I write from a place of extreme frustration. I will eschew implementing the term anger as my term of choice, because “angry” has become synonymous with black emotion. Particularly, “anger” has become banal in compartmentalizing justified black emotion/action, and white extremism in “response” to what conventionally functions as anger. I write this piece as an effort to ease my mind, and to eschew individualizing a collective black experience.
Without granting too much energy to an undeserving source, I will provide you with the crux of the dilemma at hand. To summarize a long and tedious experience, I was assigned to work alongside a white male on a departmental task to which his contributions were delinquent, a delinquency he casually displaced onto me. His actions, while both insulting and enraging, are also quite predictable.
His behavior mirrors that of the whites who created the construct of blackness to project their shortcomings and deficiencies onto black bodies. The white delinquent performs a masterful act of deflection in which whites speak a language internalized and understood by all white people—something is wrong, so a black person must have caused this error.
A quick skim through Ida B Well’s Southern Horrors, or any short-lived black publication throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, illustrate the countless black fatalities and conventional misfortune that resulted from said scapegoating. Thus, what makes this experience so troubling is not its racist stench, but that it reflects the same white cowardice that transformed too many black bodies into corpses.
In the provided example, the initiative and legwork were executed solely by a black body. Yet it is a fictive black error that deterred his contribution. In his world of white male supremacy, white delinquency is non-existent. In its place is a black body, or as seen through the oppositional gaze— a blank canvass to be painted with the sin of white men (an women). His actions are identical to the countless white men who blamed their crimes on innocent black people who they eventually murdered, and the countless white women who also perpetuated these myths of black criminality and inferiority destroying or ending the lives of many–case in point Emmett Till. White deception through deflection is a functional facet of insanity to which the white body eschews the reality of their delinquency.
In The United Independent Compensatory Code/System/Concept A Compensatory Counter-Racist Code, Neely Fuller outlines what he calls the “three basic goals sought out by most people in the known universe” as follows:
- To survive by any means necessary
- To dominate others through deceit and or direct violence including the threat of direct violence
- To establish “peace.”
It may seems as though only the second point is applicable to the provided situation, whereas all three bullets issue insight into the thinking of a white supremacist. Deflecting white deficiency onto a black body, is not a casual act. As Fuller articulates, numerous times throughout his anti-white supremacy workbook, whites are malicious, hostile, powerful, and smart/sophisticated. I do want to note that white supremacist smart/sophistication and power does not function in actuality, but in function. White manipulation of a system created for white manipulation functions as sophistication, intelligence and power-but is none of the above. With regard to white hostility, as a member of the black collective it is imperative to note that this hostility is not always conspicuous. The most hostile behavior of white supremacists comes with a smile that to blacks seeking acceptance masks the most evil and cruel intentions. In this particular case, the white coward masks his delinquency and abrasviseness in a strategic ingenuity designed to provoke the black mind that craves justice in a habitually unjust world.
To engage the scenario at surface level is to say that had the tables been turned, I would endure a painful misrepresentation. To engage the scenario in a scalding reality is to note that the oppositional gaze instantly compartmentalized my black body as incompetent and reason as to why things would inevitably be derailed. The white male racist knew this. His familiarity with the oppositional gaze, fomented his delinquency, and provided a veil for his his shortcomings.
His actions and seemingly pleasant demeanor also veil a purposeful negligence strategically implemented to induce failure. Yes, his name may be on the project, but his face will not be face of pending failure and/or inaptitude.
So as a black female on thirty’s eve contemplating how to navigate these white spaces in endeavors where the black body must interact with those who gloat in our abjection, the only solution I can come up with is striving to exist in a space where these encounters are vitally non-existent and reflective of choice not necessity. Furthermore, black spaces for and by black people are not only a social convenience, but necessary for survival, self-possession, and inner peace.
In closing, it is also imperative to note that the most sickening component of this scenario is not the events in themselves, but that the delinquent white male incurs benefit, praise and security that even the most capable black will never experience. White male (and female) cavalier treatment of professional endeavors exposes the dismal disparity that remains between the black and white experience, despite fallacies of equality in our contemporary setting. Most importantly, this scenario when juxtaposed to its identical predecessors reveals it is not white achievement or “excellence” that warrants societal esteem, but whiteness in itself.