When the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964 and amended in 1968 with the Fair Housing Act, many Black people in the United States thought they would finally receive an opportunity for Racial parity. The emphasis on desegregation and integration into white spaces and places, specifically within education, housing, and employment, was positioned as a panacea for equality, equity, opportunity and justice. The idea was strictly economic; sharing these spaces and places would cause an equality paradigm shift through erasure of color as a distinction. It was thought that if a viable comparison could be drawn among Black and white people through shared economic struggle, an intersection could be placed smack in the middle of economic success and a colorlessness nation could finally be achieved with Black and white people living and working together. Most who believed in a colorless nation even went so far as to pretend the founding fathers were actually attempting to accomplish the very spirit of a more perfect, colorless Union, by transmuting their newly collective ideas about the races in the wake of the words, “all men” and “created equal.” This egalitarian society envisioned in the 1960s, however, could not have been further from the truth, and what Black people really got instead was much more insidious. They became victims within the system of Racism, equally responsible for the cause of Racism as Hatred, and equal recipients of the moniker, Racist.
The Post-Racial Color Blind era created an atmosphere of colorlessness in the areas of human activity, where Black and white people had the potential to exist together most often. Race as Color was no longer openly expressed, but White Supremacist behavior still needed an outlet, therefore, the era also produced an atmosphere of Racism as interpersonal behavior. Character and individual behavior became primarily what drove concepts of Racism. Since neither color nor race were openly articulated, as was common in the past, it appeared structured and institutionalized Racism had all but disappeared and only those on both racial fringes of American society were even capable of the racial hatred inherent in interpersonal behavior between the races. As a result, many people still do not understand what Racism is because they believe interpersonal behavior among Black and white people alone determines how Racism is expressed and that it can be shared across colors and Races.
The use of Race as Character for evaluating Black people was very successful in hiding the nature of White Supremacy behind a new paradigm of so-called Racist behavior, or Interpersonal Racism. This new model gave both white and Black people the misconception that Racism was no longer in place to sustain White Supremacist ideology. In fact, the term, White Supremacy had disappeared altogether. Racism became more about how Black and white people “treated” each other individually, absent any institutional or structural barriers or limitations. Over time, the simple use of the words white or black became tantamount to being Racist. Any interpersonal behavior could be seen as Racist, simply if the behavior were toward white people by Black people or vice versa, even in a nation where the colors white and black were supposed to be nonexistent. For example, if a Black person called a white person a cracker, that was considered Racist. If a white person called a Black person a monkey, that was Racist. Anything stereotypical was Racist, and all individual acts of meanness and hatred by either race became the hallmark of Racism as long as the behavior was kept within the binary of white and Black. At the same time, overt behaviors of the brogan wearing, skin headed, tattooed boys and girls, and poor white people considered on the fringes, were used as the face for this kind of Racism belonging to specific kinds of white people. Meanwhile, the Red Bottoms and Jimmy Choo’s, the silk neckties and briefcases, the iPads all drenching in Gucci covers, and wealthy persons holding the white identifier, remained in the positions of power, still making the institutionally Racist rules and policy decisions from board rooms and legislative chambers all over the country, disproportionately affecting the lives of masses of Black people in damaging ways.
Ironically, the concept of Racism as interpersonal behavior did not begin directly after implementation of the Civil Rights and Fair Housing Acts. As White Supremacy as a functioning behavioral ideology was effectively hidden, the change in how Racism was expressed crept in subtly. Its beginnings can be traced from the Judicial System in the U.S. with the first acknowledgement of “reverse discrimination” in Education by the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, in 1978.
With White Supremacy as an ideology hidden, and the character of Black people stigmatized again, the entire theory of discrimination against or mistreatment of white people took hold because of the one effort of redress for past discrimination against Black people for decades, or Affirmative Action. In Bakke, the spirit of Affirmative Action was upheld, but the idea of “quotas” specifically for Black people was effectively quashed, even though the term, quotas, was simply a clever use of semantics for goals and timetables that government contracted employers, colleges and universities were encouraged to follow. Goals were simply promises by these employers, colleges and universities to actively recruit and accept Black people and timetables were reasonable periods of time in which to fulfill those goals; neither of which was ever done prior to the implementation of the Civil Rights Act and Affirmative Action.
