20190926 001038 3 minutes
Political, Sociological, Fear, African-American

The following quote, by Frederick Douglass, is worth remembering:

“ Though the colored man is no longer subject to barter and sale, he is surrounded by an adverse settlement which fetters all his movements. In his downward course he meets with no resistance, but his course upward is resented and resisted at every step of his progress. If he comes in ignorance, rags and wretchedness he conforms to the popular belief of his character, and in that character he is welcome; but if he shall come as a gentleman, a scholar and a statesman, he is hailed as a contradiction to the national faith concerning his race, and his coming is resented as impudence. In one case he may provoke contempt and derision, but in the other he is an affront to pride and provokes malice.”

Frederick Douglass
September 25, 1883

But I would add that, much more, when he comes as a gentleman, a scholar, and a statesman, he is still also viewed as a threat.

All those treasured beliefs and cherished values, about the superiority of the white race, and therefore of the sanctity of the property rights of the white man, are challenged. And there is no greater threat to a person’s feeling of self than to threaten his property rights.

People subconsciously realize that once we offer a person education then we take away our edge. Any available resources will have to be split between more people and, heaven forbid it, but they may be better and brighter than I am, and with their extra education and opportunity, they might get farther ahead and pass me. The competition this might provide could mean that we actually might have to work, or work harder, just to stay where we are!

That’s a very powerful reason to want to maintain the status quo and not rock the boat. Having an African President in the U.S.A. has proved incontrovertibly that it is the individual and the opportunity offered him, not his race, that is what counts, and that is a terrifying concept to many people.