I read with considerable anger and outrage Herb Cromwell's commentary, “I should have known about blackface” (Feb. 17). Blackface is as oppressive and offensive as any other form of anti-black behavior. Whites should already know this.
Now at the age of 76, I have never been surprised by the ignorance and stupidity upon which white supremacy and anti-black racism rest in this place called America. What is so disconcerting is that so many liberal racist whites — some of whom have existed in a "white bubble,” as Mr. Cromwell admits — still feel comfortable articulating their ignorance to the world. What he chose to exclude from his experiential, educational and professional background was any knowledge or concern about the impact of racial oppression on black people — their families, children and communities. He and most white Americans continue to do that.
Living as an African American in this geographical space is to be confronted historically and constantly with the vicious and violent experience of white supremacy and anti-black racism.
Western Europeans came to this land and called it America. They practiced genocidal wars against Indigenous peoples, enslaved captured Africans and confiscated Mexican land. In the process, they arrogantly called themselves white and established a dominant and exploitative governmental, economic and cultural apparatus based upon the most vicious and violent system of oppression in the modern world. Yet, after constructing this horrendous racist political republic, the great majority of whites would come to act as if they knew nothing about this nation's anti-black racist establishment, as Charles W. Mills points out in is book, “The Racial Contract.”
During the 1950s, most of my white high school classmates in Los Angeles demonstrated a profound lack of knowledge about historical racism while often practicing this evil. In the late 1960s and 1970s, as a graduate student, I found myself severely challenging and criticizing white professors who assigned the reading of European and white American writers but who failed to include African, African American and Caribbean thinkers. Indeed, like Mr. Cromwell, they knew absolutely nothing about black people in Africa, the Caribbean or in this place called America. Many of those professors denied being racists, but they had reputations for not recording the highest academic grades for black students who had earned them. Today, many whites want to act as if they know nothing about the numerous elements and offensive practices of white privilege and anti-black racism, claiming that those evils have disappeared, or that black people should just get over the insults.
Indeed, while living some years ago in West Lafayette, Ind., I had a next-door neighbor who thought that the Confederate flag was merely a southern cultural phenomenon with no racist or hateful meaning. She is from Georgia and she loves the present anti-leader of this place called America. Unfortunately, this guy is bent on national destruction. There is no redemption for a people and a nation that fail to acknowledge its evils.