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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

“Racism” slur serves regress never progress

Relations among human beings require collective human effort
By Carolyn Bennett

Addendum to thoughts by Mac Donald and Siegel

Some Americans feel that “the Government” is an external entity that is “out to get them.” Some Americans feel that the United States (of) America is an external entity that is “out to get them.” In each case, each feels separate and apart, alien and self-alienating, although neither would take personal responsibility for alienating self.

These thoughts surface though not for the first time after reading recent articles by the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal writers Heather Mac Donald (“Ferguson’s Unasked Questions: In the Missouri city and elsewhere, the media clings to predetermined conclusions,” October 6, 2014) and Fred Siegel (“Ferguson Fury: Activists, Journalists Stuck in 1960s Racial Resentments,” August 19, 2014). Siegel exposes the debilitating “grudge” mentality and Mac Donald the equally counterproductive “race-racist-racism” mantra.  

 was lucky, I guess, because as an adult and an older person, I realize that I never felt alienated either from government or from the USA. I was raised pledging my allegiance to the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands; and though I was born and raised in a racially segregated U.S. South, I was raised neither on “racial inferiority” (or superiority) nor on race (racial) resentment. These pathologies never took root in my character. I grew more and more to focus on my own “mission,” so to speak, my own work; and when the call came in 1960s asking what I could do for America, I finished my college credential and answered by joining the U.S. Peace Corps and serving as a teacher in West Africa. There began my worldview.

I have seen the resentment that Fred Siegel observes and have myself fairly recently asked a black woman who had expressed disdain for a baseball team that she said had been slow in hiring black men the questions MacDonald asks, “How many qualified black people applied?” How many of those applicants were turned down? The woman didn’t know but she still held on to a grudge. I told her I cannot afford to hold on to resentments because it hurts me, does injury to my insides. It reinforces pathology or at least an unhealthy psychology and so unhealthy human relations.

In any situation there are always many variables that a reasonable person – not blinded by resentment (re-feeling of perceived or actual wrongs) – can see. But none are so blind, as the saying goes, as those who “will not see” and or say out loud the truth. There is another saying I like: “fix the problem, not the blame.” I believe Americans in general and black Americans in particular concerning the case at issue tend to fail solutions while wallowing in blame.


 am also of the opinion that “racism” is too easy a response and it accomplishes nothing except counter-resentment, flashes of anger – how dare you call me a racist. I have wondered how resentful black people would feel if someone flung an epithet at them. This is another delusional “apart from” but people are people regardless to their color or race or nationality or creed, et cetera.

The Trayvon Martin/Michael Brown cases and fallout – incidents, confrontations, call them what you like (and I agree that media histrionics distracted, drove a wedge between human beings and cast aside actual facts on the ground) – might never have happened if people in communities had as a matter of routine practiced “community.” These things don’t spring up all of a sudden. They simmer and fester and one day their toxicity breaks into the open. If Americans joined as Americans, they could solve human relations issues together before and prevent them from boiling over.

Is this too much trouble? Is it too much trouble to assemble in a church basement or public hall and reason together? Is it too much – as Mac Donald says – to even register and vote? (I don’t remember hearing that voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer went around yelling “racists” and “racism.” Black people, as Mac Donald implies, are no more sacrosanct than are white people, no better or worse as police officers or public officials.  Name-calling gets you nowhere – unless your aim is to get nowhere except backward.

My final point is that there is among United States Americans of all stripes a character or culture or strain of violence that manifests itself in foreign and domestic relations.

If we speak of killings in our cities and towns and on our college campuses, we cannot divorce these from the evidence in U.S. officials’ choice of violence in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and other places. We cannot divorce sanctions and drone warfare abroad from an actor’s, a football player’s, a soldier’s violence against women.

We can talk about these things. But so long as we see ourselves as apart from America and Americans and government and or apart from peoples in other lands; so long as we choose to hold on to and deepen resentments or play one against another – one or another race or sect or ethnic group or nation – we can never solve our problems as people, as human beings.

That’s my take on an issue that plays out again and again in dark pageantry, in show, in media frenzy; when what we need to apply is an all-encompassing humanity (this foundation of our equality) and soul-searching, seriously self-reflecting honesty.

’ve got another thought that I often tell people. If all you’ve got to commend you is race or color (characteristics you had absolutely no part in creating), then you don’t have much or even anything going for you.

As to those who feel apart from America and or apart from government, we ARE America and we ARE government, from local to federal levels.

One of our serious problems is that we are ignorant; some of us are deliberately, obliviously ignorant. I like that quote attributed to our fourth president, James Madison, and inscribed on the Madison Building of the Library of Congress in Washington:

Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

What is the meaning of “progressive”?  This is not a bad word, in my view. We have come a long way since Madison’s time but we cannot fulfill the promise and potential of America unless and until ALL of us together own this land and participate fully in its civic and social, ethical and human uplift, its substantive progress.

Carolyn LaDelle Bennett, author of
Unconscionable (published in September 2014)
No Land an Island No People Apart (published in 2012


A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent books in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora


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