×

How to Be an Antiracist / (by Ibram X. Kendi, 2019) -

/

How to Be an Antiracist /    (by Ibram X. Kendi, 2019) -

How to Be an Antiracist / (by Ibram X. Kendi, 2019) -

- . . , , , , . - , . , . , - , . , , , . , .

:
: 153
:
How to Be an Antiracist / (by Ibram X. Kendi, 2019) -
:
2019
:
Ibram X. Kendi
:
Ibram X. Kendi
:
:
,
:
upper-intermediate
:
10:43:05
:
64 kbps
:
mp3, pdf, doc

How to Be an Antiracist / :

.doc (Word) ibram_x_kendi_-_how_to_be_an_antiracist.doc [4.36 Mb] (c: 2) .
.pdf ibram_x_kendi_-_how_to_be_an_antiracist.pdf [3.03 Mb] (c: 1) .
audiobook (MP3) .


: How to Be an Antiracist

:

( , ).


MY RACIST INTRODUCTION I DESPISED SUITS AND ties. For seventeen years I had been surrounded by suit-wearing, tie-choking, hat-flying church folk. My teenage wardrobe hollered the defiance of a preacher_s kid. It was January 17, 2000. More than three thousand Black people_with a smattering of White folks_arrived that Monday morning in their Sunday best at the Hylton Memorial Chapel in Northern Virginia. My parents arrived in a state of shock. Their floundering son had somehow made it to the final round of the Prince William County Martin Luther King Jr. oratorical contest. I didn_t show up with a white collar under a dark suit and matching dark tie like most of my competitors. I sported a racy golden-brown blazer with a slick black shirt and bright color-streaked tie underneath. The hem of my baggy black slacks crested over my creamy boots. I_d already failed the test of respectability before I opened my mouth, but my parents, Carol and Larry, were all smiles nonetheless. They couldn_t remember the last time they saw me wearing a tie and blazer, however loud and crazy. But it wasn_t just my clothes that didn_t fit the scene. My competitors were academic prodigies. I wasn_t. I carried a GPA lower than 3.0; my SAT score barely cracked 1000. Colleges were recruiting my competitors. I was riding the high of having received surprise admission letters from the two colleges I_d halfheartedly applied to. A few weeks before, I was on the basketball court with my high school team, warming up for a home game, cycling through layup lines. My father, all six foot three and two hundred pounds of him, emerged from my high school gym_s entrance. He slowly walked onto the basketball court, flailing his long arms to get my attention_and embarrassing me before what we could call the _White judge._ Classic Dad. He couldn_t care less what judgmental White people thought about him. He rarely if ever put on a happy mask, faked a calmer voice, hid his opinion, or avoided making a scene. I loved and hated my father for living on his own terms in a world that usually denies Black people their own terms. It was the sort of defiance that could have gotten him lynched by a mob in a different time and place_or lynched by men in badges today. I jogged over to him before he could flail his way right into our layup lines. Weirdly giddy, he handed me a brown manila envelope. _This came for you today._ He motioned me to open the envelope, right there at half-court as the White students and teachers looked on. I pulled out the letter and read it: I had been admitted to Hampton University in southern Virginia. My immediate shock exploded into unspeakable happiness. I embraced Dad and exhaled. Tears mixed with warm-up sweat on my face. The judging White eyes around us faded. I thought I was stupid, too dumb for college. Of course, intelligence is as subjective as beauty. But I kept using _objective_ standards, like test scores and report cards, to judge myself. No wonder I sent out only two college applications: one to Hampton and the other to the institution I ended up attending, Florida AandM University. Fewer applications meant less rejection_and I fully expected those two historically Black universities to reject me. Why would any university want an idiot on their campus who can_t understand Shakespeare? It never occurred to me that maybe I wasn_t really trying to understand Shakespeare and that_s why I dropped out of my English II International Baccalaureate class during my senior year. Then again, I did not read much of anything in those years. Maybe if I_d read history then, I_d have learned about the historical significance of the new town my family had moved to from New York City in 1997. I would have learned about all those Confederate memorials surrounding me in Manassas, Virginia, like Robert E. Lee_s dead army. I would have learned why so many tourists trek to Manassas National Battlefield Park to relive the glory of the Confederate victories at the Battles of Bull Run during the Civil War. It was there that General Thomas J. Jackson acquired his nickname, _Stonewall,_ for his stubborn defense of the Confederacy. Northern Virginians kept the stonewall intact after all these years. Did anyone notice the irony that at this Martin Luther King Jr. oratorical contest, my free Black life represented Stonewall Jackson High School? _ THE DELIGHTFUL EVENT organizers from Delta Sigma Theta sorority, the proud dignitaries, and the competitors were all seated on the pulpit. (The group was too large to say we were seated in the pulpit.) The audience sat in rows that curved around the long, arched pulpit, giving room for speakers to pace to the far sides of the chapel while delivering their talks; five stairs also allowed us to descend into the crowd if we wanted. The middle schoolers had given their surprisingly mature speeches. The exhilarating children_s choir had sung behind us. The audience sat back down and went silent in anticipation of the three high school orators. I went first, finally approaching the climax of an experience that had already changed my life. From winning my high school competition months before to winning _best before the judges_ at a countywide competition weeks before_I felt a special rainstorm of academic confidence. If I came out of the experience dripping with confidence for college, then I_d entered from a high school drought. Even now I wonder if it was my poor sense of self that first generated my poor sense of my people. Or was it my poor sense of my people that inflamed a poor sense of myself? Like the famous question about the chicken and the egg, the answer is less important than the cycle it describes. Racist ideas make people of color think less of themselves, which makes them more vulnerable to racist ideas. Racist ideas make White people think more of themselves, which further attracts them to racist ideas. I thought I was a subpar student and was bombarded by messages_from Black people, White people, the media_that told me that the reason was rooted in my race_which made me more discouraged and less motivated as a student_which only further reinforced for me the racist idea that Black people just weren_t very studious_which made me feel even more despair or indifference_and on it went. At no point was this cycle interrupted by a deeper analysis of my own specific circumstances and shortcomings or a critical look at the ideas of the society that judged me_instead, the cycle hardened the racist ideas inside me until I was ready to preach them to others. _ I REMEMBER THE MLK competition so fondly. But when I recall the racist speech I gave, I flush with shame. _What would be Dr. King_s message for the millennium? Let_s visualize an angry seventy-one-year-old Dr. King__ And I began my remix of King_s _I Have a Dream_ speech. It was joyous, I started, our emancipation from enslavement. But _now, one hundred thirty-five years later, the Negro is still not free._ I was already thundering, my tone angry, more Malcolm than Martin. _Our youth_s minds are still in captivity!_ I did not say our youth_s minds are in captivity of racist ideas, as I would say now. _They think it_s okay to be those who are most feared in our society!_ I said, as if it was their fault they were so feared. _They think it_s okay not to think!_ I charged, raising the classic racist idea that Black youth don_t value education as much as their non-Black counterparts. No one seemed to care that this well-traveled idea had flown on anecdotes but had never been grounded in proof. Still, the crowd encouraged me with their applause. I kept shooting out unproven and disproven racist ideas about all the things wrong with Black youth_ironically, on the day when all the things right about Black youth were on display. I started pacing wildly back and forth on the runway for the pulpit, gaining momentum. _They think it_s okay to climb the high tree of pregnancy!_ Applause. _They think it_s okay to confine their dreams to sports and music!_ Applause. Had I forgotten that I_not _Black youth__was the one who had confined his dreams to sports? And I was calling Black youth _they_? Who on earth did I think I was? Apparently, my placement on that illustrious stage had lifted me out of the realm of ordinary_and thus inferior_Black youngsters and into the realm of the rare and extraordinary. In my applause-stoked flights of oratory, I didn_t realize that to say something is wrong about a racial group is to say something is inferior about that racial group. I did not realize that to say something is inferior about a racial group is to say a racist idea. I thought I was serving my people, when in fact I was serving up racist ideas about my people to my people. The Black judge seemed to be eating it up and clapping me on my back for more. I kept giving more. _Their minds are being held captive, and our adults_ minds are right there beside them,_ I said, motioning to the floor. _Because they somehow think that the cultural revolution that began on the day of my dream_s birth is over. _How can it be over when many times we are unsuccessful because we lack intestinal fortitude?_ Applause. _How can it be over when our kids leave their houses not knowing how to make themselves, only knowing how to not make themselves?_ Applause. _How can it be over if all of this is happening in our community?_ I asked, lowering my voice. _So I say to you, my friends, that even though this cultural revolution may never be over, I still have a dream__ _ I STILL HAVE a nightmare_the memory of this speech whenever I muster the courage to recall it anew. It is hard for me to believe I finished high school in the year 2000 touting so many racist ideas. A racist culture had handed me the ammunition to shoot Black people, to shoot myself, and I took and used it. Internalized racism is the real Black on Black crime. I was a dupe, a chump who saw the ongoing struggles of Black people on MLK Day 2000 and decided that Black people themselves were the problem. This is the consistent function of racist ideas_and of any kind of bigotry more broadly: to manipulate us into seeing people as the problem, instead of the policies that ensnare them. The language used by the forty-fifth president of the United States offers a clear example of how this sort of racist language and thinking works. Long before he became president, Donald Trump liked to say, _Laziness is a trait in Blacks._ When he decided to run for president, his plan for making America great again: defaming Latinx immigrants as mostly criminals and rapists and demanding billions for a border wall to block them. He promised _a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States._ Once he became president, he routinely called his Black critics _stupid._ He claimed immigrants from Haiti _all have AIDS,_ while praising White supremacists as _very fine people_ in the summer of 2017. Through it all, whenever someone pointed out the obvious, Trump responded with variations on a familiar refrain: _No, no. I_m not a racist. I_m the least racist person that you have ever interviewed,_ that _you_ve ever met,_ that _you_ve ever encountered._ Trump_s behavior may be exceptional, but his denials are normal. When racist ideas resound, denials that those ideas are racist typically follow. When racist policies resound, denials that those policies are racist also follow. Denial is the heartbeat of racism, beating across ideologies, races, and nations. It is beating within us. Many of us who strongly call out Trump_s racist ideas will strongly deny our own. How often do we become reflexively defensive when someone calls something we_ve done or said racist? How many of us would agree with this statement: _ _Racist_ isn_t a descriptive word. It_s a pejorative word. It is the equivalent of saying, _I don_t like you._ _ These are actually the words of White supremacist Richard Spencer, who, like Trump, identifies as _not racist._ How many of us who despise the Trumps and White supremacists of the world share their self-definition of _not racist_? What_s the problem with being _not racist_? It is a claim that signifies neutrality: _I am not a racist, but neither am I aggressively against racism._ But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle. The opposite of _racist_ isn_t _not racist._ It is _antiracist._ What_s the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an antiracist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an antiracist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of _not racist._ The claim of _not racist_ neutrality is a mask for racism. This may seem harsh, but it_s important at the outset that we apply one of the core principles of antiracism, which is to return the word _racist_ itself back to its proper usage. _Racist_ is not_as Richard Spencer argues_a pejorative. It is not the worst word in the English language; it is not the equivalent of a slur. It is descriptive, and the only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it_and then dismantle it. The attempt to turn this usefully descriptive term into an almost unusable slur is, of course, designed to do the opposite: to freeze us into inaction. _ THE COMMON IDEA of claiming _color blindness_ is akin to the notion of being _not racist__as with the _not racist,_ the color-blind individual, by ostensibly failing to see race, fails to see racism and falls into racist passivity. The language of color blindness_like the language of _not racist__is a mask to hide racism. _Our Constitution is color-blind,_ U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Harlan proclaimed in his dissent to Plessy v. Ferguson, the case that legalized Jim Crow segregation in 1896. _The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country,_ Justice Harlan went on. _I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time, if it remains true to its great heritage._ A color-blind Constitution for a White-supremacist America. _ THE GOOD NEWS is that racist and antiracist are not fixed identities. We can be a racist one minute and an antiracist the next. What we say about race, what we do about race, in each moment, determines what_not who_we are. I used to be racist most of the time. I am changing. I am no longer identifying with racists by claiming to be _not racist._ I am no longer speaking through the mask of racial neutrality. I am no longer manipulated by racist ideas to see racial groups as problems. I no longer believe a Black person cannot be racist. I am no longer policing my every action around an imagined White or Black judge, trying to convince White people of my equal humanity, trying to convince Black people I am representing the race well. I no longer care about how the actions of other Black individuals reflect on me, since none of us are race representatives, nor is any individual responsible for someone else_s racist ideas. And I_ve come to see that the movement from racist to antiracist is always ongoing_it requires understanding and snubbing racism based on biology, ethnicity, body, culture, behavior, color, space, and class. And beyond that, it means standing ready to fight at racism_s intersections with other bigotries. _ THIS BOOK IS ultimately about the basic struggle we_re all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human. I share my own journey of being raised in the dueling racial consciousness of the Reagan-era Black middle class, then right-turning onto the ten-lane highway of anti-Black racism_a highway mysteriously free of police and free on gas_and veering off onto the two-lane highway of anti-White racism, where gas is rare and police are everywhere, before finding and turning down the unlit dirt road of antiracism. After taking this grueling journey to the dirt road of antiracism, humanity can come upon the clearing of a potential future: an antiracist world in all its imperfect beauty. It can become real if we focus on power instead of people, if we focus on changing policy instead of groups of people. It_s possible if we overcome our cynicism about the permanence of racism. We know how to be racist. We know how to pretend to be not racist. Now let_s know how to be antiracist. DEFINITIONS RACIST: One who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea. ANTIRACIST: One who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea. S OUL LIBERATION SWAYED onstage at the University of Illinois arena, rocking colorful dashikis and Afros that shot up like balled fists_an amazing sight to behold for the eleven thousand college students in the audience. Soul Liberation appeared nothing like the White ensembles in suits who_d been sounding hymns for nearly two days after Jesus_s birthday in 1970. Black students had succeeded in pushing the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the U.S. evangelical movement_s premier college organizer, to devote the second night of the conference to Black theology. More than five hundred Black attendees from across the country were on hand as Soul Liberation began to perform. Two of those Black students were my parents. They were not sitting together. Days earlier, they had ridden on the same bus for twenty-four hours that felt like forty-two, from Manhattan through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, before arriving in central Illinois. One hundred Black New Yorkers converged on InterVarsity_s Urbana _70. My mother and father had met during the Thanksgiving break weeks earlier when Larry, an accounting student at Manhattan_s Baruch College, co-organized a recruiting event for Urbana _70 at his church in Jamaica, Queens. Carol was one of the thirty people who showed up_she had come home to Queens from Nyack College, a small Christian school about forty-five miles north of her parents_ home in Far Rockaway. The first meeting was uneventful, but Carol noticed Larry, an overly serious student with a towering Afro, his face hidden behind a forest of facial hair, and Larry noticed Carol, a petite nineteen-year-old with dark freckles sprayed over her caramel complexion, even if all they did was exchange small talk. They_d independently decided to go to Urbana _70 when they heard that Tom Skinner would be preaching and Soul Liberation would be performing. At twenty-eight years old, Skinner was growing famous as a young evangelist of Black liberation theology. A former gang member and son of a Baptist preacher, he reached thousands via his weekly radio show and tours, where he delivered sermons at packed iconic venues like the Apollo Theater in his native Harlem. In 1970, Skinner published his third and fourth books, How Black Is the Gospel? and Words of Revolution. Carol and Larry devoured both books like a James Brown tune, like a Muhammad Ali fight. Carol had discovered Skinner through his younger brother, Johnnie, who was enrolled with her at Nyack. Larry_s connection was more ideological. In the spring of 1970, he had enrolled in _The Black Aesthetic,_ a class taught by legendary Baruch College literary scholar Addison Gayle Jr. For the first time, Larry read James Baldwin_s The Fire Next Time, Richard Wright_s Native Son, Amiri Baraka_s wrenching plays, and the banned revolutionary manifesto The Spook Who Sat by the Door by Sam Greenlee. It was an awakening. After Gayle_s class, Larry started searching for a way to reconcile his faith with his newfound Black consciousness. That search led him to Tom Skinner. _ SOUL LIBERATION LAUNCHED into their popular anthem, _Power to the People._ The bodies of the Black students who had surged to the front of the arena started moving almost in unison with the sounds of booming drums and heavy bass that, along with the syncopated claps, generated the rhythm and blues of a rural Southern revival. The wave of rhythm then rushed through the thousands of White bodies in the arena. Before long, they, too, were on their feet, swaying and singing along to the soulful sounds of Black power. Every chord from Soul Liberation seemed to build up anticipation for the keynote speaker to come. When the music ended, it was time: Tom Skinner, dark-suited with a red tie, stepped behind the podium, his voice serious as he began his history lesson. _The evangelical church_supported the status quo. It supported slavery; it supported segregation; it preached against any attempt of the Black man to stand on his own two feet._ Skinner shared how he came to worship an elite White Jesus Christ, who cleaned people up through _rules and regulations,_ a savior who prefigured Richard Nixon_s vision of law and order. But one day, Skinner realized that he_d gotten Jesus wrong. Jesus wasn_t in the Rotary Club and he wasn_t a policeman. Jesus was a _radical revolutionary, with hair on his chest and dirt under his fingernails._ Skinner_s new idea of Jesus was born of and committed to a new reading of the gospel. _Any gospel that does not_speak to the issue of enslavement_ and _injustice_ and _inequality_any gospel that does not want to go where people are hungry and poverty-stricken and set them free in the name of Jesus Christ_is not the gospel._ Back in the days of Jesus, _there was a system working just like today,_ Skinner declared. But _Jesus was dangerous. He was dangerous because he was changing the system._ The Romans locked up this _revolutionary_ and _nailed him to a cross_ and killed and buried him. But three days later, Jesus Christ _got up out of the grave_ to bear witness to us today. _Proclaim liberation to the captives, preach sight to the blind_ and _go into the world and tell men who are bound mentally, spiritually, and physically, _The liberator has come!_ _ The last line pulsated through the crowd. _The liberator has come!_ Students practically leapt out of their seats in an ovation_taking on the mantle of this fresh gospel. The liberators had come. My parents were profoundly receptive to Skinner_s call for evangelical liberators and attended a series of Black caucuses over the week of the conference that reinforced his call every night. At Urbana _70, Ma and Dad found themselves leaving the civilizing and conserving and racist church they realized they_d been part of. They were saved into Black liberation theology and joined the churchless church of the Black Power movement. Born in the days of Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer, Stokely Carmichael, and other antiracists who confronted segregationists and assimilationists in the 1950s and 1960s, the movement for Black solidarity, Black cultural pride, and Black economic and political self-determination had enraptured the entire Black world. And now, in 1970, Black power had enraptured my parents. They stopped thinking about saving Black people and started thinking about liberating Black people. In the spring of 1971, Ma returned to Nyack College and helped form a Black student union, an organization that challenged racist theology, the Confederate flags on dorm-room doors, and the paucity of Black students and programming. She started wearing African-print dresses and wrapped her growing Afro in African-print ties. She dreamed of traveling to the motherland as a missionary. Dad returned to his church and quit its famed youth choir. He began organizing programs that asked provocative questions: _Is Christianity the White man_s religion?_ _Is the Black church relevant to the Black community?_ He began reading the work of James Cone, the scholarly father of Black liberation theology and author of the influential Black Theology and Black Power in 1969. One day in the spring of 1971, Dad struck up the nerve to go up to Harlem and attend Cone_s class at Union Theological Seminary. Cone lectured on his new book, A Black Theology of Liberation. After class, Dad approached the professor. _What is your definition of a Christian?