Why don't blacks enslave whites?

Black America

Astrid Franke

To person

is Professor of American Studies at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen and in the Collaborative Research Center 923 "Threatened Orders", head of a project on race relations in the USA. [email protected]

In 2018, for the 50th time, the year 1968 was the "climax of a transnational revolt" (Heinrich August Winkler). In this context, the 50th anniversary of the murder of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. King was shot dead in Memphis on April 4, 1968, exactly one year after speaking out against the Vietnam War in a speech in New York and placing the fight against discrimination against African Americans in a post-colonial context - and shortly before he followed it up with another Wanted to combine the march to Washington with the fight against poverty.

King's work can be considered incomplete 50 years after the assassination, although he and the civil rights movement achieved great success with the 1964 anti-franchise and segregation laws. The police violence against African Americans and, most recently, the self-assured appearance of openly racist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11, 2017, have shown that America has changed less than many had hoped - an age in which "race" no longer matters obviously has not started. Thus there must have been continuities over the period of the 1960s and the subsequent social revolts that may have been overlooked. That phenomenon is dealt with in this article: the astonishing stability of the relationship between white and black Americans, which is justified by "race".

In the following, I first deepen the findings of continuity despite seemingly drastic events in terms of cultural history and explain why one should speak of the continuity of a power order and not the continuity of racism. Then I take a closer look at two areas of society - education and law - in order to show how the racial order as a power order is maintained through economic inequality.

Double awareness

In his essay "The Evolution of the Race Problem", the African-American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois made a diagnosis as early as 1909 that also applies to today's conditions. [1] Du Bois dealt empirically and theoretically with the concept of "race". According to him, the history of African-Americans since the abolition of slavery is both evolutionary and cyclical: events such as the decrees of the Declaration of Emancipation in 1863 and the ratification of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1870, which forbids exclusion from the right to vote based on skin color or previous enslavement , have repeatedly promised fundamental changes. Due to a number of circumstances - for example the lack of sustainable federal support for the released slaves, for example through land reform - the balance of power in favor of the white population remained largely untouched.

The ups and downs of hope and disappointment associated with such processes have also entered African-American literary and cultural history. It can be found in the blues and explicitly in the blues poems by Langston Hughes at the beginning of the 20th century and in his long poem "Montage of a Dream Deferred" (1951). A current example is the novel "John Henry Days" by Colson Whitehead (2001): Using variations of the figure of the Afro-American hero John Henry, similar situations are repeatedly portrayed in encounters with white Americans from the 19th century to the present young black men have fatal, often fatal consequences. The figure of repetition with variations suggests that despite - or because of - a number of changes, much remains the same: In the relationship between the "races" in the USA there are obviously "invariants" and "constants", as described by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu in " The male rule "1998 also noted for the gender ratio.

It is misleading to believe that this is primarily a psychological problem of persistent prejudice structures or individual defamatory actions and statements. Racism is also not the unfortunate consequence of different skin pigmentation or nose shapes - ultimately biological differences that are subsumed under the term "race". In fact, "race" is already a racist category, namely the justification of an oppressive relationship, which refers to supposed differences in the biology of the human body and adds ascriptions to these. In fact, we do not suppress people because they are different, but call them differently because we (can) suppress them. [2]

Through a number of complex psychosocial mechanisms, these attributions can, if such an oppressive relationship persists long enough, become a self-fulfilling prophecy: Through the internalization of attributions, members of the oppressed group can at some point behave as one constantly expects them to behave - including Because in the long run it is difficult to counter the negative image that others have of you with another positive self-image, i.e. to live with a double consciousness. Du Bois coined the term "double consciousness" for this, and this phenomenon is also a topos of Afro-American literature. By a "pars-per-toto distortion"Examples can always be found for the attributions and applied to the entire oppressed group. [3] This is also due to a reversal of cause and effect: A group is denied access to various fields of activity or at least made more difficult, then they become inclined Said to the leftover activities, such as physical work, sports, the credit system or criminal activity.

Ultimately, long-lasting oppression constructs the group it postulates: Those who share a specific historical experience of discrimination will at some point see themselves as a group, and the solidarity that can arise here is both self-protection and a first step towards empowerment - but this too is again understood as a confirmation of the postulation of a group.

According to the sociologists Matthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer, "race" thus becomes a "well-founded fiction" - but the "race" is based on a power relationship. [4] Therefore it is wrong to talk about the longevity of racism. Rather, the persistence of an unjust power order must be reflected, in this case the racial order (racial order), which is effective in various areas of society.