Matthew C. Stelly
As an analyst I remain amazed at the American public’s tendency to claim that there is a major difference between the Republican and Democratic parties and that these differences are most apparent on subjects of race and ethnicity. This same society, white folks and their negro counterparts, also make the regular assertion that “race relations are getting better.” The recent national conventions of both the Democratic and Republican parties provide evidence that neither one of these assertions could be further from the truth.
About 30 years ago I read an essay by the late great Ossie Davis called, “The English Language is My Enemy.” He documented the uses of the words “black” and “dark” and how they were continually used to portray that which is negative, evil or inferior. I picked up that baton and since 1980 I have documented the use of those words in newspaper headlines, on television programs, in film, over the radio, in magazines and so on. So deep was my analysis that in 1993, the Nebraska Humanities Council gave me a $1800 grant to produce a manuscript which I called, “Black Is the Color of Society’s Fears.” I have continued to document it as the racist, color-coded use of the terms are inundating today’s media in 2016.
As an example, I watched the CNN and C-Span telecasts of both conventions and both seem to agree with one thing: that anything that is “dark” is automatically something negative, bad or interior. This is right in line with Euroamerican culture’s teachings and apparently the major political parties not immune to it. Throughout the conventions I heard terms like, “dark days,” “dark vision,” “dark speech,” “dark times,” “dark future” and a reference to “a really dark place” and “dark days are ahead.”
There were references to “dark threats” and “dark fantasy” and even Texas representative Sheila Jackson Lee (not the sharpest knife in the drawer) made a blanket statement about “the darkness of the universe.”
Comedian John Oliver talked about Trump’s unethical use of Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Born in the USA,” and added that the decision to use it “represented a dark
side of the American story.”
That was the Republican side and the references made about their“conservative” convention. But the Democrats were just as bad and in some cases, even worse.
For instance, Vice-President Joe Biden made references to Trump’s “dark forces of division,” and CNN political commentator Brianna Kelior called the coverage of the Republican convention a “dark story.” Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said that, “Trump’s ideas have attempted to take us from the morning to the midnight.” Anything associated with darkness—including the night time—is viewed in a negative way. And her vice-presidential running mate, Tim Kaine added that, “The Cleveland Convention was dark.”
The stigma of darkness would be moot if there wasn’t simultaneous references to that which is “light,” that which represents a “shining city on the hill” and of course, that which is “fair” all being associated with whiteness and goodness. Therefore, the racial composition of the conventions make no difference if the images being painted, regardless of how subtly, are inherently race oriented and color-coded.
During the Republican Convention, Trump’s daughter Ivanka said that her father was “color-blind and gender neutral.” The former statement is racist in and of itself: it means that since he doesn’t “see color,” everyone that he comes into contact with (including Ben Carson) is just another white man. What else could it mean in a society that thinks that the term “racial tolerance” is a positive statement?
How could “tolerance” be viewed as good. If your woman or your man tells you during a time of intimacy that he or she “tolerates” you, that is an insult and you should pack your bags and leave. But white folks think that tolerating black people is supposed to be viewed as some kind of compliment, as if we should be glad that they have gotten to the point where they “put up” with us.
Malcolm taught long ago that you can’t hate the root of a tree and not hate the tree itself. Language describes images and if the image is negative, either subtly or overtly, the “non-white” subject is viewed in the same way.
KHIZR KHAN SAYS DONALD TRUMP HAS “BLACK SOUL”
According to news reports and what I heard with my own ears, Khizr Khan, whose son died fighting in Iraq, said that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s temperament and lack of empathy render him unfit to lead the nation and that, “He (Trump) has a black soul. And this is totally unfit for the leadership of this beautiful country.”
Anyone who has vision can see that Trump is not black, nor does he have any “soul.” So what Khan is speaking of is spiritual, but what term does he use to describe a negative spirit, one that is deviant, one that seeks to hack into halves the human hole? The word “dark,” that’s what.
This means that such references are international in their scope. Since we know they are European in their basis and therefore have an historical link as well, how can race relations ever improve when all that is deemed dark or black is viewed as undesirable, negative, dirty and evil, and all that is white is fair, good, universal and beautiful? Look at how Khan describes America, which we know is rife with problems and yet he has the gall to glorify it and shower it with honorific flattery.
In simpler terms, there is work to be done. Don’t let anybody bullshit you into thinking that race relations in America are getting better. As I offer in my Stelly Theory of American Race Relations (STARR), race relations in America have gotten as good as they’re ever going to get. The on-going use of the English language and all of its color-coded symbolism indeed, ensures that as long as we use it to communicate the views and values of this country, BLACK and DARK will remain “the colors of society’s fears.”