_ Dad asked in his deeply earnest way. Cone looked at Dad with equal seriousness and responded: _A Christian is one who is striving for liberation._ James Cone_s working definition of a Christian described a Christianity of the enslaved, not the Christianity of the slaveholders. Receiving this definition was a revelatory moment in Dad_s life. Ma had her own similar revelation in her Black student union_that Christianity was about struggle and liberation. My parents now had, separately, arrived at a creed with which to shape their lives, to be the type of Christians that Jesus the revolutionary inspired them to be. This new definition of a word that they_d already chosen as their core identity naturally transformed them. _ MY OWN, STILL-ONGOING journey toward being an antiracist began at Urbana _70. What changed Ma and Dad led to a changing of their two unborn sons_this new definition of the Christian life became the creed that grounded my parents_ lives and the lives of their children. I cannot disconnect my parents_ religious strivings to be Christian from my secular strivings to be an antiracist. And the key act for both of us was defining our terms so that we could begin to describe the world and our place in it. Definitions anchor us in principles. This is not a light point: If we don_t do the basic work of defining the kind of people we want to be in language that is stable and consistent, we can_t work toward stable, consistent goals. Some of my most consequential steps toward being an antiracist have been the moments when I arrived at basic definitions. To be an antiracist is to set lucid definitions of racism/antiracism, racist/antiracist policies, racist/antiracist ideas, racist/antiracist people. To be a racist is to constantly redefine racist in a way that exonerates one_s changing policies, ideas, and personhood. So let_s set some definitions. What is racism? Racism is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes racial inequities. Okay, so what are racist policies and ideas? We have to define them separately to understand why they are married and why they interact so well together. In fact, let_s take one step back and consider the definition of another important phrase: racial inequity. Racial inequity is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing. Here_s an example of racial inequity: 71 percent of White families lived in owner-occupied homes in 2014, compared to 45 percent of Latinx families and 41 percent of Black families. Racial equity is when two or more racial groups are standing on a relatively equal footing. An example of racial equity would be if there were relatively equitable percentages of all three racial groups living in owner-occupied homes in the forties, seventies, or, better, nineties. A racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups. An antiracist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial equity between racial groups. By policy, I mean written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people. There is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups. Racist policies have been described by other terms: _institutional racism,_ _structural racism,_ and _systemic racism,_ for instance. But those are vaguer terms than _racist policy._ When I use them I find myself having to immediately explain what they mean. _Racist policy_ is more tangible and exacting, and more likely to be immediately understood by people, including its victims, who may not have the benefit of extensive fluency in racial terms. _Racist policy_ says exactly what the problem is and where the problem is. _Institutional racism_ and _structural racism_ and _systemic racism_ are redundant. Racism itself is institutional, structural, and systemic. _Racist policy_ also cuts to the core of racism better than _racial discrimination,_ another common phrase. _Racial discrimination_ is an immediate and visible manifestation of an underlying racial policy. When someone discriminates against a person in a racial group, they are carrying out a policy or taking advantage of the lack of a protective policy. We all have the power to discriminate. Only an exclusive few have the power to make policy. Focusing on _racial discrimination_ takes our eyes off the central agents of racism: racist policy and racist policymakers, or what I call racist power. Since the 1960s, racist power has commandeered the term _racial discrimination,_ transforming the act of discriminating on the basis of race into an inherently racist act. But if racial discrimination is defined as treating, considering, or making a distinction in favor or against an individual based on that person_s race, then racial discrimination is not inherently racist. The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity. If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist. Someone reproducing inequity through permanently assisting an overrepresented racial group into wealth and power is entirely different than someone challenging that inequity by temporarily assisting an underrepresented racial group into relative wealth and power until equity is reached. The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination. As President Lyndon B. Johnson said in 1965, _You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, _You are free to compete with all the others,_ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair._ As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in 1978, _In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently._ The racist champions of racist discrimination engineered to maintain racial inequities before the 1960s are now the racist opponents of antiracist discrimination engineered to dismantle those racial inequities. The most threatening racist movement is not the alt right_s unlikely drive for a White ethnostate but the regular American_s drive for a _race-neutral_ one. The construct of race neutrality actually feeds White nationalist victimhood by positing the notion that any policy protecting or advancing non-White Americans toward equity is _reverse discrimination._ That is how racist power can call affirmative action policies that succeed in reducing racial inequities _race conscious_ and standardized tests that produce racial inequities _race neutral._ That is how they can blame the behavior of entire racial groups for the inequities between different racial groups and still say their ideas are _not racist._ But there is no such thing as a not-racist idea, only racist ideas and antiracist ideas. So what is a racist idea? A racist idea is any idea that suggests one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group in any way. Racist ideas argue that the inferiorities and superiorities of racial groups explain racial inequities in society. As Thomas Jefferson suspected a decade after declaring White American independence: _The blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind._ An antiracist idea is any idea that suggests the racial groups are equals in all their apparent differences_that there is nothing right or wrong with any racial group. Antiracist ideas argue that racist policies are the cause of racial inequities. Understanding the differences between racist policies and antiracist policies, between racist ideas and antiracist ideas, allows us to return to our fundamental definitions. Racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas. Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas. _ ONCE WE HAVE a solid definition of racism and antiracism, we can start to make sense of the racialized world around us, before us. My maternal grandparents, Mary Ann and Alvin, moved their family to New York City in the 1950s on the final leg of the Great Migration, happy to get their children away from violent Georgia segregationists and the work of picking cotton under the increasingly hot Georgia sun. To think, they were also moving their family away from the effects of climate change. Do-nothing climate policy is racist policy, since the predominantly non-White global south is being victimized by climate change more than the Whiter global north, even as the Whiter global north is contributing more to its acceleration. Land is sinking and temperatures are rising from Florida to Bangladesh. Droughts and food scarcity are ravishing bodies in Eastern and Southern Africa, a region already containing 25 percent of the world_s malnourished population. Human-made environmental catastrophes disproportionately harming bodies of color are not unusual; for instance, nearly four thousand U.S. areas_mostly poor and non-White_have higher lead poisoning rates than Flint, Michigan. I am one generation removed from picking cotton for pocket change under the warming climate in Guyton, outside Savannah. That_s where we buried my grandmother in 1993. Memories of her comforting calmness, her dark green thumb, and her large trash bags of Christmas gifts lived on as we drove back to New York from her funeral. The next day, my father ventured up to Flushing, Queens, to see his single mother, also named Mary Ann. She had the clearest dark-brown skin, a smile that hugged you, and a wit that smacked you. When my father opened the door of her apartment, he smelled the fumes coming from the stove she_d left on, and some other fumes. His mother nowhere in sight, he rushed down the hallway and into her back bedroom. That_s where he found his mother, as if sleeping, but dead. Her struggle with Alzheimer_s, a disease more prevalent among African Americans, was over. There may be no more consequential White privilege than life itself. White lives matter to the tune of 3.5 additional years over Black lives in the United States, which is just the most glaring of a host of health disparities, starting from infancy, where Black infants die at twice the rate of White infants. But at least my grandmothers and I met, we shared, we loved. I never met my paternal grandfather. I never met my maternal grandfather, Alvin, killed by cancer three years before my birth. In the United States, African Americans are 25 percent more likely to die of cancer than Whites. My father survived prostate cancer, which kills twice as many Black men as it does White men. Breast cancer disproportionately kills Black women. Three million African Americans and four million Latinx secured health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, dropping uninsured rates for both groups to around 11 percent before President Barack Obama left office. But a staggering 28.5 million Americans remained uninsured, a number primed for growth after Congress repealed the individual mandate in 2017. And it is becoming harder for people of color to vote out of office the politicians crafting these policies designed to shorten their lives. Racist voting policy has evolved from disenfranchising by Jim Crow voting laws to disenfranchising by mass incarceration and voter-ID laws. Sometimes these efforts are so blatant that they are struck down: North Carolina enacted one of these targeted voter-ID laws, but in July 2016 the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck it down, ruling that its various provisions _target African Americans with almost surgical precision._ But others have remained and been successful. Wisconsin_s strict voter-ID law suppressed approximately two hundred thousand votes_again primarily targeting voters of color_in the 2016 election. Donald Trump won that critical swing state by 22,748 votes. We are surrounded by racial inequity, as visible as the law, as hidden as our private thoughts. The question for each of us is: What side of history will we stand on? A racist is someone who is supporting a racist policy by their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea. An antiracist is someone who is supporting an antiracist policy by their actions or expressing an antiracist idea. _Racist_ and _antiracist_ are like peelable name tags that are placed and replaced based on what someone is doing or not doing, supporting or expressing in each moment. These are not permanent tattoos. No one becomes a racist or antiracist. We can only strive to be one or the other. We can unknowingly strive to be a racist. We can knowingly strive to be an antiracist. Like fighting an addiction, being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination. Racist ideas have defined our society since its beginning and can feel so natural and obvious as to be banal, but antiracist ideas remain difficult to comprehend, in part because they go against the flow of this country_s history. As Audre Lorde said in 1980, _We have all been programmed to respond to the human differences between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals._ To be an antiracist is a radical choice in the face of this history, requiring a radical reorientation of our consciousness. DUELING CONSCIOUSNESS ASSIMILATIONIST: One who is expressing the racist idea that a racial group is culturally or behaviorally inferior and is supporting cultural or behavioral enrichment programs to develop that racial group. SEGREGATIONIST: One who is expressing the racist idea that a permanently inferior racial group can never be developed and is supporting policy that segregates away that racial group. ANTIRACIST: One who is expressing the idea that racial groups are equals and none needs developing, and is supporting policy that reduces racial inequity. M Y PARENTS HAD not seen each other since the bus ride to Urbana _70. Christmas approached in 1973. Soul Liberation held a concert at the iconic Broadway Presbyterian Church in Harlem that turned into a reunion of sorts for the New York attendees of Urbana _70. Dad and Ma showed up. Old friends beckoned, and something new. After the chords of Soul Liberation fell silent, my parents finally spoke again and a spark finally lit. Days later, Dad called. He asked Ma out. _I_ve been called to the mission field,_ Ma responded. _Leaving in March._ Ma and Dad persevered, even after Ma left to teach in a rural Liberian village outside Monrovia for nine months. Eight years later they were married, daring to name me, their second son, _exalted father_ when I arrived in a world not in the practice of exalting Black bodies. Just before that arrival, as my pregnant mother celebrated her thirty-first birthday on June 24, 1982, President Reagan declared war on her unborn baby. _We must put drug abuse on the run through stronger law enforcement,_ Reagan said in the Rose Garden. It wasn_t drug abuse that was put on the run, of course, but people like me, born into this regime of _stronger law enforcement._ The stiffer sentencing policies for drug crimes_not a net increase in crime_caused the American prison population to quadruple between 1980 and 2000. While violent criminals typically account for about half of the prison population at any given time, more people were incarcerated for drug crimes than violent crimes every year from 1993 to 2009. White people are more likely than Black and Latinx people to sell drugs, and the races consume drugs at similar rates. Yet African Americans are far more likely than Whites to be jailed for drug offenses. Nonviolent Black drug offenders remain in prisons for about the same length of time (58.7 months) as violent White criminals (61.7 months). In 2016, Black and Latinx people were still grossly overrepresented in the prison population at 56 percent, double their percentage of the U.S. adult population. White people were still grossly underrepresented in the prison population at 30 percent, about half their percentage of the U.S. adult population. Reagan didn_t start this so-called war, as historian Elizabeth Hinton recounts. President Lyndon B. Johnson first put us on the run when he named 1965 _the year when this country began a thorough, intelligent, and effective war on crime._ My parents were in high school when Johnson_s war on crime mocked his undersupported war on poverty, like a heavily armed shooter mocking the underresourced trauma surgeon. President Richard Nixon announced his war on drugs in 1971 to devastate his harshest critics_Black and antiwar activists. _We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news,_ Nixon_s domestic-policy chief, John Ehrlichman, told a Harper_s reporter years later. _Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did._ Black people joined in the vilification, convinced that homicidal drug dealers, gun toters, and thieving heroin addicts were flushing _down the drain_ all _the hard won gains of the civil rights movement,_ to quote an editorial in The Washington Afro-American in 1981. Some, if not most, Black leaders, in an effort to appear as saviors of the people against this menace, turned around and set the Black criminal alongside the White racist as the enemies of the people. Seemingly contradictory calls to lock up and to save Black people dueled in legislatures around the country but also in the minds of Americans. Black leaders joined with Republicans from Nixon to Reagan, and with Democrats from Johnson to Bill Clinton, in calling for and largely receiving more police officers, tougher and mandatory sentencing, and more jails. But they also called for the end of police brutality, more jobs, better schools, and drug-treatment programs. These calls were less enthusiastically received. By the time I came along in 1982, the shame about _Black on Black crime_ was on the verge of overwhelming a generation_s pride about _Black is beautiful._ Many non-Black Americans looked down on Black addicts in revulsion_but too many Black folk looked down on the same addicts in shame. Both of my parents emerged from poor families, one from Northern urban projects, one from Southern rural fields. Both framed their rise from poverty into the middle class in the 1980s as a climb up the ladder of education and hard work. As they climbed, they were inundated with racist talking points about Black people refusing to climb, the ones who were irresponsibly strung out on heroin or crack, who enjoyed stealing and being criminally dependent on the hard-earned money of climbing Americans like them. In 1985, adored civil-rights lawyer Eleanor Holmes Norton took to The New York Times to claim the _remedy_is not as simple as providing necessities and opportunities,_ as antiracists argued. She urged the _overthrow of the complicated, predatory ghetto subculture._ She called on people like my parents with _ghetto origins_ to save _ghetto males_ and women by impressing on them the values of _hard work, education, respect for family_ and _achieving a better life for one_s children._ Norton provided no empirical evidence to substantiate her position that certain _ghetto_ Blacks were deficient in any of these values. But my parents, along with many others in the new Black middle class, consumed these ideas. The class that challenged racist policies from the 1950s through the 1970s now began challenging other Black people in the 1980s and 1990s. Antiracism seemed like an indulgence in the face of the self-destructive behavior they were witnessing all around them. My parents followed Norton_s directive: They fed me the mantra that education and hard work would uplift me, just as it had uplifted them, and would, in the end, uplift all Black people. My parents_even from within their racial consciousness_were susceptible to the racist idea that it was laziness that kept Black people down, so they paid more attention to chastising Black people than to Reagan_s policies, which were chopping the ladder they climbed up and then punishing people for falling. The Reagan Revolution was just that: a radical revolution for the benefit of the already powerful. It further enriched high-income Americans by cutting their taxes and government regulations, installing a Christmas-tree military budget, and arresting the power of unions. Seventy percent of middle-income Blacks said they saw _a great deal of racial discrimination_ in 1979, before Reagan revolutionaries rolled back enforcement of civil-rights laws and affirmative-action regulations, before they rolled back funding to state and local governments whose contracts and jobs had become safe avenues into the single-family urban home of the Black middle class. In the same month that Reagan announced his war on drugs on Ma_s birthday in 1982, he cut the safety net of federal welfare programs and Medicaid, sending more low-income Blacks into poverty. His _stronger law enforcement_ sent more Black people into the clutches of violent cops, who killed twenty-two Black people for every White person in the early 1980s. Black youth were four times more likely to be unemployed in 1985 than in 1954. But few connected the increase in unemployment to the increase in violent crime. Americans have long been trained to see the deficiencies of people rather than policy. It_s a pretty easy mistake to make: People are in our faces. Policies are distant. We are particularly poor at seeing the policies lurking behind the struggles of people. And so my parents turned away from the problems of policy to look at the problems of people_and reverted to striving to save and civilize Black people rather than liberate them. Civilizer theology became more attractive to my parents, in the face of the rise of crack and the damage it did to Black people, as it did to so many children of civil rights and Black power. But in many ways, liberation theology remained their philosophical home, the home they raised me in. _ DEEP DOWN, MY parents were still the people who were set on fire by liberation theology back in Urbana. Ma still dreamed of globetrotting the Black world as a liberating missionary, a dream her Liberian friends encouraged in 1974. Dad dreamed of writing liberating poetry, a dream Professor Addison Gayle encouraged in 1971. I always wonder what would have been if my parents had not let their reasonable fears stop them from pursuing their dreams. Traveling Ma helping to free the Black world. Dad accompanying her and finding inspiration for his freedom poetry. Instead, Ma settled for a corporate career in healthcare technology. Dad settled for an accounting career. They entered the American middle class_a space then as now defined by its disproportionate White majority_and began to look at themselves and their people not only through their own eyes but also _through the eyes of others._ They joined other Black people trying to fit into that White space while still trying to be themselves and save their people. They were not wearing a mask as much as splitting into two minds. This conceptual duple reflected what W.E.B. Du Bois indelibly voiced in The Souls of Black Folk in 1903. _It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one_s self through the eyes of others,_ Du Bois wrote. He would neither _Africanize America_ nor _bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism._ Du Bois wished _to be both a Negro and an American._ Du Bois wished to inhabit opposing constructs. To be American is to be White. To be White is to not be a Negro. What Du Bois termed double consciousness may be more precisely termed dueling consciousness. _One ever feels his two-ness,_ Du Bois explained, _an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder._ Du Bois also explained how this war was being waged within his own dark body, wanting to be a Negro and wanting to _escape into the mass of Americans in the same way that the Irish and Scandinavians_ were doing. These dueling ideas were there in 1903, and the same duel overtook my parents_and it remains today. The duel within Black consciousness seems to usually be between antiracist and assimilationist ideas. Du Bois believed in both the antiracist concept of racial relativity, of every racial group looking at itself with its own eyes, and the assimilationist concept of racial standards, of _looking at one_s self through the eyes_ of another racial group_in his case, White people. In other words, he wanted to liberate Black people from racism but he also wanted to change them, to save them from their _relic of barbarism._ Du Bois argued in 1903 that racism and _the low social level of the mass of the race_ were both _responsible_ for the _Negro_s degradation._ Assimilation would be part of the solution to this problem. Assimilationist ideas are racist ideas. Assimilationists can position any racial group as the superior standard that another racial group should be measuring themselves against, the benchmark they should be trying to reach. Assimilationists typically position White people as the superior standard. _Do Americans ever stop to reflect that there are in this land a million men of Negro blood_who, judged by any standard, have reached the full measure of the best type of modern European culture? Is it fair, is it decent, is it Christian_to belittle such aspiration?_ Du Bois asked in 1903. _ THE DUELING CONSCIOUSNESS played out in a different way for my parents, who became all about Black self-reliance. In 1985, they were drawn to Floyd H. Flake_s Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church in Southside Queens. Flake and his equally magnetic wife, Elaine, grew Allen into a megachurch and one of the area_s largest private-sector employers through its liberated kingdom of commercial and social-service enterprises. From its school to its senior-citizen housing complex to its crisis center for victims of domestic abuse, there were no walls to Flake_s church. It was exactly the type of ministry that would naturally fascinate those descendants of Urbana _70. My father joined Flake_s ministerial staff in 1989. My favorite church program happened every Thanksgiving. We would arrive as lines of people were hugging the church building, which smelled particularly good that day. Perfumes of gravy and cranberry sauce warmed the November air. The aromas multiplied in deliciousness as we entered the basement fellowship hall, where the ovens were. I usually found my spot in the endless assembly line of servers. I could barely see over the food. But I strained up on my toes to help feed every bit of five thousand people. I tried to be as kind to these hungry people as my mother_s peach cobbler. This program of Black people feeding Black people embodied the gospel of Black self-reliance that the adults in my life were feeding me. Black self-reliance was a double-edged sword. One side was an abhorrence of White supremacy and White paternalism, White rulers and White saviors. On the other, a love of Black rulers and Black saviors, of Black paternalism. On one side was the antiracist belief that Black people were entirely capable of ruling themselves, of relying on themselves. On the other, the assimilationist idea that Black people should focus on pulling themselves up by their baggy jeans and tight halter tops, getting off crack, street corners, and government _handouts,_ as if those were the things partially holding their incomes down. This dueling consciousness nourished Black pride by insisting that there was nothing wrong with Black people, but it also cultivated shame with its implication that there was something behaviorally wrong with Black people_well, at least those other Black people. If the problem was in our own behavior, then Reagan revolutionaries were not keeping Black people down_we were keeping ourselves down. _ WHITE PEOPLE HAVE their own dueling consciousness, between the segregationist and the assimilationist: the slave trader and the missionary, the proslavery exploiter and the antislavery civilizer, the eugenicist and the melting pot_ter, the mass incarcerator and the mass developer, the Blue Lives Matter and the All Lives Matter, the not-racist nationalist and the not-racist American. Assimilationist ideas and segregationist ideas are the two types of racist ideas, the duel within racist thought. White assimilationist ideas challenge segregationist ideas that claim people of color are incapable of development, incapable of reaching the superior standard, incapable of becoming White and therefore fully human. Assimilationists believe that people of color can, in fact, be developed, become fully human, just like White people. Assimilationist ideas reduce people of color to the level of children needing instruction on how to act. Segregationist ideas cast people of color as _animals,_ to use Trump_s descriptor for Latinx immigrants_unteachable after a point. The history of the racialized world is a three-way fight between assimilationists, segregationists, and antiracists. Antiracist ideas are based in the truth that racial groups are equals in all the ways they are different, assimilationist ideas are rooted in the notion that certain racial groups are culturally or behaviorally inferior, and segregationist ideas spring from a belief in genetic racial distinction and fixed hierarchy. _I am apt to suspect the negroes and in general all the other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the whites,_ Enlightenment philosopher David Hume wrote in 1753. _There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white_.Such a uniform and constant difference could not happen, in so many countries and ages, if nature had not made an original distinction between these breeds of men._ David Hume declared that all races are created unequal, but Thomas Jefferson seemed to disagree in 1776 when he declared _all men are created equal._ But Thomas Jefferson never made the antiracist declaration: All racial groups are equals. While segregationist ideas suggest a racial group is permanently inferior, assimilationist ideas suggest a racial group is temporarily inferior. _It would be hazardous to affirm that, equally cultivated for a few generations,_ the Negro _would not become_ equal, Jefferson once wrote, in assimilationist fashion. The dueling White consciousness fashioned two types of racist policies, reflecting the duel of racist ideas. Since assimilationists posit cultural and behavioral hierarchy, assimilationist policies and programs are geared toward developing, civilizing, and integrating a racial group (to distinguish from programs that uplift individuals). Since segregationists posit the incapability of a racial group to be civilized and developed, segregationist policies are geared toward segregating, enslaving, incarcerating, deporting, and killing. Since antiracists posit that the racial groups are already civilized, antiracist policies are geared toward reducing racial inequities and creating equal opportunity. White people have generally advocated for both assimilationist and segregationist policies. People of color have generally advocated for both antiracist and assimilationist policies. The _history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,_ to quote Du Bois_the strife between the assimilationist and the antiracist, between mass civilizing and mass equalizing. In Du Bois_s Black body, in my parents_ Black bodies, in my young Black body, this double desire, this dueling consciousness, yielded an inner strife between Black pride and a yearning to be White. My own assimilationist ideas stopped me from noticing the racist policies really getting high during Reagan_s drug war. _ THE DUELING WHITE consciousness has, from its position of relative power, shaped the struggle within Black consciousness. Despite the cold truth that America was founded _by white men for white men,_ as segregationist Jefferson Davis said on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1860, Black people have often expressed a desire to be American and have been encouraged in this by America_s undeniable history of antiracist progress, away from chattel slavery and Jim Crow. Despite the cold instructions from the likes of Nobel laureate Gunnar Myrdal to _become assimilated into American culture,_ Black people have also, as Du Bois said, desired to remain Negro, discouraged by America_s undeniable history of racist progress, from advancing police violence and voter suppression, to widening racial inequities in areas ranging from health to wealth. History duels: the undeniable history of antiracist progress, the undeniable history of racist progress. Before and after the Civil War, before and after civil rights, before and after the first Black presidency, the White consciousness duels. The White body defines the American body. The White body segregates the Black body from the American body. The White body instructs the Black body to assimilate into the American body. The White body rejects the Black body assimilating into the American body_and history and consciousness duel anew. The Black body in turn experiences the same duel. The Black body is instructed to become an American body. The American body is the White body. The Black body strives to assimilate into the American body. The American body rejects the Black body. The Black body separates from the American body. The Black body is instructed to assimilate into the American body_and history and consciousness duel anew. But there is a way to get free. To be antiracist is to emancipate oneself from the dueling consciousness. To be antiracist is to conquer the assimilationist consciousness and the segregationist consciousness. The White body no longer presents itself as the American body; the Black body no longer strives to be the American body, knowing there is no such thing as the American body, only American bodies, racialized by power. POWER RACE: A power construct of collected or merged difference that lives socially. W E PULLED INTO the parking lot, looking for signs of life. But the daily life of the school had ended hours ago. It was pushing four o_clock on that warm April day in 1990, on Long Island, New York. The car was parked and I could see the unease in my parents_ faces as they freed themselves from their seatbelts. Maybe they were just trying to wrap their heads around making this thirty-minute drive out to Long Island twice a day, every weekday, year after year_on top of their hour-long job commutes to Manhattan. I sensed their discomfort and felt my own. Nerves about changing schools. Wishing P.S. 251 went past second grade. Feeling sick being so far from home in this foreign neighborhood. My seven-year-old feelings were roiling. Several public elementary schools resided within walking distance of my house in Queens Village. But Black New Yorkers with the wherewithal to do it were separating their children from poor Black children in poor Black neighborhoods, just like White New Yorkers were separating their children from Black children. The dueling consciousness of White parents did not mind spending more money on housing in order to send their kids to White public schools_and keep them away from the purportedly bad schools and bad children. The dueling consciousness of Black parents did not mind paying for private Black schools to keep their children away from those same public schools and children. A Black woman greeted us at the front door of Grace Lutheran School. She had been waiting. She was the school_s third-grade teacher, and after a quick greeting, she took us down a corridor. Classrooms stood on both sides, but I fixated on the class photos outside the rooms: all those adult White faces and young Black faces looking back at us. We occasionally peeked inside nicely decorated classrooms. No sounds. No students. No teachers. Just footsteps. She took us to her third-grade classroom, a long throw from the entrance. We could see the materials laid out for a science project, the details of which she explained to us. I couldn_t care less about raising chicks. Then she took us over to a round table and asked if we had any questions. Sitting down, my mother asked a question about the curriculum. I did not care much about that, either. I started looking more intently around the classroom. A pause in the discussion caught my attention_Dad had just asked about the racial makeup of the student body. Majority Black. I took note. My mind drifted away again, this time wandering around the classroom and around the school, trying to imagine the students and teachers, remembering those pictures in the hallway. A pause caught my attention again. A question popped out of me. _Are you the only Black teacher?_ _Yes, but__ I cut her off. _Why are you the only Black teacher?_ Puzzled, she looked away at my parents. My parents exchanged curious looks. I kept staring at the teacher, wondering why she was looking at my parents. Ma ended the awkward silence. _He has been reading biographies of Black leaders._ Ma was talking about the critically acclaimed Junior Black Americans of Achievement series, promoted by Coretta Scott King. Dad had bought a stack of these biographies, towering over one hundred now. Martin Luther King Jr. Frederick Douglass. Mary McLeod Bethune. Richard Allen. Ida B. Wells. Dad kept urging me to pull from the tower for every writing project. These gripping biographies were as exciting to me as new video games on my Sega Genesis. Once I started reading, I could not stop. Discovering through these books the long history of harm done to Black Americans left me seething and brought to life a kind of racial consciousness for the first time. _He is very much aware of being Black,_ Ma made sure to add, looking at Dad. She did not look for confirmation. Dad nodded in agreement anyway, as I stared at the teacher, awaiting my answer. In that classroom, on that April day in 1990, my parents discovered that I had entered racial puberty. At seven years old, I began to feel the encroaching fog of racism overtaking my dark body. It felt big, bigger than me, bigger than my parents or anything in my world, and threatening. What a powerful construction race is_powerful enough to consume us. And it comes for us early. But for all of that life-shaping power, race is a mirage, which doesn_t lessen its force. We are what we see ourselves as, whether what we see exists or not. We are what people see us as, whether what they see exists or not. What people see in themselves and others has meaning and manifests itself in ideas and actions and policies, even if what they are seeing is an illusion. Race is a mirage but one that we do well to see, while never forgetting it is a mirage, never forgetting that it_s the powerful light of racist power that makes the mirage. So I do not pity my seven-year-old self for identifying racially as Black. I still identify as Black. Not because I believe Blackness, or race, is a meaningful scientific category but because our societies, our policies, our ideas, our histories, and our cultures have rendered race and made it matter. I am among those who have been degraded by racist ideas, suffered under racist policies, and who have nevertheless endured and built movements and cultures to resist or at least persist through this madness. I see myself culturally and historically and politically in Blackness, in being an African American, an African, a member of the forced and unforced African diaspora. I see myself historically and politically as a person of color, as a member of the global south, as a close ally of Latinx, East Asian, Middle Eastern, and Native peoples and all the world_s degraded peoples, from the Roma and Jews of Europe to the aboriginals of Australia to the White people battered for their religion, class, gender, transgender identity, ethnicity, sexuality, body size, age, and disability. The gift of seeing myself as Black instead of being color-blind is that it allows me to clearly see myself historically and politically as being an antiracist, as a member of the interracial body striving to accept and equate and empower racial difference of all kinds. Some White people do not identify as White for the same reason they identify as not-racist: to avoid reckoning with the ways that Whiteness_even as a construction and mirage_has informed their notions of America and identity and offered them privilege, the primary one being the privilege of being inherently normal, standard, and legal. It is a racial crime to be yourself if you are not White in America. It is a racial crime to look like yourself or empower yourself if you are not White. I guess I became a criminal at seven years old. It is one of the ironies of antiracism that we must identify racially in order to identify the racial privileges and dangers of being in our bodies. Latinx and Asian and African and European and Indigenous and Middle Eastern: These six races_at least in the American context_are fundamentally power identities, because race is fundamentally a power construct of blended difference that lives socially. Race creates new forms of power: the power to categorize and judge, elevate and downgrade, include and exclude. Race makers use that power to process distinct individuals, ethnicities, and nationalities into monolithic races. _ THE FIRST GLOBAL power to construct race happened to be the first racist power and the first exclusive slave trader of the constructed race of African people. The individual who orchestrated this trading of an invented people was nicknamed the _Navigator,_ though he did not leave Portugal in the fifteenth century. The only thing he navigated was Europe_s political-economic seas, in order to create the first transatlantic slave-trading policies. Hailed for something he was not (and ignored for what he was)_it is fitting that Prince Henry the Navigator, the brother and then uncle of Portuguese kings, is the first character in the history of racist power. Prince Henry lived in me. The name Henry had traveled down through the centuries and over the Atlantic Ocean and eventually into my father_s family. After my mother gave my older brother a middle name from her family, Dad chose a middle name for me from his family. He chose the name of his enslaved great-great-grandfather, Henry. Dad did not know that this ancestor shared the name of the Navigator, but when I learned the history, I knew it had to go. My middle name is now Xolani, meaning peace, the very thing Henry_s slave traders snatched from Africa (and the Americas and Europe), the thing they snatched from my ancestor Henry. Until his death in 1460, Prince Henry sponsored Atlantic voyages to West Africa by the Portuguese, to circumvent Islamic slave traders, and in doing so created a different sort of slavery than had existed before. Premodern Islamic slave traders, like their Christian counterparts in premodern Italy, were not pursuing racist policies_they were enslaving what we now consider to be Africans, Arabs, and Europeans alike. At the dawn of the modern world, the Portuguese began to exclusively trade African bodies. Prince Henry_s sailors made history when they navigated past the feared _black_ hole of Cape Bojador, off Western Sahara, and brought enslaved Africans back to Portugal. Prince Henry_s first biographer_and apologist_became the first race maker and crafter of racist ideas. King Afonso V commissioned Gomes de Zurara, a royal chronicler and a loyal commander in Prince Henry_s Military Order of Christ, to compose a glowing biography of the African adventures of his _beloved uncle._ Zurara finished The Chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea in 1453, the first European book on Africa. One of Zurara_s stories chronicled Prince Henry_s first major slave auction in Lagos, Portugal, in 1444. Some captives were _white enough, fair to look upon, and well proportioned,_ while others were _like mulattoes_ or _as black as Ethiops, and so ugly._ Despite their different skin colors and languages and ethnic groups, Zurara blended them into one single group of people, worthy of enslavement. Unlike babies, phenomena are typically born long before humans give them names. Zurara did not call Black people a race. French poet Jacques de Br?z? first used the term _race_ in a 1481 hunting poem. In 1606, the same diplomat who brought the addictive tobacco plant to France formally defined race for the first time in a major European dictionary. _Race_means descent,_ Jean Nicot wrote in the Tr?sor de la langue fran?aise. _Therefore, it is said that a man, a horse, a dog, or another animal is from a good or bad race._ From the beginning, to make races was to make racial hierarchy. Gomes de Zurara grouped all those peoples from Africa into a single race for that very reason: to create hierarchy, the first racist idea. Race making is an essential ingredient in the making of racist ideas, the crust that holds the pie. Once a race has been created, it must be filled in_and Zurara filled it with negative qualities that would justify Prince Henry_s evangelical mission to the world. This Black race of people was lost, living _like beasts, without any custom of reasonable beings,_ Zurara wrote. _They had no understanding of good, but only knew how to live in a bestial sloth._ After Spanish and Portuguese colonizers arrived in the Americas in the fifteenth century, they took to race making all the different indigenous peoples, calling them one people, _Indians,_ or negros da terra (Blacks from the land) in sixteenth-century Brazil. Spanish lawyer Alonso de Zuazo in 1510 contrasted the beastly race of Blacks as _strong for work, the opposite of the natives, so weak who can work only in undemanding tasks._ Both racist constructions normalized and rationalized the increased importing of the supposedly _strong_ enslaved Africans and the ongoing genocide of the supposedly _weak_ Indians in the Americas. The other races, save Latinx and Middle Easterners, had been completely made and distinguished by the Age of Enlightenment in the eighteenth century. Beginning in 1735, Carl Linnaeus locked in the racial hierarchy of humankind in Systema Naturae. He color-coded the races as White, Yellow, Red, and Black. He attached each race to one of the four regions of the world and described their characteristics. The Linnaeus taxonomy became the blueprint that nearly every enlightened race maker followed and that race makers still follow today. And, of course, these were not simply neutral categories, because races were never meant to be neutral categories. Racist power created them for a purpose. Linnaeus positioned Homo sapiens europaeus at the top of the racial hierarchy, making up the most superior character traits. _Vigorous, muscular. Flowing blond hair. Blue eyes. Very smart, inventive. Covered by tight clothing. Ruled by law._ He made up the middling racial character of Homo sapiens asiaticus: _Melancholy, stern. Black hair; dark eyes. Strict, haughty, greedy. Covered by loose garments. Ruled by opinion._ He granted the racial character of Homo sapiens americanus a mixed set of atttributes: _Ill-tempered, impassive. Thick straight black hair; wide nostrils; harsh face; beardless. Stubborn, contented, free. Paints himself with red lines. Ruled by custom._ At the bottom of the racial hierarchy, Linnaeus positioned Homo sapiens afer: _Sluggish, lazy. Black kinky hair. Silky skin. Flat nose. Thick lips. Females with genital flap and elongated breasts. Crafty, slow, careless. Covered by grease. Ruled by caprice._ _ FROM 1434 TO 1447, Gomes de Zurara estimated, 927 enslaved Africans landed in Portugal, _the greater part of whom were turned into the true path of salvation._ It was, according to Zurara, Prince Henry_s paramount achievement, an achievement blessed by successive popes. No mention of Prince Henry_s royal fifth (quinto), the 185 or so of those captives he was given, a fortune in bodies. The obedient Gomes de Zurara created racial difference to convince the world that Prince Henry (and thus Portugal) did not slave-trade for money, only to save souls. The liberators had come to Africa. Zurara personally sent a copy of The Chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea to King Afonso V with an introductory letter in 1453. He hoped the book would _keep_ Prince Henry_s name _before_ the _eyes_ of the world, _to the great praise of his memory._ Gomes de Zurara secured Prince Henry_s memory as surely as Prince Henry secured the wealth of the royal court. King Afonso was accumulating more capital from selling enslaved Africans to foreigners _than from all the taxes levied on the entire kingdom,_ observed a traveler in 1466. Race had served its purpose. Prince Henry_s racist policy of slave trading came first_a cunning invention for the practical purpose of bypassing Muslim traders. After nearly two decades of slave trading, King Afonso asked Gomes de Zurara to defend the lucrative commerce in human lives, which he did through the construction of a Black race, an invented group upon which he hung racist ideas. This cause and effect_a racist power creates racist policies out of raw self-interest; the racist policies necessitate racist ideas to justify them_lingers over the life of racism. _ FROM THE JUNIOR Black Americans of Achievement series onward, I had been taught that racist ideas cause racist policies. That ignorance and hate cause racist ideas. That the root problem of racism is ignorance and hate. But that gets the chain of events exactly wrong. The root problem_from Prince Henry to President Trump_has always been the self-interest of racist power. Powerful economic, political, and cultural self-interest_the primitive accumulation of capital in the case of royal Portugal and subsequent slave traders_has been behind racist policies. Powerful and brilliant intellectuals in the tradition of Gomes de Zurara then produced racist ideas to justify the racist policies of their era, to redirect the blame for their era_s racial inequities away from those policies and onto people. _ THE TEACHER SOON overcame her surprise at a seven-year-old questioning her about the paucity of Black teachers. After searching my parents_ faces, she looked back at me. _Why are you asking that question?_ she asked nicely. _If you have so many Black kids, you should have more Black teachers,_ I said. _The school hasn_t hired more Black teachers._ _Why?_ _I don_t know._ _Why don_t you know?_ My parents could see my agitation growing. Dad changed the subject. I didn_t mind. My train of thought had taken me away, anyway. I was thinking about what Ma had just said. I am Black. I am Black. I ended up attending a private Lutheran school closer to home, White third-grade teacher and all. I did not mind until I noticed. BIOLOGY BIOLOGICAL RACIST: One who is expressing the idea that the races are meaningfully different in their biology and that these differences create a hierarchy of value. BIOLOGICAL ANTIRACIST: One who is expressing the idea that the races are meaningfully the same in their biology and there are no genetic racial differences. I CANNOT RECALL HER name. So very odd. I can recite the names of my Black fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade teachers. But the name of my White third-grade teacher is lost in my memory like the names of so many racist White people over the years who interrupted my peace with their sirens. Forgetting her may have been a coping mechanism. People of color sometimes cope with abuse from individual Whites by hiding those individuals behind the generalized banner of Whiteness. _She acted that way,_ we say, _because she is White._ But generalizing the behavior of racist White individuals to all White people is as perilous as generalizing the individual faults of people of color to entire races. _He acted that way because he is Black. She acted that way because she is Asian._ We often see and remember the race and not the individual. This is racist categorizing, this stuffing of our experiences with individuals into color-marked racial closets. An antiracist treats and remembers individuals as individuals. _She acted that way,_ we should say, _because she is racist._ I know that now, but that knowledge won_t bring back the specific memory of that teacher. My parents do not remember her name, either. All we remember is what she did. My third-grade class was mostly made up of Black kids, with a handful of Asian and Latinx kids. Three White kids_two girls and a boy_kept to themselves and sat toward the front of the class. I sat toward the back near the door, where I could see everything. I could see when the White teacher overlooked raised non-White hands and called on White hands. I could see her punish non-White students for something she didn_t punish White students for doing. This was not a problem specific to my school or my childhood_it_s a problem that cuts from private to public schools and through time. During the 2013_14 academic year, Black students were four times more likely than White students to be suspended from public schools, according to Department of Education data. Back in my third-grade class, the unfair punishments and overlooking did not seem to bother the other Black students, so I did not let them bother me. But one day, before Christmas break in 1990, it became unavoidable. A tiny and quiet girl_tinier and quieter than me_sat on the other side of the back of the room. The teacher asked a question and I saw her slowly raise her dark-skinned hand, which was a rare occurrence. Her shyness, or something else, generally kept her mouth closed and arm down. But something roused her today. I smiled as I saw her small hand rising for the teacher_s attention. The teacher looked at her, looked away, and instead called on a White hand as soon as it was raised. As the Black girl_s arm came down, I could see her head going down. As I saw her head going down, I could see her spirits going down. I turned and looked up at the teacher, who, of course, was not looking at me. She was too busy engaging a favored White child to notice what was happening in the back row_neither my fury nor the sadness of the girl registered for her. Scholars call what I saw a _microaggression,_ a term coined by eminent Harvard psychiatrist Chester Pierce in 1970. Pierce employed the term to describe the constant verbal and nonverbal abuse racist White people unleash on Black people wherever we go, day after day. A White woman grabs her purse when a Black person sits next to her. The seat next to a Black person stays empty on a crowded bus. A White woman calls the cops at the sight of Black people barbecuing in the park. White people telling us that our firmness is anger or that our practiced talents are natural. Mistaking us for the only other Black person around. Calling the cops on our children for selling lemonade on the street. Butchering Ebonics for sport. Assuming we are the help. Assuming the help isn_t brilliant. Asking us questions about the entire Black race. Not giving us the benefit of the doubt. Calling the cops on us for running down the street. As an African American, Pierce suffered from and witnessed this sort of everyday abuse. He identified these individual abuses as microaggressions to distinguish from the macroaggressions of racist violence and policies. Since 1970, the concept of microaggressions has expanded to apply to interpersonal abuses against all marginalized groups, not just Black people. In the last decade, the term has become popular in social-justice spaces through the defining work of psychologist Derald Wing Sue. He defines microaggressions as _brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership._ I don_t think it_s coincidental that the term _microaggression_ emerged in popularity during the so-called post-racial era that some people assumed we_d entered with the election of the first Black president. The word _racism_ went out of fashion in the liberal haze of racial progress_Obama_s political brand_and conservatives started to treat racism as the equivalent to the N-word, a vicious pejorative rather than a descriptive term. With the word itself becoming radioactive to some, pass? to others, some well-meaning Americans started consciously and perhaps unconsciously looking for other terms to identify racism. _Microaggression_ became part of a whole vocabulary of old and new words_like _cultural wars_ and _stereotype_ and _implicit bias_ and _economic anxiety_ and _tribalism__that made it easier to talk about or around the R-word. I do not use _microaggression_ anymore. I detest the post-racial platform that supported its sudden popularity. I detest its component parts__micro_ and _aggression._ A persistent daily low hum of racist abuse is not minor. I use the term _abuse_ because aggression is not as exacting a term. Abuse accurately describes the action and its effects on people: distress, anger, worry, depression, anxiety, pain, fatigue, and suicide. What other people call racial microaggressions I call racist abuse. And I call the zero-tolerance policies preventing and punishing these abusers what they are: antiracist. Only racists shy away from the R-word_racism is steeped in denial. _ BACK IN THE classroom, I needed some time to think about the racist abuse I saw. I watched my dejected classmate with her head down when we all began the walk through the long hall that led to the adjoining chapel, where we were to have our weekly service. Her sadness did not seem to let up. My fury did not, either. The chapel had a postmodern design but was simple inside: a small pulpit and dozens of rows of brown pews, with a cross looming over it all from the back wall. When the morning service ended, the teacher began motioning my classmates out. I didn_t move. I sat at the edge of the pew and stared at the teacher as she approached. _Ibram, time to go,_ she said pleasantly. _I_m not going anywhere!