Does racism still exist? Some would say no?, but some would agree that racism is a cut that won’t heal. Molefi Kete Asante is a professor at Temple University and has written many books during his career. In this analysis I will dissect Asante’s work covering racism from the past, present and the future moving forward. Asante argues that America is divided between two divisions, the Promise and the Wilderness.
Historically, African Americans has been at a disadvantage politically, socially, and economically for centuries. The African Diaspora was the turning point in the African culture, the Europeans came in and changed the lives of Africans, this was a time of family separation, barbarous conditions of bondage, and the forcible move to a New Land. Slavery began a new vision for Africans because they were stripped of their land and natural resources, they were uprooted and moved to an unfamiliar place in the process of everything, they were abused and enslaved. The only memories they had to connect with was their culture which included their native language, music and food. The African Diaspora laid a foundation for the unjust and unfair treatment of the African culture. Equality was no longer reachable, and Africans were expected to get accustomed to their new reality, the Wilderness. Asante uses the term Wilderness to express the mindset of the African descendants. The Wilderness id defined by Asante meaning something difficult, perhaps unknown, a place where one does not know what to expect. This could turn out positive for some people, but for the Africans it wasn’t a positive experience.
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The Promise and the Wilderness are divided between two separate components. The Black and White components have been controversial since the beginning of slavery. The Promise has been entitled due to the anatomy of racism in the Western region. It’s not based on the intellectual merits or special talents; it is the domination of the Eurocentric culture that creates the role of entitlement. In comparison to the Promise, the Wilderness’ population is set in tradition due to bondage, skin color, and status. History reveals the division whether it’s the Native Americans or the Kankakee Moloi from Hawaii, both were affected by European expansionism, another example of stealing land. Africans arrived at this land with significant differences of ideas and culture than the Europeans. Africans recognized there were no connecting faiths, no acknowledgment of diversity, and absolutely no Promise Land, just the usual, lonely Wilderness.
In American history the racial discontent affected the Native Americans’ possession of land; the enslavement of Africans; segregation of communities, and discrimination. The rage associated with African Americans has been demonstrated by black on black crime. The violence that is destroying the community connects to the essence of the norm in American society. According to Asante (Asante, pg 35), The Kerner Commission Report splits America in to two nations, white and wealthier or black and impoverished. Little has changed with economics in the two communities. For example, the salary of an African American will be far less than a white citizen.
The Promise and the Wilderness is divided between the whites and blacks even though there are individuals who participate in both areas. Some are living in a mirage of the Promise but are still in the Wilderness. For example, athletes, or individuals in the music industry, they desire the material possessions as a means of direction to the Promise, but it’s impossible to reach the top. Psychologically, they are bound to the Wilderness due to the delusional images of the Promise. The ignorance of American history disfigures the attempts to comprehend the profundity of resentment that loiters within the Wilderness. Sad to say, a small number of American leaders have the full distinction of political and social control that is imperative to inform society about the unchanging face of racism. A scarce number of presidential candidates have taken chances for a position in the White House by honestly speaking up for the fight against racism and the effectiveness it may have on society.
In the world today, police brutality, racial profiling, and different forms of discrimination is imbedded in the flesh of this country. America’s foundation has been and still is, a political cancer. The bondage of Africans, at the same time, convey the importance of liberty, which established the separation of the Wilderness and the Promise. The normality of racial prejudice has increased due to factors of social, political, and economic issues which shapes the thought pattern of whites who trust that prejudice behavior is natural. Asante gives examples of violence behavior toward Africans in the twentieth century.
April 27, 1903: New York Times- Fifty-year-old Joe Shively was whipped with barbed wire and hit in the eye with brass knuckles by thirty-eight men in Bloomington, Indiana, on April 26th. Their motive appeared to be local objection to a colored man boarding with a white family. Two daughters of the family were also whipped.
March 27, 1933: New York Herald-Tribune- A Lowell, North Carolina, physician, Dr. James W. Reid, saved a Negro from a lynch mob by hiding him in his cellar and then by driving him to Charlotte for safe keeping in the Mecklenberg County jail.
