Here we go again. Dehumanizing and belittling is the root of both public and private displays of white supremacists. Whether it’s the Virginia political leadership of today in Virginia or nationwide, monuments placed in public places in towns, college campuses and government buildings during Reconstruction work to perpetuate superiority. Monuments placed primarily by the Daughters of the Confederacy a hundred or more years ago, helps to make sure the social and financial hierarchy doesn’t change or gets better for whites both immigrants and natural born has proven unshakable. The idea was and is to disrespect, minimize and keep black people in there place.
Today the vestiges of “Black Face” are revisited. Several Virginia statewide elected officials admit to darkening their faces as an attempt at humor. Some would fane ignorance to both history and the harmful effects seemingly attempting to equate dark skin with humor. In this case not so coincidentally, the state legislature has passed laws forbidding local authorities and its duly elected representatives from making the decision to remove, altar and or replace stalwarts of a racist past is the latest hurdle to moving forward. Forget governing locally or democratic principles the power of the majority as mandated by several state legislatures must remain. That’s part of white supremacy. The power of money and all it affords is the unspoken key to immigrant intimidation and the fear of “others”.
Whether it’s “Black Pete” a fun loving blackface wingman of Santa in Scandinavian countries or racist songs sung by midwestern university fraternities the purpose has historically been the same at least for the past few centuries. Not to say supremacy hasn’t been around for ages, but an undeniable spike in racist activity happened in the U.S. during the first decade of the twentieth century. The insidious racist aspect that covers all facets of life have really if ever examined the profit or wealth created by eliminating the competition. Selling average white folks on their need to feel superior and undermining minorities with a deep feelings of inadequacy is essential to the sustainable power of the white majority. This time the focus is on blackface.
Pawns in the world wide struggled to provide for yourself and family, create generational wealth is rooted in most cases by the unknowing, or unwitting feeling of superiority of an homogeneous and self centered race. Supremacists believe amongst other things that through fear the needs of people of the majority group to lean toward stopping others from blocking their dreams or life’s potential happiness is paramount. Black Face is just one tactic to facilitate and perpetuate the selling of the inferiority of minorities to whites and unfortunately minorities themselves. Immigrants and women have endured similar tactics.
Slavery with it’s terrible side effects built with ingenious time tested techniques so well crafted the results remain long after legal people ownership ceased. The technique of making a clown of your enemy, exaggerated physical characteristics, speech and even history has proven successful. Freedom for blacks followed by the Reconstruction Era proved so difficult for whites all sorts of tools to maintain the status quo have been implemented. Black Face employed by the famous and not so famous. Al Jolson the popular entertainer of the 1920s and 30s used his craft to become well known. Jolson was known as the “king of black face”. During his early career, Jolson was the most well-known and well-paid entertainers in the country. Black face sold well.
Tocqueville the French traveler. in his blockbuster pre-Civil War book “Democracy” recounts his observations during his walking tour of America noticed an inherent problem with white folks. He noted that slavery would eventually lead to whites being lazy and doing less. So true. Getting other folks to work for you sounds great at first. It allows one the time to create wonderful innovations, ponder the meaning of the laws of physics and spend an eminence amount of time making money. Subsistence living like that in places like the arctic, sub-Saharan Africa and the desert of central Asia or other harsh environments on the globe tend to stifle technological advances as so some believe. Making money instead of lofty intellectual goals were left to the northern states during antebellum times. Southern agriculture was the primary business. Slave owners and States devised the Black Codes, the rules of how to both perpetuate the wealth of money makers and establish guidelines for managing blacks was ruthless.
The answer or most obvious answer is to get some folks to do the critical things needed in life so one can move on to other more lofty ambitions. The problem, or one of them, is those poor souls made to provide those basic necessities of life may one day want to quit doing it. It may take a few days or a few hundred years as in the United States for workers to devise a plan get educated and move on out of servitude. The problem is: the lazy, drunk with power have to devise a plan to maintain the status quo. Black face helps.
One of tools to maintain both wealth and power is to create an inferiority system. One great way is to demean the workers and empower the fortunate is to put down black folks and uplift white folks the root or central goal of white supremacists. Statues, Black Face, scare tactics like the Ku Klux Klan have worked well after the brutal race based slavery had ended in America. Demeaning people of color has been a theme world wide. Black face had been popular in Europe too.
So whether by state statute to protect monuments, financial handicaps, election interference, medical treatment disparities, segregated and inferior education, uneven hiring practices, unequal application of laws by law enforcement, naming of bridges roads and public schools, even neighborhoods and towns simply using the word “plantation” as part of its name the psychological tool of black face continues.