_ I faintly replied, and looked straight ahead at the cross. _What?_ I looked up at her, eyes wide and burning: _I_m not going anywhere!_ _No! You need to leave, right now._ Looking back, I wonder, if I had been one of her White kids would she have asked me: _What_s wrong?_ Would she have wondered if I was hurting? I wonder. I wonder if her racist ideas chalked up my resistance to my Blackness and therefore categorized it as misbehavior, not distress. With racist teachers, misbehaving kids of color do not receive inquiry and empathy and legitimacy. We receive orders and punishments and _no excuses,_ as if we are adults. The Black child is ill-treated like an adult, and the Black adult is ill-treated like a child. My classmates were nearly out of the chapel. An observant handful stopped near the door, gazing and speculating. Irate and perplexed at this disruption, the teacher tried again to command me. She failed again. She grabbed my shoulder. _Don_t touch me!_ I yelled. _I_m calling the principal,_ she said, turning toward the exit. _I don_t care! Call her! Call her right now,_ I shouted, looking straight ahead as she walked away behind me. I felt a single tear falling from each eye. It was chapel-quiet now. I wiped my eyes. I started rehearsing what I was going to tell the principal. When she came, she offered more commands that she thought could move me. She learned her lesson like her predecessor. I was not going to move until I recited my first dissertation on racism, until I had a chance to defend our Blackness. _ OUR BLACKNESS. I am Black. I looked at the girl_s dark skin and saw my skin color. Saw her kinky hair, split down the middle in cornrows held by barrettes, and saw my kinky hair, my small Afro. Saw her broad nose and saw my nose. Saw her thicker lips and saw my lips. Heard her talk and heard the way I talk. I did not see a mirage. We were the same. Those three favored White kids_they were different to my eight-year-old racial understanding. Their whiter skin color, straighter hair, skinnier noses and lips, their different way of speaking, even the way they wore their uniforms_all marked a different species to me. The difference was not skin deep. No one taught me that these differences were meaningless to our underlying humanity_the essence of biological antiracism. Adults had in so many ways taught me that these superficial differences signified different forms of humanity_the essence of biological racism. Biological racists are segregationists. Biological racism rests on two ideas: that the races are meaningfully different in their biology and that these differences create a hierarchy of value. I grew up believing the first idea of biological racial difference. I grew up disbelieving the second idea of biological racial hierarchy, which conflicted with the biblical creation story I_d learned through religious study, in which all humans descend from Adam and Eve. It also conflicted with the secular creed I_d been taught, the American creation story that _all men are created equal._ My acceptance of biological racial distinction and rejection of biological racial hierarchy was like accepting water and rejecting its wetness. But that is precisely what I learned to do, what so many of us have learned to do in our dueling racial consciousness. Biological racial difference is one of those widely held racist beliefs that few people realize they hold_nor do they realize that those beliefs are rooted in racist ideas. I grew up hearing about how Black people had _more natural physical ability,_ as half of respondents replied in a 1991 survey. How _Black blood_ differed from _White blood._ How _one drop of Negro blood makes a Negro_ and _puts out the light of intellect,_ as wrote Thomas Dixon in The Leopard_s Spots (1902). How Black people have natural gifts of improvisation. How _if blacks have certain inherited abilities, such as improvisational decision making, that could explain why they predominate in certain fields such as jazz, rap, and basketball, and not in other fields, such as classical music, chess, and astronomy,_ suggested Dinesh D_Souza in his 1995 book with the laughably dishonest title The End of Racism. How Black women had naturally large buttocks and Black men had naturally large penises. How the _increase of rape of white women_ stems from the _large size of the negro_s penis_ and their _birthright_ of _sexual madness and excess,_ as a doctor wrote in a 1903 issue of Medicine. How Black people are biologically distinct because of slavery. At the 1988 American Heart Association conference, a Black hypertension researcher said African Americans had higher hypertension rates because only those able to retain high levels of salt survived consuming the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean during the Middle Passage. _I_ve bounced this off a number of colleagues and_it seems certainly plausible,_ Clarence Grim told swooning reporters. Plausibility became proof, and the slavery/hypertension thesis received the red carpet in the cardiovascular community in the 1990s. Grim did not arrive at the thesis in his research lab. It came to him as he read Roots by Alex Haley. Who needs scientific proof when a biological racial distinction can be imagined by reading fiction? By reading the Bible? _ THE SAME BIBLE that taught me that all humans descended from the first pair also argued for immutable human difference, the result of a divine curse. _The people who were scattered over the earth came from Noah_s three sons,_ according to the story of the biblical Great Flood in the ninth chapter of Genesis. Noah planted a vineyard, drank some of its wine, and fell asleep, naked and drunk, in his tent. Ham saw his father_s nakedness and alerted his brothers. Shem and Japheth refused to look at Noah_s nakedness, walked backward into his tent, and covered him. When Noah awoke, he learned that Ham, the father of Canaan, had viewed him in all his nakedness. _May a curse be put on Canaan,_ Noah raged. _May Canaan be the slave of Shem._ Who are the cursed descendants of Canaan? In 1578, English travel writer George Best provided an answer that, not coincidentally, justified expanding European enslavement of African people. God willed that Ham_s son and _all his posteritie after him should be so blacke and loathsome,_ Best writes, _that it might remain a spectacle of disobedience to all the worlde._ Racist power at once made biological racial distinction and biological racial hierarchy the components of biological racism. This curse theory lived prominently on the justifying lips of slaveholders until Black chattel slavery died in Christian countries in the nineteenth century. Proof did not matter when biological racial difference could be created by misreading the Bible. But science can also be misread. After Christopher Columbus discovered a people unmentioned in the Bible, speculations arose about Native Americans and soon about Africans descending from _a different Adam._ But Christian Europe regarded polygenesis_the theory that the races are separate species with distinct creations_as heresy. When Isaac La Peyr?re released Men Before Adam in 1655, Parisian authorities threw him in prison and burned his books. But powerful slaveholders in places like Barbados _preferred_ the proslavery belief that there existed a _race of Men, not derivable from Adam_ over _the Curse of Ham._ Polygenesis became a source of intellectual debate throughout the Age of Enlightenment. The debate climaxed in the 1770s, during the first transatlantic antislavery movement. In 1776, Thomas Jefferson came down on the side of monogenesis. But over the next few decades, polygenesis came to rule racial thought in the United States through scholars like Samuel Morton and Louis Agassiz, prompting biologist Charles Darwin to write in the opening pages of The Origin of Species in 1859, _The view which most naturalists entertain, and which I formerly entertained_namely, that each species has been independently created_is erroneous._ He offered a theory of natural selection that was soon used as another method to biologically distinguish and rank the races. The naturally selected White race was winning the struggle, was evolving, was headed toward perfection, according to social Darwinists. The only three outcomes available for the _weaker_ races were extinction, slavery, or assimilation, explained the social Darwinist who founded American sociology. _Many fear the first possibility for the Indians,_ Albion Small co-wrote in 1894; _the second fate is often predicted for the negroes; while the third is anticipated for the Chinese and other Eastern peoples._ The transatlantic eugenics movement, powered by Darwin_s half cousin Francis Galton, aimed to speed up natural selection with policies encouraging reproduction among those with superior genes and re-enslaving or killing their genetic inferiors. Global outrage after the genocidal eugenics-driven policies of Nazi Germany in the mid-twentieth century led to the marginalization of biological racism within academic thought for the first time in four hundred years. Biological racism_curse theory, polygenesis, and eugenics_had held strong for that long. And yet marginalization in academic thought did not mean marginalization in common thought, including the kind of common thinking that surrounded me as a child. _ SCIENTISTS AND APPLAUSE accompanied the president of the United States as he walked into the East Room of the White House on June 26, 2000. Bill Clinton took his position behind a podium in the middle of two screens featuring this headline: DECODING THE BOOK OF LIFE / A MILESTONE FOR HUMANITY. Geneticists had started decoding the book of life in 1990, the same year I identified myself in that book as Black. After thanking politicians and scientists from around the world, Clinton harkened back two hundred years, to the day Thomas Jefferson _spread out a magnificent map_ of the continental United States _in this room, on this floor._ _Today, the world is joining us here in the East Room to behold a map of even greater significance,_ Clinton announced. _We are here to celebrate the completion of the first survey of the entire human genome. Without a doubt, this is the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by humankind._ When scientists finished drawing the map of _our miraculous genetic code,_ when they stepped back and looked at the map, one of the _great truths_ they saw was _that in genetic terms, all human beings, regardless of race, are more than 99.9 percent the same,_ Clinton declared. _What that means is that modern science has confirmed what we first learned from ancient faiths. The most important fact of life on this Earth is our common humanity._ No one told me the defining investigation in modern human history was unfolding behind the racial wars of the 1990s. It was arguably one of the most important scientific announcements ever made by a sitting head of state_perhaps as important to humans as landing on the moon_but the news of our fundamental equality was quickly overtaken by more-familiar arguments. _Scientists planning the next phase of the human genome project are being forced to confront a treacherous issue: the genetic differences between human races,_ science writer Nicholas Wade reported in The New York Times not long after Clinton_s announcement. In his 2014 bestseller, A Troublesome Inheritance, Wade made the case that _there is a genetic component to human social behavior._ This connecting of biology to behavior is the cradle of biological racism_it leads to biological ranking of the races and the supposition that the biology of certain races yields superior behavioral traits, like intelligence. But there is no such thing as racial ancestry. Ethnic ancestry does exist. Camara Jones, a prominent medical researcher of health disparities, explained it this way to bioethics scholar Dorothy Roberts: _People are born with ancestry that comes from their parents but are assigned a race._ People from the same ethnic groups that are native to certain geographic regions typically share the same genetic profile. Geneticists call them _populations._ When geneticists compare these ethnic populations, they find there is more genetic diversity between populations within Africa than between Africa and the rest of the world. Ethnic groups in Western Africa are more genetically similar to ethnic groups in Western Europe than to ethnic groups in Eastern Africa. Race is a genetic mirage. Segregationists like Nicholas Wade figure if humans are 99.9 percent genetically alike, then they must be 0.1 percent distinct. And this distinction must be racial. And that 0.1 percent of racial distinction has grown exponentially over the millennia. And it is their job to search heaven and earth for these exponentially distinct races. Assimilationists have accepted a different job, which has been in the works for decades. _What should we be teaching inside our churches and beyond their four walls?_ Christian fundamentalist Ken Ham, the co-author of One Race One Blood, asked in an op-ed in 2017. _For one, point out the common ground of both evolutionists and creationists: the mapping of the human genome concluded that there is only one race, the human race._ Singular-race makers push for the end of categorizing and identifying by race. They wag their fingers at people like me identifying as Black_but the unfortunate truth is that their well-meaning post-racial strategy makes no sense in our racist world. Race is a mirage but one that humanity has organized itself around in very real ways. Imagining away the existence of races in a racist world is as conserving and harmful as imagining away classes in a capitalistic world_it allows the ruling races and classes to keep on ruling. Assimilationists believe in the post-racial myth that talking about race constitutes racism, or that if we stop identifying by race, then racism will miraculously go away. They fail to realize that if we stop using racial categories, then we will not be able to identify racial inequity. If we cannot identify racial inequity, then we will not be able to identify racist policies. If we cannot identify racist policies, then we cannot challenge racist policies. If we cannot challenge racist policies, then racist power_s final solution will be achieved: a world of inequity none of us can see, let alone resist. Terminating racial categories is potentially the last, not the first, step in the antiracist struggle. The segregationist sees six biologically distinct races. The assimilationist sees one biological human race. But there is another way of looking, through the lens of biological antiracism. To be antiracist is to recognize the reality of biological equality, that skin color is as meaningless to our underlying humanity as the clothes we wear over that skin. To be antiracist is to recognize there is no such thing as White blood or Black diseases or natural Latinx athleticism. To be antiracist is to also recognize the living, breathing reality of this racial mirage, which makes our skin colors more meaningful than our individuality. To be antiracist is to focus on ending the racism that shapes the mirages, not to ignore the mirages that shape peoples_ lives. _ THE PRINCIPAL FINALLY sat down next to me. Maybe she suddenly saw me not as the misbehaving Black boy but as a boy, a student under her care, with a problem. Maybe not. In any case, I was allowed to speak. I defended my dissertation. I did not use terms like _racist abuse_ and _racist ideas._ I used terms like _fair_ and _unfair,_ _sad_ and _happy._ She listened and surprised me with questions. My one-boy sit-in ended after she heard me out and agreed to talk to that teacher. I expected to be punished when the principal summoned Ma that afternoon. After describing what happened, the principal told her my behavior was prohibited at the school. Ma did not say it would never happen again, as the principal expected. Ma told her she would have to speak to me. _If you are going to protest, then you_re going to have to deal with the consequences,_ Ma said that night, as she would on future nights after my demonstrations. _Okay,_ I replied. But no consequences came this time. And the teacher eased up on the non-White students. Third grade ended it. My parents took me out of that school. One year was enough. They looked for a Christian private school that better validated my racial identity. They found the Black teaching staff at St. Joseph_s Parish Day School, an Episcopalian school closer to our home in Queens Village, where I attended fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. For seventh grade and the yearlong comedy show that kept my eighth-grade classroom filled with laughs and hurt feelings, I transferred to a private Lutheran school around the corner from St. Joseph_s. Almost all my Black eighth-grade classmates were jokesters. Almost everyone got joked on for something. But one joke stung more than others. ETHNICITY ETHNIC RACISM: A powerful collection of racist policies that lead to inequity between racialized ethnic groups and are substantiated by racist ideas about racialized ethnic groups. ETHNIC ANTIRACISM: A powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to equity between racialized ethnic groups and are substantiated by antiracist ideas about racialized ethnic groups. W E DISSED SPEEDO because he was so uptight. We rode camel jokes on another boy for the divot on the top of his head. We pointed mercilessly at one girl_s skyscrapers for legs. _You expecting?_ we kept asking the obese boy. _We know you expecting,_ we kept saying to the obese girl. They renamed me Bonk, after the video-game character whose only weapon was his insanely large head, which made a rhythmic _Bonk. Bonk. Bonk_ as he attacked his enemies. I dished out as many jokes as anyone_the eight-year-old third-grade dissident had turned into a popular teenager with a penchant for cruel jokes. Maybe my empathetic sensibilities would have been rekindled if I_d gotten on the bus and Million Man_marched in Washington, D.C., that fall of 1995. But my father, caring for his ailing sibling, did not take us. None of us attended that fall_s other big event, either: the O. J. Simpson trial in Los Angeles. Two weeks before the Million Man March, I sat in my eighth-grade classroom, waiting patiently with my Black classmates, listening to the radio. When _not guilty_ sliced the silence like a cleaver, we leapt from behind our desks, shouting, hugging each other, wanting to call our friends and parents to celebrate. (Too bad we didn_t have cellphones.) Over in Manhattan, my father assembled with his accounting co-workers in a stuffed, stiff, and silent conference room to watch the verdict on television. After the not-guilty verdict was read, my father and his Black co-workers migrated out of the room with grins under their frowns, leaving their baffled White co-workers behind. Back in my classroom, amid the hugging happiness, I glanced over at my White eighth-grade teacher. Her red face shook as she held back tears, maybe feeling that same overwhelming sensation of hopelessness and discouragement that Black people feel all too many times. I smiled at her_I didn_t really care. I wanted O.J. to run free. I had been listening to what the Black adults around me had been lecturing about for months in 1995. They did not think O.J. was innocent of murder any more than they thought he was innocent of selling out his people. But they knew the criminal-justice system was guilty, too. Guilty for freeing the White cops who beat Rodney King in 1991 and the Korean storekeeper who killed fifteen-year-old Latasha Harlins that same year after falsely accusing her of stealing orange juice. But the O.J. verdict didn_t stop justice from miscarrying when it came to Black bodies_all kinds of Black bodies. New Yorkers saw it two years later, when NYPD officers inside a Brooklyn police station rammed a wooden stick up the rectum of a thirty-year-old Haitian immigrant named Abner Louima, after viciously beating him on the ride to the station. And two years after that, the justice system freed another group of NYPD officers who_d blasted forty-one bullets at the body of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed twenty-three-year-old immigrant from Guinea. It did not matter if Black people breathed first in the United States or abroad. In the end, racist violence did not differentiate. But back in my eighth-grade class, my fellow African Americans did differentiate. Kwame probably bore the nastiest beating of jokes. He was popular, funny, good-looking, athletic, and cool_yet his Ghanaian ethnicity trumped all. We relentlessly joked on Kwame like he was Akeem, from the kingdom of Zamunda, and we were Darryl, Lisa_s obnoxious boyfriend, in the 1988 romantic comedy Coming to America. After all, we lived in Queens, where Akeem came in search of a wife and fell for Lisa in the movie. In Coming to America, Darryl, Lisa, Akeem, and Patrice (Lisa_s sister) are sitting in the stands, watching a basketball game. _Wearing clothes must be a new experience for you,_ Darryl quips with a glance at Akeem. An annoyed Lisa, sitting between the two men, changes the subject. Darryl brings it back. _What kind of games do y_all play in Africa? Chase the monkey?_ Darryl grins. African Americans in the audience were expected to grin with Darryl and laugh at Akeem. Back in our classrooms, we paraphrased Darryl_s jokes about barbaric and animalistic Africans to the Kwames in our midst. These were racist jokes whose point of origin_the slave trade_was no laughing matter. When Black people make jokes that dehumanize other branches of the African diaspora, we allow that horror story to live again in our laughs. Ethnic racism is the resurrected script of the slave trader. The origins of ethnic racism can be found in the slave trade_s supply-and-demand market for human products. Different enslavers preferred different ethnic groups in Africa, believing they made better slaves. And the better slaves were considered the better Africans. Some French planters thought of the Congolese as _magnificent blacks_ since they were _born to serve._ Other French planters joined with Spanish planters and considered captives from Senegambia _the best slaves._ But most planters in the Americas considered the ethnic groups from the Gold Coast_modern-day Ghana_to be _the best and most faithful of our slaves,_ as relayed by one of Antigua_s wealthiest planters and governors, Christopher Codrington. Planters and slave traders least valued Angolans, considering them the worst slaves, the lowest step on the ladder of ethnic racism, just above animals. In the 1740s, captives from the Gold Coast were sold for nearly twice as much as captives from Angola. Maybe Angolans_ low value was based on their oversupply: Angolans were traded more than any other African ethnic group. The twenty or so captives hauled into Jamestown, Virginia, in August 1619, beginning African American history, were Angolan. Planters had no problem devising explanations for their ethnic racism. _The Negroes from the Gold Coast, Popa, and Whydah,_ wrote one Frenchman, _are born in a part of Africa which is very barren._ As a result, _they are obliged to go and cultivate the land for their subsistence_ and _have become used to hard labor from their infancy,_ he wrote. _On the other hand_Angola Negroes are brought from those parts of Africa_where everything grows almost spontaneously._ And so _the men never work but live an indolent life and are in general of a lazy disposition and tender constitution._ My friends and I may have been following an old script when it came to ethnic racism, but our motivations weren_t the same as those old planters_. Under our laughs at Kwame and Akeem was probably some anger at continental Africans. _African chiefs were the ones waging war on each other and capturing their own people and selling them,_ President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda told a 1998 crowd that included President Bill Clinton, taking a page out of African American memory of the slave trade. I still remember an argument I had with some friends in college years later_they told me to leave them alone with my _Africa shit._ Those _African motherfuckers sold us down the river,_ they said. They sold their _own people._ The idea that _African chiefs_ sold their _own people_ is an anachronistic memory, overlaying our present ideas about race onto an ethnic past. When European intellectuals created race between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, lumping diverse ethnic groups into monolithic races, it didn_t necessarily change the way the people saw themselves. Africa_s residents in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries didn_t look at the various ethnic groups around them and suddenly see them all as one people, as the same race, as African or Black. Africans involved in the slave trade did not believe they were selling their own people_they were usually selling people as different to them as the Europeans waiting on the coast. Ordinary people in West Africa_like ordinary people in Western Europe_identified themselves in ethnic terms during the life of the slave trade. It took a long time, perhaps until the twentieth century, for race making to cast its pall over the entire globe. _ THROUGHOUT THE 1990S, the number of immigrants of color in the United States grew, due to the combined effects of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the Refugee Act of 1980, and the Immigration Act of 1990. Taken together, these bills encouraged family reunification, immigration from conflict areas, and a diversity visa program that spiked immigration from countries outside Europe. Between 1980 and 2000, the Latinx immigrant population ballooned from 4.2 million to 14.1 million. As of 2015, Black immigrants accounted for 8.7 percent of the nation_s Black population, nearly triple their share in 1980. As an early-eighties baby, I witnessed this upsurge of immigrants of color firsthand. While some African Americans were wary of this immigrant influx from the Black world, my parents were not. A Haitian couple with three boys lived across the street from us, and I befriended the youngest boy, Gil, and his cousin Cliff. I spent many days over there eating rice and