Cain-ing the world but losing the soul
Between the Lines
Every decade or so, some unconscious Negro steps forward into the national spotlight to demonstrate how insane he can sound in trying to attract the support or affinity of White folk by making the most outrageous and outlandish statements. It’s usually when some conservative initiative is in play. This year, it’s the conservative movement’s blackface response to President Barack Obama. Watching the Republican debates, businessman Herman Cain first came off as a rational, reasonable pragmatist with a sensible approach to taxation (9-9-9 flat tax plan), which got the nation’s ear.
Other than that, nothing distinguished him from the rest of the “RAT Pack,” RAT being an acronym for “Republican’s Anti-Obama Trial.” Cain placed second in a couple of straw polls, then proceeded to lose his mind. This week, Cain made the comment that “Racism in this country today doesn’t hold anybody back in a big way.” He acknowledges that there are some racist elements in the society, but suggests that the so-called level playing field is only skewed during weak economies.
Cain can’t be that unconscious! Public Enemy’s Chuck D once asked, “What sucka stole the soul?” You have to wonder who stole Cain’s.
With that statement, he just earned my nomination for Bootlicker of the Year. Only a fool would believe that the vestiges of racial discrimination are not only present in today’s society, but some of the disparities they created are just as wide as they were nearly 60 years ago. Just because a few more are doing better doesn’t mean the masses are. That’s why the Black bourgeoisie who escape the realities of Black misery have never been able to speak for the masses.
Zora Neale Hurston warned us of piousness associated false intellectualism. During the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston suggested that the Negrotarians (Whites who studied, followed and shared Black culture) and the Niggerati (Black elites who shared the culture largely among Whites) would distort and misrepresent the racial complexities of the Renaissance movement if allowed.
That’s exactly what we see today. Well-to-do Blacks, like former BET owner Bob Johnson and Godfather Pizza giant Herman Cain, distort and misrepresent the racial complexities of American culture. To dismiss the reality of racism, after knowing the sting of racism, to win an election or curry favor with a White electorate suggests you have no conscience about who you step on to get to where you want to go. Cain is a Morehouse graduate who came up in the civil rights era, but somewhere along the way someone stole the soul.
No, racism is no longer by commission, but it’s certainly in evidence by omission, as Blacks are disproportionately left out of social and economic mainstream. It has nothing to do with holding them back, and everything to do with leaving them behind. Blacks are expected to pull themselves up without a rope, and America won’t throw us one, even though they throw others one everyday.
Economic stimuli and corporate bailouts are ropes thrown to the wealthy. Years ago, Blacks were told to “pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps"…even if you didn’t have boots. Another Negro spewed the same line as Cain, suggesting that there was no such thing as racism. His name is Ward Connerly and he was the face of the anti-affirmative action movement in America. It led to the elimination of affirmative action in many states. We have witnessed, firsthand, what the absence of conscience can do. It can make you lose your mind, forget the truth and steal the integrity of a true movement.
Twenty years ago this week, America sought to confirm the most unconscious Black man in American history, Clarence Thomas, when a sister of conscience, Anita Hill, stood up and suggested that Thomas was not fit of mind to serve on the Supreme Court. We have not only found out that he wasn’t fit of mind, but he is out of his mind, and is absolutely soulless when it comes to the racial experience that positioned him to be where he is. Clarence Thomas is the “Who Stole the Soul” poster boy for where you can land if you’re willing to say and do anything, including put down your own people.
Malcolm X once said, “I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.” That’s what people like Thomas, Connerly, Johnson and Cain do. They dismiss what America has done to the masses of Black people, then criticize Black people for not being able to stand up to the weight of centuries of racial oppression—just because they themselves escaped it. Then they make excuses for why conditions remain the same. They say things like Cain said: “If you’re poor, don’t blame America.
Blame yourself.” Really? Even if you believe that, saying it is a false assertion that exploits racial circumstances more than it helps because those who want to believe it to use it as an excuse to do nothing to change the racial disparities we all know are real in this country.
It’s unconscionable that Black folk lose their minds like this, but obviously it happens when someone or something steals your cultural conscience, what we call soul. Other people fake the conscience and steal the soul, just to remain relevant with Black people.
Speaking of losing your mind, the Taste of Soul festival goes off this weekend. The Taste of Soul was created by radio executive, Ron Turner, who was the national sales rep for KKBT, “The Beat.” The Beat was planning a street fair in the late 1990s before the station was sold to Cathy Hughes. Turner met with several community folk, including myself, to start the street fair under the new management, but Hughes sold her station before the fair could be implemented.
Someone else implemented it, but they didn’t create it. I hope my baby brother, Ron Turner, strolls down the boulevard this weekend to take in his creation. But it says something for someone who won’t acknowledge when they get their ideas from others and refuse to give them credit.
Herman Cain, and other stuff like that, happens when we let people who lose their mind then say and do anything they want. Then we ask ourselves, “Who stole the soul?” SMH [Shaking My Head].
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of the upcoming book, “Real Eyez: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture.” He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com or on Twitter at @dranthonysamad.
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