April 28, 1936: Hickory (N.C.) Record- Lint Shaw, a Negro farmer once saved from lynching through the pleadings of a judge, was tied to a pine tree and shot to death near Colbert, Georgia, by a mob of forty men eight hours before he was to have been tried on attempted criminal assault.
November 27, 2017: Washington D.C.- U.S. News Megan Trimble, Donald Trump renewed his nickname against Senator Elizabeth Warren, calling the congresswoman Pocahontas while speaking at an event honoring Native American war heroes at the White House. Trump stated to veterans prior to referencing the Massachusetts Democrat. Although we have a representation in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas?.
The examples were just a small list of crimes demonstrated against Africans, its purpose is to demonstrate how far we have come but we still have a far distance to travel. The political and social endeavor in the Wilderness presents hope and strength of the Africans whose optimism and desires in spite of torment and pain has dwelled in the Wilderness. We can’t limit the Wilderness to the indigent because successful business owners, athletes, physicians and many other intelligent African Americans experience the same conditions with in the Wilderness. Black nationalism, a mechanism to control and to enrich African American communities, transpired from the political, cultural, also economic reaction in the Wilderness. The Wilderness is positioned to keep one in a certain consciousness. The U.S. is in a gun crisis, but the focus is on black on black crime?, the Wilderness is once again media’s target. White Supremacist are training, orchestrating, and executing violent acts every day, but their news is not the focus because the Promise can avoid the media. White hate groups were trained to fight by using a gun. These white hate groups encourage their youth to use guns, the mass shootings in America has been in some cases, executed by teens. They enter schools, homes, and large crowds to demonstrate the hate they consume. The NRA (National Rifle Association) is supported by white supremacy groups and continue to promote the opportunity to have guns. Numerous countries prohibit guns for citizens, they conclude that it’s not the citizens’ right to own a gun. Unfortunately, the lobbyist in the U.S. can prevent legislators from refusing the right to have a gun, if the lobbyist chooses to support a ban on guns then it destroys their election or reelection. African Americans are directly affected by this harmful decision by offering easy access to illegal firearms.
Is there a solution to racism in the United States? As a nation there are actions that we have to demonstrate to become a better society. Asante believes that there are six actions that should be taken to help heal this womb. First, an apology should be given to the descendants of the Africans who were enslaved. The only way to apologize nationally is by Congress, who would have to create an intent of apology. (2) Acceptance of all ethnicities; (3) Time to act now; (4) Rewrite the national story with experiences from the Wilderness; (5) Embrace human and culture freedom of all ethnicities; (6) allow open conversations about reparations to begin to help the deep womb. Asante states (Asante, pg 241), What is good for the Wilderness is good for the Promise. In other words, everyone should have the same opportunities, without discrimination, racial views or opinions, against one group. The Wilderness has been plagued by association with violence, irrational choices, and the drug war which is a distraction of the detractor. The detractor makes an association of negative behavior with African Americans which turns into a stereotype and causes the Wilderness to have no voice. According to Asante (Asante, pg 275) reparation will free whites from some degree of guilt and liberate African Americans from most of the heavy burden of inferiority and self-hatred rooted in the fact that the nation has never apologized for the historical, abuse measured out to thier ancestors.
In conclusion, racism has played a role in society for many centuries, it has caused physical and mental abuse, racial profiling, and most of all, division in our nation. The Wilderness will have an opportunity to get to the Promise when all people matter, and everyone is treated with respect and dignity. Moving forward, there are a few actions that must be taken, the most important action, a formal public apology to African Americans. The remaining actions is to accept the history of every nation, act now, rewrite history so that the Wilderness has an opportunity to explain thier experiences, and to embrace culture freedom. Unity doesn’t happen by accident it is a conscious effort by all who decides to participate.
Asante, M. (2009). Erasing racism. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.
Doctor Rescues Negro Lad, New York Herald Tribune. Lowell, A. March 27, 1933.
Two White Girls and Negro Whipped, New York Time, April 27, 1903.
Lynched before Trial, Hickory N.C. Record Shaw, L April 28, 1936.
Trimble, M. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/
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