“The great mass of black voters has been deeply turned off by the way the Republicans have been at best indifferent toward them,” he said, “and at worst have displayed a camouflaged hostility that panders to the party base.” –Prof. Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School
The majority culture believes in “colorblindness,” but also believes that the majority of the society (whites) are better than everyone else in the society. Open expression of this idea is not socially acceptable, but the institutions of society are empowered to act solely for the benefit or advantage of the majority white population without apology. Questioning of those white hegemonic institutions is met with defensiveness as well as a blaming of the questioner.
Ben Carson, Republican candidate for the U.S. presidential office, embodies this notion; his black skin color a convenient and comforting camouflage for the anti-black, white hegemonic argument. The sentiment appears to be that the GOP line of argument cannot be offensive if a black person says it. Such a position affirms the high value of race in the society of the United States, specifically that only whites are empowered. Nonwhites are empowered only to the extent to disempower nonwhite groups.
Mr. Carson has been playing this role in several news articles. Carson gives apparent support while following that statement with overarching criticism carefully couched to avoid immediate reaction. [Author’s note: Carson is not fooling anyone; this is a well-practiced tactic of Republicans (and that of the power structure). Carson’s tactics are similar to that of Wardell (Ward) Connerly.]
I will provide an example, an interview Carson had with Major Garrett of CBS News, Carson stated that the protestors in the aftermath of the shooting and death of Mr. Michael Brown showed that they actually cared and had begun a dialogue. However, that seeming praise was negated by Carson’s criticism (and blame of black people) (emphasis, in bold, the blog author’s):
He also talked about the different images that come to mind when he considers what happened in Ferguson. “It conjures up [a] an image of the people feeling that they have been unjustly treated by the police, and [b] that justifies civil disturbance,” Carson said. “Of course we all see the images of the burning.”
There is another image in Carson’s mind, too. He told Garrett, “It also conjures up an image of the people being unwilling to actually face the facts. I think the community is unwilling to face the fact that Michael Brown was a bad actor.“
[Author’s note: Because Mr. Brown was killed before any arrest, charges, or trial, he still maintains a presumption of innocence, something that Carson recklessly ignores in his zeal to condemn. In Carson’s view, the Ferguson protesters were not justified because it was not for police impunity but rather a desire to disturb the peace, and Mr. Brown was at fault for his death. Thus, all of the racial consequences of the white hegemonic institutions are erased while also confirming the devaluation of black lives.]
For the Black Lives Matter movement, he considers them to be bullies:
But Carson, the only black presidential candidate running as either a Democrat or Republican, went on to say that it was “very different than, let’s say, the Black Lives Matter movement, where it’s foisting yourself on people – rather than engaging in dialogue – and bullying people. I never liked the idea of bullying on behalf of anybody.”
[Author’s note: Carson did not explain what he meant by use of the word “bullying.” Carson’s statements are confusing but fit well into a white-hegemonic apology. However, naming and exposing the negatives of white hegemonic rule is disruptive to the white-advantaged status quo. Because of this, such identifiers of the negative consequences of white hegemony are said to be rude, demanding, domineering, etc.]
Carson’s convoluted, muddled, and self-contradictory statement to Mr. Garrett is a form of the “colorblindness” argument, which wants to advance the idea that everybody is equal, but only white people are valued.
I analyze the “colorblind” argument and Carson’s statements in other articles below.
|White hegemonic argument||Ben Carson’s comment in Ferguson, Mo.|
|Defend white hegemony (that is, the status quo) and deny black suffering under the same hegemonic system.||“I think we’ve actually regressed with this administration and its emphasis on race, because it emphasizes race to indicate that things are not progressing well. And that just isn’t true,” Carson said.
He said the country has regressed because “we’re talking about it a lot more — more people complaining that they’re being treated unfairly. I don’t think we need to be emphasizing what’s unjust. I think we need to be emphasizing what opportunities there are.”
He continued: “A lot of people perceive everything through racial eyes. But my point is, we don’t have to do that. What we have to do instead is begin to see people as people.” [???]
[Author’s note: Also, this argument is convoluted with criticism of President Barack Obama. There is also a call for false balance–because there are no statements of harmony, there should not be any statements of injustice, racism, or unfairness. Of course, if there were harmony, such statements would not be made in the first place.]
|Request for item that does not threaten white hegemony||“It is very important that police are taught to be respectful of everyone,” said Carson. “One lady was talking about the fact that she woke up, her son woke up, and said: ‘There are police out there all over the place! There are armored vehicles out there!’ She went outside, a policeman was walking on the sidewalk, and she asked him: ‘What’s going on?’ He said, ‘nothing.’ That’s not respectful. We need to make sure that respect is offered in both directions.”
[Author’s note: I am uncertain of the worth of this statement. Nothing Carson stated appears disrespectful but rather unresponsive. In so doing he “criticized” the hegemonic institution extremely lightly. This example is vague, but his statements about nonwhite people is clear, negative, and condemnatory. (See the next statement, below, as a further example.)]
|Blame, chastise, belabor, bully, etc., black people (generously)||“I heard more than one time how the thing that really inflamed the community was the fact that Michael Brown’s body laid out on the street for four hours,” said Carson. “I think a lot of people understood that he had done bad things, but his body didn’t have to be disrespected. I heard also that people need to learn how to respect authority.”|
Mr. Carson should be ashamed; his previous life’s work has already been negated.