restricted access From the Editors: Issues and Comments
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134 Issues and Comments Martin luther King, Jr., in a collection entitled Where Do We Go from Here? Chaos or Community? (1967) highlights a different dimension of white supremacist thought and ideology. While Professor Ezekiel concentrates on their most recent manifestations, the Nobel laureate and civil rights leader draws attention to their origin in early elite colonial circles. King remarks: Generally, we think of white supremacist views as having their origins with the unlettered, underprivileged , poor-class whites. But the social obstetricians who presided at the birth of racist views in our country were from the aristocracy: rich merchants, influential clergymen, men of medical science, historians and political scientists from some of the leading universities of the nation. With such a distinguished company . what was there to inspire poor, illiterate, unskilled whi te farmers to think otherwise? Early in our history, then, the doctrine of white supremacy was incorporated into textbooks, sermons, and other cultural expressions, becoming over time part of the country's cultural structure. The Supreme Court ratified it in the Dred Scott decision, which held that black people had no rights that whites were bound to respect. King points out that practically "all of the Founding Fathers. ., even those who rose to the heights of the Presidency, those whom we cherish as our authentic heroes, were so enmeshed in the ethos of slavery and white supremacy that not one ... emerged with a clear, unambiguous stand on Negro rights." King points out that George Washington was a slaveholder who only allowed Negroes to enter the Continental Army because the British were attempting to recruit them to His Majesty's cause; that Jefferson , in Notes on the State of Virginia, portrayed the Negro as greatly inferior to the white in intellect and morals (although better at picking out tunes on the "bajar"); and that even lincoln was perplexed over what to do about blacks and wrote that the only answer might be to send them back to Africa or to the West Indies or some other isolated location. From the Editors: Issues and Comments Is the white race endangered? Beleaguered? In disfavor? "Imposed upon," as Delgado and Stefancic put it? Is this sense of imposition or beleaguerment real or imagined? Do whites sometimes feign sympathy for the struggles of nonwhite groups in order to get government off their backs, as Davison Douglas reports in his study of Southern desegregation? Some whites subscribe to color blindness, the notion that the best way to think about other races is not at all. But does not one need to notice another person 's race before deciding not to notice it-that is, as the foundation for resolving to treat that other exactly as you would if he or she were like you? Are all, some, or many whites racist, in the sense of Ezekiel's Racist Mind? How many embrace the dismal metaphor of which Marvin Jones writes? Is it burdensome for whites to have to take account of each new ethnic group that comes forward demanding recognition or to learn the new politically correct term of the month? And what do you make of Dinesh D'Souza's call for an "end of racism"? Is it possible? Feasible? Would it entail first getting rid of race? Or beCopyrighted Material Suggested Readings 135 coming even more conscious of it and our own participation (complicity 1) in the various myths that sustain it1Is whiteness "transparent" to most whites, as Barbara Flagg says, so that they do not even notice their own preconceptions and practices 1 Suggested Readings ANATOMY OF RACISM (David T. Goldberg, ed. 1990). Ball, Milner S., Stories of Origin and Constitutional Possibilities, 87 MICH. L. REV. 1855 (1989). Bell, Derrick A, Jr., After We're Gone: Prudent Speculations on America in a Post-Racial Epoch, 34 ST. LoUIS U. L.}. 393 (1990). Bell, Derrick A, Jr., AND WE ARE NOT SAVED: THE ELUSIVE QUEST FOR RACIAL JUSTICE (1987). Bell, Derrick A, Jr., FACES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WELL (1992). Carter, Stephen L., When Victims Happen to Be Black, 97 YALE L.J. 420 (1988). Delgado, Richard, Rodrigo's Eighth Chronicle: Black Crime, White Fears: On the Social Construction of Threat, 80 VA. L. REV. 503 (1994). Forbes, Jack, The Manipulation of Race, Caste, and Identity: Classifying AfroAmerican, Native American, and Red-Black People, 17 J. ETHNIC STUD. 1 (1990). FROM DIFFERENT SHORES: PERSPECTIVES ON RACE AND ETHNICITY IN AMERICA (Ron Takaki, ed., 1987). Hacker, Andrew, Two NATIONS: BLACK AND WHITE...