peas, fried plantains, and chicken dishes with names I couldn_t pronounce. I learned a little Haitian Creole. Gil_s father pastored a Haitian church in Flatbush, Brooklyn, the heart of New York_s West Indian community. I often joined them for church, taking in large helpings of Haitian American culture along with the day_s sermon. Gil and Cliff held me close, but Gil_s parents did not. They were nice and accommodating, but there was always a distance between us. I never felt part of the family, despite how many times I ate at their dinner table. Maybe they kept me at arm_s length because I was African American, at a time when Haitian immigrants were feeling the sting of African American bigotry. Maybe not. Maybe I am making something out of nothing. But that same feeling recurred in other encounters. West Indian immigrants tend to categorize African Americans as _lazy, unambitious, uneducated, unfriendly, welfare-dependent, and lacking in family values,_ Mary C. Waters found in her 1999 interview-rich study of West Indian attitudes. African Americans tended to categorize West Indians as _selfish, lacking in race awareness, being lackeys of whites, and [having] a sense of inflated superiority._ I grew up with different kinds of Black people all around me_I never knew anything else. But being surrounded by Black immigrants was new for my parents_ and grandparents_ generations. The loosening immigration laws of the 1960s through 1990s were designed to undo a previous generation of immigration laws that limited non-White immigration to the United States. The 1882 Chinese Restriction Act was extended to an even broader act, encompassing a larger _Asiatic Barred Zone,_ in 1917. The 1921 Emergency Quota Act and the Immigration Act of 1924 severely restricted the immigration of people from Africa and Eastern and Southern Europe and practically banned the immigration of Asians until 1965. _America must be kept American,_ President Calvin Coolidge said when he signed the 1924 law. Of course, by then _American_ included millions of Negro, Asian, Native, Middle Eastern, and Latinx peoples (who would, at least in the case of Mexican Americans, be forcibly repatriated to Mexico by the hundreds of thousands). But Coolidge and congressional supporters determined that only immigrants from northeastern Europe_Scandinavia, the British Isles, Germany_could keep America American, meaning White. The United States _was a mighty land settled by northern Europeans from the United Kingdom, the Norsemen, and the Saxon,_ proclaimed Maine representative Ira Hersey, to applause, during debate over the Immigration Act of 1924. Nearly a century later, U.S. senator Jeff Sessions lamented the growth of the non-native-born population. _When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy. And it slowed down significantly,_ he told Breitbart_s Steve Bannon in 2015. _We then assimilated through to 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America with assimilated immigrants. And it was good for America._ A year later, as attorney general, Sessions began carrying out the Trump administration_s anti-Latinx, anti-Arab, and anti-Black immigrant policies geared toward making America White again. _We should have more people from places like Norway,_ Trump told lawmakers in 2018. There were already enough people of color like me, apparently. _ THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION_S throwback to early-twentieth-century immigration policies_built on racist ideas of what constitutes an American_were meant to roll back the years of immigration that saw America dramatically diversify, including a new diversity within its Black population, which now included Africans and West Indians in addition to the descendants of American slaves. But regardless of where they came from, they were all racialized as Black. The fact is, all ethnic groups, once they fall under the gaze and power of race makers, become racialized. I am a descendant of American slaves. My ethnic group is African American. My race, as an African American, is Black. Kenyans are racialized as a Black ethnic group, while Italians are White, Japanese are Asian, Syrians are Middle Eastern, Puerto Ricans are Latinx, and Choctaws are Native American. The racializing serves the core mandate of race: to create hierarchies of value. Across history, racist power has produced racist ideas about the racialized ethnic groups in its colonial sphere and ranked them_across the globe and within their own nations. The history of the United States offers a parade of intra-racial ethnic power relationships: Anglo-Saxons discriminating against Irish Catholics and Jews; Cuban immigrants being privileged over Mexican immigrants; the model-minority construction that includes East Asians and excludes Muslims from South Asia. It_s a history that began with early European colonizers referring to the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole as the _Five Civilized Tribes_ of Native Americans, as compared to other _wild_ tribes. This ranking of racialized ethnic groups within the ranking of the races creates a racial-ethnic hierarchy, a ladder of ethnic racism within the larger schema of racism. We practice ethnic racism when we express a racist idea about an ethnic group or support a racist policy toward an ethnic group. Ethnic racism, like racism itself, points to group behavior, instead of policies, as the cause of disparities between groups. When Ghanaian immigrants to the United States join with White Americans and say African Americans are lazy, they are recycling the racist ideas of White Americans about African Americans. This is ethnic racism. The face of ethnic racism bares itself in the form of a persistent question: _Where are you from?_ I am often asked this question by people who see me through the lens of ethnic racism. Their ethnic racism presumes I_a college professor and published writer_cannot be a so-called lowly, lazy, lackluster African American. _I am from Queens, New York,_ I respond. _No, no, where are you really from?_ _I am really from New York._ Frustrated, the person slightly alters the line of inquiry. _Where are your parents from?_ When I say, _My dad_s family is from New York, and my ma_s family is from Georgia,_ the questioner freezes up in confusion. When I add, _I am a descendant of enslaved Africans in the United States,_ the questions cease. They finally have to resign themselves to the fact that I am an African American. Perhaps the next move is for the person to look at me as extraordinary_not like those ordinary inferior African Americans_so they can leave quietly, their ethnic-racist lens intact. But sometimes they do not leave quietly. Sometimes they take the opportunity to lecture down at my ethnic group, like a bold Ghanaian student early in my professorial career in upstate New York. He delivered a monologue to a classroom full of African Americans that touched on everything from our laziness to our dependence on welfare. I offered data that disproved his ethnic racism_e.g., the facts that the majority of Americans on welfare are not African American and the majority of African Americans eligible for welfare refuse it. But he held tightly to his ethnic racism and spoke on as the snickering of the African American students slowly turned to anger (while many of the children of Black immigrants remained quiet). To calm my African American students, I recited the ethnically racist ideas African Americans express about West Africans, to show them that the absurdity of ethnic racism is universal. It backfired. They all started nodding their heads to the litany of stereotypes about African immigrants. To be antiracist is to view national and transnational ethnic groups as equal in all their differences. To be antiracist is to challenge the racist policies that plague racialized ethnic groups across the world. To be antiracist is to view the inequities between all racialized ethnic groups as a problem of policy. The Ghanaian student confronted me after class as I packed up (and as some of his African American classmates glared sharply at him while leaving the room). When he finished his second monologue to me, I asked if he minded answering some questions. He agreed to. I really just wanted to keep him talking to me for a while longer, in case there were any angry students still waiting for him outside the classroom. Fights_or worse_were occasionally erupting between Black ethnic groups in New York, just as they had a century prior between White ethnic groups. _What are some of the racist ideas the British say about Ghanaians?_ I asked. He offered a blank stare before blurting out, _I don_t know._ _Yes, you do. Tell me some. It_s okay._ He was silent for a moment and then started speaking again, now much more slowly and nervously than in his earlier rants, seemingly wondering where this was going. When he finished listing racist ideas, I spoke again. _Now, are those ideas true?_ I asked. _Are the British superior to Ghanaians?_ _No!_ he said proudly. I was proud, too, that he had not internalized these racist ideas about his own racialized ethnic group. _When African Americans repeat British racist ideas about Ghanaians, do you defend your people?_ _Yes. Because they are not true!_ _So these ideas about African Americans: Who did you get these ideas from?_ He thought. _My family, my friends, and my observations,_ he said. _Who do you think your fellow Ghanaian Americans got these ideas about African Americans from?_ He thought much longer this time. From the side of his eye he saw another student waiting to speak to me, which seemed to rush his thoughts_he was a polite kid in spite of his urge to lecture. But I did not rush him. The other student was Jamaican and listening intently, maybe thinking about who Jamaicans got their ideas about Haitians from. _Probably American Whites,_ he said, looking me straight in the eye for the first time. His mind seemed open, so I jumped on in. _So if African Americans went to Ghana, consumed British racist ideas about Ghanaians, and started expressing those ideas to Ghanaians, what would Ghanaians think about that? What would you think about that?_ He smiled, surprising me. _I got it,_ he said, turning to walk out of the classroom. _Are you sure?_ I said, raising my voice over the Jamaican student_s head. He turned back to me. _Yes, sir. Thanks, Prof._ I respected him for his willingness to reflect on his own hypocrisy. And I didn_t want to overreact when he trashed African Americans, because I knew where he was coming from: I had been there myself. When I learned the history of ethnic racism, of African Americans commonly degrading Africans as _barbaric_ or routinely calling West Indians in 1920s Harlem _monkey chasers__or when I remembered my own taunts of Kwame back in eighth grade_I tried not to run away from the hypocrisy, either. How can I get upset at immigrants from Africa and South America for looking down on African Americans when African Americans have historically looked down on immigrants from Africa and South America? How can I critique their ethnic racism and ignore my ethnic racism? That is the central double standard in ethnic racism: loving one_s position on the ladder above other ethnic groups and hating one_s position below that of other ethnic groups. It is angrily trashing the racist ideas about one_s own group but happily consuming the racist ideas about other ethnic groups. It is failing to recognize that racist ideas we consume about others came from the same restaurant and the same cook who used the same ingredients to make different degrading dishes for us all. _ WHEN STUDIES STARTED to show that the median family income of African Americans was far lower than that of foreign-born Blacks and that African Americans had higher rates of poverty and unemployment, numerous commentators wondered why Black immigrants do so much better than Blacks born in America. They also answered their own questions: Black immigrants are more motivated, more hardworking, and _more entrepreneurial than native-born blacks,_ wrote one commentator in The Economist in 1996. Their success shows _that racism does not account for all, or even most, of the difficulties encountered by native-born blacks._ Ethnically racist ideas, like all racist ideas, cover up the racist policies wielded against Black natives and immigrants. Whenever Black immigrants compare their economic standing to that of Black natives, whenever they agree that their success stories show that antiracist Americans are overstating racist policies against African Americans, they are tightening the handcuffs of racist policy around their own wrists. Black immigrants_ comparisons with Black natives conceal the racial inequities between Black immigrants and non-Black immigrants. Despite studies showing Black immigrants are, on average, the most educated group of immigrants in the United States, they earn lower wages than similarly trained non-Black immigrants and have the highest unemployment rate of any immigrant group. An ethnic racist asks, Why are Black immigrants doing better than African Americans? An ethnic antiracist asks, Why are Black immigrants not doing as well as other immigrant groups? The reason Black immigrants generally have higher educational levels and economic pictures than African Americans is not that their transnational ethnicities are superior. The reason resides in the circumstances of human migration. Not all individuals migrate, but those who do, in what_s called _immigrant self-selection,_ are typically individuals with an exceptional internal drive for material success and/or they possess exceptional external resources. Generally speaking, individual Black and Latinx and Asian and Middle Eastern and European immigrants are uniquely resilient and resourceful_not because they are Nigerian or Cuban or Japanese or Saudi Arabian or German but because they are immigrants. In fact, immigrants and migrants of all races tend to be more resilient and resourceful when compared with the natives of their own countries and the natives of their new countries. Sociologists call this the _migrant advantage._ As sociologist Suzanne Model explained in her book on West Indian immigrants, _West Indians are not a black success story but an immigrant success story._ As such, policies from those of Calvin Coolidge to Donald Trump_s limiting immigration to the United States from China or Italy or Senegal or Haiti or Mexico have been self-destructive to the country. With ethnic racism, no one wins, except the racist power at the top. As with all racism, that is the entire point. _ THERE WERE NO winners in eighth grade, either. In class, I_d randomly shout, _Ref!_ A friend would scream, _Uuuuuu!_ Another friend would scream, _Geeeeee!_ And the whole class of African Americans would burst out laughing as the three of us pointed at Kwame and chanted, _Ref-u-gee! Ref-u-gee! Ref-u-gee!_ The smirking White teacher would tell us to be quiet. Kwame would break the quietness with defensive jokes. The cycle would repeat, day after day. Kwame never seemed to let the jokes bother him. In that way, he resembled Akeem in Coming to America, a prince so powerful, so sophisticated, so self-assured, that he was able to ignore demeaning jokes like an elite athlete ignoring a hostile crowd. Kwame had a smugness about him that maybe, subconsciously, we were trying to shatter by pulling him down to earth. As scholar Rosemary Traor? found in a study of an urban high school, _African students wondered why their fellow African American brothers and sisters treated them as second-class citizens, while the African Americans wondered why the African students [seemed] to feel or act so superior to them._ The tensions created by ethnic racism didn_t produce any winners, just confusion and hurt on both sides. Don_t get me wrong, Kwame joked back. Kwame and others never let me forget that I had a big-ass head. I never knew why. My head wasn_t that big_maybe a little out of proportion. But a high school growth spurt was coming. BODY BODILY RACIST: One who is perceiving certain racialized bodies as more animal-like and violent than others. BODILY ANTIRACIST: One who is humanizing, deracializing, and individualizing nonviolent and violent behavior. D ONE. FINISHED WEARING uniforms. Through with attending chapel service. The older I became, the more I despised the conformity of private schooling and churching. After eighth grade, I was finally free of them. I enrolled in John Bowne High School, a public school that my Haitian neighbor Gil attended. It was in Flushing, in central Queens, just across the street from Queens College. We bathed in the ambient noise of the nearby Long Island Expressway. In the mid-1950s, public-housing authorities allowed my grandmother to move into the predominantly White Pomonok Houses, due south of John Bowne. Dad went through all of his local elementary schooling in the late 1950s without noticing another Black student, only the kids of working-class White families, who were even then fixing to flee to suburban Long Island. By 1996 they were nearly all gone. After school, John Bowne students jammed into public buses like clothes jammed into a drawer. As my bus made its way toward Southside Queens, it slowly emptied. On this day, I stood near the back door, facing a teenage boy we called Smurf, a nickname he earned from his short, skinny frame, blue-black skin, thick ears, and big round eyes that nearly met in the center of his face. As I stood near him, Smurf reached into his pants and pulled out a black pistol. He stared at it and I stared at it, too. Everyone did. Smurf looked up and pointed the gun_loaded or unloaded?_directly at me. _You scared, yo?_ he asked with almost brotherly warmth, a smirk resting on his face. _ _BLACKS MUST UNDERSTAND and acknowledge the roots of White fear in America,_ President Bill Clinton said in a speech on October 16, 1995, the same day as the Million Man March. He_d escaped the march and the Black men assembling practically on the White House lawn for the campus of the University of Texas. _There is a legitimate fear of the violence that is too prevalent in our urban areas,_ he added. _By experience or at least what people see on the news at night, violence for those White people too often has a Black face._ History tells the same story: Violence for White people really has too often had a Black face_and the consequences have landed on the Black body across the span of American history. In 1631, Captain John Smith warned the first English colonizers of New England that the Black body was as devilish as any people in the world. Boston pastor Cotton Mather preached compliance to slavery in 1696: Do not _make yourself infinitely Blacker than you are already._ Virginia lieutenant-governor Hugh Drysdale spoke of _the Cruel disposition of those Creatures_ who planned a freedom revolt in 1723. Seceding Texas legislators in 1861 complained of not receiving more federal _appropriations for protecting_against ruthless savages._ U.S. senator Benjamin Tillman told his colleagues in 1903, _The poor African has become a fiend, a wild beast, seeking whom he may devour._ Two leading criminologists posited in 1967 that the _large_criminal display of the violence among minority groups such as Negroes_ stems from their _subculture-of-violence._ Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald wrote _The core criminal-justice population is the black underclass_ in The War on Cops in 2016. This is the living legacy of racist power, constructing the Black race biologically and ethnically and presenting the Black body to the world first and foremost as a _beast,_ to use Gomes de Zurara_s term, as violently dangerous, as the dark embodiment of evil. Americans today see the Black body as larger, more threatening, more potentially harmful, and more likely to require force to control than a similarly sized White body, according to researchers. No wonder the Black body had to be lynched by the thousands, deported by the tens of thousands, incarcerated by the millions, segregated by the tens of millions. _ WHEN I FIRST picked up a basketball, at around eight years old, I also picked up on my parents_ fears for my Black body. My parents hated when I played ball at nearby parks, worried I_d get shot, and tried to discourage me by warning me of the dangers waiting for me out there. In their constant fearmongering about Black drug dealers, robbers, killers, they nurtured in me a fear of my own Black neighbors. When I proposed laying concrete in our grassy backyard and putting up a basketball hoop there, my father built a court faster than a house flipper, a nicer one than the courts at nearby parks. But the new basketball court could not keep me away from my own dangerous Black body. Or from Smurf on the bus. _ _NAW, YO,_ I coolly responded to Smurf_s question about my fear. My eyes locked on the gun. _Whatever, man,_ he snickered. _You scared, yo._ Then he jammed the gun in my ribs and offered a hard smile. I looked him straight in the eye, scared as hell. _Naw, yo,_ I said, giggling a little, _but that_s a nice piece, though._ _It is, ain_t it?_ Satisfied, Smurf turned, gun in hand, and looked for somebody else to scare. I exhaled relief but knew I could have been harmed that day, as I could have other days. Especially, I thought, inside John Bowne High School, surrounded by other Black and Latinx and Asian teens. Moving through John Bowne_s hallways, eyes sharper than my pencils, I avoided stepping on new sneakers like they were land mines (though when I did accidentally step on one, nothing exploded). I avoided bumping into people, worried a bump could become a hole in my head (though when I did inevitably bump into someone, my head stayed intact). I avoided making eye contact, as if my classmates were wolves (though when I did, my body did not get attacked). I avoided crews, fearing they would flock at me at any moment (though when I did have to pass through a crew, I didn_t get jumped). What could happen based on my deepest fears mattered more than what did happen to me. I believed violence was stalking me_but in truth I was being stalked inside my own head by racist ideas. Crews ran my high school_like crews run America_and I considered joining the Zulu Nation, awed by its history and reach. Witnessing an initiation changed my mind. The perverse mix of punches and stomps, handshakes and hugs, turned me off. But I did have an informal crew, bound by an ironclad loyalty that required us to fight for each other, should the occasion arise. One day we met another crew on a block near the Long Island Expressway_maybe five of us and fifteen of them, all staring menacingly at each other as we approached. This was new to me, the showdown, the curses flying and landing, the escalating displays of anger. Threats slamming like fists. I was in the mix with the rest of them_but passing drivers glancing over could not see that I was fighting my nervousness more than anything. One threat led to another. No one rushed me, as small and unassuming as I was. I saw big Gil fighting off punches. I wanted to help him, but then I saw a tall, skinny, solitary teen looking around nervously. He reminded me of myself. I crept up behind him and jump-threw a vicious right hook. He went down hard on the pavement and I skittered off. Soon we heard sirens and scattered like ants, fearful of getting smashed by the NYPD. _ WE WERE UNARMED, but we knew that Blackness armed us even though we had no guns. Whiteness disarmed the cops_turned them into fearful potential victims_even when they were approaching a group of clearly outstrapped and anxious high school kids. Black people comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population. And yet, in 2015, Black bodies accounted for at least 26 percent of those killed by police, declining slightly to 24 percent in 2016, 22 percent in 2017, and 21 percent in 2018, according to The Washington Post. Unarmed Black bodies_which apparently look armed to fearful officers_are about twice as likely to be killed as unarmed White bodies. Gil and I ran over the Long Island Expressway overpass and hopped onto a departing bus, feeling lucky, catching our breath. I could have gone to jail, or worse, that day. More than the times I risked jail, I am still haunted by the times I did not help the victims of violence. My refusal to help them jailed me in fear. I was as scared of the Black body as the White body was scared of me. I could not muster the strength to do right. Like that time on another packed bus after school. A small Indian teen_tinier than me!_sat near me at the back of the bus that day. My seat faced the back door, and the Indian teen sat in the single seat right next to the back door. I kept staring at him, trying to catch his eye so I could give him a nod that would direct him to the front of the bus. I saw other Black and Indian kids on the bus trying to do the same with their eyes. We wanted so badly for him to move. But he was fixated on whatever was playing on his fresh new Walkman. His eyes were closed and his head bobbed. Smurf and his boys were on the bus that day, too. For the moment, they were blocked from the Indian teen by the bodies of other kids_they couldn_t see him sitting there. But when the bus cleared enough for them to have a clear lane to him, Smurf, as expected, focused in on the thing we didn_t want him to see. He did not have his pistol that day. Or maybe he did. Smurf motioned to his boys and stood up. He walked a few feet and stood over the Indian teen, his back to me, his head turned to face his boys. _What the fuck!_ He pointed his finger, gun-like, at the seated teen_s head. _Look at this motherfucker!_ _ IN 1993, A bipartisan group of White legislators introduced the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. They were thinking about Smurf_and me. The Congressional Black Caucus was also thinking about Smurf and me. They asked for $2 billion more in the act for drug treatment and $3 billion more for violence-prevention programs. When Republicans called those items _welfare for criminals_ and demanded they be scaled back for their votes, Democratic leaders caved. Twenty-six of the thirty-eight voting members of the Congressional Black Caucus caved, too. After all, the bill reflected their fear for my Black body_and of it. The policy decision reflected their dueling consciousness_and their practical desire to not lose the prevention funding entirely in a rewrite of the bill. On top of its new prisons, capital offenses, minimum sentences, federal three-strike laws, police officers, and police weaponry, the law made me eligible, when I turned thirteen in 1995, to be tried as an adult. _Never again should Washington put politics and party above law and order,_ President Bill Clinton said upon signing the bipartisan, biracial bill on September 13, 1994. _ _YO, NIGGA, RUN that Walkman,_ Smurf said rather gently. The kid did not look up, still captivated by the beat coming from his headphones. Smurf punch-tapped him on the shoulder. _Yo, nigga, run that Walkman,_ he shouted. I wanted to stand up and yell, _Leave that nigga alone. Why you always fucking with people, Smurf? What the fuck is wrong with you?