Right-Wing Meme Alert: Susan Rice Dared to Suggest that School Kids Could Learn Something from the Study of Black History Back in 1986
In a 1986 book by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, the future diplomat argued for the aggressive inclusion of a black history curriculum in American schools, claiming that its omission had “crippling effects” by “providing a child with no more than … a white interpretation of reality.”
The 86-page book, “A History Deferred,” served as a guide for secondary and elementary school teachers wanting to teach “Black Studies,” and was published by the Black Student Fund, an advocacy group where Rice had an internship.
“Susan’s interest in the study of Black history evolved from her desire to learn more about the experiences and achievements of her own people,” notes the preface.
Once more, conservatives and the White Right show you who they really are. Susan Rice is damned for her political beliefs, and also because she has "scary black radical Angela Davis hair" in this photo.
The Right's hostility to Ambassador Susan Rice has been described by the Washington Post and others as motivated by white racism. Partisanship, conspiranoid thinking, and an effort to defrock President Obama are most certainly part of the Republicans' hostility to a black woman who would dare to become Secretary of State. In an era where racism and conservatism are one and the same, Republicans cannot resist the urge and impulse to attack a black woman who serves in the Obama administration--even if race-baiting helped to lead to the downfall of their presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
They have not learned from their failures. Facing demographic suicide, conservatives are addicted to the political meth of white racial resentment and anti-black affect. It is one hell of a drug.
The Tea Party GOP's opposition to Susan Rice has found a new fixation. Just as conservatives wanted to find evidence of anti-white vitriol in Michelle Obama's thesis at Princeton, or anti-white sentiment in black liberation theology and Reverend Wright's common sense observations about American history during Obama first presidential campaign, the new meme will be focused on Susan Rice's work as a college student with the Black Student Fund.
In that capacity, she apparently committed a heinous crime according to the Right-wing muckrakers at The Daily Caller: in 1986, Susan Rice dared to suggest that black kids could benefit from learning that they are not bystanders in American history. To the Right, this is a great crime.
Her offense is also bizarre; Rice supposedly harbors anti-white animus, but somehow she decided to dedicate her life to serving the United States government. Riddle you that one? Maybe she is a Manchurian candidate?
There is nothing in Susan Rice's suggestions from almost twenty years ago, as selectively excised from her longer work (as featured by The Daily Caller) that respected psychologists, social scientists, and others have found disagreement with. Her comments are so basic and obvious that The Daily Caller's white racist histrionics are made all the more apparent.
There Charles Johnson writes:
Central to the book’s ambition was reclaiming lost black achievements and giving black children pride in their history. In that vein, Rice lists black achievements in “Literature,” “the Arts,” “the Music [sic]” and “Public Service” to present an Afrocentric view of U.S. history.
This was necessary, Rice noted in her book’s foreword, because most students were “taught American history, literature, art, drama, and music largely from a white, western European perspective. As a result, their grasp of the truth, of reality, is tainted by a myopia of sorts.”
“American history cannot be understood fully or evaluated critically without ample study of Black history,” Rice added...
Carson, Rice saw a political component in Black Studies, writing that the “absence or cursory coverage of Black history, literature, and culture reinforces pernicious and pervasive social perceptions of Black Americans.”
And failing to teach Black Studies in school, she argued, had negative consequences for the self-esteem of black children.
“Ultimately, what is more important than the white or majority perception of black Americans is the black man, woman, and child’s perception of themselves,” Rice wrote. “The greatest evil in omitting or misrepresenting Black history, literature, and culture in elementary or secondary education is the unmistakable message it sends to the black child. The message is ‘your history, your culture, your language and your literature are insignificant. And so are you.’"
Political speech is a style of discourse that proceeds from a set of unstated assumptions. For the community which frequents The Daily Caller, their prior is one wherein all black people (except bootblack garbage pail kid conservatives) are traitors, untrustworthy, not "real" Americans, and that all events of either significance and importance in the United States (and the world) were created by and for White people.
Students of race and racial ideologies term call this set of attitudes and beliefs "symbolic racism."
In the White Gaze, Black and brown folks are bystanders in human history; smart folks can mock such silliness, but such fictions are taken as the truth for the White Right and the Tea Party GOP. Black people, all of us, everywhere, are also closet radicals who want to get "whitey," and a moment away from attacking our white "hosts."
There are multiple levels of racist, white pathology at work in The Daily Caller's discussion of Susan Rice's work as a young student with the Black Student Fund in 1986.
The comment section is noxious and an ideal typical example of bigotry by the Right, and their basic belief that black and brown folks are not "real" Americans. Moreover, this is a not so subtle demonstration of a disdain for the basic premise that non-whites have anything to offer the American project. As such, for conservatives it is bizarre to think that white children could learn anything about the society in which they live by studying the history of black people in either the Americas or the world.
At times, I am tempted to grumble and complain about the books that my parents, godparents, and teachers gave me in my formative years, and that offered a corrective to the Eurocentric lies that were taught in most public schools. I learned early on that people of color were not bystanders to our own history. I was encouraged to be immediately suspect of "white savior" narratives. Most importantly, I was taught a healthy respect for the Black Freedom Struggle.
Even then, reading the willful lies that made Whiteness and white people central to all events of importance in the United States, and seeing the polite racism masquerading as race neutral disagreement at The Daily Caller and elsewhere, I am troubled.
But, I am not surprised.
I have the armor to resist the mental, psychic, and emotional assaults on people of color brought by the forces of white racism and white supremacy in the Age of Obama. This does not mean that we/us are immune from the blows and/or do not feel impact and vibrations on our metaphorical steel.
As sociologists such as Joe Feagin, Charles Gallagher, and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva have documented, there is a not so small portion of the American public who has learned to be politically correct in their discussions of race and racism. They have learned a script; however, these same people are still racist. Their new weapon is subterfuge: colorblind racists are now adept at masquerading their true feelings.
In private, online, and in the "backstage", what many white folks really think about non-whites is made clear. The former do not like people of color. Yes, America in the post civil rights era is supposedly "post racial". In reality, there are many people who are simultaneously disdainful of black and brown people, and also fervently believe that non-whites have contributed nothing of worth to American society which White people ought to consider valuable or worthy of respect.
As I have said many times, on a basic level the Right's disdain for President Obama is an extension of a pathological disdain for the humanity of black people, specifically, and the Other, more generally. The casualness of the bigotry on display in the comments section of The Daily Caller's essay on Susan Rice's benign suggestion from 1986 that Eurocentrism is pernicious and harmful, is proof of how white racism is immoral, and also damages not just people of color, but white folks too.
Will white opinion leaders in the Republican Party help to free their own voters and public from the poison pill that is white racism? I am unsure.