Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sincere Fictions Pt. 3: the third degree of power, exercised by Jersey Campbell

“The three dimensional view of power… adopts the consideration of hidden social forces and conflict which exercise influence by shaping the consciousness of the individual or organization.”
- Steven Lukes

            America. The land of myths, legends, and endless bullshit. We create sincere fictions to hide us from the truth of the matter, to belie the effects of the conditions maintained due to these fictions. To be real, these fictions aren’t really sincere at all. To those fortunate enough to benefit from the dissemination and widespread belief in these fictions, they are sincere, but for those who are neglected and misrepresented it causes serious damage and halts any reparation or progress.
            If the truth shall set you free, what will a lie do? Lies are prisons, dungeons in which we are held hostage by ourselves and the falsities we project towards our fellow people. So when we have widespread lies- sincere fictions-taken as truth, they keep society from any real advancement, locking us up in a perpetual existence, unable to free ourselves.
The sincere fiction as it relates to the dominant culture- white culture- serves a particular purpose to the white self. It disguises the severity and inherent injustice in a blatantly racist system so that we may operate guilt-free. It isn’t our fault; it’s their fault. This country is a meritocracy. Those at the top deserve to be there and got there through hard work and determination (put da team on my back do!). There is a concern over losing the privileged social position that white people now enjoy.
            Control over the dissemination of information, particularly in the news media, is the most dangerous form of power and influence because it is exercised unbeknownst to the powerless. Views that we believe are our own, are really regurgitated messages that we hear through newscasts and the like. We are individuals, but even our innermost desires are nothing more than an amalgamation of the thoughts and ideas of those around us, and those who came before us. The collective movement is sown through our individuality. 
            Think tanks and intellectual journals publish surveys, facts, and reports that support a false notion of equality of opportunity among Americans. Code words like “culture” and “family values” are thrown in specifically aimed at the faltering black community, but not really. Guess it’s not racist unless you say its racist. The media is owned by the White Man. The White Man finances think tanks that publish papers, studies and reports suggesting that black people are not only just fine, but they are also taking advantage of the system. These reports are distributed to media outlets, and then transmitted into the minds of 300 million-plus Americans. One example of how the sincere fiction becomes pseudo-reality.
            We reinforce the sincere fictions in our social groups, and the media directs our opinions. At the dinner table, in the supermarket, at the park, and in public forums, we speak as if there is nothing we can do to change the current situation. We speak as if the current social situation isn’t based on race, but a combination of other factors such as lack of family values and a deficient culture.
The dialects of the sincere fiction include the notion of a “color-blind” society. As The Well-informed Black Guy said, we don’t see black, brown, green, blue, etc. Another masking dialect circulated to dissuade people from seeing the facts of the matter clearly. Recognition of racial disparities is socially unacceptable. The color-blind perspective helps camouflage the continuous informal discrimination peoples of color experience in this country. This ideology is convoluted to the point where whenever we utter the colors we claim not to see, we add in colors of pigments that do not exist.
Similarly, all the fervor over securing our borders ain’t really about securing our borders. When we speak of illegal immigrants we are explicitly referencing Spanish-speaking peoples from Central and South America who come here to “take our jobs”.  Semantics are powerful, and we use it to mask our hatred and inner fears towards peoples of non-European descent.
Unsurprisingly, America has a long history of sincere fictions to justify her own deplorable behavior. During the days of the (illegal)* slave trade the common opinion was that taking negroes from their homes** in Africa was morally wrong. Yet, selling a negro from a plantation in Mississippi to a plantation in Georgia was totally fine. Wait, what? Proponents of slavery in this great country believed that the holding of slaves is OK because slavery itself merely represents the preservation of a traditional, beneficent, and time-proven social order. Holding slaves was good for owners and slaves! Sometimes I have to sit back and ask myself, “did people really believe this shit?”
Unless we’re willing to live up to our sincere fictions and hold ourselves to the standards we claim to value, we need to abandon them altogether. I propose a solution: whenever you encounter camouflaged racism and/or discrimination, call out the perpetrator. It simply is not enough to not be racist; by idly standing by we are aiding the discriminatory efforts. If you’re unsure of how to do this, visit, he’ll point you in the right direction. These fictions, and the racial hierarchy it justifies, will persist until we recognize the reality of the situation.

*The first law banning the transportation of “human cargo” was passed by Congress in 1794. Participating in the international slave trade was made a capital crime in 1820. Only one person was executed under this law, hundreds more were fined, sentenced to a couple years in jail, or went free. 
** I remember back in grade school I always used to visualize the slave trade as white men coming off their boats, muskets ready, storming into African jungles to pillage the land of human resources. In these visualizations, I figured the captains of the slave ships said something to the effect of: "Off the boat ye fine and noble gentlemen! Proceed to the shores of this savage land so that we may catch us some niggers!" Little did I know the slave trade was a very intricate system where mortal combat was rare (at least in the case of the Middle Passage). The slaves were already packaged and ready to go by the time slavers from the West reached the shores of Africa. Come to find out, slavery has been going on in Africa for centuries. Slaves were sold by kings or parents to Arab slave traders in exchange for firearms or rum, then sold again to other slavers on the Middle Passage for goods such as... rum. One thing we can say about these despicable human beings, they know how to party. And the pimping of "underdeveloped" nations by "developed" nations continues... crazy.

Sincere Fictions Pt. 4

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