Stamped From the Beginning
Book Review- Stamped From the Beginning Ibram X Kendi American Exceptionalism Part 6 or 7
Hey, Hon! I finished that entire book on the history of racism.
I never thought I would actually read an entire book on the history of racism in America. It not only had the cultural, legal framework behind the institutionalization of a society based on the enslavement of another “race” but, this being the part I got into, the intellectual, moral, and religious intellectual arguments behind the different aspects of racism as it relates today.
Not much has changed, eh?
I guess not.
American Exceptionalism was born from the wombs of racist, genetic, cultural, climate theory philosophers, intellectual elitists, and scientists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This legacy of time worn and reborn rationalizations for committing to a nearly universal idea that in one way or another race, ethnicity, and culture matter in a completely unintelligible and contradictory way. Imagine a “race” of “lazy and evil” of either “sub-human, soulless, or ignorant animals” hijacked from their homeland by the military powers that be at the time and then enslaved to do all the work and carry out all the functions of another culture. Which one actually seems the most lazy in that scene? Does that make sense? And because the enslaved race resists, a myriad of theories about human nature, the nature of the soul, and good and evil are produced in order to tame, beat, cajole, christianize, and educate the slave into submission and acceptance of their new role in the world order.
All of this is the basis of a book by Ibram X. Kendi called Stamped From the Beginning-The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. This is a hard- hitting book. It outlines all the different types of “racist” theories and spares no one, from Thomas Jefferson to Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. DuBois to Angela Davis, from just about every major (and minor) Age of Reason philosopher and politician to just about every so called anti-racist, black and white activist of the days following reconstruction who held on to some version of racist lexicon in their attempted solutions to the basic question that has always been at the center of Racism- Can African-Americans (or the “race” of Africans) be humanized, cultured, educated, civilized like White people can?
First of all, I’ve never liked the taxonomy produced by anthropologists and biased biologists who made up classification of this species. Of course, they had to determine who was part of the species and then tack on some definition of what “species, race, and human” actually means yesterday and today. Actually, I’ve never liked the term African-American either. It connotates a place that is no longer the origin of nearly all Black people in America, just as Asian, Latin, Hispanic peoples no longer represent any one continent or nation. We, White people never refer to ourselves as Euro-American, do we?
If you go back far enough, all race and ethnic nomenclature derives from “indigenous” origens. Look at Palestinians. They are an indigenous people, like many other ethnic groups in the Middle East. You could say so are the Jews, yet the jews are a repopulated people who gained political and military control over the larger indigenous. Israel has become the supremacist and exceptionalist society of that region.
The worlds history is all about supremacy and exceptionalism. It’s the basis for all oppression and politics, all nation building, all military interventions and all genocide, apartheid and the basis of all resistance.
If I’m not mistaken, I think Kendi’s book considers the concept that until White people stop believing that there is something wrong with African-Americans (or Black people) whether genetically pre-disposed to uncivilized behavior, damaged by slavery, inherently ignorant, or need to be brought up to White standards, then Racism will not go away.
From theories on questions of single human species, cultural, ethical, natural superiority, color of skin and climate, almost an entire lexicon was constructed by the developing American political system around the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution by focusing on the “enslavement” of Africans and the freedoms that Whites should enjoy and where other certain individuals, races, classes, or genders are not allowed to participate in a society.
It was at this point when the Whiteness of America threw in with the notion that White people were Supreme and Exceptional. Of course, “All” didn’t mean All, even in regard to propertyless or poor, or male but the Big question was then at the founding of America and still is “Slavery.”
None of that structural politics was new nor creative.
America didn’t start slavery, mainly, because by the time the triangle of slave trade routes got started It(America) wasn’t really a nation yet, merely a small group of settlers and colonizers scattered on the east coast of a “new” continent. It was a mishmass of uprooted, hyper- christianized sects intent on building a society around the interpretations of whatever their pastors, priests, and incendiary authoritarian voices dictated. That these sects needed “corporate” help in the form of monetary help, political endorsement, and social acceptance is intrinsic to the abhorrent leadership the race to America engendered.
Once slavery started and “economic” theories such as Adam Smiths Wealth of Nations, which included the concept of enslavement for the sake of “capital” the development of primary intellectual support through media, celebrity and political writings “factualizing every racial and ethnic philosophy disdaining the abolitionist view, and, maybe the most important, the religious institutions “spiritual” denial of Africans humanity as well as their inferiority in Gods eyes.
It was a war. Every influential medium that justified the continuation of slavery.
Whatever reason attributed to the absence of resistance is minor compared to the generalized idea that God supported slavery, these Reality illusionists (nowadays, I imagine, they would be called “influencers”) of Cristian morality and spirituality, continually supported slavery and helped develop it’s institutional necessity in the hearts and minds of not only the political elites but the general citizenry.
