In the timeless classic, The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois penned the following regarding the awakening of his racial consciousness and the subsequent falling of a “veil” between himself and the white world. It is this metaphorical “veil” that has served as a formidable obstruction that limits understanding between every racial/ethnic group in our diverse nation. Du Bois relates that
In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put it into the boys’ and girls’ heads to buy gorgeous visiting- cards–ten cents a package–and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card, –refused it peremptorily, with a glance. Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common contempt…
Experience has taught me that the majority of whites are primarily concerned with finding reliable paths to improving their socioeconomic status, concerns that usually trump any participation in some vast conspiracy to extend African-Americans politico-economic marginality. Now the above statement most certainly does not cancel out the collusion of groups working together to protect politico-economic interests from rivals; in a Capitalist society, such politico-economic strategies are to be expected. Such efforts are neither strange nor peculiar. In fact, while African-Americans repeatedly accuse others of colluding and working against the collective interests of Black America, the alluded to strategies sit at the core of our calls for “Black Power.” Consider the following directives regarding the creation of “Black Power” by Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton.
The concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise. Before a group can enter the open society, it must first close ranks. By this, we mean group solidarity is necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society. Traditionally, each new ethnic group in this society has found the route to social and political viability through the organization of its own institutions with which to represent its needs within the larger society . . . the American melting pot has not melted. Italians vote for Rubino over O’Brien; Irish for Murphy over Goldberg, etc.
There is a consensus among the politically astute that politico-economic solidarity is crucial to any population “getting ahead in America.”
Unfortunately for the sake of racial tranquility, the separation that politico-economic collectivism requires tends to construct a veil that reminds one of Du Bois’ metaphors. Put simply; group efforts to circulate dollars among their own and mobilize political currency tend to unintentionally create an increasing unfamiliarity with other racial groups and ethnicities. Hence, whites are rarely provided a view beyond the “veil” that shrouds the daily realities of Black America.
Whites’ inability to see beyond the “veil” explains their ignorance regarding the tremendous challenges that black professionals face on a daily basis. Whites ignorance regarding black life is prominently displayed via their failure to understand that many black professionals consider a strategy of “eat shit and grin” as their most reliable path to professional success.
Despite what many opponents may believe, African-American professional’s public silence regarding the many indignities they routinely face does not mean that such events are neither serious nor damaging. Many black professionals hesitate to share the insults that they experience out of fear that others would doubt their authenticity. Nevertheless, shocking racial incidents in professional workspaces are relatively common for African-Americans.
I am confident that few Americans would be shocked to find that Fox News, that bastion of Conservative political thought, has found itself mired in a controversy involving African-American employees. I am also convinced that most will understand that black employees within Fox News have adopted the strategy of “eat shit and grin” as a means of surviving what can only be considered a hellish workplace.
Two African-American female employees of Fox News, payroll manager Tichaona Brown and payroll coordinator Tabrese Wright, have recently come forth with shocking claims regarding the treatment they and other black employees received within the alluded to institution. Brown and Wright allege a workplace filled with “top-down racial harassment” and inappropriate behavior by Fox News Comptroller Judith Slater. They allege that Slaver made “numerous racially charged comments, including suggestions that black men were ‘women beaters’ and that black people wanted to harm white people physically.” As if that were not bad enough, the duo accuses Slater of forcing black employees to engage in “arm wrestling matches” with white female employees as well as “forcing a black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors…”
Within a nation where racial animosity is an integral aspect of its identity, it is tough to believe white protestations that racial hatred does not exist within American workplaces. It appears that white’s feigned ignorance regarding racial matters absolves them from taking a definitive stand against racial bias and discrimination. One thing is sure; Fox News has much company among American corporate entities and institutions in making African-American professionals silence regarding racial hostility a pre-requisite for continued employment.
White silence within Fox News regarding the above incidents of racial bias is yet another moment where individuals have allowed their financial interests to silence their moral compass. It is this expression of cowardice that leads me to believe that the majority of whites have little interest in looking behind the aforementioned “veil” that separates them from their African-American contemporaries. Unbeknownst to whites, their failure to take definitive action against racial bias in the workplace makes them accessories to the crime. Whites conscious decision to neither address nor counter-balance these occasions of workplace racial bias through tangible action are not only sickening but also makes one wonder how they can look at themselves in the mirror.
Maybe it is best that White America not peak behind the “veil” that shrouds so much of Black America’s misery and pain, at least if they do not see such things they will not have to carry the burden of being an accomplice to such matters on their shoulders.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.