If the Black community in some areas is fighting each other, how could they organize a resistance against the state to change society?

Posted: March 9th, 2022

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Patricia Hills Collins in “Controlling Images of Black Women” discusses four societal depictions of black women that date back to slavery. These depictions, the mammy, the matriarch, the welfare mother, and the Jezebel portray black women in a light that allows for dominant culture to continue framing black women and men in ways that proliferate systemic racism and apathy or disdain from whites. Joe Feagin discusses in his chapter, “Contemporary Racial Framing” that stereotypes such as these serve as the building blocks and upholders of evidence for reason for prejudice.
Mainstream media, including news outlets and films, continue to engage in racist framing of Black people, which in turn allows for these images to be further engrained in our societal ethos. The news barrages us with stories of Black men committing crimes in their own community or against white people, but we never see a Black man as the victim unless they are murdered by the police. Whenever social services are up for debate in national politics, we are bombarded with language that insinuates Black women are abusing the system, but we never hear discussion around how most welfare recipients are white. Our prisons are filled with Black men and women that mostly committed non-violent crimes or minor drug offenses, but we never discuss that white Americans are more likely to be drug users than Black ones. We also never hear of white-on-white crime, but Black crime in Black communities dominates the narrative.
All of this creates a perfect storm for white people to continue their overt and covert, subconscious or conscious discrimination against Black lives. The working mother is demonized for having to work 2 jobs and therefore not be around to supervise her kids as often as a wealthy white woman would, even though the situation is created by racism. The Black boy who expresses anger in school is demonized because he doesn’t have the language to communicate his feelings, but teachers have less patience for Black boys in school because of racial framing. White Americans refuse to look at the actual context surrounding the economic devastation that slavery and the following centuries of abuse against the Black community have caused. As we have discussed multiple times in class, white America gaslights the Black community at every turn, and the societal implications cost lives and livelihoods.
The film Crips and Bloods: Made in America serves as one of many examples of the societal implications of racial framing and an overly racist society. The film discusses the federal government and FBI’s involvement in the murder of key anti-racist leaders in the Black community. This reality, coupled with racial framing, created and continue to create mindsets in Black men and women that there was nothing to lose. If gangs are offering a sense of belonging that Black Americans do not get from general society, that sense of nothing to lose easily allows for the rationalization that violence is the price they pay for that belonging. Going further, the combination of racist framing and overt state-sanctioned violence allowed distorted mindsets of self-worth in Black individuals to essentially do the state’s racist dirty work for them. If the Black community in some areas is fighting each other, how could they organize a resistance against the state to change society?
The readings and films give us a sense of how racial framing influences our modern-day society, but there are also real, tangible forms of oppression that are built on and upheld by racist framing. In Joe Feagin’s book, he discusses how research shows that white Americans tend to focus on their negative perceptions of Blacks as a group and as the individual in front of them, which then in turn allows systemic racism to continue thriving and evolving. This is a consequence of racial framing. It’s estimated that half of all whites discriminate against blacks in some form or another. These attitudes held by whites allows for overt discrimination in the criminal “justice” system. If there isn’t resistance from the dominant culture to end racist sentencing or disproportionate arrests of black men compared to white ones, why would the system stop? (Feagin, 2000)
The historic and current discrimination against Black people in the housing market, to me, is one of the biggest power players in systemic racism and the upholding of white supremacy. Racial framing contributes to this. There is evidence that when a mostly white neighborhood sees an increase in their black populations, whites start moving out. When that ratio hits about twenty percent Black, whites will stop moving into the area. Feagin discusses this in his book, and how once whites stop moving in, the neighborhood is deemed higher risk for mortgages and therefore implements predatory lending practices. We now know that during the Great Recession, BIPOC homeowners were twice as likely to pushed into a subprime mortgage than their white counterparts. This led to sharp increases in foreclosures, which in turn led to billions of dollars of assets being removed (arguably stolen) from BIPOC communities (Feagin, 2000).
This has long term consequences. Without generational wealth, poverty is passed down through generations. Just like how whites transfer their privilege of having access to social and financial capital, Black Americans also transfer their “discriminatory barriers” to future generations. This is not just the case in racism in housing and mortgage lending. This transfer occurs when the criminal “justice” system continually incarcerates Black people at higher rates with higher sentencing. This transfer occurs when the education system proliferates the school-to-prison pipeline by funneling Black students into programs that deny them the opportunity to learn emotional coping strategies and how to navigate the world. The labor market contributes to the transfer of generational trauma and poverty by keeping Black workers in entry level positions. Capitalism looms over all of this, as well. Capitalism already takes a chunk out of the true value of Black labor, as it does for the working class in general, but then whites in capitalist positions of power also decrease the value of Black labor by categorizing black work as traditionally low paid positions (Feagin, 2020).
I’ve known for many years that racism and white supremacy was upheld by a complex system of beliefs and practices that incorporate individual actions and societal framing, but the readings the past few weeks have painted a picture of this system that is far more complex, overt, and far-reaching than I ever imagined. Racial framing and discrimination are mutually exclusive, for that framing allows the various arms of white supremacy to independently operate while supporting each other at the same time

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