There was a controversial book in the 90s called, “The End of Racism.” The author suggested racism, as it exists today, developed through The Scientific Age and The Enlightenment, and didn’t exist in antiquity. (Howard University professor Frank Snowden Jr. pointed this out in the 70s and 80s in books called “Blacks in Antiquity” and “Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks.”)
The enlightenment was supposed to replace the superstitions of antiquity with science and reason, but science and reason had myths of their own.
In an interview, The End of Racism’s author suggested that the Europeans were so impressed with their own ideas and inventions that they found other cultures primitive, and racism was the “commonsensical” way to explain the differences.
This “commonsensical” explanation was their declaration of White superiority, which, in itself, does not imply innate inferiority of other racial groups, but a doctrine developed that the White race should rule society because they were superior.
Now, the Europeans knew this doctrine of White supremacy was a delusion of grandeur. The early settlers wouldn’t have survived in the New World without the superior knowledge of the Native Americans, and the Europeans consciously chose to import Africans as slaves to the New World because of their superior ability to adapt to different environments.
But the Europeans wanted their descendants to have dominion over the modern world. So they had to make their myth of supremacy a reality. And since the scientific age didn’t invent a concoction to make Europeans naturally superior, they manufactured the inferiority of other groups.
We all know this was done by oppressive laws and degrading rules that prohibited development and denied humanity to non-Whites for centuries. But human progress and societal change can’t be prevented, and by the midpoint of the 20th century the White dominance hierarchy collapsed.
During this time period, there was a revolution of attitudes and a rejection of White supremacy. But at the same time the remaining supporters of the declining White dominance structure had an epiphany. They realized they were the final victims of their doctrine, because they had a false sense of superiority in a world that embraced equality.
The author of The End of Racism said he wrote the book to point out that racism had a modern historical beginning, and if it has a beginning it can have an end. The author’s thoughts were dismissed as infantile.
But it’s not infantile to state that the White dominance structure of the past centuries has ended. Recently in Charlottesville, Va., White supremacists were protesting a local decision to remove a statue of confederate general, Robert E. Lee, from a park. (This has to be the biggest demonstration of powerlessness in the history of White supremacy.) And counter protesters showed up to denounce this empty display of White power, violence broke out, and one person’s life was lost.
Twenty five years ago the author of The End of Racism said young people today born after the Civil Rights movement believe in the idea of equality. They can’t imagine putting someone in the back of the bus, but what concerns me is that these young people are being corrupted into thinking of themselves in racial terms, so the possibilities of the future are being diminished.
(J. Pharoah Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier. He blogs at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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