The easiest way to win a bad argument is to pull the race card. It’s like wearing the Scarlet Letter, but in this case it’s an ‘R’ rather than an ‘A.’
The latest descent into absurdity is protestations of singing the 1942 Irving Berlin song “White Christmas,” the bestselling recording of all time with 50 million copies to its credit. The white, of course, is snow, but this didn’t matter to some blacks who booed Darius Rucker’s rendition of the Christmas classic.
“Darius Rucker sang the holiday classic White Christmas at the New York Rockefeller Center for the center’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The event continued forward despite a mob of demonstrators protesting a grand jury’s decision not to indict a NYPD officer for the choking death of Eric Garner. Rucker’s performance was met with a firestorm of critics from social media who criticized the former Hootie and the Blowfish singer for covering an apparently racist song.”
In a bit of irony, “The original version [of ‘White Christmas’] also hit number one on the Harlem Hit Parade for three weeks, [Bing] Crosby’s first-ever appearance on the black-oriented chart.”
Once has to wonder if the race carders will go all-Orwellian on us by ridding our nation of everything white. Will they claim that blackboards were swapped for whiteboards for racial reasons?
This type of nonsense has a long history among some American blacks.
There’s a scene in the film Malcolm X when Malcolm Little (later to take the name Malcolm X, X standing for his unknown African heritage)1 is in prison and is introduced to the philosophy of the “Honorable Elijah Muhammad” and the Nation of Islam (N.O.I.) by a fellow prisoner named John Elton Bembry.2
Malcolm was wasting his life outside of prison, and he was wasting his life in prison. The Bembry character saw something in Malcolm, but Malcolm was resistant to change and had no interest in the Nation of Islam until Bembry showed him a dictionary and the definitions of “black” and “white.” It was a strategic move that rattled the former street hustler.
The definition of “black,” as Bembry read from an edition of Webster’s Dictionary, is always negative: “destitute of light, devoid of color, enveloped in darkness, utterly dismal or gloomy, soiled with dirt, foul, sullen, hostile, forbidding, outrageously wicked.”
White, on the other hand, is positive: “the color of pure snow, the opposite of black, free from spot or blemish, innocent, pure, without evil intent, harmless, square deal, honest.” Malcolm makes a connection: “This is written by White folks, right?” White is wrong, Black is right, just like the Nation of Islam teaches.3
Malcolm Little became Malcolm X and embraced the racist ideology of the (N.O.I.). To Malcolm, the White man is a “blue-eyed Devil.” This was the teaching of the Nation of Islam as articulated by its founder Wallace D. Fard Muhammad and his successor Elijah Muhammad. Race became Malcolm’s entry into the Black community, and he used it well to recruit fellow blacks. But after leaving the N.O.I., he began to change his view of White people. He began to see that not all Whites were devils. As his assassination at the hands of Black men proved, some Blacks are devils.
Malcolm’s break with the N.O.I. did not set well with the organization’s leadership. This included Elijah Muhammad and Louis X, better known as Louis Farrakhan. While in Mecca on a pilgrimage, Malcolm wrote the following to his assistants at the Harlem Mosque:
“Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races. . . . You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. . . .”4
While Malcolm changed his views regarding race, it seems that there are people today who define everything by race.
Like many blacks today, the naïve young Malcolm accepts the illogical leap that the definitional meaning of black and its descriptive attributes are applicable to people with dark skin. A dictionary edited by Blacks would have to acknowledge that the definition of “black” is the absence of light and white. In fact, The Urban Dictionary offers these definitions:
- A color widely defined as the absence of light.
- The darkest shade possible
- The opposite of white . . . best described on the Yin & Yang symbol.
Bembry was poisoning the well by continually stating that these are the White man’s definitions. He had a vested interest in making all aspects of White society and culture, even the standard definition of black, to mean anti-Black person.
Joy Behar, who co-hosts on “The View,” couldn’t help turning “Black Friday” into a racial issue. Whoopi Goldberg opened the show with the declaration that “Today is Black Friday, all day long.” Behar offers this rejoinder: “Isn’t it a little racist to call it Black Friday? . . . [T]here’s a negative connotation to it? Or does it mean something else?”
Goldberg, for once, had better sense: “No, it’s like when you make all the money — you’re in the black.” Behar finally gets it: “So it’s positive?” Yes, Joy, it’s positive. Being “in the black” is better than being “in the red.” It won’t be too long before some Native Americans protest that red should no longer be used to indicate a deficit.
Blacks are not helped by the continued claim that all problems for them are racial. Some are, but many aren’t. Black on Black crime is not the fault of White people. Sky-high out-of-wedlock births are not the fault of Whites. High dropout rates among Blacks are not the fault of Whites.
Black problems aren’t solved by naming streets after Martin Luther King, Jr. The same can be said for the King Holiday and Black History Month. These are liberal crumbs to appease the Black community, but have any of these actions helped Blacks?
There is nothing inherently good in being White. Whites have similar pathologies. There is no inherently good Black culture. Black is not always beautiful, and, of course, the same can be said for white. There’s a great deal of good in both cultures.5
Some Blacks will say that I don’t know what it’s like growing up Black. There is no doubt about it; I don’t know what it’s like, and I never will. But my lack of Black perspective doesn’t change what is going on in some areas of the Black community. I can’t change what I’m not, but I am responsible to change what I am. There is no one to blame but me. The sooner I realized this in my own life, the sooner I took responsibility for my failings.
- The “X” is not the Roman numeral 10. The “X” was a placeholder for a Black person’s unknown African name. His American surname was given to him by his slave master. Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali, and Lew Alcindor became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. [↩]
- Bembry is a composite character who does not appear in the book The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Malcolm’s family members introduced him the tenets of the N.O.I. [↩]
- For a succinct study of the Nation of Islam history and philosophy, see Richard Abanes, Cults, New Religious Movements, and Your Family: A Guide to Ten Non-Christian Groups out to Convert Your Loved Ones (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), chap. 6. [↩]
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley (1965), 391. [↩]
- There had been a vibrant Black culture in America, even before the end of segregation. See Mark Cauvreau Judge, If It Ain’t Got that Swing: The Rebirth of Grown-Up Culture (Dallas, TX: Spence Publishing Co., 2000). [↩]