My disgust at the hypocrazy of Thomas Jefferson and all the others, who argued, discussed, theorized between themselves (the oligarchs) that founded and served the government, the scientists of the time who provided spurious theories about what it means to have black skin as related to character, emotions, and behavior, the religionists who constantly proselytized about whether black people had souls or could be saved or if they were even created by god.
When did time begin?
It is a blessing that slaves and slaves alone already understood that “all Men are created equal” should mean them as well as anyone else, but not just created but “born” equal.
Dutty Boukman-Voudoo priest leading Haitan revolt in 1791. The Haitian revolution scared the newly proscribed slave nation, America.
Nothings changed since 1776, not the weak version of the DC neutral, wavering philosophy of Thomas Jefferson nor the 1787 enshrinement of separate but equal, always the compromise, of the so-called great (Living but Undead) document- The Constitution, eternally stuck in the Age of Illreason.
I can visualize the objections of the liberals of those days to the final 3/5ths compromise, the objections pertaining not to the inhuman treatment of not giving slaves freedom but complaining that southern plantation owners would get to count Blacks as partial values toward representation while northern property owners wouldn’t be allowed to count their own cattle, pigs and beasts of burden (read Property).
It’s not that big a stretch to modern times where we certainly would see Constitutional support from Joe Biden to Mitch McConnell, except they’re all still talking about who should be free and who should be swept under the rug of history.
We are a nation truly divided but not as fifty- fifty as we’d like it because there is still the same pretense based on falsity, lies, and, unfortunately, White Truth constructed through centuries of education and preaching about not the greatest Shame perpetuated on human history, but that America meaning White , is Supreme and the Exception.
This American Exceptionalism and Supremacy is reflected everywhere around the world where America retains it’s military, economic, and political dominance. The fact of the matter is with that being said, there are still too many who would say , “So what?”
Nowadays, with science leading the way in so many ways, inventing so many things from face cream to nuclear weapon technology yet without being able to invent the right alchemy to rid the racial bias of racial Purity brainwashing they’ve contributed to as well, we should realize that No one understands the first million years of “human” evolution nor even “the what, when, and how” of the billion years life has probably been on this planet.
About the only thing we can say is we are alive and the earth isn’t a fixed universe. We can’t see evolution with the naked eye. Neither can we observe the effects of climate change, whether it occurs naturally or in conjunction with Man’s blindness. Disease, death, universal mortality in all things is still a mystery.
Human beings? Cultural and ethnicist scientists to this very hour are still trying to figure a what a fringe type of, shall we say ‘Being’, such as Neanderthal has in the “racial” scheme of things and what it has to do with anything relevant except as an anomaly in their classification/hierarchy. We still want our evolutionary cousins to come to the White table setting clean, showered, and able to use a knife and spoon, you know, like Cro-Magnon.
Right now, it looks as if what came out of Africa, originated in Africa is us, but was that before or after the continents drifted apart from the one big Panagea. Oh, I can hear you saying, is he saying human beings evolved all over? No, but a lot of time went by between things and since it’s truly hard for me to imagine so much time and what it produces and destroys over that span, I’m saying nobody knows-FOR SURE!!!
Our desire to trace technology as a tool to trace superiority is another god forsaken mistake. Technology is a poor excuse for whats in a person’s mind. In todays world, there are plenty of empty minds managing highly complex instruments of technology. It appears mastery of technology is the main course served up by Supremacy and Exceptionalism. The entire course of my lifetime has been influenced by the dominance of the Cold War, the race, not for the egalitarian principles they’ve been fooling us with, but, willingly providing the biggest threat to humanity and then justifying violence and war for profiteers.
This country was designed, built, and institutionalized on slavery and the cry of wolf amongst the masses against Black, as well as an entire rendition of “fearful” boogie men. That legacy has continued to crumble into all the various racist/ethnicist vestiges of social collapse we currently see in our society. America’s racial, societal, cultural infrastructure has been devastated.
We have to remember that slavery started primarily as an assortment of economic investments. To the slave traders it was just about money, a sort of slavery which has been around forever, as we know “forever”. It was really the Americans who beget all the philosophical and political jargon around it, which is so typical of being White, which really has it’s origins in Christianity, false prophets (like Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson), White capital, and the ongoing entrenchment of imperial exceptionalism.
Put simply, every nation justifies its own atrocities within it’s own set of historical rationalization.
Otherwise, they’d be no essential difference between them.
It doesn’t take a scientist to see that, does it?
In order to understand the essence of oppression, I think you have to now look at the world at large rather than at any particular national racist/assimilationist policies and institutions.
It is impossible and even barely imaginative to believe only one nation in this world should manage the dismantling of the ideological misconceptions embedded in it’s very own creation-a political system based on hate, lies, a range of illusionary superiorities and economic disparities. Hell, it was alright for the times, right? What did anybody really know about freedom anyway? What did anybody know about creating inequality, injustice, and inhumane domestic and international policy?
