The show Black White produced by Ice Cube was supposed to challenge people’s concepts of racism by using makeup to expose families to what life is like living as their racial opposites. Black people were to become white and white people were to become black and everybody was going to live under one roof in a home in Los Angeles, California.
One of the players was Bruno Marcotulli. He was the father figure from the white group with his girlfriend Carmen and her daughter Rose. When he donned his blackface makeup and went out in the world Mr. Marcotulli said that he was on the lookout for instances of racial discrimination but not a single white person used a racial slur like nigger against him.
Somebody really needed to explain to Mr. Marcotulli that racism isn’t always so conspicuous. In fact, in all my years I can’t recall ever being called a nigger by a white person. And trust me I’ve been in plenty of tense situations with white people where it could’ve happened. All I can say is I am very thankful it has never happened, at least not yet.
Some people think racism is intent and intense discrimination. Racism is calling somebody a nigger or hanging somebody from a tree branch. Racism of this magnitude is the nastiest and horrendous form of this truly ugly form of human behavior. But then again, the racism that prevents black people from obtaining employment, education, housing, healthcare, and other areas that are important for establishing and maintaining a comparable standard of living is just as sinister and devious and ugly.
There was one incident in the Black White saga where Mr. Marcotulli was in his makeup and was walking with his girlfriend Carmen without her makeup in a black neighborhood. They looked like an interracial couple. An old black man said something as they were walking by holding hands. I can’t recall exactly what the old man said but the couple stopped in front of his store and was looking over his merchandise displayed on a table. The old man asked if they wanted anything and if not they need to move on. This was the extent of the racism Mr. Marcotulli was able to detect. The incident is not exactly a cut and dry example of racism. But what the hell, Mr. Marcotulli felt it was racist enough and I’m willing to let give him the benefit of doubt for the sake of argument.
There was another incident in this show where the black father Brian, on the show with his wife Renee and their son Nick, was in a bar wearing his whiteface with white people who were telling him how they wanted to keep their neighborhood free of black people. White people are just more comfortable that way.
The old black man with the words for the interracial couple and the white people who wanted to keep their neighborhood free of blacks felt similarly about race relations. What’s the difference between the two? The black man was in all likelihood powerless to keep white people out of his neighborhood. The black old man would be fortunate if he owned his own home. But chances are good that the man rented his home. Chances are even better that he rented his home from white people. The old man probably didn’t have much influence on hiring practices anywhere. He probably doesn’t even have someone working for him on a regular basis.
White people on the other hand are more likely to be business and property owners. White people are more likely to control rental properties and places of business that employ other people. While the old black man is powerless the white people in the show are can be powerful enough to negatively impact people of another race if they made the choice to do so.
Don’t people have the right to do what they want with their property and/or their business?
Of course they do. A person is free to put their house up for rent if they choose to do so. But once they make that choice to put their property up for rent, by law, they cannot discriminate by race. Unfortunately, racial discrimination has to be proven in a court of law. Unless there’s a memo that actually says something subtle like I didn’t hire this black person because I am a racist people are happy to give the employer or the landlord or the whatever the benefit of a doubt. Businesses that only hire white people, people that only want to educate white people, landlords that only want to rent to white people are actually damaging people of other races. It keeps black people in a position of subjugation. It keeps black people collectively wanting and needing more than the table scraps the few of us are given to tie us over.
Hiring one black person isn’t going to make much of a difference when an entire community needs jobs. When an entire people need educating but only a handful manages to obtain an education it doesn’t create opportunity for a people. It creates opportunity for a select few. This creates a clear situation between those that have crumbs and identify with their benefactors and the majority that still don’t have jack. It creates a situation so much similar to the plantation that enslaved so many black people to work in the field while a handful of selected enslaved blacks worked in the house.
It’s not hard to imagine back in the days of enslavement the black person working in the house identifying with the white plantation owners and arguing that there’s nothing wrong with the plantation system. Black people deserve to work out in the field and that’s just the way it is. Black people deserve crumbs and that’s just the way it is. Black people don’t need an education and that’s just the way it is. Black people never had anything and black people don’t need anything and that’s just the way it is.
But in a society where people need a lot of something in order to get access to anything such as healthcare, housing, education and other institutions for a minimum standard of living black people need just as much as their white counterparts to get by. Unfortunately, while white people have had the benefits of just signing up for free land in America’s westward expansion across the indigenous North American’s land and the advantages of the G. I. bill that offered American veterans easy access to loans for housing and education and other such institutions to help a number of white people to get a foothold on the American dream, black people were too busy fighting just for the right to be treated equal. Where is our opportunity to get the handouts white people received since this country started?
This isn’t to say that the black community wants handouts. But it is only fair that just like the white community benefited from affirmative action programs that enabled the white collective to accumulate their wealth the black community should be offered programs so we that we may obtain our collective wealth as well. Yet if black people are given just a sliver of opportunity with affirmative action programs that reserve a fraction of their benefits to the black community the white community want to holler foul and reverse discrimination.
If the black community had our own resources we wouldn’t be so vulnerable to white people who range from people who may be having a bad day all the way up to people who are just plain racist. If the black community had its own sources for loans, education, healthcare, and other institutions for public assistance we wouldn’t be so vulnerable to the whims of the white community who are so clueless to the African American condition. If each community had its own we wouldn’t have to worry about one subjugating the other.