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Snake Oil Solutions: Critique of Novice Mess-Makers and Those Who Know Better

Howard Eagle

With regard to developing clear, comprehensive, understanding of the tripartite beast and illness of individual, institutional, and structural racism — the Democrat and Chronicle’s editorial board article represents a classic example of those who think they understand, but in many cases, inadvertently feed into helping prop up the racist, white-supremacist-based status-quo (at best), and at worse, actually cause damage, and retardation of the Anti-Racist Struggle (relative to the historic and ongoing pervasive, breath and depth of insidious, malignant, ignorance regarding the systemic, forbidden-fruit issue) — by spreading misinformation and confusion. The very premise (as well as accompanying, supporting “facts”) in the article — is mere foolishness. Let us examine it, and see if my contention is valid, or not.

First, it is clearly implied (as part of the premise of the article) that, locally, “conversations about racism” are occurring routinely, regularly, or at a significant rate and/or frequency “in offices, conference rooms, banquet halls and schools.” We know, without even checking, that nothing could possibly be further from the truth. That is to say, when such “conversations about racism” do occur, especially in the work place, including (strangely enough) schools — they represent the glaring, usually planned, and controlled exception — as opposed to the rule. This is part of the reality that allows us to refer to racism as the ‘forbidden-fruit’ issue. In the interest of so-called “journalistic objectivity and balance” — this reality should have at least been mentioned in the article — as opposed to attempting intentionally (I believe) to create a make-believe, deceptive, subterfuge regarding the fallacious myth of ongoing, widespread, anti-racist dialogue.

Speaking of subterfuges, the unsubstantiated assertion that so-called “anti-racism efforts in Rochester took on a renewed urgency beginning in 2013” — absolutely does not have any basis in provable fact. I believe the unprovable statement is based on TALK of “urgency,” but very, very little, if any, measurably-effective action that actually demonstrates “urgency.” As a matter of fact, for the most part, the exact opposite is true, i.e., there is a gross lack of urgency.

Additionally, the thoroughly ludicrous idea that “anyone who has been involved with anti-racism efforts in Rochester knows that a change has occurred” is just that, i.e., thoroughly ludicrous. Again, the exact opposite is actually true.

For the Democrat and Chronicle’s editorial board to take the position that (in relative terms) a handful of individuals having occasional, usually planned and controlled conversations about structural racism — represents “extraordinarily important and positive change” is clearly indicative of the fact that the entire board, including (apparently) its black members, do not have a clue about the seriousness, pervasiveness, depth and breadth of the tripartite beast and illness, and definitely no clue as to what it will take to significantly diminish, and/or uproot it.

Also, and very importantly — if the type of misinformation that’s included in the editorial board’s article is indicative of the so-called “increasingly sophisticated conversations” that are supposedly occurring — then what is actually happening is that a bigger mess is being made than the one that already exists — relative to feeding into, and exacerbating historic and ongoing, widespread, pervasive, insidious, malignant, ignorance regarding the systemic, forbidden-fruit issue — by spreading misinformation and confusion.

For instance, I don’t believe I have ever seen a worse or more inaccurate, so-called definition or description of “structural racism” — than the one put forth by the editorial board, i.e., “Structural racism is an invisible thread…” — …”invisible thread???” WHAT??? On the contrary, nothing could possibly be further from the critically-important, objective, truth, i.e., racism was (right from the very start — from day-one) an inherent part (literally built into) the social, economic, political, and “dominant” cultural systems of the U.S. nation-state, and therefore is necessarily, and always has been, glaringly blatant, and clearly visible via rules, regulations, polices, practices, procedures, and laws that guide and govern each and every major institution within U.S. society, which is why we can accurately call it STRUCTURAL (again, built-in or inherent). There is absolutely nothing, I repeat and emphasize — nothing “invisible” about individual, nor institutional, nor structural racism — period. Anyone who would labor to advance such fallacy is either clueless, or possibly, intentionally, engaging in, or at the least going along with distortion, and/or contortion of objective reality.

Additionally, assertions such as the following represents concrete evidence that (for the most part) the editors are engaging in loose, uninformed, rhetorical chatter: “At the United Way, all of the organization’s employees gathered together to spend nearly two hours talking about structural racism and how to recognize it.” So, why would anyone undergo such an exercise if the entity that they are supposedly learning “how to recognize [is, as they had previously claimed] invisible?”

The only part they got right is the fact that the tripartite beast and illness is necessarily “woven tightly, [NOT] over decades, [but literally over centuries, right from the very start — from the time that sizable numbers of Europeans first arrived in the land known as the “Americas] into the fabric of [U.S.] society.”