Just about everything we know about the arrangement of societies-at least Euro-sub-asian – comes from the religious experiences of the Jews, Christians, and later, the Muslims, which all spread basically the Old Testament version of not only names, places, and things, but the doctrine of both Supremacy and Exceptionalism.
Africa and all the other continents were pretty much relegated within the religious containment and proselytzing and it’s progeny, the political systems of europe, mediterranean, and mideastern civilizations to different forms of heathenism, paganism, or pantheistic forms of belief, thus, relegated to either not human or soulless, or to be saved.
There is no doubt in my mind that religion and it’s patriarchy is the first organized human influence of pitting one civilization against another. This is not to say that all the other belief communities, city-states that developed around the world thousands of years ago weren’t influenced by whoever held the power, be it men, warriors, survivalist.
Though genetic theory which has become the main scientific endeavor designed to tell us who we were, are, and could be still hasn’t found genomes that prove humans behave different because of the color of our skin, our cultural traditions, our inability to get along when push comes to shove. We all still seem to more or less degree think that there is not enough to go around so we get what we can get and fuck the rest, whether it’s on a local, city, state, national, and world level.
Yes, I’ve been diverted from “racism” per se, mainly because I believe that universally all the trouble in the world is a result of the aforementioned “supremacy or exceptionalism” principles of religion, adopted by “civilizations” adopted by “nations” so that now nations like the Untied States and Western Europe (white) have reached a point whereby “slavery” has become the essence of it’s institutional framework (basis for existence) and, in order to retool, for example, the nation needs a revolution, a complete overhaul of it’s reason for existence. Each nation, in fact, needs to overhaul. The worlds so called civilizations and power hungry elites, it’s built in, institutionalized economic inequities, it’s reliance on military power and oppressive social, cultural, economic, educational treatment of it’s citizens and poor and immigrants (that about covers it all, doesn’t it) and most of all, each nation’s reliance of some aspect of deriving it’s own ethnic, cultural, social, supremacy/exceptionalism, whatever terms it’s defined, must be abolished, eradicated, dissolved or we only will take our wars to space, after we’ve eliminated most of the human “race.”
And yes, the united states needs to go first.
Is there a model?
What started in the book of Genesis needs to be scratched. Call it Project New Genesis.
As part of our modern and superior lexicon we no longer think the folktale, supernatural moral wars of the Greeks, Romans, Norse, Indo-Asian, Pantheist are relevant, except as fairy tales to supply the kids with until they learn the meaning of the one true god in the old testament where our entire base of law, culture, and social mores originate. Those European societies adopted most of the codes from the Old Testament story which takes place in the deserts of the Middle East. Our laws are derived from Jewish and Christian law and society. Later, Mohammed and Islam scholars added to what rabbi’s and priests established, all adopted by kings, queens, Lords, Mullahs, Princes to regiment and control whatever factions, disagreements, and violence arose.
Nevertheless, whether right or wrong, all these religious and, later, political institutions designed to create Law and Order in societies by virtue of not democracy, but Supremacy and Exceptionalism. Just like we do today, the citizen of Rome, not the slave, not the propertyless, not the poor, the servant, the tradesman, the priveleges are doled out according to the acceptance of that Supremacy and Exceptionalism. And every major or nameless person who resists their nations devotion to itself, their religion’s moral code, their communities authority pays the price, isolation, banishment, mutilation, death
It does seem possible, doesn’t it, to have freedom of illusion without being governed by illusion? I think that’s probably just one of the illusions we Americans hold dear to our hearts and hope. We’ve come so far along this modern escapist, supremacist version of ourselves, it’s hard to imagine anything but a cataclysmic finish to it all, either through a evolutionary checkmate such as a pandemic, a human- wrought fire and brimstone. Maybe even the writers slash storytellers of the religious testaments knew all along that human beings were going to come to a bad end so they either destroyed or saved the earth from its wicked ways. I don’t see any joy in the Old Testament to wax nostalgic over.
In conclusion, I simply want to say that yes, here in America, slavery (and it’s progeny “racism”)is the original sin every nation holds tightly to in moments of so- called self-defense of it’s supreme and exceptional existence. I almost want to say that slavery in and of itself, whether White on Black, Brown on Brown, creed on creed, sex on sex has defined who and what we are to a higher degree because it is the one relationship we’ve allowed to prosper and thrive, depending on the self-interest of the slave and the enslaver. By holding high any of America’s outlandish principles of inequality named Equality, injustice named Justice, apartheid, patriarchy, and ethnocentrism called “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” we merely demonstrate to each other our own particular prejudices and beliefs. Does any of us really want everyone else to be like us, a world of self-exceptional ego clones?
Can we say we’re tired of them? Tired of it all? Now what?