Our oppression of the black woman

Chapter 50




The humiliation and psychological terror in the previous famous song has a special impact on black or other colored or religiously veiled women. Slavery's and post-slavery's cult of sacred white womanhood has been continued in white advertising's propaganda.



Always the black woman has been told that white skin and straight hair is the right thing to have. Many blacks have even tried to "pass" as whites that way.



To survive our destructive impact, the black woman began making herself white with skin-lightening crème and to straighten her frizzy hair in a complicated and painful process.



Her children, who go through similar torture, must reason, that if they have to endure so much pain to become acceptable, they really must have been ugly before this process started.



So much have they internalized our racist thinking that they endlessly torment each other for having too dark a skin color.



Along with negative myths about the black woman's sexuality (which always are created around rape victims), this systematic devaluation of the black woman has left deep scars today.



When black women in Harvard Law School objected to the nude photos in my slide show, we agreed that they should hold a meeting to decide if I should use these photos in an American context.



They did not think that I had been sexually exploiting the poor black women who despite strong peer pressure had the courage to shelter me as a vagabond.



For they knew very well that the black American woman - contrary to what I later found in Africa - has developed enormous defense mechanisms against the white man in response to centuries of abuse.



Even when black women had shown me intimacy I had usually sensed how they couldn't help signaling that this was too big a historical abscess to puncture: - the relationship between a free and an unfree person!

If I didn't make this clear for white viewers I should not use the pictures.



For their uneasiness - these later successful lawyers said - was exactly a result of having to such a degree internalized white beauty ideals that they associate everything negative and ugly with black nakedness - or like white racists - reduce them to sexual images. (Read here about the historical roots of these feelings).



The black woman was always told to deny those sides in herself considered feminine by a sexist society.
Always she had to slave in the house for the white woman, who for her part, was cultivated as something sublime.



First claim was placed on child rearing of white children. She had not much time for her own children, whom she had to humiliate and treat in a rough way to make them capable of surviving a racist society - thereby giving them a separate character.



Whites use such explanations to hint, that with the character blacks received from slavery and continued exclusion they make it impossible for us to integrate them. The victim is again blamed for not being integrated!

If you want you to hear how I came to these conclusions you may want to read this:

When I traveled about in Florida's slave camps I discovered a great difference in the degree to which this psychological terror has oppressed the mind in different countries. One of the camps contained only blacks from Jamaica who astonished me by keeping their camps neat, for instance, while the Americans would throw trash all over in their camps. Liberal scholars explain these differences in character by going back to chattel slavery. Where the blacks in Latin America and the West Indies today are more integrated in society, it is because the Latin form of slavery was feudalistic and in its nature open. The church protected the slave families from being divided and there was possibility of upward mobility and freedom. In America, on the other hand, slavery was capitalistic; even the church defined the slave as a sales item rather than a human being, and there was no possibility of psychological escape. The capitalist type of slavery was a closed system, while the feudal kind was an open system and therefore not as destructive to the mind. Slavery in the U.S. has therefore been compared with German concentration camps, where it was possible to study the effect of a totally closed system on human beings. Diaries written in concentration camps by intellectuals show how, in a short time, they were degraded to sub-human status and began to develop a psyche much like the average slave in the States - including an almost loving attitude toward the camp guards (in any case not direct hatred) which led to total resignation and a budding sense of irresponsibility and infantilism in many prisoners.

No matter how tempting such theories are for liberals in trying to explain the separate character of the American underclass, they once again shift the blame onto something which happened more than a hundred years ago. Indirectly they are saying that the character blacks received "hack in slavery" makes it impossible "for us" to integrate them into white society. The victim is again being blamed for not being integrated. Yet any such distinct characteristics show, on the contrary, that slavery is alive and well today. For character traits are not passed down through generations, and when they persist it is shocking proof that the underclass is still locked up in a closed system.



Any such distinct underclass character shows, on the contrary, that slavery exist today.  




The crippling which occurs to black children's minds always astonished me until I became aware of the closed ghetto system. Many of the young black girls I met were full of cheerfulness and freshness. But later they seemed to be exposed to a process of strangulation. They would easily become depressed and withdraw into a shell which seemed to be a form of protection.



They very early adopt our negative white expectations of them, and from around fourth grade they become so aware of the closed system that black children start to fall behind the whites in school -- the vicious circle has, in other words, become self-reinforcing.



We see a similar pattern in Muslim children in Europe today - just as Russian Jews - newly arrived from their closed ghetto system - scored extremely low on American I.Q. tests before they were allowed to integrate into the white American melting pot.



But the strongest indication of slavery is without doubt the self-hatred. That self-hatred which makes underclass children tear the hair out of their black dolls, or makes them draw themselves in the corner of the paper, while white kids place themselves in the middle.



That self-hatred which makes people react violently against their surroundings by throwing trash around and constantly engage in backstabbing - both verbally and literally.



All people suffer to some degree from self-contempt, but the self-disdain in the American underclass is so severe that it helps confer upon it one of the world's highest rates of crime and family disintegration as well as perhaps the smallest degree of mutual trust possessed by any colonized people in the world.



When we see how aggression -- as always in oppression -- more often is turned against fellow victims rather than against the oppressor.....



 ....when we experience the uncontrollable anger in American blacks, - we begin to understand the effect of the closed system we are daily confining them to - the ghetto ... or slavery here and now!