The Court contended Race could be used, a ruling which had the same effect as saying the “White Race” could benefit as well, as long as there weren’t specific quotas placed on the numbers of potential Black students given an opportunity to the exclusion of white prospective students. Considering the fact that colleges and universities were not voluntarily recruiting and admitting Black students, Bakke was rendered useless to anyone but white women who were better able to prevail on sexual discrimination consent decrees. Until Bakke, there was nothing they could construe as oppression of themselves, since they had long acquiesced on any mistreatment by the same white people in power subjugating them through economic class casting.
Bakke offered both the White Supremacist power structure as well as average white people the idea that they, too were aggrieved, but at the hands of less capable Black people receiving preferential treatment simply because they were Black. The thought that inferior Black people were getting opportunities which were the right of white people was all they saw, and as a result, Affirmative Action was vilified and stigmatized as one of many free rides for Black people instead of a determined effort to provide limited apportionment of opportunity for generations of denial and discrimination. These average white people never thought to see their own structural economic oppression, only bad Black people taking away their opportunity and getting free stuff, which only added to the growing generational animosity. For the first time in American history, not only was any individual behavior considered Racist, but any institution designed as reparative relief for Black people was considered Racist as well. In essence, Bakke made Affirmative Action, Racist.
Interpersonal behavior as Racism in the United States effectively diminished Racism as an actual, real, manufactured system used as the mechanism to uphold, sustain and maintain the overarching ideology of White Supremacy. It allowed for burgeoning policies and practices designed to provide equitable footing to be deemed Racist. The fact that out of White Supremacy came just about every conceivable subsequent creed of Exceptionalism cannot be overstated. White Supremacist ideology spawned vulture Capitalism based on feigned meritocracy and competition for resources made scarce for bogus exclusivity. It was responsible for Nationalism and White Deity as Superior, Fascism, and all manner of suppression and oppression in the world. It definitely enabled the super wealthy descendants of the old Gentry class in the early United States to hold onto their power and wealth while reducing the ability of the masses of average Black or white people to combat and dismantle the institutional structure of Racism built by the wealthy white Gentry to preserve White Supremacy.
The truth of the matter is Racism is not interpersonal behavior alone. Racism has, nevertheless, become interpersonal in the sense that it encompasses everything in human activity, and that is only because it is built structurally into every institution of human activity. White Supremacy, however, is the catalyst for the creation of Racism as a system to keep itself viable because without a system in place the entire ideology would crumble under the weight of reality and truth. White Supremacist ideology is actually where all of the interpersonal behavior thrives. It is the why of the animus that lives within the white/Black binary and it is the lubrication that keeps the mechanism of Racism from decaying around itself. The reality is White Supremacy is the ideology that created all the behaviors that made the creation of Racism possible. White Supremacists are those white people who originally designed and created the system of Racism to deny and discriminate against Black people.
In no way are Black people equally culpable for Racism or its effects. That would have to mean the very system of oppression, denial and discrimination was created with the assistance of Black people to oppress themselves. It would mean White Supremacy as an ideology is beneficial to Black people, which is impossible, since the benefactors of the ideology are the ones who assigned the color upon those who would be beneficiaries and those who would be casualties. There is not one Black person living or dead who would have created a system to ensure they would remain forever inferior based on any criteria, let alone skin color. Black people did not invent the white/black binary.
As long as this nation collectively refuses to comprehend the fundamental differences between White Supremacy as the ideology of superiority which creates the twisted interpersonal behavior, and Racism as the system designed and created to support it, everyone in this country will be continually deluded by the misuse of racialized terminology, and in particular the words Racist and Racism. White Supremacists will continue to reinvent ways circumvent their exclusive ownership and accountability of both terms and their effects on the nation, and will continue to claim equality of the races in this one facet of life in the United States, allowing the moniker of Racist to hold efficacy, however feigned, for both Black and white people.