_ But my fear caged me. I remained seated and quiet. The kid finally looked up, startled. _What!_ The shock of Smurf looming over him and the loudness of the music made him raise his voice. I shook my head but without shaking my head. I remained still. _ CLINTON DEMOCRATS THOUGHT they had won the political turf war to own crime as an issue_to war on the Black body for votes. But it took little time for racist Americans to complain that even the most expensive crime bill in human history was not enough to stop the beast, the devil, the gun, Smurf, me. Around Thanksgiving in 1995, Princeton political scientist John J. DiIulio Jr. warned of the _coming of the super-predators,_ especially young bodies like mine in _Black inner-city neighborhoods._ DiIulio later said he regretted using the term. But DiIulio never had to internalize this racist idea and look at his own body in fear. He never had to deal with being hunted. My friends at John Bowne did. I did. In 1996, I turned fourteen. A super-predator was growing in me, in Smurf, they said. I believed what I heard. _Most inner-city children grow up surrounded by teenagers and adults who are themselves deviant, delinquent or criminal,_ DiIulio wrote. Watch out. _A new generation of street criminals is upon us_the youngest, biggest and baddest generation any society has ever known,_ he warned. My band of _juvenile _super-predators_ _ were _radically impulsive, brutally remorseless youngsters, including ever more preteenage boys, who murder, assault, rape, rob, burglarize, deal deadly drugs, join gun-toting gangs and create serious communal disorders._ We, the young Black super-predators, were apparently being raised with an unprecedented inclination toward violence_in a nation that presumably did not raise White slaveholders, lynchers, mass incarcerators, police officers, corporate officials, venture capitalists, financiers, drunk drivers, and war hawks to be violent. This swarm of super-predators never materialized in the late 1990s. Violent crime had already begun its dramatic decline by the time I stared at Smurf demanding that Walkman in 1996. Homicides had dropped to their lowest levels since the Reagan era, when intense crack-market competition and unregulated gun trafficking spiked the rate. But crime bills have never correlated to crime any more than fear has correlated to actual violence. We are not meant to fear suits with policies that kill. We are not meant to fear good White males with AR-15s. No, we are to fear the weary, unarmed Latinx body from Latin America. The Arab body kneeling to Allah is to be feared. The Black body from hell is to be feared. Adept politicians and crime entrepreneurs manufacture the fear and stand before voters to deliver them_messiahs who will liberate them from fear of these other bodies. _ _NIGGA, YOU DIDN_T hear me!_ Smurf fumed. _I said run that fucking Walkman!_ In my mind I tried to devise a strategy for the poor kid, imagining myself in his place. I had a bit of a gift for staying calm and defusing potentially volatile situations, which served me well whether I was dealing with the violently finicky Smurfs of the world or capriciously violent police officers. I learned to disarm or avoid the Smurfs around town_kids bent on mayhem. But I also saw that strangers were doing the same calculations when they saw me coming_I_d see the fear in their eyes. They_d see me and decide they were looking at Smurf. We scared them just the same_all they saw were our dangerous Black bodies. Cops seemed especially fearful. Just as I learned to avoid the Smurfs of the world, I had to learn to keep racist police officers from getting nervous. Black people are apparently responsible for calming the fears of violent cops in the way women are supposedly responsible for calming the sexual desires of male rapists. If we don_t, then we are blamed for our own assaults, our own deaths. But at that point, the kid across from me was out of options_there was probably no way to defuse the situation. _Run that fucking Walkman!_ Smurf yelled, now turning heads at the front of the bus and most likely prompting the bus driver to call the ruckus in. The shocked teen started to stand up, saying nothing, just shaking his head. He probably intended to relocate to the front, near the relative safety of the bus driver. But as soon as he straightened his body, Smurf landed a side haymaker to the kid_s temple_his head bounced into the window and then onto the bus_s floor. Smurf snatched the tumbling Walkman, and then his boys got up to join in. The kid covered his face when the stomps from Timberland boots came pummeling down. It all happened right in front of me. I did nothing. I did nothing. The bus stopped. The back door opened. Smurf and his boys leapt off and ran away, lighthearted, grinning. But I noticed that four-eyes from Smurf_s crew remained on the bus, lurking and looking, seemingly waiting for somebody to help this kid laid out in agony. I did nothing. _ THE RESPONSIBILITY OF keeping myself safe followed me like the stray dogs in my neighborhood, barking fear into my consciousness. I never wanted to arrive home to my parents with empty pockets and no shoes, with a leaking, beaten body like the Indian kid. Or worse, no arrival at all, only a letter from the police reporting my murder, or a phone call from the hospital. I convinced my parents (or so I thought) I was safe. But I did not convince myself. The acts of violence I saw from Smurf and others combined with the racist ideas all around me to convince me that more violence lurked than there actually was. I believed that violence didn_t define just Smurf but all the Black people around me, my school, my neighborhood. I believed it defined me_that I should fear all darkness, up to and including my own Black body. Those of us Black writers who grew up in _inner city_ Black neighborhoods too often recall the violence we experienced more than the nonviolence. We don_t write about all those days we were not faced with guns in our ribs. We don_t retell all those days we did not fight, the days we didn_t watch someone get beaten in front of us. We become exactly like the nightly local-news shows_if it bleeds, it leads_and our stories center on violent Black bodies instead of the overwhelming majority of nonviolent Black bodies. In 1993, near the height of urban violent crime, for every thousand urban residents, seventy-four, or 7.4 percent, reported being victims of violent crime, a percentage that declined further thereafter. In 2016, for every thousand urban residents, about thirty, or 3 percent, reported being victims of violent crimes. These numbers are not precise. Researchers estimate that more than half of violent crimes from 2006 to 2010 went unreported to law enforcement. And even being around violent crime can create adverse effects. But the idea that directly experienced violence is endemic and everywhere, affecting everyone, or even most people_that Black neighborhoods, as a whole, are more dangerous than _war zones,_ to use President Trump_s term_is not reality. It all makes sense that this is the story we so often tell_the fist-swinging and gunshots and early deaths cling to us like a second skin, while the hugs and dances and good times fall away. But the writer_s work reflects, and the reader consumes, those vivid, searing memories, not the everyday lived reality of the Black body. As many moments as I had of anxiety and fear from other Black bodies, I probably lived many more moments in serenity and peace. As much as I feared that violence stalked me, my daily life was not organized around that fear. I played baseball for years with White kids on Long Island and always wondered why they never wanted to visit my neighborhood, my home. When I would ask, the looks of horror on their faces, and even more on their parents_ faces, startled and confused me. I knew there were dangers on my block; I also thought it was safe. I did not connect the whole or even most of Southside Queens with violence, just as I did not connect all or even most of my Black neighbors with violence. Certain people like Smurf, certain blocks, and certain neighborhoods I knew to avoid. But not because they were Black_we were almost all Black. I knew in a vague way that Black neighborhoods with high-rise public housing like 40P (the South Jamaica Houses) or Baisley Park Houses were known to be more violent than neighborhoods like mine, Queens Village, with more single-family homes, but I never really thought about why. But I knew it wasn_t Blackness_Blackness was a constant. A study that used National Longitudinal Survey of Youth data from 1976 to 1989 found that young Black males engaged in more violent crime than young White males. But when the researchers compared only employed young males of both races, the differences in violent behavior vanished. Or, as the Urban Institute stated in a more recent report on long-term unemployment, _Communities with a higher share of long-term unemployed workers also tend to have higher rates of crime and violence._ Another study found that the 2.5 percent decrease in unemployment between 1992 and 1997 resulted in a decrease of 4.3 percent for robbery, 2.5 percent for auto theft, 5 percent for burglary, and 3.7 percent for larceny. Sociologist Karen F. Parker strongly linked the growth of Black-owned businesses to a reduction in Black youth violence between 1990 and 2000. In recent years, the University of Chicago Crime Lab worked with the One Summer Chicago Plus jobs program and found a 43 percent reduction in violent-crime arrests for Black youths who worked eight-week-long part-time summer jobs, compared with a control group of teens who did not. In other words, researchers have found a much stronger and clearer correlation between violent-crime levels and unemployment levels than between violent crime and race. Black neighborhoods do not all have similar levels of violent crime. If the cause of the violent crime is the Black body, if Black people are violent demons, then the violent-crime levels would be relatively the same no matter where Black people live. But Black upper-income and middle-income neighborhoods tend to have less violent crime than Black low-income neighborhoods_as is the case in non-Black communities. But that does not mean low-income Black people are more violent than high-income Black people. That means low-income neighborhoods struggle with unemployment and poverty_and their typical byproduct, violent crime. For decades, there have been three main strategies in reducing violent crime in Black neighborhoods. Segregationists who consider Black neighborhoods to be war zones have called for tough policing and the mass incarceration of super-predators. Assimilationists say these super-predators need tough laws and tough love from mentors and fathers to civilize them back to nonviolence. Antiracists say Black people, like all people, need more higher-paying jobs within their reach, especially Black youngsters, who have consistently had the highest rates of unemployment of any demographic group, topping 50 percent in the mid-1990s. There is no such thing as a dangerous racial group. But there are, of course, dangerous individuals like Smurf. There is the violence of racism_manifest in policy and policing_that fears the Black body. And there is the nonviolence of antiracism that does not fear the Black body, that fears, if anything, the violence of the racism that has been set on the Black body. Perceptions of danger and actual threats met me each day at John Bowne, in various forms. There was the dangerous disinterest of some teachers. Or the school_s dangerous overcrowding: three thousand students packed into a school built for far fewer. The classes were so large_twice as large as in my private schools_that detached students like me were able to hold our own back-of-the-room classes before detached teachers. I do not remember a single teacher or class or lesson or assignment from ninth grade. I was checked out_following the lead of most of the teachers, administrators, and politicians who were ostensibly in charge of my education. I attended John Bowne like someone who clocked in to his job with no intention of working. I only worked hard on my first love. CULTURE CULTURAL RACIST: One who is creating a cultural standard and imposing a cultural hierarchy among racial groups. CULTURAL ANTIRACIST: One who is rejecting cultural standards and equalizing cultural differences among racial groups. M Y DAD DRAGGED me to see the 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams, a film about the perils of two young boys pursuing the exceedingly unlikely possibility of a lucrative NBA career. His intervention failed, like the dreams of the kids in the film. For me, basketball was life. It was a cool early-winter day in 1996 and I sat warm in the locker room after practice, getting dressed and exchanging jokes with my new teammates on John Bowne_s junior-varsity basketball team. Suddenly, our White coach burst into the locker room like something was wrong. We muted the jokes as he looked hopelessly at our dark faces. He leaned against a locker as if a lecture was building up inside him. _You all need to post two Cs and three Ds to remain on the team. Okay? Okay?_ Everyone nodded or stared back, perhaps expecting more. But that was all he had to say. Our jokes resumed again. I had neither loved nor hated middle school. But a few months in high school had changed me. I cannot pinpoint what triggered my hatred of school. My difficulty separating the harassing cop from the harassing teacher? A heightened sensitivity to the glares from teachers who saw my Black body not as a plant to be cultivated but as a weed to be plucked out of their school and thrown into their prison? Freshman year I posted what grades I needed to stay on the basketball team: two Cs and three Ds. Only basketball and parental shame stopped me from dropping out and staying home all day like some other teens. When I climbed onto the crowded public buses after school, I felt like a runaway. Most days, Smurf was nowhere to be found. Stopping and going, the bus headed south, until the last stop_my cultural home away from home. We called the central artery of Southside Queens the Ave, the place where Jamaica Avenue crosses 164th Street. On weekends, I_d walk out of my house, strut a block up 209th Street to Jamaica Avenue, and hail a dollar cab down those three dozen blocks to the Ave. One dollar, one ride, one random driver. Little did I know, similar privately run cheap cars or vans, stuffed with sweating and content and tired and recharged and traumatized Black bodies, were hurrying through neighborhoods all over the Black world. I have since traveled on these fast-moving cultural products in other parts of the world, from Ghana to Jamaica (the island nation, not the Ave). The ride always takes me back to Queens. Nothing compared to arriving at the Ave. A couple dozen city blocks lined with stores, this enormous shopping district was crowded with wide-eyed teens. We never knew what we were going to see_what kicks (sneakers) were going to be on sale; what beef (conflict) was going to be cooking; what guads (boys) and shorties (girls) were going to be rocking (wearing). Excuse my Ebonics_a term coined by psychologist Robert Williams in 1973 to replace racist terms like _Nonstandard Negro English._ I must use the language of the culture to express the culture. Some Americans despised my Ebonics in 1996. In that year the Oakland school board recognized Black people like me as bilingual, and in an act of cultural antiracism recognized _the legitimacy and richness_ of Ebonics as a language. They resolved to use Ebonics with students _to facilitate their acquisition and mastery of English language skills._ The reaction was fierce. Jesse Jackson at first called it _an unacceptable surrender, bordering on disgrace. It_s teaching down to our children._ Was it? It helps to dig back into the origins of Ebonics. Enslaved Africans formulated new languages in nearly every European colony in the Americas, including African American Ebonics, Jamaican Patois, Haitian Creole, Brazilian Calunga, and Cubano. In every one of these countries, racist power_those in control of government, academia, education, and media_has demeaned these African languages as dialects, as _broken_ or _improper_ or _nonstandard_ French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, or English. Assimilationists have always urged Africans in the Americas to forget the _broken_ languages of our ancestors and master the apparently _fixed_ languages of Europeans_to speak _properly._ But what was the difference between Ebonics and so-called _standard_ English? Ebonics had grown from the roots of African languages and modern English just as modern English had grown from Latin, Greek, and Germanic roots. Why is Ebonics broken English but English is not broken German? Why is Ebonics a dialect of English if English is not a dialect of Latin? The idea that Black languages outside Africa are broken is as culturally racist as the idea that languages inside Europe are fixed. _ WHEN THE REACTION to the Nazi Holocaust marginalized biological racism, cultural racism stepped into its place. _In practically all its divergences,_ African American culture _is a distorted development, or a pathological condition, of the general American culture,_ Gunnar Myrdal wrote in An American Dilemma, his 1944 landmark treatise on race relations, which has been called the _bible_ of the civil-rights movement. Myrdal_s scripture standardized the general (White) American culture, then judged African American culture as distorted or pathological from that standard. Whoever makes the cultural standard makes the cultural hierarchy. The act of making a cultural standard and hierarchy is what creates cultural racism. To be antiracist is to reject cultural standards and level cultural difference. Segregationists say racial groups cannot reach their superior cultural standard. Assimilationists say racial groups can, with effort and intention, reach their superior cultural standards. _It is to the advantage of American Negroes as individuals and as a group to become assimilated into American culture_ and _to acquire the traits held in esteem by the dominant white Americans,_ Myrdal suggested. Or, as President Theodore Roosevelt said in 1905, the goal should be to assimilate _the backward race_so it may enter into the possession of true freedom, while the forward race is enabled to preserve unharmed the high civilization wrought out by its forefathers._ Even Alexander Crummell, the stately Episcopalian priest who founded the first formal Black intellectual society in 1897, urged his fellow Black Americans to assimilate. He agreed with those racist Americans who classed Africans as fundamentally imitative. _This quality of imitation has been the grand preservative of the Negro in all the lands of his thraldom,_ Crummell preached in 1877. _ WE CERTAINLY WEREN_T imitating anything on the Ave_to the contrary. The wider culture was avidly imitating and appropriating from us; our music and fashion and language were transforming the so-called mainstream. We did not care if older or richer or Whiter Americans despised our nonstandard dress like our nonstandard Ebonics. We were fresh like they just took the plastic off us, as Jadakiss rapped. Fresh baggy jeans sagging down. Fresh button-down shirts or designer sweatshirts in the winter under our bubble coats. Fresh T_s or sports jerseys in the summer above our baggy jean shorts. Dangling chains shining like our smiles. Piercings and tattoos and bold colors told the mainstream world just how little we wanted to imitate them. Freshness was about not just getting the hottest gear but devising fresh ways to wear it, in the best tradition of fashion: experimentation, elaboration, and impeccable precision. Timberland boots and Nike Air Force 1s were our cars of choice in New York City. It seems as if everyone_girl or boy_had wheat-colored Tims in their closets if they could afford or snatch them. Our black Air Force 1s had to be blacker than the prison populations. Our white Air Force 1s had to be whiter than the NYPD. Had to be as smooth as baby skin. No blemishes. No creases. We kept them black or white through regular touch-ups from paint sticks. We stuffed our shoes at night with paper or socks to ward off creasing in the front. Time to put on the shoes in the morning. Many of us knew the trick to keep the creases away all day. Put on a second sock halfway and fold the other half twice on top of my toes to fill the front of the sneaker. It hurt like those tight Guess jeans around the waists of shorties. But who cared about pain when fresh brought so much joy. Jason Riley, a Wall Street Journal columnist, did not see us or our disciples in the twenty-first century as fresh cultural innovators. _Black culture today not only condones delinquency and thuggery but celebrates it to the point where black youths have adopted jail fashion in the form of baggy, low-slung pants and oversize T-shirts._ But there was a solution. _If blacks can close the civilization gap, the race problem in this country is likely to become insignificant,_ Dinesh D_Souza once reasoned. _Civilization_ is often a polite euphemism for cultural racism. _ I HATED WHAT they called civilization, represented most immediately by school. I loved what they considered dysfunctional_African American culture, which defined my life outside school. My first taste of culture was the Black church. Hearing strangers identify as sister and brother. Listening to sermonic conversations, all those calls from preachers, responses from congregants. Bodies swaying in choirs like branches on a tree, following the winds and twists of a soloist. The Holy Ghost mounting women for wild shouts and basketball sprints up and down aisles. Flying hats covering the new wigs of old ladies who were keeping it fresh for Jee-susss-sa. Funerals livelier than weddings. Watching Ma dust off her African garb and Dad his dashikis for Kwanzaa celebrations livelier than funerals. I loved being in the midst of a culture created by my ancestors, who found ways to re-create the ideas and practices of their ancestors with what was available to them in the Americas, through what psychologist Linda James Myers calls the _outward physical manifestations of culture._ These outward physical manifestations our ancestors encountered included Christianity, the English language, and popular European food, instruments, fashion, and customs. Culturally racist scholars have assumed that since African Americans exhibit outward physical manifestations of European culture, _North American negroes_in culture and language_ are _essentially European,_ to quote anthropologist Franz Boas in 1911. _It is very difficult to find in the South today anything that can be traced directly back to Africa,_ attested sociologist Robert Park in 1919. _Stripped of his cultural heritage,_ the Negro_s reemergence _as a human being was facilitated by his assimilation_ of _white civilization,_ wrote sociologist E. Franklin Frazier in 1939. As such, _the Negro is only an American, and nothing else,_ argued sociologist Nathan Glazer in 1963. _He has no values and culture to guard and protect._ In the final analysis, _we are not Africans,_ Bill Cosby told the NAACP in 2004. It is difficult to find the survival and revival of African cultural forms using our surface-sighted cultural eyes. Those surface-sighted eyes assess a cultural body by its skin. They do not look behind, inside, below. Those surface-sighted eyes have historically looked for traditional African religions, languages, foods, fashion, and customs to appear in the Americas just as they appear in Africa. When they did not find them, they assumed African cultures had been overwhelmed by the _stronger_ European cultures. Surface-sighted people have no sense of what psychologist Wade Nobles calls _the deep structure of culture,_ the philosophies and values that change outward physical forms. It is this _deep structure_ that transforms European Christianity into a new African Christianity, with mounting spirits, calls and responses, and Holy Ghost worship; it changes English into Ebonics, European ingredients into soul food. The cultural African survived in the Americans, created a strong and complex culture with Western _outward_ forms _while retaining inner [African] values,_ anthropologist Melville Herskovits avowed in 1941. The same cultural African breathed life into the African American culture that raised me. _ THE AVE. I just loved being surrounded by all those Black people_or was it all that culture?