I learned long ago that it is of little utility to debate or attempt to reason with people whom a path of unrestrained ignorance paves the way for illogical conclusions regarding racial matters. Such individuals are assuredly the inspiration behind a Mark Twain quote that my colleague Marco Robinson frequently reiterates to me, “Never argue with a fool, they will lower you to their level, and then beat you with experience.”
As a writer whose career revolves around racial matters, I must relate that a reoccurring argument by a segment of historically illiterate whites continues to befuddle me. The alluded to argument is a stern opposition to the creation of independent African-American institutions and traditions; events and entities whose genesis is birthed from whites resistance to providing any access to their groups and traditions. Put simply, if whites who criticize the creation of black institutions and traditions have their way, African-Americans are “damned if they do and damned if they don’t.”
The extended tradition of whites seeking to maintain absolute control of their organizations and traditions serves as one of the primary catalysts behind African-Americans creation of alternative organizations and traditions such as: Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Negro Baseball Leagues, Black beauty pageants, and Fine Arts expressions such as the Wiz.
The above matters not only contextualize, but also reveal many whites feigned interest in racial cooperation and multi-culturalism to be fraudulent. Such issues must be considered when evaluating white cries regarding Harvard University holding a “black commencement” to allow its African-American graduates and their loved one’s a safe space to celebrate this momentous occassion.
Considering Harvard University’s association with American chattel slavery and extended history of institutional racism, it is ironic that whites associated with this vaunted Ivory Tower would have any issue with African-Americans separating themselves from whites at any moment. It is obvious that there is a segment of white America that will never be satisfied with any relationship with blacks. Consider for a moment how ridiculous it is for whites associated with Harvard University to possess the audacity to charge African-Americans, a group that has historically been their favored target for harassment and discrimination, with stoking the fires of racial animosity. The accusation is shameful when contextualized by the reality that Harvard University has rarely welcomed black genius; incredibly, the institution initially denied W.E.B. Du Bois admission.
The juvenile tantrum that whites execute the moment that they hear African-Americans plan on gathering to celebrate academic accomplishments or execute politico-economic programs in their absence, reveals their identity as historically illiterate petulant children afflicted with a Napoleonic complex that fails to lessen their understanding of this nation’s greatest tradition, racial bias.
In many ways, it is ironic that many of those white collegians protesting “black commencement’s” throughout the nation are following in their ancestors greatest tradition, stringently resisting the integration of white institutions and organizations with every fiber of their being. A crucial aspect of this extended tradition is an eagerness to oppose what should be considered a logical response of African-Americans to form their own organizations, ceremonies, and traditions. Apparently, the alluded to whites critical thinking skills are overridden by a blinding rage commonly articulated through comprehensive racial bias.
Although difficult for whites to understand, the decision of African-Americans to congregate and hold their own celebrations such as a “black commencement” has little to do with them. We consider such events a once in a lifetime moment for our community to gather, consider the rocky path that has been traveled, and realize that although the path has been trying at times, we traversed across it. The fact that we wish to do so outside of the presence of those who have taken glee in opposing our progress by constructing obstacles whose only utility was to prevent our achievement is something that angered whites will have to come to terms with on their own. On second thought, the decision to have a “black commencement” has everything to do with white folk and how they have treated our kind.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III