With all the racial talk post-Zimmerman verdict, I’d like to take some time to explore the deeper issue here: America. What most of its citizens fail to understand is that this nation doesn’t exist; it is a myth. The U.S. is not a nation; it is a state; not States as the moniker falsely suggests. There is one state and there are many nations within that state. The idea of one nation is a myth; a myth that’s predicated upon one ideal: Whiteness.
When we talk about the “American Dream,” this is really what we’re discussing. When we talk about forming “a more perfect Union,” this is what’s at the heart of it. It’s not ultimately about embracing diversities into a unified whole, it’s about reinforcing a hierarchal structure that seeks to keep Whiteness at the top. So, in essence, forming a more perfect Union is just a euphemism for creating an even larger divide between those who are White and those who are not—or phrased another way—driving a bigger wedge between the Non-minority (Majority or the White race) and the minorities (non-White peoples).
Post-Racialism vs. Abolitionism
There’s a difference between someone who is post-racial and an abolitionist. Abolishing chattel slavery was only one step of the process. In order for all enslaved-Africans (otherwise known as Black or African-Americans) to really be free, the idea of Whiteness itself must be abolished. Not just the term, but the idea; the socio-political construct and all the privileges and benefits that come along with that. A post-racialist just seeks to kill racial identification while maintaining the American or White ideal, but a abolitionist wishes to cast off all ties to Whiteness and its effects on all non-White parties.
In this context, America and Whiteness can be used interchangeably. Because when we talk about America, what we are really discussing is a White-normative society. So, the U.S. would more aptly be called The White State of America. When you think of America, you think of Whiteness. You also think of the corporate brands that fuel the capitalist system, like: McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. You may even think of The Jackson 5 and Apple Pies, but who owns Michael Jackson and who’s baking that pie? As an outsider, when you think of Black people in the context of America, you either think thug or entertainer (slave). So, if you Black and ain’t tap dancing, you must be robbing somebody.
This is the backbone of how America works. There is only one problem: The less White the U.S. becomes, the less American it is and the mythology begins to shatter. This is where we are with it right now. We’re at a crucial place in the history of this conglomerate of nations. The state is becoming less White everyday—so in effort to save it—it’s commodifying Whiteness to whomever is willing to sell their souls for it; even non-White people.
In my previous piece, Unlocking The Mystery Of Hyphenated Racism, I unpack how folks of white skin—who at one point in America’s history— were not considered to be White. We’re talking your Jews, Italians, the Irish, the Slavevic—sorry—Slavic people. So, as the State started losing grips on its America, it expanded its definition of Whiteness. Overnight, racism went from being a thing of class distinction to one of color. But did it really?
A Boarding Pass To The White State of America
Now that Whiteness is at the most desperate place it’s ever been, it is selling Whiteness to those who don’t meet the white color requirement, hence post-race. But it’s not really post-race, it’s just post-White identification. A post-racialist has absolutely no missive to abandon any of the stereotypical connotations that come with glorifying Whiteness or subjugating Blackness, or any other so-called minority. A post-racialist just wishes to expand the definition of Whiteness so it can still enjoy the perks of dominating and sustaining a permanent underclass.
Broadening the definition of Whiteness without calling it “White” is a smart chess move. It keeps the current power structures in tact while promising those who have been oppressed by their non-whiteness a slice of the Apple Pie. It is the evolution of the same idea the ruling class had when they started selling Whiteness to their low-class, white-skinned constituents. But this is all a mirage. The ruling class is never going to let folks of lower class distinction in, regardless of skin color; just like a white-skinned person who is post-race will not so easily let go of their fear of black skin and the imagery that has been created around Blackness.
This is why, as a Black community, we must fully come to terms with what Blackness is before we’re so quick to discard the title completely. It is also imperative that we come to a thorough understanding of what Blackness means in relation to Whiteness, and vice versa. As I said earlier, this is not a nation of states—but rather—a state of many nations. This is key to the Black American, because it’s the one thing we haven’t built since we’ve been here: a Black Nation.
It’s Nation Time!
So, if this is not a nation of states, but a state of nations; and if Black people have yet to build a nation, that means the only identity we have here is to serve the colony. The closest we’ve come to nation building was at the height of the Civil Rights Movement—pre integration. It’s why segregation was the impetus behind Black autonomy, and why integration is chiefly responsible for decimating what little we were able to build post-Emancipation Proclamation, which is a misnomer. We didn’t gain emancipation, equality, or liberation with the aforementioned document nor the Civil Rights Act of 1964. America offered us the illusion of participation in Whiteness—The American Dream—and we abandoned a certain part of our Blackness as a result.
We should have continued nation building, as Brother Malcolm wanted us to. Though the Black Power Movement tried to pick up the slack, it was destroyed by anti-Black intelligence agencies. What parts of the Black community weren’t dismantled by those missives were wiped out by crack cocaine and the subsequent War on Drugs—which might as well have been called the War on Black America.
Individuals can be sustained by riches, but nations are built on wealth. There is a big difference between income and wealth. Income is the amount of capital you’re able to generate on a regular basis; wealth is the length of time you’re able to sustain that capital to maintain a certain quality of life. We have many high-profile celebrities that have generated tons of income, but as Black Americans, we have virtually no wealth. In order to qualify as a nation, we must first begin to build wealth in our communities.
The 3 Bs
There are only 3 simple things the Black community must do in order to set this in motion. I call it The 3 Bs: Support Black culture, build Black businesses, and buy Black. That’s it! Well, if it’s so simple, why don’t we do it? Because we’re too busy supporting our oppression by financing and worshipping Whiteness.
So, when George Zimmerman was handed a not guilty verdict, it wasn’t a question of was he guilty of the crime. We all know he did it. What he ultimately received was a membership pass to the United State of Whiteness where the life of a Black man has always been expendable.
So on that fateful night Trayvon Benjamin Martin was murdered at the hands of his non-White brother, not only was it an assassination on a young man’s life, but another death blow to Black America.
Blood On The Leaves
It’s sad that a young man’s life had to be sacrificed for a conversation on a national level to arise. Just the other day, I stated: “There’s no point of celebrating a Black President if he doesn’t use his candidacy to spark a national discussion on race. Now is the time!” Unbeknownst to me, as soon as I voiced it, President Obama was giving his first address post-verdict. I spoke truth to power and called it forth. Timing is everything and juju is real.
Though I have not been a fan of Obama, so far, what he said was really important. It was the first time he addressed what it means to be a Black man in America, which if there’s going to be any point to having an African President—at this point—that would be it. This is the first time any President has done this in U.S. history, and it carries more weight because he’s coming from the perspective of a person who has lived the life of a Black American male with Black American experiences.
I give President Obama a one-hand clap for addressing Blackness. Now let’s pray that he addresses the real issue in America: Whiteness.
Fear Of A Black Planet
But it can’t end there. The President is only as good as the people he represents. If we’re not willing to take a stand for justice in our daily lives, we certainly can’t expect him to. We have to literally force him to speak for us, which is what gave voice to his briefing on race. He must peacefully be forced to act on behalf of the people. Greatness is more often a byproduct of peer pressure than it is a birthright. A good example of this is the Harlem Renaissance.
When the bar is set high, you have to be great to even matter.
We have a real opportunity to gain the kind of leverage needed to matter in this country, but without building a nation, we’ll have no voice.
I implore every member of the Black community to use its collective strength in the edification of a Black Nation within the United States of America.
— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop