Anthony Browder: Racism and White Supremacy are the Most Persistent Problems Confronting People of Color

From the book, "From the Browder File Vol II: Survival Strategies for Africans in America: 13 Steps to Freedom. Published by the Institute of Karmic Guidance in 1996. Available [HERE

Racism and white supremacy were the motivating ideologies behind the British Colonist's drive to exterminate Native Americans and assume control of their land. Racism and white supremacy were also responsible for creating and sustaining the conditions which led to the enslavement, death, and disenfranchisement of millions of Africans and their American descendants.

Throughout the last four and a half centuries, racism and white supremacy have continually threatened the existence of African people before, during, and after their enslavement. These threats have forced Africans to modify their beliefs, thoughts, and behavior in order to survive on a planet where they are regarded as "Third World" people. Those who now claim to be members of the "First World" are actually late comers to the human family.

Africans were the first human beings on earth. They gave the world its earliest culture, civilization, and conceptualization of God. Mankind continues to benefit from the African interpretation of universal forces that affect every living thing. Africans in America will never know these truths as long as they continue to view the world through the eyes of their former slave masters.

In order for Africans to understand the nature of the world in which they live, they must first understand the nature of the people who interpreted the world for them. This interpretation determined their perceptions of reality and dictated how they now function in the world. Since the world of the contemporary African has been shaped by racist ideologies formulated long ago, it is necessary to understand the roots of racism and white supremacy in order to correctly interpret current events and formulate meaningful plans for the future.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as race. Race is a false construct which was created by Europeans, hundreds of years ago, in order to differentiate themselves from people of African descent and other people of color throughout the world. The concept of race was created by scientists and scholars at Gottingen University in Germany between 1775 and 1800. During this twenty-five year period, these "scholars" invented the word Caucasian, divided humanity into races, and contended that the white race was superior.

The illusionary myth of race has been in existence for only two centuries but it pales in comparison with the ideology of white supremacy and the system of racism that it spawned. The power inherent in the concept of white supremacy, along with the mere utterance of those words, create within the mind, semantic and visual perceptions of "black inferiority." If one believes that white is superior, then anything that is non-white, colored or black is perceived as inferior. If white is holy and pure, then black must be ungodly and evil. As crazy as it seems, this convoluted logic has been used by "civilized men" (scholars, scientists, theologians, politicians, and others) for hundreds of years to justify the murder and enslavement of people of color.

If Africans are to survive in America, they must confront the inescapable realities of racism and white supremacy. They must be aware that their ancestors have battled these oppressive foes for over fifteen generations and that freedom will not be achieved by prayers and dreams alone.

The liberation of the African Mind, Body, and Spirit can only be achieved through the use of an African centered value system that makes the study of the successes and failures of the past the highest priority. Many ethnic groups have struggled to survive in America, and those who have achieved a meaningful measure of freedom, have wisely maintained their ancestral roots. Clearly, the road to the future begins in the past.

The prevailing belief among paleontologists, geneticists, and anthropologists is that humanity began in Africa over 200,000 years ago. Scientific evidence suggests that the first humans left their birth land, and after thousands of years populated the rest of the world. By virtue of their birthplace, the first humans responsible for populating the planet were not "Negroes;" they were Africans.

What this evidence suggests is that the first people who inhabited the lands that we now call Europe looked nothing like the people who live there today. As one would imagine, there are varying opinions as to how Africans became Europeans. In order to understand how this transition occurred, we must rely on scientists from a variety of disciplines to reconstruct the ancient beginnings of mankind. With the advent of recent breakthroughs in genetic testing and new archeological discoveries, we are beginning to get a clearer picture of the past events that shaped our current reality.

We now know that the Earth has undergone upheavals that profoundly influenced the development of humanity. It is generally believed that the last ice age, which occurred between 75-12,000 years ago, created environmental conditions that led to the transformation of dark-skin people to light-skin people. There are many texts that discuss these events but, Dr. Charles Finch, a physician and researcher, has provided an in-depth analysis of "Race and Human Origins" in his book Echoes of the Old Darkland. Finch provides a concise discussion of various theories and complex issues pertaining to human development. He offers the following conclusions:

      For seven million years, the hominid line leading to modern man emerged, evolved, and attained its final form in eastern Africa.

