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Forward "Back," or Forward "Forward": The Nation Must Decide

Today, the Nation is in a position not very unique from just before the Civil Rights movements for change or even the period just before the Civil War erupted, even as it feels like nothing the nation has ever experienced before in its history. It may very well be that two or more eras will mark this period of time, people, and experiences in the future. One thing for certain, however, is the generational division which still exists among the nation’s people on account of Race.

Yet, the Nation continues to feign shock and surprise over the rise of White Supremacy and the proliferation of Racism. This fantasizing over its greatness and denial of what it actually looks like to the world, coupled with tacit ac­know­ledge­ment of the failure of its promise, and the reliance on pretense, is now jeopardizing the very Democracy upon which this country was built.

Again, in this paradoxical nation of is and isn’t, was and wasn’t, and forward and back, one side of the divide is ecstatic over the prospect of taking the United States forward and back into a state of openly superior Whiteness; that grand time prior to the 1960s when white people could claim whiteness as golden, whiteness as exceptional, and the term, “white” once again being prefaced before the literal personification of the term, “man.” This is the side of the divide who always felt they lost their identity, who had become invisible; forgotten during the Post Racial Color Blind era. They could be poor, but at least they were white, and now, for them, white lives mattered again. Indeed, as President Trump said in reference to a white supremacist group during the first debate of his incumbency, one could say this side of the divide is literally “standing back and standing by.”

Then, there is the other side, who, in their moderately liberal minded acuity, believe the nation should move forward, back into the time when the expression of true Whiteness had become a privilege for only the wealthy, in the form of “exclusivity,” and extended outward within the White economic class caste structures until the masses of them in the middle and lower classes no longer referenced their Whiteness lest they be called “Racist.” It was a relatively quiet time for this side. Although discrimination existed, and segregation persisted, at least no one was “protesting.” This side would extol the virtues of merit as the measure of value in society and relegate the overt faces of the white supremacist, swastika clad, confederate boot boys and girls back to their places, dangling precariously on the fringes of the Nation’s fabric, instead of in the Senate, the House, the Courts, and the White House.

The country actually knows that over fifty years of denial and pretense by way of the Post Racial Color Blind era brought this country to where it is at this time in history. It knows that four hundred years of inequality, inequity, injustice, and lack of opportunity also brought us to where we are in this time in history. The slide into Fascism by other countries is documented through even less similar circumstances. Therefore, in order to prevent the decimation of Democracy here in the United States, the country must release itself from its contradictions. The continued life breath of this Democracy demands that it move forward, not through a paradoxical spiral leading forward back to either side of the divide, but forward, forward into something completely new, something this country has never experienced before: true equality, equity, opportunity and justice for ALL.

*Excerpted from the Epilogue of an upcoming text by Dr. Cynthia Alease Smith tentatively entitled, “White Supremacy and the Post Racial Color Blind Era: Exploring Visible and Invisible Whiteness and Racism in America — An Unbook Look


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