D’Souza: It is not the end of racism

The first decade of the 1900s witnessed an influx of different essays, discourses, and pseudoscientific theories on racial comparisons.

Academics chimed in from all corners, pushing the conception of white supremacy. These pioneers of bigoted literature described African-Americans as lazy and intemperate and thus seriously handicapped by inherent qualities. While sentiment today among many Americans would voice that similar viewpoints are to be condemned, history repeated itself Thursday at Chapin Hall during Dinesh D’Souza’s visit to Williams.

In front of a sizable crowd, D’Souza pleaded for evidence of racism in the everyday life of African, Latino and Hispanic Americans that thwart anyone from the achieving the ‘American Dream.’

He argued that the “invisible hand of white racism” does not exist today and that America should move toward reestablishing ‘the norm.’ He concluded that African-Americans have continued to test lower and will never succeed as much as whites due to cultural behavior differences within black culture.

I would invite D’Souza to question upper-middle class and affluent African-Americans and Hispanics, whom D’Souza would incorrectly conclude have achieved the ‘American Dream,’ on the persistence of racial barriers. He would be surprised to learn that studies show far and above that middle-class and upper-class blacks are more frustrated by racism then any other people in the country.

Why? Either African-Americans, regardless of economic status, in the words of former President Woodrow Wilson, are “insolent and aggressive, sick of work, [and] covetous of pleasure,” or, in fact, the ‘invisible hand’ of racism, in actuality, is quite visible in American society.

Although white males make up only 43% of the workforce, they occupy 97% of the top executive positions at America’s 1,500 largest corporations. In 1990, 32,000 more young whites were arrested for violent crimes than black youths, yet 300 more young blacks were placed in custody than young whites, and 200 more were tried as adults (L.A. Times, 1993).

Historically speaking, the ‘norm’ of American society has been influenced by institutionalized racism and social prejudice against nonwhites. Point to any time period in American history, from the falsities of “separate but equal” and inherent white supremacy, to Jim Crow and the glass ceiling, racism against nonwhites will be evident.

D’Souza uses the term ‘old racism’ to describe the theories of white supremacy and (to use his words) “believed” enslavement.

The idea that white people are superior to all other people based on white skin and white culture, therefore making blacks inferior due to their nature, fits in the realm of ‘old racism.’ He argues ‘old racism’ ended with the defeat of Hitler in WWII and with it the notion of white supremacy. He sees supremacist views as racist and that they should not be supported.

Yet, he also stated that the current problem with the situation of African-Americans in this country lies in black culture-that is to say, the attitude, motivation, and behavioral patterns of blacks has and will always to lead to a lower status.

There is a contradiction in his logic. How can he condemn the ideas of white supremacy and black inferiority, and at the same time conclude that black culture will continuously and undoubtedly lead to poor performance by blacks? It is virtually the identical argument that was created during the European conquest of Africa, nurtured during slavery, artfully refined during the peak of segregation, and revived and maintained by conservative policies today.

An interesting note: D’Souza, an immigrant in 1978, is originally from India. Yes India — where British colonialism ruled for several hundred years, and as a consequence, many of his own people suffered in great poverty because the British stole the wealth and attempted to destroy the culture of Indian people. I would hope he looks upon this as a tragedy, and praises the efforts of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, yet, during his speech he chose to describe the British colonialism of African countries as an “amazing accomplishment for European power.”

What can you say about a man who hides his own history, the abuse and torment of his own people, and then attempts to dismiss the history of oppression in this country, and the ripple effects of institutionalized racism past and present?