Was James Baldwin right when he called white Americans moral monsters?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Courier Journal

To be sure, no matter how sensibly and dispassionately one approaches the subject, many whites immediately paint them as angry black people, [reverse] racists, or maniacs. Despite that, while far too many cower and equivocate, other brave Americans continue to raise the issue in the public sphere. A small sample of important work over the last few years includes Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The First White President” in the Atlantic, Charles Blow’s “The Lowest White Man” in the New York Times, Rose Marie Berger’s rumination “Why are white people so mean?” and Michael Harriot’s recent sledgehammer piece, “White people are cowards” in The Root. 

All of these writers along with stalwart academics like Duke University’s William “Sandy” Darrity, Emory University’s Carol Anderson and others contextualize the subject and push back against the emerging narrative that white American mean-spiritedness appeared and apexed with the ascension of Donald Trump. That is a lie. The truth is none of this is new. Its genesis is actually rooted in times long before America’s current anti-black and brown immigrant president’s family immigrated to the country.

Voter fraud is a canard. Voter suppression, however, is real and is not new. It has been around since the limiting of the franchise to property-holding white men at the beginning of the country’s political story. Forcing the extension of it to others has always been a struggle. 

Traumatizing families and children of color is not new. White Americans enslaved blacks, raped black women, demonized black men, ripped black children from their parents, sold them all when profitable, visited any number of other inexcusable atrocities upon them ... and justified it all. Those who resisted were threatened, punished or killed. Once slavery ended, whites continued to glorify slavery and the Confederacy with flags, statues, monuments and political candidates who reaffirmed all the nastiness and death. They still do.

Read the full article here.