      Modern man, Homo Sapien Sapien, evolved entirely in Africa about 200,000 years ago.

      The emergence of ethnic variations of the original African type, took place between 50-30,000 years ago.

      Modern man came to occupy Asia at least 75,000 years ago.

      Modern man came to occupy Western Asia (Europe) between 50-40,000 years ago.

      The earliest "European Caucasian" evolved from the African between 30-25,000 years ago in an Ice-Age environment near the southern limit of the great line of European glaciers along the 51st parallel of southwestern Russia.

When the aforementioned data are compiled and analyzed sequentially, they present a convincing story of the conditions which led to the evolution of the modem European.

Nearly 75,000 years ago, the "Northern Cradle" of Western Asia (now called Europe) was covered by glaciers about one-mile thick on average.   These glaciers extended from the Arctic circle, "across southern England, northern Germany, Poland, and southern Russia," forming a barrier that prevented people from entering or leaving the affected areas. For over 60,000 years, these icy conditions existed and the human beings trapped behind the wall of ice were forced to adapt to their new surroundings or perish. Those who survived did so by hunting wild animals for food, draping their bodies with the fur of their prey, and finding warmth and shelter in underground caves.

The harsh weather conditions in Western Asia subjected the cave dwellers to numerous hardships, and also played a role in transforming their physical appearance. The diminished amount of sunlight in the northern hemisphere, coupled with frequently overcast skies, caused the skin of the cave dwellers to gradually become lighter.

Scientists now understand that this was caused by genetic mutation, which occurred because of a shrinking gene pool, and the adaptability of the human body to new environmental conditions. In the extreme North of Western Asia (Europe), black skin became "an adaptive liability" for two reasons: 1) it was more susceptible to frostbite, and 2) it limited the absorption of adequate amounts of Vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bone formation.

Medical studies of soldiers who fought in Korea and both World Wars showed that African American troops were five times more likely to develop frostbite than their European or European American counterparts. Such data led physicians to conclude that white skin is more cold-resistant than black skin. Dr. Finch, citing research from the Journal of Physiology, states that, "There is also a three-to-five times greater penetrance of ultraviolet light in white skin compared to that in black skin."

Medical research has also shown that Africans living in the northern latitudes have a susceptibility to rickets that is 2-3 percent higher than that of Europeans. Rickets is a disease of the skeletal system that causes the bones to weaken and is often the result of a Vitamin D deficiency. Rickets is also caused by an absence of sunlight. Under ideal conditions, the melanin in the skin of Africans filters out the harmful (ultraviolet) rays of sunlight that can cause skin cancer but allows in enough ultraviolet light for the skin to produce Vitamin D. In a colder environment, where there is less sunlight, melaniated skin is always a liability, thus, in order for "black skinned" humans to survive during the Ice Age of Northern Europe, they had to mutate and develop "white skin."

It is a generally accepted view that the transformation from "black skin" to "white skin" people occurred over a period of 10-20,000 years. What is now coming to light is that this transformation not only affected the color of skin and eyes, the texture and color of the hair, but also produced changes within the brain that influenced human consciousness. Scientists and researchers now know that the absence of sunlight alters the function of the pineal gland and inhibits its ability to produce sufficient amounts of two essential hormones—melatonin and serotonin.

The pineal gland is a small organ in the middle of the brain. Throughout the early twentieth century, medical schools taught their students that it was a "vestigial sensory organ" that served no known purpose. This belief was based upon the study of Europeans whose pineal gland was found to be calcified in 85 percent of the population. When pineal research was broadened to include people of African ancestry, it was discovered that they had a pineal calcification rate of only 15 percent.

Within the last twenty years, the medical community has revised its opinion of the pineal gland. While its function is not fully understood, it is regarded by many as the "master gland" in the body because the hormones it secretes are essential for "normal" human development.