_moving fast and slow, or just standing still. The Ave had an organic choir, that interplay of blasting tunes from the store to the car trunk, to the teen walking by, practicing her rhymes, to the cipher of rappers on the corners. Gil would freestyle; I would listen and bob my head. The sound of hip-hop was all around us. _Son, they shook / Cause ain_t no such things as halfway crooks / Scared to death, scared to look, they shook._ _Shook Ones_ was the Queens anthem in the mid-nineties from the self-proclaimed _official Queensbridge murderers__Mobb Deep. They promised to get their listeners _stuck off the realness,_ and indeed I was. I despised the teen actors hiding their fear under a tough veneer. They seemed so real to racist cops and outsiders, who could not make distinctions among Black bodies, anyway. But we could tell. _He ain_t a crook son / he_s just a shook one._ I heard the booming rhymes of Queens_s finest: Nas, Salt-N-Pepa, Lost Boyz, A Tribe Called Quest, Onyx, and LL Cool J_s _Hey lover, hey lover / This is more than a crush_; and a couple of Brooklyn cats like Biggie Smalls and the whole Junior M.A.F.I.A. and the newbie Jay-Z; and that ill Staten Island crew, the Wu-Tang Clan, learning _life is hell / living in the world no different from a cell_; and that Harlem genius, Big L; and those guads from outside the city, from Queen Latifah setting it off, to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony fast-rapping__Wake up, wake up, wake up it_s the first of tha month__to Tupac Shakur writing a letter to his mama. I related when Tupac confessed, _I hung around with the thugs, and even though they sold drugs / They showed a young brother love._ Hip-hop has had the most sophisticated vocabulary of any American musical genre. I read endlessly its poetic text. But parents and grandparents did not see us listening to and memorizing gripping works of oral poetry and urban reporting and short stories and autobiographies and sexual boasting and adventure fantasies. They saw_and still see_words that would lead my mind into deviance. _By reinforcing the stereotypes that long hindered blacks, and by teaching young blacks that a thuggish adversarial stance is the properly _authentic_ response to a presumptively racist society, rap retards black success,_ linguist John McWhorter once claimed. C. Delores Tucker campaigned against rap in the mid-1990s. _You can_t listen to all that language and filth without it affecting you,_ Tucker liked to say_just like our parents and grandparents liked to say. The sixty-six-year-old chair of the National Political Congress of Black Women, the venerable veteran of the civil rights movement, kept coming at us like a Biggie Smalls battle rap. _ THE NEXT YEAR we left Queens, left the Ave behind, to start our new life in the South. At the end of a school day sometime in the fall of 1997, I nervously made my way to the gymnasium to see who_d made the cut for Stonewall Jackson High School_s junior-varsity basketball team. I walked over to the gym alone. I hated being alone all the time. I did not have any friends at my new high school in Manassas, Virginia. I_d arrived weeks before at our new house in a predominantly White suburban neighborhood. Manassas wasn_t the Deep South, but it was unquestionably south of Jamaica, Queens. Our first night there, I stayed up all night, occasionally looking out the window, worried the Ku Klux Klan would arrive any minute. Why did Aunt Rena have to move here and entice my parents? The word had spread quickly in school that the quiet, skinny kid wearing baggy clothes, Air Force 1s, and Tims, with a weird accent and a slow strut, was from New York. Girls and boys alike were fascinated_but not necessarily reaching out to be my friend. Basketball was my only companion. I opened a door to the gym, walked slowly across the dark court to the other side, and came upon the JV list. I confidently looked for my name. I did not see it. Startled, I looked again, pointing my index finger as I slowly read each name. I did not see my name. Tears welled up. I turned around and fast-walked away, holding back my tears. I made my way to the school bus and plopped down like I_ve never plopped down on a seat before. My sadness about being cut was overwhelmed by a deeper agony: Not making the team had fully cut off my one route to finding friends in my new school. I was suffering but held it together on my short walk home from the bus stop. When I opened the front door, I saw Dad coming down the stairs of our split-level home_I stepped inside and fell into his surprised arms. We sat down together on the stairs, the front door still flung open. I cried uncontrollably, alarming my father. After a few minutes, I gathered myself and said, _I didn_t make the team,_ only to start crying again and blurt out, _Now I_m never going to have any friends!_ Basketball had been life. It all changed when those tears finally passed. _ AT FIFTEEN, I was an intuitive believer in multiculturalism, unlike assimilationist sociologists such as Nathan Glazer, who lamented the idea in his book that year, We Are All Multiculturalists Now. I opposed racist ideas that belittled the cultures of urban Black people, of hip-hop_of me. I sensed that to ridicule the Black cultures I knew_urban culture, hip-hop culture_would be to ridicule myself. At the same time, though, as an urban Black Northerner, I looked down on the cultures of non-urban Blacks, especially Southerners, the very people I was now surrounded by. I measured their beloved go-go music_then popular in D.C. and Virginia_against what I considered to be the gold standard of Black music, Queens hip-hop, and despised it like C. Delores Tucker despised hip-hop. The guys in Virginia could not dress. I hated their Ebonics. I thought the basketball players were scrubs who I had to patronize, a belief that cost me the spot on the JV squad. I walked around during those early months at Stonewall Jackson with an unspoken arrogance. I suspect potential friends heard my nonverbal cues of snobbery and rightly stayed away. When we refer to a group as Black or White or another racial identity_Black Southerners as opposed to Southerners_we are racializing that group. When we racialize any group and then render that group_s culture inferior, we are articulating cultural racism. When I defended Black culture in my mind, I was treating culture in a general sense, not a specific sense, just as I understood race in a general sense, not a specific sense. I knew it was wrong to say Black people were culturally inferior. But I was quick to judge specific Black cultures practiced by specific Black racial groups. Judging the culture I saw in Manassas from the cultural standards of Black New York was no different than White New York judging Black New York from White New York_s cultural standards. That is no different than White America judging Latinx America from White America_s cultural standards. That is no different than Europe judging the rest of the world from European cultural standards, which is where the problem started, back during the so-called Age of Enlightenment. _That every practice and sentiment is barbarous, which is not according to the usages of modern Europe, seems to be a fundamental maxim with many of our critics and philosophers,_ wrote critical Scottish Enlightenment philosopher James Beattie in 1770. _Their remarks often put us in mind of the fable of the man and the lion._ In the fable, a man and lion travel together, arguing over who is superior. They pass a statue that shows a lion strangled by a man. The man says, _See there! How strong we are, and how we prevail over even the king of beasts._ The lion replies, _This statue was made by one of you men. If we lions knew how to erect statues, you would see the man placed under the paw of the lion._ Whoever creates the cultural standard usually puts themself at the top of the hierarchy. _All cultures must be judged in relation to their own history, and all individuals and groups in relation to their cultural history, and definitely not by the arbitrary standard of any single culture,_ wrote Ashley Montagu in 1942, a clear expression of cultural relativity, the essence of cultural antiracism. To be antiracist is to see all cultures in all their differences as on the same level, as equals. When we see cultural difference, we are seeing cultural difference_nothing more, nothing less. It took me a while. Months of loneliness_really almost two years, if we are talking about making true friends. But I slowly but surely started to respect African American culture in Northern Virginia. I slowly but surely came down from the clouds of my culturally racist conceit. But I could not rise above my behaviorally racist insecurity. BEHAVIOR BEHAVIORAL RACIST: One who is making individuals responsible for the perceived behavior of racial groups and making racial groups responsible for the behavior of individuals. BEHAVIORAL ANTIRACIST: One who is making racial group behavior fictional and individual behavior real. I DID EVENTUALLY MAKE friends, an interracial group who arrived just as my old gear from the Ave became too small for my growing body. I lost the purity of my New York accent and jump shot, but I found living, breathing, laughing friends, like Chris, Maya, Jovan, and Brandon. My schoolwork did not recover. I never bothered much with class back in Queens_I skipped classes at John Bowne to play spades in the lunchroom and tuned out teachers like they were bad commercials, doing just enough classwork to stay married to basketball. I was definitely not living up to my academic potential_and as a Black teenager in the nineties, my shortcomings didn_t go unnoticed or unjudged. The first to notice were the adults around me of my parents_ and grandparents_ generation. As legal scholar James Forman Jr. documents, the civil-rights generation usually evoked Martin Luther King Jr. to shame us. _Did Martin Luther King successfully fight the likes of Bull Connor so that we could ultimately lose the struggle for civil rights to misguided or malicious members of our own race?_ asked Washington, D.C., prosecutor Eric Holder at an MLK birthday celebration in 1995. _You are costing everybody_s freedom,_ Jesse Jackson told a group of Alabama prisoners that year. _You can rise above this if you change your mind,_ he added. _I appeal to you. Your mother appealed to you. Dr. King died for you._ The so-called _first Black president_ followed suit. _It isn_t racist for Whites to say they don_t understand why people put up with gangs on the corner or in the projects or with drugs being sold in the schools or in the open,_ said President Clinton in 1995. _It_s not racist for Whites to assert that the culture of welfare dependency, out of wedlock pregnancy, and absent fatherhood cannot be broken by social programs, unless there is first more personal responsibility._ Black people needed to stop playing _race cards,_ the phrase Peter Collier and David Horowitz used to brand _talk of race and racism_ in 1997. The issue was personal irresponsibility. Indeed, I was irresponsible in high school. It makes antiracist sense to talk about the personal irresponsibility of individuals like me of all races. I screwed up. I could have studied harder. But some of my White friends could have studied harder, too, and their failures and irresponsibility didn_t somehow tarnish their race. My problems with personal irresponsibility were exacerbated_or perhaps even caused_by the additional struggles that racism added to my school life, from a history of disinterested, racist teachers, to overcrowded schools, to the daily racist attacks that fell on young Black boys and girls. There_s no question that I could have hurdled that racism and kept on running. But asking every nonathletic Black person to become an Olympic hurdler, and blaming them when they can_t keep up, is racist. One of racism_s harms is the way it falls on the unexceptional Black person who is asked to be extraordinary just to survive_and, even worse, the Black screwup who faces the abyss after one error, while the White screwup is handed second chances and empathy. This shouldn_t be surprising: One of the fundamental values of racism to White people is that it makes success attainable for even unexceptional Whites, while success, even moderate success, is usually reserved for extraordinary Black people. How do we think about my young self, the C or D student, in antiracist terms? The truth is that I should be critiqued as a student_I was undermotivated and distracted and undisciplined. In other words, a bad student. But I shouldn_t be critiqued as a bad Black student. I did not represent my race any more than my irresponsible White classmates represented their race. It makes racist sense to talk about personal irresponsibility as it applies to an entire racial group. Racial-group behavior is a figment of the racist_s imagination. Individual behaviors can shape the success of individuals. But policies determine the success of groups. And it is racist power that creates the policies that cause racial inequities. Making individuals responsible for the perceived behavior of racial groups and making whole racial groups responsible for the behavior of individuals are the two ways that behavioral racism infects our perception of the world. In other words, when we believe that a racial group_s seeming success or failure redounds to each of its individual members, we_ve accepted a racist idea. Likewise, when we believe that an individual_s seeming success or failure redounds to an entire group, we_ve accepted a racist idea. These two racist ideas were common currency in the 1990s. Progressive Americans_the ones who self-identified as _not racist__had abandoned biological racism by the mid-1990s. They had gone further: Mostly they_d abandoned ethnic racism, bodily racism, and cultural racism. But they were still sold on behavioral racism. And they carried its torch unwaveringly, right up to the present. The same behavioral racism drove many of the Trump voters whom these same _not racist_ progressives vociferously opposed in the 2016 election. They, too, ascribed qualities to entire groups_these were voters whose political choice correlated with their belief that Black people are ruder, lazier, stupider, and crueler than White people. _America_s Black community_has turned America_s major cities into slums because of laziness, drug use, and sexual promiscuity,_ fancied Reverend Jamie Johnson, director of a faith-based center in Trump_s Department of Homeland Security, after the election. _Although black civil rights leaders like to point to a supposedly racist criminal justice system to explain why our prisons house so many black men, it_s been obvious for decades that the real culprit is black behavior,_ argued Jason Riley in 2016. Every time someone racializes behavior_describes something as _Black behavior__they are expressing a racist idea. To be an antiracist is to recognize there is no such thing as racial behavior. To be an antiracist is to recognize there is no such thing as Black behavior, let alone irresponsible Black behavior. Black behavior is as fictitious as Black genes. There is no _Black gene._ No one has ever scientifically established a single _Black behavioral trait._ No evidence has ever been produced, for instance, to prove that Black people are louder, angrier, nicer, funnier, lazier, less punctual, more immoral, religious, or dependent; that Asians are more subservient; that Whites are greedier. All we have are stories of individual behavior. But individual stories are only proof of the behavior of individuals. Just as race doesn_t exist biologically, race doesn_t exist behaviorally. But what about the argument that clusters of Black people in the South, or Asian Americans in New York_s Chinatown, or White people in the Texas suburbs seem to behave in ways that follow coherent, definable cultural practices? Antiracism means separating the idea of a culture from the idea of behavior. Culture defines a group tradition that a particular racial group might share but that is not shared among all individuals in that racial group or among all racial groups. Behavior defines the inherent human traits and potential that everyone shares. Humans are intelligent and lazy, even as that intelligence and laziness might appear differently across the racialized cultural groups. _ BEHAVIORAL RACISTS SEE it differently from antiracists, and even from each other. In the decades before the Civil War, behavioral racists argued over whether it was freedom or slavery that caused supposed mediocre Black behavior. To proslavery theorists, Black behavioral deficiencies stemmed from freedom, either in Africa or among emancipated slaves in America. In the states that _retained the ancient relation_ between White mastery and Black slavery, Blacks _had improved greatly in every respect_in numbers, comfort, intelligence, and morals,_ Secretary of State John C. Calhoun explained to a British critic in 1844. This proslavery position held after slavery. Freed Blacks _cut off from the spirit of White society__their civilizing masters_had degenerated into the _original African type,_ with behavioral traits ranging from hypersexuality, immorality, criminality, and laziness to poor parenting, Philip Alexander Bruce maintained in his popular 1889 book, The Plantation Negro as a Freeman. In contrast, abolitionists, including Benjamin Rush in 1773, argued, _All the vices which are charged upon the Negroes in the southern colonies and the West-Indies, such as Idleness, Treachery, Theft, and the like, are the genuine offspring of slavery._ A year later, Rush founded the budding nation_s first White antislavery society. Prefacing Frederick Douglass_s slave narrative in 1845, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison stated that slavery degraded Black people _in the scale of humanity_.Nothing has been left undone to cripple their intellects, darken their minds, debase their moral nature, obliterate all traces of their relationship to mankind._ Abolitionists_or, rather, progressive assimilationists_conjured what I call the oppression-inferiority thesis. In their well-meaning efforts to persuade Americans about the horrors of oppression, assimilationists argue that oppression has degraded the behaviors of oppressed people. This belief extended into the period after slavery. In his address to the founding meeting of Alexander Crummell_s American Negro Academy in 1897, W.E.B. Du Bois pictured _the first and greatest step toward the settlement of the present friction between the races_lies in the correction of the immorality, crime, and laziness among the Negroes themselves, which still remains as a heritage of slavery._ This framing of slavery as a demoralizing force was the mirror image of the Jim Crow historian_s framing of slavery as a civilizing force. Both positions led Americans toward behavioral racism: Black behavior demoralized by freedom_or freed Black behavior demoralized by slavery. The latest expression of the oppression-inferiority thesis is known as post-traumatic slave syndrome, or PTSS. Black _infighting,_ materialism, poor parenting, colorism, defeatism, rage_these _dysfunctional_ and _negative_ behaviors _as well as many others are in large part related to trans-generational adaptations associated with the past traumas of slavery and on-going oppression,_ maintains psychologist Joy DeGruy in her 2005 book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. (Some people believe, based on misleading studies, that these trans-generational adaptations are genetic.) DeGruy claimed _many, many_ African Americans suffer from PTSS. She built this theory on anecdotal evidence and modeled it on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But studies show that many, many people who endure traumatic environments don_t contract post-traumatic stress disorder. Researchers found that among soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, PTSD rates ranged from 13.5 to 30 percent. Black individuals have, of course, suffered trauma from slavery and ongoing oppression. Some individuals throughout history have exhibited negative behaviors related to this trauma. DeGruy is a hero for ushering the constructs of trauma, damage, and healing into our understanding of Black life. But there is a thin line between an antiracist saying individual Blacks have suffered trauma and a racist saying Blacks are a traumatized people. There is similarly a thin line between an antiracist saying slavery was debilitating and a racist saying Blacks are a debilitated people. The latter constructions erase whole swaths of history: for instance, the story of even the first generation of emancipated Black people, who moved straight from plantations into the Union army, into politics, labor organizing, Union leagues, artistry, entrepreneurship, club building, church building, school building, community building_buildings more commonly razed by the fiery hand of racist terrorism than by any self-destructive hand of behavioral deficiencies derived from the trauma of slavery. Increasingly in the twentieth century, social scientists replaced slavery with segregation and discrimination as the oppressive hand ravaging Black behavior. Psychoanalysts Abram Kardiner and Lionel Ovesey expressed this alarm in their 1951 tome, The Mark of Oppression: A Psychosocial Study of the American Negro. _There is not one personality trait of the Negro the source of which cannot be traced to his difficult living conditions,_ they wrote. _The final result is a wretched internal life,_ a crippled _self-esteem,_ a vicious _self-hatred,_ _the conviction of unlovability, the diminution of affectivity, and the uncontrolled hostility._ Widely taken as scientific fact, these sweeping generalizations were based on the authors_ interviews with all of twenty-five subjects. _ AS A STRUGGLING Black teenager in the nineties, I felt suffocated by a sense of being judged, primarily by the people I was closest to: other Black people, particularly older Black people who worried over my entire generation. The Black judge in my mind did not leave any room for the mistakes of Black individuals_I didn_t just have to deal with the consequences of my personal failings, I had the added burden of letting down the entire race. Our mistakes were generalized as the mistakes of the race. It seemed that White people were free to misbehave, make mistakes. But if we failed_or failed to be twice as good_then the Black judge handed down a hard sentence. No probation or parole. There was no middle ground_we were either King_s disciples or thugs killing King_s dream. But, of course, while that may have felt true in a larger social sense, individual Black parents responded as individuals. My own parents privately etched out probationary middle grounds for their own children. I did not make Ma and Dad proud. But they didn_t treat me as a thug and lock me away_they kept trying. When I was in eleventh grade at Stonewall Jackson, my parents nudged me into International Baccalaureate (IB) classes, and even though I didn_t have particularly high expectations for myself, I went along with it. I entered the sanctimonious world of IB, surrounded by a sea of White and Asian students. This environment only made my hatred of school more intense, if now for a different reason. I felt stranded, save for an occasional class with my friend Maya, a Black teen preparing for Spelman College. None of my White and Asian classmates came to save me. Rarely opening my lips or raising my hand, I shaped myself according to what I thought they believed about me. I felt like a person in a leaky boat as they sailed by me every day on their way to standardized-test prep sessions, Ivy League dreams, and competitions for teachers_ praises. I saw myself through their eyes: an impostor, deserving of invisibility. My drowning in the supposed sea of advanced intelligence was imminent. I internalized my academic struggles as indicative of something wrong not just with my behavior but with Black behavior as a whole, since I represented the race, both in their eyes_or what I thought I saw in their eyes_and in my own. The so-called Nation_s Report Card told Americans the same story. It first reported the math scores of eighth- and fourth-graders in 1990, the year I entered third grade. Asian fourth-graders scored thirty-seven points, Whites thirty-two points, and Latinx twenty-one points higher than Black fourth-graders on the standardized math test. By 2017, the scoring gaps in fourth-grade mathematics had slightly narrowed. The racial _achievement gap_ in reading between White and Black fourth-graders also narrowed between 1990 and 2017 but widened between White and Black twelfth-graders. In 2015, Blacks had the lowest mean SAT scores of any racial group. As a high school student, I believed standardized tests effectively measured smarts and therefore my White and Asian classmates were smarter than me. I thought I was a fool. Clearly, I needed another shaming lesson about how King died for me. _ NOT UNTIL MY senior year in college did I realize I was a fool for thinking I was a fool. I was preparing for my last major standardized test, the Graduate Record Exam, or GRE. I had already forked over $1,000 for a preparatory course, feeding the U.S. test-prep and private tutoring industry that would grow to $12 billion in 2014 and is projected to reach $17.5 billion in 2020. The courses and private tutors are concentrated in Asian and White communities, who, not surprisingly, score the highest on standardized tests. My GRE prep course, for instance, was not taught on my historically Black campus. I had to trek over to the campus of a historically White college in Tallahassee. I sat surrounded by White students before a White teacher at Florida State University, a flashback to my lonely boat at Stonewall Jackson. I wondered why I was the only Black student in the room and about my own economic privilege and the presumed economic privilege of my fellow students. I wondered about another stratum of students, who weren_t even in the room, the ones who could pay for private tutoring with this teacher. The teacher boasted the course would boost our GRE scores by two hundred points, which I didn_t pay much attention to at first_it seemed an unlikely advertising pitch. But with each class, the technique behind the teacher_s confidence became clearer. She wasn_t making us smarter so we_d ace the test_she was teaching us how to take the test. On the way home from the class, I typically stopped by the gym to lift weights. When I first started weight lifting, I naturally assumed the people lifting the heaviest weights were the strongest people. I assumed wrong. To lift the most required a combination of strength and the best form; one was based on ability, the other on access to the best information and training. Well-trained lifters with exquisite form lifted heavier weights than similarly or even better-endowed lifters with poorer form. This regular commute from the GRE prep course to the weight room eventually jarred me into clarity: The teacher was not making us stronger. She was giving us form and technique so we_d know precisely how to carry the weight of the test. It revealed the bait and switch at the heart of standardized tests_the exact thing that made them unfair: She was teaching test-taking form for standardized exams that purportedly measured intellectual strength. My classmates and I would get higher scores_two hundred points, as promised_than poorer students, who might be equivalent in intellectual strength but did not have the resources or, in some cases, even the awareness to acquire better form through high-priced prep courses. Because of the way the human mind works_the so-called _attribution effect,_ which drives us to take personal credit for any success_those of us who prepped for the test would score higher and then walk into better opportunities thinking it was all about us: that we were better and smarter than the rest and we even had inarguable, quantifiable proof. Look at our scores! Admissions counselors and professors would assume we were better qualified and admit us to their graduate schools (while also boosting their institutional rankings). And because we_re talking about featureless, objective numbers, no one would ever think that racism could have played a role. The use of standardized tests to measure aptitude and intelligence is one of the most effective racist policies ever devised to degrade Black minds and legally exclude Black bodies. We degrade Black minds every time we speak of an _academic-achievement gap_ based on these numbers. The acceptance of an academic-achievement gap is just the latest method of reinforcing the oldest racist idea: Black intellectual inferiority. The idea of an achievement gap means there is a disparity in academic performance between groups of students; implicit in this idea is that academic achievement as measured by statistical instruments like test scores and dropout