As always, I'd like to begin by offering peace and respect to all that honor humanity in words and deeds. The struggles of daily life often create distractions, and I like most become a victim of life circumstances, but as long as we are living, we must keep striving for higher ground. To do that, we must first accept that history is a matter of perspective (place, space, and time), but truth is universal and transcending. Perception makes it difficult to recognize truth. One’s perspective is based on one’s experience. People cannot understand of what they have had no experience. This is understandable and in many ways hard to argue against. I can’t fault my students for not knowing material I have not taught them…but if I teach them a lesson, they are then expected to know it.
White Delusion, Black Disillusion
The history of the United States is one of multiple experiences depending on place, space and time. For white Americans, it has been a history of struggle but opportunity. They believe the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution even if their actions often contradicted the ideals. For African Americans, the same history has been a war between ideals and a very different and cruel reality. Frederick Douglass expressed this best in his speech about the different meaning of the Fourth of July celebration for whites and blacks:
In reality, what the vast majority of Americans (and all people globally) have in common is a history of hard labor. The vast majority of people worldwide work hard and have very little to show for their efforts. Despite this truth, many have been taught to believe the lie that hard work pays off – meritocracy exists. While it is easy to accept how one’s experiences shape perception, how can we explain perspectives that run counter to our experiences? How does this happen?
Perception coupled with power creates frames that the masses will accept as the truth despite the evidence in their lives to the contrary. The result of this power has been white delusion, black disillusion, and a history of mass illusion. We need to lift the veil of history to reveal the face of reality. James Baldwin said it best: “We are capable of bearing a great burden, once we discover that the burden is reality and we arrive where reality is.”
To illustrate, here are two examples of how powerful and dangerous ideology can be:
1. Whites in this country have nothing in general...but white supremacy has veiled that reality...so they allow corporate capitalists to convince them that their interests are best protected in status quo...health care for profit for example..but as long as you can convince the people to NOT believe their reality you can continue to manipulate them.
2. On the left, many look at government programs as "help" ex...social welfare programs, etc. But the motivation for these programs is NOT to benefit communities in need; it is to keep them dependent and most importantly, complacent...bad off but surviving...in many ways, any “top down government assistance” is given to avoid the REVOLUTION that would come.... from a PEOPLE with nothing to lose.
The world for a sociologist is one big science experiment. Wasting away hours on Facebook, reading through the chatter of numerous internet sites and blogs, or watching the propaganda of cable news provides a plethora of data to analyze. The conclusion I reach time and time again is that most are living an illusion, busy with daily distractions, manipulated by powerful OR ideological interest groups on all sides of debate. Most approach the world experiment through a veil of perception instead of reality.
It explains why a Latina woman from the Bronx who graduated from elite universities and became a Supreme Court nominee can be called a racist, but a system that has had 108 white men Supreme Court justices is “color blind”.
It explains why health care for profit benefits someone who can’t afford to pay for it and not the entities that profit from it, but public health care for all hurts those that will be covered (many for the first time).
It explains how a white cop who arrests a black professor for talking shit is not expected to apologize but a black president has to (for calling said cop stupid). It makes it possible for white and blacks to see the same situation completely different. Most whites believe the cop was in the right; most blacks believe that if the professor had been white, he would not have been arrested in his own home…no matter how much shit he talked.
It explains why corporate interests can decry government regulation but accept government funds for bailouts.
It is explained by rising racial violence in a supposedly “post-racial” world.
It is explained by leftists who criticize Obama for compromising to get things done in Washington, but never question the compromises they make in their own lives (jobs, habits, actions or…more correctly inaction).
It explains how if you say 9/11 and Saddam Hussein in the same sentence enough times you can create the illusion of a connection that will lead to an endless war that kills, maims, and displaces hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and kills, maims, and mentally and emotionally scars, thousands of young GIs.
It is framing. And it is THE true threat to reality and humanity. Chuck D was right…Don’t believe the hype! Take off the veil…be it your ideology, perception, or miseducation. There is a truth out there…and it is universal. We reap what we sow. No need for intentions, explanations, rationalizations, or repudiations; just actions. First plan of action: Seek the truth.