It is interesting to note that during the 1980s, public discussions of melanin, melatonin, and the pineal gland were often limited to a handful of African American scholars who held annual Melanin Conferences. Their research was often regarded as "pseudoscientific," and ignored by mainstream (European) scientists for over a decade. However, in 1995 there was an explosion of interest in melatonin, and dozens of European scientists began touting it as the wonder drug of the ages. Throughout 1995, various publications, and television and radio programs, informed the public of melatonin's ability to retard the aging process, regulate sleeping patterns, improve sex performance, and improve health, vitality, and longevity.

Because of media attention, the public's interest in melatonin and the function of the pineal gland increased substantially. While medical science has yet to fully understand the various functions of melatonin in the body, it has acknowledged that insufficient amounts of melatonin causes the body and mind to degenerate at an accelerated rate and thus inhibits its performance. I have been aware of the significance of melatonin for over fifteen years. It is interesting to note that melatonin became a household word only after it had been synthesized, commercialized, and marketed for mass consumption by those who are unable to produce it naturally. Issues pertaining to melanin, melatonin, hormones and the pineal gland will be discussed in greater detail in Step 9.

There are numerous African American scholars whose research on melanin has come to my attention over the years. Richard King, M.D., one of the leading melanin researchers in the African American scientific community, frequently refers to melatonin as a "civilizing hormone." Dr. King is a psychiatrist and author. His research has led him to conclude that insufficient amounts of melatonin in the body often result in abnormally aggressive patterns of behavior.

Frances Cress Welsing, M.D., is another prominent African American psychiatrist and researcher. She is best known for her study, The Cress Theory of Color Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy), which revolutionized people's perceptions of race and racism. Dr. Welsing theorized that the current system of racism is a manifestation of the European's fear of genetic annihilation. This fear grew out of the Europeans' realization that genetically they are a recessive minority in a world that is predominately inhabited by melaniated people. This fear led to the development of a collective "genetic inferiority-complex" that later manifested itself in the establishment of a global system of white supremacy.

Thus, the diminished presence of melanin and melatonin in Europeans, coupled with the realization that "they" were a minority in a world predominately inhabited by people of color, were critical factors in the development of the false belief in the superiority of "white skinned" people. This belief escalated considerably after 1492 and has served as the catalyst for the development of the current system of European global domination. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as European explorers traveled throughout the world, they "discovered" lands inhabited by people of color—humans with black, brown, red, and yellow skin. Whenever they had intercourse with women of color, their offspring were always "colored." Thus, the fear of being alone in a world of color, coupled with the inability to reproduce their own kind from "interracial" mating, established deep seated fears within the European mind. The only way they could rule the world was by implementing a global program of deception, destruction, and domination.

The nature of the society which we have inherited, was forged in a crucible of fear and ignorance. It was established centuries ago and perpetuated worldwide. Dr. Kwame Nantambu, associate professor of Afrocentric Geopolitics at Kent State University, has written numerous publications that examine the relationship between racism, white supremacy, economics, and global politics. In his latest book, Egypt and Afrocentric Geopolitics, Dr. Nantambu provides an historical analysis of how Europeans achieved global domination.

In 1492, Europeans controlled only nine per cent of the world; within three hundred years  afterwards,  they colonized   one-third  of global  humanity. By 1880, Europeans ruled over two-thirds of the globe.   By 1935, they were in political control of not only eighty-five per cent of the planet's resources but also seventy per cent of the world's population; in the 1990's, Europeans now control eighty-five per cent of the world's population through its weapon of geopolitics or the 'new world order.'

Race, racism and white supremacy are ideologies which are the by-product of a xenophobic consciousness that has been imposed upon the majority of the inhabitants of the planet. Terms such as the white man's burden and manifest destiny express the Europeans' belief in their God-given right to conquer the world and introduce "civilization" to people of color. According to this doctrine, the whiter your skin, the greater your intelligence and the more privileges you are entitled to. To this end, racism and white supremacy are the power behind the most destructive forces the world has ever witnessed. Racism and white supremacy are synonymous and must never be confused with acts of prejudice—they are as different as night and day.

All people have prejudices; this may be considered to be one of humankind's great failings. However, for a group to be legitimately classified as racist, it must possess the power to impose its prejudices on members of other ethnic groups.  Power transforms a "pre-judged belief" into an ideology that is popularized, legitimized, and finally, incorporated into the legislative, judicial, religious, and social system designed to control the powerless.

