peculiar question, so he stutters and fumbles along trying to find the right response to such an seemingly assinine query. Mr. Clark fires, “A Black dope addict, Lester, is a racist! Yes, a racist! Because his actions are destructive to a particular race. His own! The Black dope addicts are destroying themselves and bringing down shame, degradation, and ill-will upon their people. They are racists, real racists. And if you become like one of them, you’ll be a racist too!”

Many may disagree with me, but I stand firm in what I believe is an accurate depiction of what I think a slither of Black America has become. But let’s think back a few hundred years and explore this in a historical context: What’s the difference between the Africans who got rich by selling their countrymen–their own tribesman, in some cases– to the white slavers for guns and jewelry, and today’s drug dealers who get rich by selling poison to their own for guns and jewelry? What’s the difference between the young brothers in the ghettoes of Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, St. Louis, L.A. who are killing each other for drugs, guns, jewelry, and territory? To me, that’s racism, practically genocide, in fact. I can go on and on. What about the number of Black men killed by the KKK versus  the number of Black men killed by other Black men? It’s documented. A study by the Tuskegee Institute cited that KKK killed 3,446 Black people in a span of 86 years, whereas Black men in America, on a national scale, kill that many in a matter of six months. We continue to blame “whitey”, but he is not our problem. We are our problem. We’ve all heard the mantra, “Crabs in a barrel”, right? If you’re Black, I’m sure you’ve experienced this a time or two in your life. In the workplace, in the school setting, or wherever, we continue to sabotage, bring shame and denigrate our own before we do that same to anyone else. No, I’m not saying we should begin disrespecting anyone who isn’t Black, but what I am saying is that we’ve done a poor job at uplifting one another, so bad, in fact, that we’re aiding and abetting in, as Clark says, “words and actions [that] are destructive to a particular race.” Our own! And because of this I feel we have failed miserably in creating positive, upstanding, stable and successful Black men.


We only refer to one another as b**** and h****, n***** (without the ‘er or with an ‘a’; it’s all the same to me; its just a different connation and urban linguistic spin to it). We’ve been killing each other, disrespecting one another and pulling each other down for centuries, but yet have the audacity to blame the white man. So who’s the racist here?


2 responses

  1. Language Arts Teacher | Reply

    “Clark jumped down his throat, “WRONG! A racist is someone whose words and actions are destructive to a particular race, any race!”

    I see Joe Clark’s point, but he is over simplifying the situation to get to a conclusion that he wants to get to. To be racist, you have to have some power over people. By definition racism is, “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” I think we can both agree that we have people in our race that are detrimental to themselves as well as our overall progress as a people. However, to point the finger as if they are the only problem denies and doesn’t fully recognize the institutional racism that exists now and in the past that have created individuals like Lester.

    The pedagogy of the oppressed is an interesting thing. Good post and good topic…

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