Honest conversations about racism/white supremacy are very difficult for everyone. They can easily get emotional, contentious and “out of hand”, even between people who essentially agree on most things, or people who are on the same side of the debate. They are difficult to have, both by Black people and white people/suspected white supremacists, but for drastically different reasons. For whites, conversations about racism are difficult because too much focus on this extremely unjust system and how this system came to be could possibly lead to an increased effort by more people to attempt to change the system to a more just system. This would negate the advantages which they have come to rely on in order to simply survive genetically. This turn of events would be absolutely disastrous for the whites who have become dependent on racism/white supremacy. So, the typical reactions by whites/suspected racists to frank discussions about racism, tend to range from patronizing apologies (with some qualifiers, of course), to defensive posturing, to angry dismissal, to being totally unapologetic. It is safe to say that there will not be much gained from these discussions with most whites, especially those who stay “on code”, and have shown strict dedication to keeping the status quo. But they are just as difficult to have with Black people, victims of racism/white supremacy, for different reasons.
Open, honest discussion with or among Black people about racism can be a very frustrating experience due to the amount of trauma, brain trashing and deliberate confusion that Black people have been subjected to, all of which are necessary in order to keep the system of racism/white supremacy running at an optimal level. Discussion about the system and the oppression, subjugation and domination that Black people have been subjected to under the system produces many reactions in Black people as well, with confusion, anger, fear, shame, conditioned anti-Blackness, and denial being some of the most prominent and common that I have noticed. But although these discussions can be very difficult and frustrating, they are discussions that are crucial to eliminating the system of racism/white supremacy, and in some ways are even more crucial then the activities which are considered to be “frontline” activism. It has been stated many times by people with minds much greater than mine, that one of the main problems with Black people under the system of racism/white supremacy is the fact that we do not have a sufficient working understanding of the system. Although the overall objective of the system never changes (total genocidal exploitation and domination, both physical and mental, of all non-white and particularly Black people), the white supremacists who are in charge of ensuring the perpetuation of the system constantly refine and tweak their methods, their talking points and their codification to achieve these objectives, and to be evermore effective.
If Black people who are aware of the problem to some degree are not humbly studying, passing along and receiving correct, current, up to date information about the methods of the white supremacists without ego with each other, then it can easily cause one to stumble back into the white supremacist web of confusion. Confusion about racism/white supremacy is ever-present and rampant among Black people. We simply cannot tackle a problem that we do not adequately understand. Engaging in dialogue with fellow Black people who are interested in these sorts of discussions in the true spirit of teaching and learning, free of ego-driven debates about minutia, and petty arguments about slight differences in opinion is one of the best ways of eliminating that confusion. It would help a great deal in turning all of our conversations into constructive counter-racist exercises. We all, regardless of where we are in our consciousness, are “still learning”, as Neely Fuller would say, and we all have something to teach each other and learn from each other, regardless of our ages, experiences, and opinions. But Neely Fuller also said, in perhaps his most enduring and incisive quote, and the quote that he is perhaps best known for, “If you do not understand the system of racism/white supremacy, what it is and how it works, everything else that you understand will only confuse you”. Due to our reluctance or refusal to read, write, think, study, speak (humbly) and most importantly, listen (humbly) about the system that stands as the greatest danger to the existence of Black people that we will ever face, our understanding will always be incomplete. And this incomplete understanding will stand as a great barrier, perhaps the greatest barrier to our liberation.
A pet peeve of mine is when a well-meaning but apparently confused Black person attributes our enduring, everlasting enemy’s default social setting which they depend on for their genetic survival, racism/white supremacy, to simple “ignorance”. This is a phenomenal example of the confusion that plagues Black people under the system of racism/white supremacy, as nothing can be further from the truth. White people, from a very young age, are quite aware of their status in relation to other racial classifications under the system of racism/white supremacy, as well as their duty to keep that system running strong, so that they can pass the system down to their offspring. They undergo constant social training, sometimes spoken between each other when no Black people or other non-whites are present, and sometimes unspoken and very codified, enforced by social rewards and punishments, on refining and practicing white supremacy so that the system continues into eternity. When the white supremacists engaged in the enslavement of our ancestors, an institution which was very instrumental in constructing the system of racism/white supremacy that we see today, they were not at all ignorant to what they were doing. When they put the so-called “slave codes” into effect, they were not ignorant to what they were doing. When they deliberately and methodically destroyed all sincere attempts at grassroots Black progress, and instituted Jim Crow, they were very well aware of what they were doing. They were not ignorant. They knew that they were essentially destroying a people, while exploiting them (us) for profit, which is and always has been the chief objective of white supremacy at its essence. This is why they so enthusiastically participate in racism, and/or harshly criticize and discourage any sort of dissent against racism/white supremacy.
If there is any group of people who are ignorant to the realities of racism, whether that ignorance is legitimate or feigned, in order to excuse non-action in eliminating it, it is Black people. The only cure for this is to have open honest dialogue and discussion amongst our people about the system, in which all are free to express their viewpoint, as every victim of racism/white supremacy has a right to their viewpoint about their victimization. But it is also important that everyone is humble and mature enough to listen to each other and recognize and accept when superior logic has been presented. This is supposed to be where those who have done the work to attempt to lessen some of the inevitable confusion are given the opportunity to impart some of their information, knowledge and wisdom, and those who are less informed and more confused humbly listen, study and take notes. We must leave our egos at the front door, because as victims under the system of racism/white supremacy, all ego is unjustified. But it is also important for us to be mature enough to understand that we don’t have to agree 100% on everything. If knowledge is indeed power, then confusion is indeed weakness. Black people’s weakness in society is a direct consequence of our confusion. Honest, humble, courteous and respectful counter-racist dialogue is the best cure for our malignant confusion that I can think of.
Osei, 21st Century Race Man