Definition of Neo-racism

I recently finished reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X for the first time. It was certainly an experience. It contains various discussion-worthy topics, but for this post I want to focus on something that X briefly brought up: neo-racism.

X’s definition of neo-racism can be gleaned by looking at two of his statements:

“…ultra-liberal New York has more integration problems than Mississippi.”

” ‘Conservatism’ in America’s politics means “Let’s keep the niggers in their place.’ And ‘liberalism’ means ‘Let’s keep the knee-grows in their place – but tell them we’ll treat them a little better; let’s fool them more, with more promises.’ ”

Basically, X saw liberalism as a charade. For him, [white] liberals and conservatives had the same views of blacks and on black issues, but liberals were more deceptive about it. Rather than calling blacks “niggers,” they called them, “Negroes.” Although the former is ostensibly more offensive, because both terms are used with the same negative sentiment, the latter is also offensive, making liberals and conservatives equally racist. This troubled X because many blacks were allured by hypocritical liberal rhetoric. If we exchange “Democrat” for “liberal” (which is basically what X meant when he said “liberal”), even today that is still a reality.

Nevertheless, that is a discussion for another day. The point of this post is to define neo-racism. According to X, neo-racism is essentially an angler fish. It is just as malevolent as blatant racism, but its danger is not immediately recognizable and is even alluring. I like this definition. It makes me think of things like black people being called Canadians and the Tea Party people protesting against Obama. In both instances, because the racism is not blatant,  people deny its presence. It’s definitely there though. Definitely.

Okay, you’re still probably thinking, “What is the point of this post?” Again, as I said earlier, the point of this post is to define neo-racism. After finishing the book, expecting to find a myriad of discussions on the topic, I googled neo-racism. My expectations were not met. Moreover, the pages and articles that actually did discuss neo-racism did not use the term very well.

For example, this article asserts that neo-racism is ethnocentrism.

“Beyond traditional racism, neo-racism justifies discrimination on the basis of cultural difference or national origin rather than by physical characteristics alone and appeals to “natural” tendencies to preserve group cultural identity—in this case the dominant group. Underlying neo-racism are notions of cultural or national superiority and an increasing rationale for marginalizing or assimilating groups in a globalizing world.”

Ethnocentrism is already defined. It doesn’t need a synonym. Also, ethnocentrism has been around for ages. Slavery, conquest, colonialism and exoticism can be traced back pretty far. Thus, even if the idea ethnocentrism was not already defined, it would still not be a “new racism.”

Another article asserts that neo-racism is racism against people of Middle Eastern descent. Even without Malcolm x’s definition in my mind, I don’t see how this is neo-racism. This is just regular old racism merely directed toward a new group of people. This understanding of the term is also observable in this article. Incidentally, this use of the term reminds me of  the phrase “reverse racism.” Racism is racism. “Reverse” is not necessary at all.

In all three instances,the authors predicated their use of the term on the literal meaning of neo-racism as “new racism.” Because none of the authors actually used it in the way they intended, I propose that we adopt Malcolm X’s definition. His understanding of neo-racism actually denoted a new type of racism. Furthermore, I think neo-racism is the most prevalent type of racism in our society. No one is blatantly racist anymore. Some people claim that this lack of blatant racism is evidence that we are post racial.

“The name may change, but the game remains the same.”


Thoughts on Education

When I was in high school, I was supposed to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, but I half-assed it. Strangely, even though I had no interest in it, I stole the book from my school (Don’t frown at me. A teacher once took me to the book storage room and told me take as many books home as I wanted because he knew no one would neither notice nor care) and added it to my personal library. A few weeks ago, I rediscovered it and I decided to start reading it.

While reading the first chapter, I discovered a great quote: “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 under the weight.”

This is exactly how I feel about America’s education system. After all, this is exactly how “No Child Left Behind” works.

The oil spill and the recession are definitely top priorities, but if he wants to get re-elected, Obama had better add education reform to that list of priorities. He has attempted to address it, but let’s be real, “Race to the Top” is complete shit. RTTP doesn’t address the true source of education disparities. The educational system needs to be revamped, not reformed. After all, when people race to the top, people still get left behind. Moreover, failing to heavily invest in human capital right now will prove to be a terrible mistake in the next 15 years. If we want those loans from China to actually be repaid, we’ll need more than the few people at the top. We’ll need the entire country.

“Education and work are the levers to uplift a people.” – W.E.B. Du Bois.