Presentations of white Superiority Historically and Presently
The historic presentations of white superiority have been very overt. Illogical and foundationless arguments have been perpetuated as truth in all media forums to condition both whites and Blacks of this notion. Unfortunately for everyone, both groups bought the idea and we still see people suffering from complexes associated with it today.
We know that the Bible was used to justify slavery. Whether it was the misinterpretation of Cain’s mark (Genesis 4:15) or Ham’s curse (Genesis 9:20-27), these stories were marketing tools that helped sell the idea that Blacks were not only naturally inferior, but orchestrated by God to be inferior. Africans were branded as uncivilized, brute, unintelligent, and incapable of reaching certain levels of intelligence. In the late 1700s Negroes were depicted in scientific depictions that connected them to apes (Charles White’s An Account of the Regular Gradation in Man, and in Different Animals and Vegetables). These and similar “findings” were used to create the idea that race could be itemized on the great chain of being where whites were above all other races and Blacks were at the very bottom.
The General Arguments:
White people have souls. Black people do not.
Whites are next to God on the Great Chain of Being. Blacks are next to animals.
Blacks are physically strong, but mentally weak (and were created this way because they were made to serve others, namely whites).
Whites have intellectual abilities that Blacks don’t have.
Blacks can’t read.
Blacks can’t go to school because they can’t learn or be taught.
Blacks are people who orders should be given to, not taken from.
Blacks have no rights that any white is duty bound to respect.
Anytime a Black man or woman rose above the low expectations—which were based on nothing but hate and stupidity, scholars of the day shot them down or wrote some thesis to explain why the achieving Black was an exception (Phillis Wheatley). More than this, whites used violent and illegal means to keep Blacks in their “places”. (Among other, see race riots/ massacres in Wilmington, NC 1898; Tulsa, OK 1921; Rosewood, FL 1923).
Present presentations of white superiority are not as overt but more abundant. Similar arguments are used, but in with a different slant. Instead of saying whites have intellectual abilities that Blacks don’t have, for instance, we talk about the “achievement gap” between whites and Blacks and how whites excel above and beyond their Black counterparts academically.
Instead of saying that Blacks can’t read, society compares scores on standardized tests between the races and discuss the levels at which Blacks read compared to whites. Instead of saying the Black’s can’t go to school, they magnify the quotas and exceptions that are created so Blacks can get a “superior” education at Ivy League schools instead of the “inferior” education from Historically Black Colleges/ Universities.
As I reflect on why I’ve spent so much time on this issue, it is because too many people in my generation and the generations beneath mine are operating under the misguided assumption that racism is gone and that the playing field is level… that things are different. If we uncritically accept such lies, we will never appropriately address the issues (internally and externally) that we need to address that we may move from where we have been for the past 400 years to where we were created to be.