The system of racism/white supremacy was created to sustain the white minority global dominance over the colored majority populations. Racism/white supremacy insures its control by influencing the thought and behavior of those who benefit from the perpetuation of this ideology, as well as its intended victims. Dr. Welsing has researched this subject extensively and has identified "nine areas of people activity" that are controlled by racists and white supremacists that exert wide ranging influence on society. The nine areas include: economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, and war.

By understanding the origins and development of humanity, the evolution of mankind, and the conditions which led to the creation of the European, Africans can begin to see the world from a truly different perspective. By looking at world events from this point of view, there can be no doubt that the presence of Africans in the Americas and the current conditions of Africans in Africa are the direct result of survival strategies implemented by racist white supremacists over five hundred years ago. The events cf the past do not dissipate; they set into motion a chain of events that transcend time and space and shape the present.

Consider this brief timeline of European and African relations as links in a chain that was forged in Europe and currently binds Africans in America:

      In 1441, twelve kidnapped Africans were presented as a gift to Prince Henry of Portugal.

      In 1442, Pope Eugenius IV granted Europeans permission to enslave Africans whom he regarded as soulless individuals.

      In 1444, Europeans began "importing" Africans into Europe and enslaved them in the Americas less than a century later. These actions, over the next 400 hundred years, resulted in the death and enslavement of over 100 million people of African descent.

      In 1665, the colony of Maryland enacted legislation declaring that "black people shall constitute an available, uncompensated ... permanently subordinated work force, which shall be separated from the white society."

      In 1857, the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision, declared that African Americans were not citizens of the United States.

      In 1885, after 450 years of enslaving Africans, fourteen European nations met in Berlin to decide how they would divide Africa among themselves and colonize its inhabitants.

      In 1896, nineteen years after African Americans were granted citizenship, the United States Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson formally established the doctrine of "separate but equal" to justify the continuation of racial segregation.

      In 1964, Congress passed a Civil Rights Bill officially banning discrimination in housing, education, and employment. However, the Civil Rights Bill of 1990 was vetoed by President Bush because he feared it would "introduce the destructive force of quotas."

      In 1992, the Supreme Court set limits to the 1965 Voting Eights Act and struck down a "hate crime" law that banned cross burnings.

      In 1995, the United States Congress passed legislation insuring that African Americans would receive prison sentences for drug possession of crack cocaine at a ratio of 500 to 1 compared with possession of powder cocaine used by European Americans.

      In 1996, an investigative reporter for the San Jose Mercury News alleged that the CIA played a major role in the introduction of powder and crack cocaine into the African American community in an effort to finance anti-Communist forces in Nicaragua during the 1970s and 1980s.

Singularly, these events may be seen by some as isolated events that have no bearing on the present and do not constitute a specific pattern of behavior. However, when considered from an enlightened and well-informed perspective, it can be shown that the historical relationship between Africans and Europeans has been filled with strife and turmoil that will likely continue until power is more equally shared.

If racism and white supremacy were not a persistent problem in America, Africans would not have been enslaved, there would have been no Civil War, there would be no need for affirmative action programs, nor would there now be a debate concerning the merits of continuing such programs. The presence of a racist and white supremacist consciousness in America led to the enactment of constitutional amendments, the establishment of numerous civil rights organizations, such as the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), CORE (Congress Of Racial Equality), and the development of HBCU's (Historically Black Colleges and Universities.)

Over the centuries, African Americans were told by their oppressors to "lift themselves up by their bootstraps." Even though many African Americans were "bootless," some who attempted to uplift themselves found the boot of their oppressors weighing heavily on their backs. Other Africans overcame oppressive forces but never fully enjoyed the fruits of their labor because of the enactment of local, state, and federal legislation that prevented the accumulation of wealth and power.

Numerous laws, also called "Black Codes," were written to ensure that skilled African Americans could not secure licenses, open businesses, and compete fairly with European American businessmen. Many of these Black Codes were written when chattel slavery ended and they remained in effect for almost one hundred years.

