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MUHAMMAD: It's All, All about Race

Askia Muhammad | 7/10/2013, 3 p.m.
Askia Muhammad

In their fondest dreams conservative policymakers and believers in the United States insist that times have changed so much in this country since the days of chattel slavery that race-centered solutions to that unholy crime against humanity now unjustly discriminate on the beneficiaries of America’s “peculiar institution.” Those beneficiaries are the sons and daughters of the slave owners, and everyone else in this society.

The belief that we are now living in “post racial” America is as flawed as the decision by the country’s Founding Fathers to ignore the contradictions caused by the several slave-holding states who, nevertheless, were needed to sign on to Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence which declared, hypocritically: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights…”

That was as big a lie in 1776 as the insistence today that American society has moved beyond the place where race must be considered in employment affirmative action plans in order to “level the playing field” for those who were robbed of their labor for 310 years and never compensated; and for educational affirmative action programs for those who were once prohibited by law to even be taught to read the Bible.

In his typically Orwellian manner, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas likens affirmative action programs which admit Black students into elite academic colleges, and into law and medical schools, with slavery itself. He said the University of Texas at Austin’s admissions policy – recently sent by the Supreme Court to a lower court for reconsideration – itself amounted to discrimination and compared the school’s affirmative action program to slavery and segregation.

“Slaveholders argued that slavery was a ‘positive good’ that civilized blacks and elevated them in every dimension of life,” Thomas wrote in his separate opinion on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. “A century later, segregationists similarly asserted that segregation was not only benign, but good for black students.

“Following in these inauspicious footsteps, the University would have us believe that its discrimination is likewise benign. I think the lesson of history is clear enough: Racial discrimination is never benign,” he wrote in his 20-page opinion.

What remains unclear to me, however is how being admitted into an elite educational program is any way akin to being sold on an auction block like cattle and then being forced to work from sun-up until sundown for no compensation for generation after generation.

When we attend theatrical presentations, we as audience members are expected to “suspend disbelief” in order to view the fiction as possible reality. In this insane political environment, we must also deny reality to accept the notion that we are living in a “post racial” United States of America.

All over this country, practically every business angle, every marketing decision, every crude corporate hustle has at its root, a sinister racial angle, an angle which generally does not mean Black people any good. From payday loan schemes, to car-title loan schemes, to fast food marketing, to upscale luxury items, to everything in between the shrewd barons of industry understand that their profit margins come from patronage by unwitting Black consumers.

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