Alice in political Wonderland
Through the rabbit hole of this very strange theater of the absurd political primary season, as those-who-would-be-conservative champions vie for the public’s eye and credibility, it is really a through-the-looking-glass moment when essentially four White women accuse a Black man of sexual harassment, and legions of White men rush out to defend the Black man’s reputation.
Wow! A Black man as president of the United States and Southern White men surrounding Herman Cain in a protective circle against what for centuries usually ended in knotted rope of injustice administered by kinsmen of these White protectors.
This would truly be a transcendent moment of post-racialism in America were it not occurring within the context of everyday real-life micro-racisms. Just when some of us were ready to say, “Aha, maybe, just maybe there is a bit of light shining through the other end of the racial rabbit hole tunnel,” we were slapped back into reality by another member of the brigade of the ignorant.
There is virtually no positive part—and some say, we’re into the negative too—of American life in which African Americans have not excelled. We have Black billionaires (a least two), we have hundreds of Black millionaires (most of them not from athletics), we have Olympian speed skaters, hockey players and swimmers, we have Nobel laureates and Pulitzer prize winners, we have thousands of master architects and construction engineers, and we invented telephone caller I.D. and the electric microphone, among many other modern devices. We have not been idle, and we have not been lacking in making major contributions to American and world life.
As just another example, Jesse Russell, a graduate of Tennessee State University, essentially invented the modern cell phone in the 1980s, as one of this country’s first experts in digital signal processing.
Googling his story would be very inspirational for those of you interested. The available video is excellent.
What we have not gotten is solid press and having our grand narrative of magnificent success told well. Thus, in the incessant dynamics of the racial/cultural war we have been reluctantly involved in against our own interests, way too many young Blacks do not believe people who look like them have done much more than rap some vulgar lyrics, dance, sing, dunk, throw and show our thespian chops in demeaning movies.
Thus, when the majority of educators—public and post-secondary—still treat Black students as the main drag on graduation rates and competent test scores, and confidently predict Black failure in science, math, engineering (and, quite frankly, English composition) classes, it should come as no surprise that far too many Americans, of all hues, stripes and tattoos, just nod knowingly at a statement just uttered by Silicone Valley major mover Michael Arrington, that there are no Black techie entrepreneurs anywhere in the vicinity. “It takes brains and bombastic ambition to score big in the computer and digital tech industry,” and, Arrington says, ‘in reality he just didn’t know any competent Blacks that could qualify.”
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien gently confronted Arrington about the dearth of his knowledge in a recent on-camera interview and in her blog. O’Brien rattled off some readily available facts about Black techies and their math-science innovations, and Arrington just claimed that he was not racist and that the liberal press had set him up and had ambushed him with that information. These were just more famous Palinesque-type words we’ve all heard much too often, when ignorance and bad judgments have dominated one’s bad conduct.
Soledad O’Brien is doing a special on CNN Monday, entitled “Black in America: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley,” in which she interviews and profiles eight young Black entrepreneurs who are battling it out to a mostly good result as grand innovators in the digital field, and this column strongly urges all readers to take a look-see at that program. The material and the investigative reporting are top-notch, and the information is priceless.