I didn’t make that title up. “The Unintentional Racism Found in Chex Mix,” I made up. Not the other one.
You can read the article here.
The writer, David Kaufman, says in the article that he is black, so I’ll take his word for it. I’m not going to fisk or rebut the piece, any more than you would take the time fir rebut my Chex Mix conspiracy theory, if I really wrote it down. Both articles inhabit the special category of “res ipsa loquitur” reserved for things that, without further analysis or explication, prove that their creator is mentally ill, or, in the alternative, trying, for whatever reason, to make people believe waht isn’t so, or, possibly engaging in satire. When you read the article, the latter possibility is quicklyerases, and so is the second. The author is serious. He is deranged.
Here’s one section, just to illustrate:
“And there you have it: The government-approved origins of the “little White men” telling us to cross the street at corners across New York….I am now convinced that technology and necessity, rather than some anti-Black conspiracy, propelled the shift from verbal crosswalk cues to a lunar-white Walking Person. But my heart still sinks at the specter of teaching my sons to ask a White man for permission to do — well, anything. Because so much of the world already insists that we do.”
This diseased state of mind is, tragically, not typical (I hope) but also not rare among African Americans, who have been told, persuaded, and conditioned to see racism everywhere…in every setback, every failure, every slight, every raised eyebrow provocative tone or grimace, ,every insult, real or imagined, every misfortune or defeat, in short everything that mature, mentally healthy adults learn to cope with, accept and rise above, sometimes altering their own conduct as a result, Those so warped have been rendered permanently handicapped, and not by United States society. They have been rendered paranoid and irrational by the self-serving propaganda of own leaders and supposed supporters, to make them fearful.
There was a time when the fear and paranoia was justified. Paul Morella and I recently did a Zoom version of our ethics CLE program, “Clarence Darrow’s Ethics Lessons For Today’s More Ethical Lawyers” for the D.C. Bar. (It averaged 4.9 approval in all but two categories, 4.7 in those, within a 1-5 scale.) A highlight, as always, was Paul’s rendition of Darrow’s 1926 closing argument as he defended 11 blacks accused of murder when one of them shot a member of a white mob outside their home in a segregated neighborhood in Detroit. (I wrote a post about that amazing speech here.) In one memorable passage, Darrow tells the all-white jury,
Make yourselves colored for a little while. It won’t hurt, you can wash it off. They can’t, but you can; just make yourself black men for a little while; long enough, gentlemen, to judge them, and before any of you would want to be judged, you would want your juror to put himself in your place. That is all I ask in this case, gentlemen. They were black, and they knew the history of the black.
… I should imagine that the only thing that two or three colored people talk of when they get together is race. I imagine that they can’t rub color off their face or rub it out of their minds. I imagine that it is with them always. I imagine that the stories of lynchings, the stories of murders, the stories of oppression are a topic of constant conversation. I imagine that everything that appears in the newspapers on this subject is carried from one to another until every man knows what others know, upon the topic which is the most important of all to their lives.
What do you think about it? Suppose you were black. Do you think you would forget it, even in your dreams? Or would you have black dreams? Suppose you had to watch every point of contact with your neighbor and remember your color, and you knew your children were growing up under this handicap. Do you suppose you would think of anything else?
Darrow’s assessment wa accurate and fair. That trial, however, took place at the height of Jim Crow. There was open and pervasive racism; black citizens rights were suppressed and denied.
Those who profit and acquire power by convincing African Americans, including children, that they should still have the state of mind in 2020 that Darrow described in 1926, do incalculable harm to them and the nation.
But that is how we get articles like “The Unintentional Racism Found In Traffic Signals.”