Despite these obstacles, U.S. history is replete with numerous examples of African American men and women who overcame tremendous odds to establish businesses, buy land, and develop their communities. Typically, whenever African American professionals were prohibited from joining European American business or professional associations, they formed their own. For example, the African American physicians prohibited from joining the American Medical Association established the National Medical Association in 1895. The same is true of the African Americans who formed the National Dental Association in 1913 and the National Bar Association in 1925.

The ever-prevailing presence of racism/white supremacy in America has continually forced African Americans to fend for themselves, sometimes with disastrous results. In the early 1900s, the African American business district in Tulsa, Oklahoma was deemed the most prosperous in all America and was commonly referred to as "Black Wall Street." The many banks, theaters, doctor's offices, and other African American owned businesses were a source of pride for African Americans in the community and throughout the nation.

The economic stability of "Black Wall Street" was shattered in May 1921 during one of the worst pogroms in American history when Tulsa became the first city ever to be bombed from the air. Irving Wallace described the wreckage of the black community in an article on March 13, 1993:

Whites invaded the black district, burning, looting and killing. To break up the riot, the police commandeered private planes and dropped dynamite. The police arrested more than 4,000 blacks and interned them in three camps. All blacks were forced to carry green ID cards. And when Tulsa was zoned for a new railroad station, the tracks were routed through the black business district, thus destroying it.

There are numerous articles and publications that discuss this sad chapter of American history and they are well worth reading. The GAP Band, a R&B musical group that hails from Tulsa, has kept the memory of this tragic event live. The letters G, A, and P are the initials of the streets of Greenwood, Archer, and Pine that were in the heart of the black business district destroyed during the "Tulsa Race Riot."

A similar incident occurred in Rosewood, Florida in January 1923. The black town of Rosewood was completely destroyed by a mob of riotous whites after'a white woman claimed to have been assaulted by a black man. The motion picture Rosewood which was directed by John Singleton in 1996, documents this tragic episode in African American history.

There is no aspect of life in America immune from the ravages of racism. The specter of white supremacy has also reared its ugly head within the American church. As ministers proclaimed that all humans were children of God from their pulpits, racism prevented blacks and whites from sitting together in the pews. This hypocrisy compelled Richard Allen to establish America's first African American denomination in 1794. True to his cultural leanings, Allen called this institution the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

It is often stated that the most racially segregated hour in the United States occurs between 11 AM and Noon on Sunday mornings. European Americans go to a white church and pray to a white God; African Americans, traditionally go to a black church and pray to a white God. Within the last decade, however, there has been a growing movement among African American Christians to acknowledge the African origins of Jesus the Christ, but I have yet to see many European Americans embrace this view. These issues will be discussed in greater detail in Step 10.

In 1992, Pope John Paul II asked God to forgive Christians for their involvement in the "shameful commerce" of the European enslavement of Africans. In 1995, during their annual meeting, the Southern Baptist Convention asked God to forgive the racism they had condoned throughout their 150 years of existence. Let us not forget that the burning cross of the Ku Klux Klan represents their fervent desire to uphold "white Christian traditions."

During the period of African enslavement in the South, white ministers frequently used biblical scripture to justify slavery. As recently as May 9, 1996, Alabama state senator, Charles Davidson, a Republican congressional candidate, used biblical scriptures to defend the enslavement of Africans. Although Davidson was later admonished for his views, the relationship between religion and racism has been examined by numerous individuals and organizations.

Supposed safe havens for the worship of God, black churches were often targets of bombings by white supremacists in the 1960s. African American sanctuaries were not deemed sacred in the past and their sanctity continues to be disrespected today. During recent decades, there have been numerous acts of vandalism committed against African American churches. These attacks have increased dramatically during the 1990s.

On May 22, 1996, the Washington Post reported on a House Judiciary Committee hearing on church arsons:

According to Justice Department figures, there have been 28 arson attacks on African American churches, mainly in the South, in the past 17 months. Civil rights groups say as many as 45 black churches have been attacked since 1990.

At a Congressional hearing, Deval L. Patrick, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, testified: "The numbers are chilling;" "[w]e are facing an epidemic of terror." However, federal law enforcement officials stated that they had found no evidence of a widespread conspiracy even though "some incidents appear related and others have been traced to members of white supremacist groups."