Even the specific manner in which they framed their claim that “structural racism serves to perpetually inhibit people of color from becoming equal to white people” is twisted. Hopefully, they understand that people of color already are, and always have been, “equal to white people.” What has been systematically stripped away are equal socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and sociocultural rights and opportunities — as opposed to equality (in the purest, most basic sense), which is what their particular choice of language implies. No — this is not a matter of nit-picking. Language, and specific ways in which it is used is frequently a vital aspect of both continued racial oppression, and anti-racist struggle.

I imagine the editorial board will probably be surprised to discover that their example regarding the “story told [by] Nazareth College President Daan Braveman” is not (in and of itself) an example of structural racism. It is of course closely related to structural racism (remember we said the three forms are thoroughly intertwined, completely bound up together, and totally inseparable from one another). Yet, novices, and/or those who think they understand the tripartite beast, but really do not — often confuse structural racism with the institutional form, which is what the editors did in the case of Braveman’s example. We know that institutional racism is embodied within, and functions via rules, regulations, policies, practices, procedures, and laws that guide and govern institutions, which flows from structural racism, i.e., the form that was inherently embedded in the entire social, economic, political, and “dominant” cultural fabric, foundation and systems of the white-supremacist based nation-state (right from the very start, i.e., from day-one).

With regard to sorting out confusion, as some know, I have been very critical of Dr. Marvin McMickle (publicly). One reason is precisely because it appears that he routinely and willingly allows people in positions of authority at some of the most powerful, and some of the most racist institutions (such as the Democrat and Chronicle in particular, as well as the YWCA) — to use him in ongoing processes of lending legitimacy to illegitimate acts. For example, the fact that people like Karen Magnuson, vice president of news at the D&C, and Jean Carroll, CEO of Monroe County YWCA are so-called “leading” anti-racist work, and “teaching” about racism — needs to be called out. If anyone on the local scene understands that white people such as Magnuson and Carroll do not have the where-with-all (clear, comprehensive, knowledge-bases and understanding), which is necessary in order to effectively lead and/or teach about anti-racism — it certainly is Dr. McMickle. Yet, he routinely appears with such people, in situations in which they present themselves as having knowledge, understanding, and expertise regarding the forbidden-fruit issue and problem, which Dr. McMickle never questions.

Thus, for McMickle to utter what appears to be nothing more or less than super-hyper rhetoric, i.e. a declaration that he “will commit [his] life to dismantling structural racism,” means little to many close observers — because that’s not what we see. On the contrary, we see a man who clearly understands the historical and ongoing nature and essence of the tripartite beast and illness, but who is actually doing very little, if anything, significant, to so-called “dismantle” the most insidious and harmful form of the beast.

Additional, clear evidence of the editorial board’s chronic, dogmatic, pontificating, deep-seated, acute, conjecture, and in many cases — straight-up fallacies — is founded in their initial assertions that a relatively small group of people occasionally discussing structural racism under planned and controlled conditions — somehow, magically, represents “extraordinarily important and positive change” — compared and contrasted with their conclusion that so-called “growing interest [on the part of very small numbers] in [so-called] understanding structural racism, is an indicator that Rochester is getting a tiny step closer to closing its significant racial divide.” Such contradictory statements should cause thinkers to ask — which is it — “extraordinarily important and positive change [or] a tiny step?” Yes, in this particular case, the two are mutually exclusive, and definitely, diametrically opposed, especially when considering how much time has already gone by, and the fact that this is not a time for hundreds more years of benign gradualism.

It is also important to question abstract concepts such as a so-called “racial divide.” Those who have an interest in continued white-supremacist-oppression and domination are often very crafty with language, and will frequently use it to avoid clarity surrounding societal issues and concerns. For example, the concept of so-called “racial divide” ultimately carries with it the inherent idea that we are all equally responsible for addressing it, which of course is true. However, what is not true is that we’re all equally responsible for creating, perpetuating and maintaining it (for centuries).

Evasive linguists would also have us believe that structural racism “is far from an easy concept to grasp,” which actually is not at all true. A main reason why many have not “grasped” it is because they don’t think about it — not only as it relates to its structural form, but all forms. If people really want to at least begin to understand, all they have to do is think seriously about how the nation treats the majority of its Black citizens. The brilliant, authentic, white, anti-racist activist, Jane Elliott drives home the latter point via the video clip at the following link:

In the final analysis, we must categorically reject the editorial board’s position that significant, and/or acceptable “progress is being made.” It is not — period.

Also, those of us who really are authentic anti-racists activists and/or advocates — need to speak out (publicly) regarding the need for those who clearly are not prepared, nor qualified to lead — to either become followers, or get back in a corner — somewhere out of the way.

Lastly, authentic, Black activists and advocates need to have “come-to-Jesus” meetings with those in our community who have become enablers, and or unprincipled collaborators — period.


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