To say that Black people and White people live in two different worlds when it comes to world view, is an understatement.
Ask any Black person about Nat Turner, for example, and most express admiration for the man who led the bloodiest slave revolt in American history. After all, on Aug. 21, 1831 he led a company of 70 slaves in a rebellion in Southampton, Va. to end slavery.
He was a hero, a bold young captain! He fought for freedom!
Ask most White folks–especially those in Southampton–and they may very well condemn him. Let’s not forget, that during that bloody insurrection, 57 Whites, men, women and children–civilians–were slaughtered, many while they slept.
He was a murdering terrorist!
So it goes. There is a Black perception of reality. There is a White perception of reality.
Last September 60,000 young Blacks marched in tiny Jena, La. to protest racial bias in the criminal justice system down there, Six Black teenagers faced a total of 100 years in jail as adults for their role in a schoolyard fight in which a White student was beaten. But months earlier three White students were given a slap on the wrist as punishment after they hung three nooses from a tree in the schoolyard, a day after Black students had sat under the tree.
The behavior of the Black students in Jena was labeled “criminal.” The behavior of the White students was dismissed as “a childish prank.”
The following Halloween, at fraternity parties all over the country, White students, wearing black-face make-up and Afro-wigs posed for pictures at make-believe lynching parties. (White students seem to pose for pictures which they proudly post on the Internet, in black-face and Afro-wigs at Halloween parties every year.)
There is a Black perception of acceptable behavior there. There is a separate and distinct White perception of acceptable behavior there.
There are many, many other cases which come to mind. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan may be the source of one of the greatest racial perception gaps.
Most Black people see him as a good man who does great work among our disposed; transforming the lives of ex-offenders and drug abusers; standing up and fighting tirelessly for the “Black cause.”
Many White people see him as a silly man, pushing a silly cause, who vilifies Whites and singles outs Jews for his scorn.
I have been personally acquainted with Louis Farrakhan for 35 years. I know him to be a man of courage and integrity, charity and humanity, who absolutely does not hate or teach hatred of White people or Jewish people.
Now, the divergent Black perception vs. the White perception has spilled over into the Presidential race. After the Jesse Jackson presidential campaigns which were all about putting the Black agenda into presidential politics in 1984 and 1988, a Black candidate has emerged who must have come out of a Langston Hughes dream. He graduated with honors from Harvard Law School, and then, rather than sell his soul to the highest corporate bidder, he went to work organizing Chicago’s poor. His father is an African, his mother is a White American. He never even had (as so many of us do) a “slave name” which needed to be changed.
This Black “Dream Candidate,” was so perfect, he defied all the racial-political logic. His campaign was never about being Black. It was about the shared hope and aspirations to which all Americans could relate. In fact, just about one year ago when the talk of his running for President was just a rumor, Black folks were wondering: “Is U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) “Black enough?”
At first Sen. Obama’s campaign did not even attract much Black enthusiasm, because after recent campaigns by former Illinois Sen. Carole Mosely-Braun and the Rev. Al Sharpton, most Black folks were convinced that this country was not yet ready for a “real” Black President.
It was only after support from White voters put him in the front-runner’s spot with a convincing victory in the Iowa Caucuses, and a close-second finish in the New Hampshire Primary–two states whose entire Black populations would barely fill Howard University’s football stadium–it was only then that Blacks began to take him seriously because Whites had shown us, that he could win!
Now, ironically, as this blemish-free hero continues to prove himself too good to be true, now, it’s his principal opponent, Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who has invoked her gender politics as the first woman with a real chance to become president throughout her campaign, now her campaign is trying to subtly play the race card against the Black Senator, Obama. Go figure.
Black perception vs. White perception?