So imagine the bells and whistles that exploded into third gear immediately when I read this one: "Americans still linking Blacks to apes".
I mean, I didn't know whether to read the article and risk being horrified and depressed -- not to mention feeling that I would then have to pass the link on to my Faithful Readers for them to be horrified and depressed -- or just hit the delete button and move on (only to return later in a rabid attempt to relocate the piece and then post the link). So I chose the former.
The Science Blog post tagged with the headline in question briefly outlines a multi-part study conducted over a six-year period by Stanford, Pennsylvania State, and University of California at Berkeley graduate students. Its findings are just as disappointing as I expected them to be. And why am I not surprised?
Apparently, many White Americans subconsciously associate Blacks with apes and are, therefore, more likely to condone violence against Black criminal suspects who are not seen as fully human. That certainly explains a lot of stuff, huh?
No wonder African-Americans often report feeling depressed and shame-ridden, no matter how successful they have become in U.S. society. As I explained a couple of weeks ago, the system of White Supremacy that benefits all White people all the time in one way or the other whether they notice or ask for it or not, means for Black people to feel that way. And one of the ways ordinary White folks participate in this madness is to not question their vague uneasiness with all things (and people) "Black."
White people -- or at least the vast majority of them -- swear there are "good reasons" for feeling some generalized negativity toward African-Americans. Then, when asked to elucidate, they pass the feelings off as connected to what "everybody knows" or some specific experience they had with one or two individuals or their family's attitudes when they were growing up or what they see all over the media on a daily basis. But when presented with research demonstrating how far wrong they are or how differently people of color are treated in the criminal just-us system, they brush off the facts in favor of what they want to cling to in any case. In fact, it's interesting to note just how often the Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card is handed to White Supremacy at exactly the same moment some nameless Black guy gets handed a Go-Straight-to-Jail-Do-Not-Pass-Go-Do-Not-Collect-$200 card. And White folks want to complain about how tired they are of seeing the "race card" played...!
Keep in mind that the folks surveyed by these studies were White male undergraduate students born after the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's so we're not talking about a throwback from some Neanderthal era when Brett and Scarlet tipped the light bombastic. We're talking about White folks who were raised, by and large, in schools that were supposed to be integrated (though not in my parish); White folks who grew up with the option to watch The Cosby Show (and what could be less stereotypical than a doctor and a lawyer living in a two million dollar brownstone in Manhattan?); White folks who were raised hearing Eminem get his "Black" on. So, whassssup? (Right?)
Nothing we didn't already know.
All this started back when Europeans were looking to bankroll the Industrial Revolution and establish themselves as God's chosen so they could convince themselves they were intended to dominate the world. The shortest distance between being a Wanna-be Rich White Person (or nation) and an Obscenely Rich White Person (or nation) conveniently presented itself in the form of the Middle Passage with millions of Africans crossing the Atlantic Ocean against their will and millions of dollars going back across in the opposite direction, winding up not surprisingly in the coffers of the ones who thought up White Supremacy in the first place.
European "religion," "law" and "culture" all played their roles tidily to justify and rationalize these practices. But "science" (the newest monster at the vampire buffet glorifying White skin) was, perhaps, the most lethal. The race-based theories of such "scientists" as Samuel George Morton, Josiah C. Nott, George Robins Gliddon, and Cesare Lombroso have now been resoundingly debunked. Still, they not only ruled the ideological roost in the field of "criminal justice" for nearly 150 years, but their ideas were key to deeply embedding two crucial concepts into our social institutions in general: that Whites are the highest embodiment of human evolution and that Blacks are not only inferior, but even bestial. Even as recently as 1970, for example, Time-Life released a volume on Early Man that carried within it the now famous illlustration at the top of this post, clearly portraying visually what Morton et al at least purported to believe to be true.
I use the word "purported" because, as a social scientist myself, I have never been able to get my brain around how somebody could muster the audacity to suggest that a specific group (of which they are a member, of course) is superior to all other groups and that this superiority is indicated by a characteristic such as skin tone -- when history so glaringly demonstrates otherwise. Further, I reject out of hand the rationality of anyone who would accept as objective knowledge the work of a "scientist" who has "proven" that his particular skin tone indicates superiority. I don't know who disgusts me more: Dr. Superior or his band of merry yes-people .
In any case, it seems to me that Morton, his followers, and those White male undergraduates surveyed for the studies now being discussed ignored an example that begs to differ with their grasp of human reality. You see, it's a matter of historical record that the man so many commonly refer to as Jesus the Christ was a man of color. In fact, the best computer drawing we have based on written accounts, Biblical and otherwise, portrays him this way:
Now, this isn't terribly problematic for people who believe that the story of Jesus parallels that of Horus, the Egyptian god, to a striking degree. And it doesn't matter, I'm sure, to anybody who isn't themselves a "Christian." But for those folks who simultaneously support the ideas of White Supremacy and Christianity (such as those hawking "Yup, I'm a racist" t-shirts at a recent Tea Party event), this could really present a dilemma. I'd sure like to hear how they explain that one.