Although several fires were ruled accidental, Judiciary Committee members saw nothing unusual in the fact that an unusually high number of African American churches have been subjected to arson and vandalism. Despite a plethora of horrific attacks, neither the government nor the media has referred to these incidents as terrorist attacks.

It is a sad commentary on the state of this nation when one realizes there is no aspect of life in America exempt from the horrors of white supremacy/racism. The racist social structure was designed to render African Americans mentally, physically, and spiritually subservient to the will of their perceived masters. History teaches that racist organizations and institutions will never change their ideologies until they are forced to do so by the determined will of those who have been oppressed. In the past, whenever changes have been made, they were usually temporarily modifications for political, economic, or religious gains that benefited the "majority" population.

People of African descent must be ever mindful of Francis Cress Welsing's assertion that the driving force behind racism/white supremacy is "white genetic survival." People of European ancestry have historically enacted laws forbidding "racial mixing" because of a basic fear of "genetic annihilation." Scientists have proven that Europeans are genetically recessive, and politicians have enacted legislation to insure that a child borne of a union between a European and a genetically dominant African will never be classified as a white. This reality has been the driving force behind the laws that upheld apartheid, segregation and Jim Crow.

Such laws reveal European commitment to insure their genetic survival in a world dominated by people of color. Racism?white supremacy is an unfortunate reality of life, but its presence should not be used as an excuse for failure. Racism and white supremacy can only be overcome by acknowledging their existence, understanding their operational mode, and formulating plans of action to neutralize their objectives.

Racism works only if you buy into the concept of race and believe in the superficial hierarchical ranking of human beings. White supremacy exists because people of color have been taught to believe in the supremacy of white people and have allowed them to define reality. Racism/white supremacy is a false system that derives its power from the unquestioned support given it by people of color.

Currently, there are numerous propagandists who would have you believe that racism is dead and that America has become a colorblind society. Both statements are completely false. Racism will end only when sexism, greed, and hatred ends and not one second before. Those who claim not to see color are trivializing the ethnic differences that make people unique. Ignoring a person's skin color is a poor excuse for not cultivating humane behavior that allows you to see all people as human and appreciate the divinity that exists within everyone.

It is time for people, of African descent to begin empowering ourselves through a change in our consciousness and corresponding changes in our behavior. When these changes are made, they will lead to increased awareness of the power that exists within the individual and the collective group. We have been separated from our sources of power through the use of fear, anger, and mis-education. By using our time judiciously, we can overcome fear, abolish the anger, and empower ourselves with new systems of knowledge and governance.

In concluding this first step, it is helpful for you to do a self analysis of how racism and white supremacy have affected your life. Please set aside some time, on a daily or weekly basis, to conduct the three exercises listed below and record your answers so that you may evaluate and update them over an extended period of time. Do not feel pressured to answer all of the questions in one sitting and, above all, be completely honest with yourself when you do answer the questions.

1.       When did you first become aware of racism and how did that initial awareness affect you?

2.   Examine the "nine areas of human activity" and list those areas where you have been directly affected by racism/white supremacy.

3. Interview the elder members of your family and discuss the impact that racism/white supremacy have had on their lives. Compare your findings and evaluate the extent to which racist attitudes have changed.

As you record and evaluate your responses, you will become more aware of the presence of racism/white supremacy in your life. As your awareness increases you must not allow yourself to become overwhelmed or intimidated by your findings. This knowledge will help you deal more effectively with the obstacles in your path. Awareness of a problem is often the first step towards developing the ability to overcome it.

References and Suggested Readings

Anderson, Claud. Black Labor, White Wealth: The Search for Power and Economic Justice. Edgewood, MD: Duncan & Duncan, Inc, 1994.

Ani, Marimba. Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique Of European Cultural Thought and Behavior. LawrenceviUe, NJ: Africa World Press, 1994.

Finch III, Charles S. Echoes of the Old Darkland: Themes From The African Eden. Decatur, GA: Khenti, Inc, 1991.

Hacker, Andrew. Two Nations: Black & White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal. New York: Ballanrine Books (Random House, Inc), 1995.

Welsing, Frances Cress. The Isis Papers. Chicago, IL: Third World Press, 1991.