“We have come so far. We’ve made so much progress.” How many times have you heard this–or said this? Straight to the point: I take major issue with such statements.
First of all, we tend to say or hear these statements whenever there are cries of racism or injustice based upon race. This means that such statements are reactionary–intellectually back peddling in order to invalidate claims of injustice. Secondly, there is the assumption that, of course we’ve made progress. Let’s be honest about this for a moment.
The eminent John Henrik Clarke has noted that there is no reason for us to believe that “things will get better,” as people often say. We should not equate technological progress with any other kind. One form of progress does not beget or entail or even imply another. For example, while we may make progress with regard to the democratic process, there is no reason to assume that such progression will lead to technological progress. Likewise, progress in the world of sports science does not imply progress in the historical accuracy of history books in public K-12 education. My point is that living in a technologically advanced nation has no impact on the socio-cultural structure of our society in regards to various forms of inequality–namely, racial inequality.
What even is the point in saying that we have made progress? Why do people so quickly jump to such conclusions? When I offer the overwhelming proof that a racial hierarchy is alive and well in the U.S. (and globally for that matter), what is the goal of replying, “Well, we’ve made so much progress. Look how far we’ve come”? This is not to suggest that some progress has not been made, but let us all be FULLY aware of the costs Blacks paid in order to bring about this “progress.”
When, I ask you, has any White institution ever done the right thing because it was the right thing to do? Academically, everything we know about conflict tells us that no group willingly relinquishes power through moral-suasion alone. The progress that we have seen here has come at such a great cost. It is impossible to even know how many Blacks lost their lives in the process of making progress. Let’s be historically accurate. Whites have fought against every plea for social justice that Blacks have made. In opposition to recognizing the basic humanity of Afrikan peoples, Whites have effectively created religions, ideologies, policies, stumbling blocks, de jure and de facto social rules, and more. These war fronts were almost always accompanied by death, disease, and physical destruction of the Black body.
Stop that! Stop patting yourselves on the back White people. Do you really expect the Afrikan body to be grateful to you for raping, pillaging, exploiting, and outright murdering us since the first contact between our groups now that you don’t do it as often or as overtly? Get over yourselves!
Okay. Let me calm down. My point is that there is no assumption of moral progression with humanity. During Jim Crow, Whites were often found saying that things were much better for Blacks. This from the communities of people who would treat a hanging and the ritualized murdering of pregnant Black women like Shakespearean plays. Thanks for the progress! Black people have had to fight for every gain we have in this nation, and the struggle continues. A fundamental aspect of the Black experience is struggle for self-determination, and we are not alone in this. Everywhere that you find Whites involved with peoples of color, the results are always the same, and the most amazing thing is that the people of color are blamed for their plight.
Be ashamed of yourself for trying to invalidate the Black experience. Be ashamed for trying to soften the blow of chattel slavery here. Be ashamed for trying to ignore the desperate abjectivity that this nation has created (Obama, be ashamed for not attending that conference on racism!).
Have we made progress? Indeed we have. It has come at great costs to us–and counting! How many Black leaders were snuffed out before they were able to accomplish the goal of improving the stock of her/his people?
I’m getting off subject again. I won’t try to deny the passion that bubbles in me when I think of the plight of my people worldwide. I have come to expect the unexpected from White people, and I am never shocked to hear of some atrocity that a person or group of color suffers at the hands of a White man. This is not to say that we ought to kill off the White race. In fact, the destructive effects of the White-Black relationship causes me to value my White friends who are anti-racist so much more. They are few and far in between.
Let’s be more conscious of what we are actually saying when we say that we have made so much progress or come so far. Such progress is not promised. There is no universal law requiring an end to racial politics. So just stop (Blacks and Whites) trying to create one or suggest that one exists. We will continue the struggle–internally and externally. We will continue to try to own our collective destinies by our own definitions. White people may not get the anger that we feel. You may not be able to grasp the gravity of our situation, but that’s cool.
It really is a Black thing. You wouldn’t understand (even if you wanted to).