I am a 36 year old disabled woman who has been variously labeled "fat", "crazy", and "a hippie weirdo." I now try to embrace labels that others use in an attempt to "shame" me into being someone more "acceptable". I am passionate about issues of race/racism, criminal (in)justice, fat acceptance, and mental health advocacy. I blog at My Name Is JuJuBe and I am on the team at The Intersection of Madness and Reality
Much brouhaha was made last week when a woman who describes herself as Ethiopian decided to make a Youtube video telling the world how much she despises and looks down on Black American women. I am not even going to link the video here, because this woman does not need any more publicity than she has already gotten.
While it would be easy to disparage this young woman, to call her a bigot, deluded or even (inaccurately) a racist, the truth is, she is a victim of the same white supremacist system that oppresses American Black women. The tactics used by the white supremacists have convinced her that by cooperating with white racists, becoming complicit in their devaluation of Black Americans, she will somehow gain acceptance and be elevated above Black Americans.
The white supremacists that run the United States have been using this "divide and conquer" strategy to enforce their racist policies for hundreds of years.
When slavery was legal in the United States, the white slave owners used skin tone to keep Black people divided. They pretended to give elevated status to those slaves who were seen as being closer to "white" - those with light skin, straight hair, narrow noses, and other physical characteristics seen as being "European". Though these individuals were still considered mere property to the racist men and women certain concessions were made to help create a "class" of slaves - known commonly as "house Negroes" who were treated slightly better than their darker skinned contemporaries - the "field Negroes". The white slave owners used the "house Negroes" to enforce their oppressive policies on the "field Negroes" in return for special "privileges". And, in some cases, the lighter skinned slaves, the ones who were given preferential treatment, were brainwashed into believing that the white men and women actually had their best interests at heart.
Fast forward to the late 1800s. Legal slavery ended, and there was a large "free" Black population that the white supremacists needed to find a new way to keep "in their place". The nation was also changing in other ways. New immigrants coming to the country were from "undesirable" stock. They were still largely European, but not the "right type" of European. They were not WASPs, but rather Italians, Jews, Irish Catholics. And, when they first immigrated, they were not looked upon as "white". They were looked upon with derision by the WASPs.
But, the WASPs realized that they needed to find some method of enforcing their policies upon the Black population. So, over time, they enlisted the help of these new immigrants. The Jews, Italians, Irish Catholics, etc. were offered "acceptance" into the white collective in order to ensure that they would help enforce the policies of the WASPs in power. The first thing a new immigrant learned upon entering the country was that they could gain status in the eyes of the WASPs by treating Black Americans with utter contempt. So, they became strong supporters of the oppressive policies in place against Black Americans, in hopes that they would gain "favored" status. And, to a large degree, it worked. Today, Italians, Jews, Irish Catholics, etc. have almost completely assimilated into "whiteness".
Over the past century, more non-European immigrants have entered the country. People who did not look "white". Asian immigrants, West Indian immigrants, African immigrants. Now, the white supremacists know that they could never accept "those people" into the white collective. But, that would not stop them from using these immigrants to help enforce their oppressive policies on Black Americans.
Once again, white supremacists have made quick work of using every resource they can to keep Black Americans "in their place". And that includes enlisting the assistance of other "non-white" people who have only recently entered this country. The white supremacists use the seductive promise of special treatment to brainwash "non-white" immigrants into remaining aloof and looking down upon Black Americans. And, in many cases, the white supremacists have been extremely successful.
The white supremacists who control this country recognize that if all of the people that they classify as "non-white" were to unite, they would be a force to be reckoned with. So, they keep "non-white" people divided and stratified. They attempt to recruit immigrants, even those who are considered "non-white" or "Black", to help enforce racist policies by convincing them it is in their best interest.
Make no mistake about it - this is a carefully calculated move on the part of the white supremacists. They KNOW that by offering special treatment to certain individuals or groups they can keep divided people whose best interests would be served by unifying towards a common goal - that of ending white supremacy. So they appeal to the self interest or group interests of certain immigrants in order to maintain the status quo.
Most of the time, the people who are being indoctrinated by the white supremacists to look down upon Black Americans do not even realize they are being used in order to reinforce the policies of racist man and racist woman. The white supremacists have been waging a propaganda campaign against Black Americans since they were first stolen from Africa and brought against their will to this country. The white supremacists have just been forced to become more creative in their choice of "allies". The truth is, the white supremacists do not consider those they enlist to oppress Black Americans to be their "equals". They are simply being used by the racists, and will be discarded as soon as they outlive their "usefulness".
White supremacists know that they could very well lose everything they believe that they have "earned" if non-white people unified. So, they use every tactic they know to keep that from ever happening. And that includes using new immigrants to enforce their racist agenda by promising them an elevated status over Black Americans.
The greatest fear of white supremacists is that "non-white" people will unite and "take over". I hope that eventually the immigrant populations that are being used by the white supremacist will realize that their interests would be best served by joining with Black Americans, rather than disparaging them as the white supremacists want them to. That would certainly be a (desperately needed) step towards justice.