I was able to borrow Corey Robin’s The Enigma of Clarence Thomas from my local library after thinking about these themes for so long. As I read it in hardcover, I don’t have a set of notes, so I thought I could write a summary from his eyes:
There has been a corruption of the black man in America. It is a corruption led by progressives seeking to atone for America’s long history of slavery and post-slavery racism. The root cause of racism is unknown, therefore we can never hope to defeat it. Heavy racism will always exist, regardless of our best intentions as a society.
The progressive path is a path proven to fail. The reason why is our political systems are systems led by (racist) whites. Improvements suggested by white people, implemented in systems controlled by white people are simply another means of control of black people by white people.
It does not matter whether the intention of a program is honorable or not. The end result is always the same. Programs meant to help the underprivileged simply set up guidelines to help others abuse them.
Programs like affirmative action reinforce who is in control (white people), making a black man’s success dependent on the recognition and charity of the white man. I know, because I have lived it for myself. Even if a black man is lifted through such a program, there will always be a stigma, both to people who view the man, and within the man himself, that this was only possible with whites’ help.
If schools really cared about equity, they wouldn’t use affirmative action to “bestow” opportunity to blacks. Instead, they would look at other ways to evaluate individuals that wouldn’t bias against blacks in the first place. The reason they don’t is simple: elitism. Schools (the white men who control them) have no desire to give up their power. Anyone’s claims for diversity is merely superficial; you want things to look fair not you want things to be fair.
Eminent domain is supposed to provide fair compensation for the use of land. Let’s talk about what it really is: the right for a government to take advantage of poor (usually black) people, giving “fair” price for land that is immediately gentrified or magnified in value once blacks are disposed of. This “protection” simply makes it easier for those who know how to play the game (wealthy whites in power) to once again take advantage of blacks.
It’s futile for blacks to seek political power – they can never change things when they will always be outvoted at large. Instead, the path forward for the black man is through the economy, through capitalism.
The black man must create his own institutions, develop his own wealth, and then use his economic wealth to speak, to breath power into his politics. Talk is cheap, it’s money that proves the real values of a man. Therefore, one’s use of money needs to be freed. One needs to be allowed to use his money in any way he likes, he must have the ability to earn money in any way he likes. If money can help a man’s viewpoint get visibility, he must have the freedom to use his money to get this viewpoint, communicated by intermediaries, across.
He must have access to guns. Yes, this means white people will have the means to hunt him down, but they always did anyway. A right to bear arms means he can now protect his property, his family, his woman.
The police are surely racist. But this racism is what can make the black man strong. Survive and be stronger for it. What progressive rights have done are to make the black man weak. Things like welfare and social services allow the black man to learn dependency. They prevent him from understanding the truth of America and forging him into someone who can overcome hardships and lead a new generation – his own family. Instead, these efforts let him leave his responsibilities as a man. Prisoners are being punished for crimes. Punishment = a different set of rights versus normal citizens. These penalties are critical in making a black man who can survive America.
I’ve been able to live through both types of black men. My father was a liar who left me. I could never understand why he never felt responsibilities towards his own children. My mother could not raise me. It was left to my grandfather to teach me the values to survive in America, as an entrepreneur who refused to suck on the government’s tit.
The black man can never be dependent on anyone other than other black people. We are on our own. We must be left free to our devices to succeed.
Back to me again: Robin’s book helped me think a lot about racism. In some ways, perhaps Thomas is right. I do agree on his thoughts on diversity and elitism (I am also someone who takes advantage of it) in institutions. What I do not know is if we should just give up. I’ve heard Thomas referred to as a black nationalist and I never understood what that meant until I read the book: to me, it means creating a black nation-like entity within America. Blacks do their thing and be left alone, and whites the same.
The problem I see there is how that extrapolates into the future. I feel that if you want to achieve progress in economy, humanity -> move towards the Star Trek utopia where everyone is united on a common mission, you cannot do it divided. If you’re just thinking about the now, with no aspirations for mankind, then his view is fine. We can be stuck in the middle ages forever. You just live your life in the same place with your “people”, have kids, die. If we are simply animals, that’s the way.
If you want to explore the potential of humankind, however, it has to be different.
Perhaps that goes back into the core roots of conservatism vs progressive thinking, I don’t know. But from a selfish American standpoint, if I want to see the American economy to keep growing, I feel I need to find ways to get everyone to be part of the success. Extracting my wealth from the bottom may make me better off, but doesn’t grow the American pie. I want to see everyone contributing and befitting to maximize what humans can do.