For decades now, whenever we have civil unrest in the country the disturbances are usually laid at the feet of “black rage.” But while rage by blacks against oppression and brutality is most often cited as the culprit, Emory University Professor Carol Anderson, in her most recent book, White Rage, posits that the real root causes for such disturbances is instead white rage. She makes a strong case that, indeed, since the Civil War, most of the ills of the nation that have led to black unrest can be laid at the feet of whites.
Professor Anderson lays out — in a relatively slim volume — in exacting and excruciating detail the extreme violence that has been perpetrated against African-Americans since our arrival to these shores, but particularly after what can best be described as “so-called” emancipation. Before slaves were freed they were property, and no slaveholder killed a slave except in the rarest of circumstances due to their high value, but after that defining conflict, lynching became almost as common as lashings.
By tracing Southern whites’ attitudes towards blacks up through Jim Crow, sharecropping and legal segregation, Anderson traces the hatred that played out against us in the form of rage … rage over losing the war and their “property.”
This book is important for one particular reason: It provides a framework for the hatreds we see playing out in America today. The hatred of “the other” that white Americans seem all too willing to engage in springs from the fact they are so practiced at it since they’ve been hating black Americans with such a virulence for so many centuries.
In the book Dr. Anderson details how the efforts of the Southern white legal establishment — aided and abetted by U.S. presidents and various Supreme Courts over time — enacted laws that seemingly were designed to protect their unfair advantages and way of life, but actually hurt national progress.
After the Brown Vs. Board of Education decision, state after state devised onerous laws that have had the effect of lowering educational attainment not just for blacks, but for whites as well. A friend recently told me that ATT has 11,000 jobs they cannot fill due to a lack of qualified applicants in technical fields. This, in fact, can be laid directly at the feet of a school system purposefully broken to deny blacks quality educations.
While Carol Anderson holds out a glimmer of hope at the end of the book that whites will realize the error of their ways and mend them, I’m not so optimistic. Time after time, as she so adequately details, when African-Americans have made progress it has been “two steps forward and one step back.”
What we are witnessing now in this country is the unraveling of the gains of the Obama era. Reactionary whites formulate the lie that blacks’ gains came at their expense, and therefore hurting us somehow helps them … but it doesn’t. It only hurts the country.
That’s why I’m now convinced that the two Americas cannot live in harmony; white rage won’t abide it. It’s time to begin considering a two-country solution, and this meticulously compiled and crafted book only reinforces my belief. Like so much else hatred despoils, our motto now is turning into “United we fall, divided we stand.”
From Cool Cleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.com