rates is the only form of academic _achievement._ There is an even more sinister implication in achievement-gap talk_that disparities in academic achievement accurately reflect disparities in intelligence among racial groups. Intellect is the linchpin of behavior, and the racist idea of the achievement gap is the linchpin of behavioral racism. Remember, to believe in a racial hierarchy is to believe in a racist idea. The idea of an achievement gap between the races_with Whites and Asians at the top and Blacks and Latinx at the bottom_creates a racial hierarchy, with its implication that the racial gap in test scores means something is wrong with the Black and Latinx test takers and not the tests. From the beginning, the tests, not the people, have always been the racial problem. I know this is a hard idea to accept_so many well-meaning people have tried to _solve_ this problem of the racial achievement gap_but once we understand the history and policies behind it, it becomes clear. The history of race and standardized testing begins in 1869, when English statistician Francis Galton_a half cousin of Charles Darwin_hypothesized in Hereditary Genius that the _average intellectual standard of the negro race is some two grades below our own._ Galton pioneered eugenics decades later but failed to develop a testing mechanism that verified his racist hypothesis. Where Galton failed, France_s Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon succeeded, when they developed an IQ test in 1905 that Stanford psychologist Lewis Terman revised and delivered to Americans in 1916. These _experimental_ tests would show _enormously significant racial differences in general intelligence, differences which cannot be wiped out by any scheme of mental culture,_ the eugenicist said in his 1916 book, The Measurement of Intelligence. Terman_s IQ test was first administered on a major scale to 1.7 million U.S. soldiers during World War I. Princeton psychologist Carl C. Brigham presented the soldiers_ racial scoring gap as evidence of genetic racial hierarchy in A Study of American Intelligence, published three years before he created the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, in 1926. Aptitude means natural ability. Brigham, like other eugenicists, believed the SAT would reveal the natural intellectual ability of White people. Physicist William Shockley and psychologist Arthur Jensen carried these eugenic ideas into the 1960s. By then, genetic explanations_if not the tests and the achievement gap itself_had largely been discredited. Segregationists pointing to inferior genes had been overwhelmed in the racist debate over the cause of the achievement gap by assimilationists pointing to inferior environments. Liberal assimilationists shifted the discourse to _closing the achievement gap,_ powering the testing movement into the nineties, when The Bell Curve controversy erupted in 1994 over whether the gap could be closed. _It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences_ in test scores, wrote Harvard psychologist Richard Herrnstein and political scientist Charles Murray in The Bell Curve. The racist idea of an achievement gap lived on into the new millennium through George W. Bush_s No Child Left Behind Act and Obama_s Race to the Top and Common Core_initiatives that further enlarged the role of standardized testing in determining the success and failure of students and the schools they attended. Through these initiatives and many, many others, education reformers banged the drum of the _achievement gap_ to get attention and funding for their equalizing efforts. But what if, all along, these well-meaning efforts at closing the achievement gap have been opening the door to racist ideas? What if different environments lead to different kinds of achievement rather than different levels of achievement? What if the intellect of a low-testing Black child in a poor Black school is different from_and not inferior to_the intellect of a high-testing White child in a rich White school? What if we measured intelligence by how knowledgeable individuals are about their own environments? What if we measured intellect by an individual_s desire to know? What if we realized the best way to ensure an effective educational system is not by standardizing our curricula and tests but by standardizing the opportunities available to all students? In Pennsylvania, a recent statewide study found that at any given poverty level, districts with a higher proportion of White students receive significantly more funding than districts with more students of color. The chronic underfunding of Black schools in Mississippi is a gruesome sight to behold. Schools lack basic supplies, basic textbooks, healthy food and water. The lack of resources leads directly to diminished opportunities for learning. In other words, the racial problem is the opportunity gap, as antiracist reformers call it, not the achievement gap. _ BACK IN HIGH school, those final days in 1999 were taking forever. I sat bored during free time in my government class. As my mind wandered, my eyes wandered and latched on to Angela, sitting behind me. Brown-skinned with high cheekbones and a sweet disposition, Angela appeared to be writing intently. _What are you doing?_ I asked. _I_m writing my speech,_ she said with her usual smile, not looking up from her writing. _Speech for what?_ _For the MLK contest. You haven_t heard?_ I shook my head, and so she told me all about the Prince William County Martin Luther King Jr. oratorical contest. Stonewall Jackson participants would give their speeches in two days. Stonewall_s winner would go on to the county competition. The top three finalists would speak at the Hylton Chapel on MLK Day in 2000. She urged me to participate. At first, I declined. But by the time she finished with me, I was in. The prompt for the contest was _What would be Dr. King_s message for the millennium?_ and what came to my pen were all the racist ideas about Black youth behavior circulating in the 1990s that, without realizing, I had deeply internalized. I started writing an anti-Black message that would have filled King with indignity_less like King himself and more like the shaming speeches about King that I heard so often from adults of my parents_ generation. If only I_d spent more time listening to King instead of all the adults who claimed to speak for him. _We must no longer be ashamed of being Black,_ King would have told me, as he told a gathering of Black people in 1967. _As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free._ As long as the mind thinks there is something behaviorally wrong with a racial group, the mind can never be antiracist. As long as the mind oppresses the oppressed by thinking their oppressive environment has retarded their behavior, the mind can never be antiracist. As long as the mind is racist, the mind can never be free. To be antiracist is to think nothing is behaviorally wrong or right_inferior or superior_with any of the racial groups. Whenever the antiracist sees individuals behaving positively or negatively, the antiracist sees exactly that: individuals behaving positively or negatively, not representatives of whole races. To be antiracist is to deracialize behavior, to remove the tattooed stereotype from every racialized body. Behavior is something humans do, not races do. _ I FINISHED A draft of the speech that night. _Let me hear it!_ Angela excitedly asked the next day, before our government class. _Hear what?_ I said shyly, turning around, knowing exactly what. _Your speech!_ She beamed. _I know you got it there. Let me hear it!_ Feeling obligated, I slowly recited my speech. The more I read, the more confidence I felt. The racist ideas sounded so good, so right, as racist ideas normally do. When I finished, Angela was ecstatic. _You_re going to win! You_re going to win!_ she chanted softly as class started. I kept turning around and telling her to stop. Angela saw my smiles and did not. I did not sleep much that night. Between fine-tuning my speech and quieting my nerves and fears, I had too much going in my mind. I fell eventually into a deep sleep, so deep I did not hear my alarm. When I awoke, I realized I had missed the competition. Upset but also relieved, I made my way to school. Angela was waiting for me at the competition all morning. After the last participant had spoken to the Stonewall judges, Angela demanded they reconvene when I arrived at school and she did not take no from them_the same as she didn_t take no from me. And sure enough, when I got to school, the judges reconvened for me. Hearing all that Angela did, a storm surge of gratitude washed away my fears and nerves. I was determined to give the speech of my life. And I did. I won, racist ideas and all. _ WINNING STARTED TO melt away the shame I felt for myself and my race regarding my academic struggles. The Black judge was proud of me. I was more than proud of myself. But my racist insecurity started transforming into racist conceit. The transformation had actually already started when I decided to attend Florida AandM University. _It felt right,_ I told people. I did not disclose to anyone or myself why this historically Black university felt right. On my visit during the summer of 1999, everyone gushed about Florida AandM as the biggest and baddest HBCU_historically Black college and university_in the land. Time magazine and The Princeton Review had named it College of the Year in 1997. For the second time in three years, Florida AandM had outpaced Harvard in its recruitment of National Achievement Scholars (the best of the best of Black high school students). President Frederick S. Humphries, a six-foot-five-inch bundle of charisma, had personally recruited many of those students, while growing his university into the nation_s largest HBCU. Whenever we say something just feels right or wrong we_re evading the deeper, perhaps hidden, ideas that inform our feelings. But in those hidden places, we find what we really think if we have the courage to face our own naked truths. I did not look within myself to see why Florida AandM just felt right_a reason beyond my desire to be around Black excellence. The truth is, I wanted to flee misbehaving Black folk. Florida AandM became for me the best of Blackness, all right. I never could have imagined the enrapturing sound of Blackness at its peak. Two weeks after landing on campus, I heard it in all its glory. COLOR COLORISM: A powerful collection of racist policies that lead to inequities between Light people and Dark people, supported by racist ideas about Light and Dark people. COLOR ANTIRACISM: A powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to equity between Light people and Dark people, supported by antiracist ideas about Light and Dark people. M Y VOICE CREAKED like an old staircase. My arms flailed sluggishly as I stood on the highest of the seven hills in Tallahassee, Florida. I wasn_t tired from climbing on that September day in 2000. I_d been on campus for a few weeks and the school spirit had already mounted me and worn me out, just as it had the thousands of people around me_my fellow Rattlers of Florida AandM University. We called our school FAMU, pronounced as in _family,_ FAM-YOU. I looked again at Bragg Stadium_s football scoreboard. FAMU 39. MORGAN STATE 7. But I had no time to rest my tiring arms and screams. Halftime approached. I should have saved my energy, but as a freshman I did not know any better. I had never seen a performance by the Marching 100, the high-stepping pride of FAMU, arguably the most accomplished marching band in history and certainly the most imitated marching band in the land. I_m biased, but see my receipts. William P. Foster had just retired after fifty-two years of raising what Sports Illustrated dubbed _the best college marching band in the country._ FAMU band members hit the Grammy Awards stage in 2006. But nothing compared to that Super Bowl in 2007, when I bragged incessantly and danced horribly as my friends and I watched the Marching 100 play for Prince. Back in 2000, though, the Marching 100 confused me on first sight in the first quarter. Winter-clothed in thick pants and long-sleeved orange, green, and white uniforms, adorned with capes and towering hats, they made me hot just watching them roast in the Florida sun. They played off the heat like jam sessions between plays. But nothing prepared me for what I was about to see at halftime. My roommate, Clarence, stood next to me. Clarence and I arrived at FAMU from different places, had come running from different trails that converged in friendship. Him: an academic titan from Birmingham, Alabama. Me: an academic minion from up north. My daring, untethered ideas complemented his methodical analyses. My fuzzy sense of self and direction embraced his clarity. Clarence considered FAMU a pit stop on a mapped-out trail to a top law school and corporate law and wealth. I considered FAMU an inclusive Black commune to explore and find myself. My explorations amused Clarence. But nothing entertained him more than my eyes. Clarence_s hazelnut skin matched his hazel eyes, an eye color that is rare for anyone around the world but most commonly found among people of Southern and Eastern European heritage, not African Americans. When I first saw his lighter eyes, I assumed they were fake. It turned out, his genes provided him what I had to buy. Before arriving at FAMU, I_d started wearing _honey_ contact lenses, or _orange eyes,_ as my friends called them. My colored contacts were hard to miss on me. Hazel contacts were perhaps the most popular colored contact lens among Black folk, but I picked one shade even lighter. It seemed okay to me to play with my eye color. I knew some Black people who wore blue or green contacts, which I thought was shameful. I saw them_but not me_as straining to look White. Above my orange eyes, Clarence did not see a low haircut, sometimes with fading up the back and sides, all times a brush flattening the kinks that struggled to stand and band in freedom before the next killa haircut. I started cornrowing my hair in college, twisting them up in small locs, or letting the kinks stretch out, hardly caring that racists judged these hairstyles as the unprofessional uniform of thugs. My cornrows signified an antiracist idea. My honey eyes a capitulation to assimilation. Together, they braided the assimilationist and antiracist ideas of my dueling consciousness. Did I think my honey eyes meant I was striving to be White? No way. I was simply refining a cuter version of myself, which studies show is the explanation of most buyers of artificial eyes, complexion, hair, or facial features. I never asked myself the antiracist question. Why? Why did I think lighter eyes were more attractive on me? What did I truly want? I wanted to be Black but did not want to look Black. I looked up to the new post-racial beauty ideal, an outgrowth of the old White beauty ideal. Lightening eye color. Killing kinks. Lightening skin color. Thinning or thickening facial features. All to reach an ideal we did not label White. This post-racial beauty ideal is Lightness: the race of lighter skin and eyes, straighter hair, thinner noses, and semi-thick lips and buttocks, perceived as biracial or racially ambiguous. The dueling consciousness of antiracist pride in one_s own race and assimilationist desire to be another race stirs this paradoxical post-racial beauty ideal. _It is simultaneously inclusive, multicultural, and new, while remaining exclusive, Eurocentric, and_old-fashioned._ It is _white beauty repackaged with dark hair,_ sociologist Margaret Hunter explains. I had no idea my light eyes embodied the latest form of _colorism,_ a term coined by novelist Alice Walker in 1983. The post-racial beauty ideal hides colorism, veils it in euphemism. Colorism is a form of racism. To recognize colorism, we must first recognize that Light people and Dark people are two distinct racialized groups shaped by their own histories. Dark people_the unidentified racial group of darker skins, kinky hair, broader noses and lips_span many races, ethnicities, and nationalities. Light people sometimes pass for White and may yet be accepted into Whiteness so that White people can maintain majorities in countries like the United States, where demographic trends threaten to relegate them to minority status. Some reformers project Light people as the biracial key to racial harmony, an embodiment of a post-racial future. Colorism is a collection of racist policies that cause inequities between Light people and Dark people, and these inequities are substantiated by racist ideas about Light and Dark people. Colorism, like all forms of racism, rationalizes inequities with racist ideas, claiming the inequities between Dark people and Light people are not due to racist policy but are based in what is wrong or right with each group of people. Colorist ideas are also assimilationist ideas, encouraging assimilation into_or transformation into something close to_the White body. To be an antiracist is to focus on color lines as much as racial lines, knowing that color lines are especially harmful for Dark people. When the gains of a multicolored race disproportionately flow to Light people and the losses disproportionately flow to Dark people, inequities between the races mirror inequities within the races. But because inequities between the races overshadow inequities within the races, Dark people often fail to see colorism as they regularly experience it. Therefore, Dark people rarely protest policies that benefit Light people, a _skin color paradox,_ as termed by political scientists Jennifer L. Hochschild and Vesla Weaver. Anti-Dark colorism follows the logic of behavioral racism, linking behavior to color, studies show. White children attribute positivity to lighter skin and negativity to Dark skin, a colorism that grows stronger as they get older. White people usually favor lighter-skinned politicians over darker-skinned ones. Dark African Americans are disproportionately at risk of hypertension. Dark African American students receive significantly lower GPAs than Light students. Maybe because racist Americans have higher expectations for Light students, people tend to remember educated Black men as Light-skinned even when their skin is Dark. Is that why employers prefer Light Black men over Dark Black men regardless of qualifications? Even Dark Filipino men have lower incomes than their lighter peers in the United States. Dark immigrants to the United States, no matter their place of origin, tend to have less wealth and income than Light immigrants. When they arrive, Light Latinx people receive higher wages, and Dark Latinx people are more likely to be employed at ethnically homogeneous jobsites. Dark sons and Light daughters receive higher-quality parenting than Light sons and Dark daughters. Skin color influences perceptions of attractiveness most often for Black women. As skin tone lightens, levels of self-esteem among Black women rise, especially among low- and middle-income Black women. Dark African Americans receive the harshest prison sentences and more time behind bars. White male offenders with African facial features receive harsher sentences than their all-European peers. Dark female students are nearly twice as likely to be suspended as White female students, while researchers found no disparity between Light and White female students. Inequities between Light and Dark African Americans can be as wide as inequities between Black and White Americans. _ THE SECOND QUARTER ticked away. I stared as the world_s longest multicolored Rattler uncurled itself. The Marching 100 should have been named the Marching 400. Hundreds of band members slowly stepped onto the field, one after another, into lines of instruments, into a rhythmic strut. Lines low-stepped behind FAMU_s team on our side of the field, to the other side of the field behind Morgan State_s team, and into the end zones. The line colors draped over the green field like strokes of paint on a canvas. Skin color didn_t matter in this procession. It never should have mattered. I watched the spreading lines of cymbals, trumpets, trombones, saxophones, clarinets, French horns, flutes, and those big tubas. Instruments rhythmically swayed in unison with bodies. The half ended. Football players ran through band lines and departed the field. Instead of a rush out to the concession stands, people rushed to their seats to stand and wait. Some male students didn_t care about watching the Marching 100_s first performance of the season and instead prowled inside the shaded concourse or outside the stadium, searching for a new friend, hoping they had more game than football. If they were anything like my friends, then Light women were their favorite, and it showed up in the words they spit. _Ugly-Black,_ they called darker women. _Nappy-headed._ But straight and long hair was _good hair._ _She_s cute_for a Dark girl,_ was the best some of them could muster for darker-skinned women. Even Dark gay men heard it: _I don_t normally date Dark-skin men, but__ The first woman I dated at FAMU was lighter than me, with almost caramel-colored skin. Straight hair fell down her petite body. I liked her (or did I like that she liked me?). But I did not like how my friends fawned over her and overlooked her darker roommate and best friend. The more my friends ignored or denigrated the Dark woman, the more I resented myself for liking the Light woman. After a few months, I had enough. I abruptly cut off the Light woman. My friends thought I had lost my mind. To this day, they deem the Light woman the prettiest woman I dated at FAMU. After her, they say, I rolled downhill into the Dark abyss. They are right about the darkness_if not the abyss. That first Light college girlfriend ended up being the last at FAMU. I pledged to date only Dark women. Only my Light friend Terrell did not think I had lost my mind. He preferred Dark women, too. I looked down on the rest_anyone who did not prefer Dark women, as well. I hardly realized my own racist hypocrisy: I was turning the color hierarchy upside down, but the color hierarchy remained. Dark people degraded and alienated Light people with names: light bright, high yellow, redbone. _You_re never Black enough,_ a Light woman once told Oprah about her feelings of rejection. Light people constantly report their struggle to integrate with Dark people, to prove their Blackness to Dark people, as if Dark people are the judge and standard of Blackness. The irony is that many Dark people_read me, circa 2000_do think of themselves as the judge and standard of Blackness, while at the same time meekly aspiring to the standard of Lightness or Whiteness. White people and Dark people reject and envy Light people. White people have historically employed the one-drop rule_that even one drop of Black blood makes you Black_to bar Light people from pure Whiteness. Dark people employ the two-drop rule, as I call it_two drops of White blood make you less Black_to bar Light people from pure Blackness. Light people employ the three-drop rule, as I call it_three drops of Black blood mean you_re too Dark_to bar Dark people from pure Lightness. The _drop_ rules of racial purity were mirages, just like the races themselves and the idea of racial blood. No racial group was pure. When people look at my chocolate-brown skin, broad nose, thick lips, and the long hair I locked during my junior year at FAMU, around the time I retired my orange eyes for good, they do not see a biracial man. They do not see my White great-great-grandfather. Nothing has been passed down about this White man except that he impregnated my great-great-grandmother, who bore him a Light child named Eliza in 1875. In the 1890s, Eliza married the Dark-skinned Lewis, who had recently arrived in Guyton, Georgia, from Sylvania, West Virginia. In 1920, they bore my grandfather Alvin. Eliza, Alvin, and Ma, all lighter-skinned, all married Dark people. An ancestral pull toward Dark people? Wishful thinking to exonerate my anti-Light colorism. I had antiracist intentions, unmindful that the car of racism can drive just as far with the right intentions. To be an antiracist is not to reverse the beauty standard. To be an antiracist is to eliminate any beauty standard based on skin and eye color, hair texture, facial and bodily features shared by groups. To be an antiracist is to diversify our standards of beauty like our standards of culture or intelligence, to see beauty equally in all skin colors, broad and thin noses, kinky and straight hair, light and dark eyes. To be an antiracist is to build and live in a beauty culture that accentuates instead of erases our natural beauty. _ _FOR IT IS well known,_ attested Anglican missionary Morgan Godwyn in an antislavery pamphlet in 1680, _that the Negro_s_do entertain as high thoughts of themselves and of their Complexion, as our Europeans do._ Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the so-called _father_ of Western art history, endeavored, like his fellow Enlightenment intellectuals, to bring down my ancestors_ high thoughts. African people must accept the _correct conception_ of beauty, Winckelmann demanded in History of the Art of Antiquity in 1764. _A beautiful body will be all the more beautiful the whiter it is._ The slaveholder_s philosophy extended this further: A body will be all the more superior the Whiter it is_an enslaved body will be closer to the slaveholder the Whiter it is. Large slaveholders more often worked Light people in the house and Dark people in the fields, reasoning that Light people were suited for skilled tasks and Dark people for more physically demanding tasks. A body will be all the more animalistic the darker it is. Slaveholders crafted a hierarchy that descended from the intellectually strong White down to the Light, then to the Dark, and, finally, to the physically strong Animal. _Ferocity and stupidity are the characteristics of those tribes in which the peculiar Negro features are found most developed,_ intoned one writer. The U.S. father of colorism is Samuel Stanhope Smith, a longtime theologian who taught at and then presided over Princeton University in early America. In early 1787, the young Princeton professor gave the annual oration to the new nation_s most distinguished scholarly group, the American Philosophical Society. He spoke before the White men who wrote the U.S. Constitution that year, pledging to use _the genuine light of truth._ Smith_s racist light: _domestic servants_who remain near the [White] persons_ have _advanced far before the others in acquiring the regular and agreeable features._ Since _field slaves_ live _remote from_their superiors,_ their bodies _are, generally, ill shaped,_ and their kinky hair is _the farthest removed from the ordinary laws of nature._ In an 1850 book, Peter Browne leaned on his unrivaled human-hair collection to classify the _hair_ of Whites and _wool_ of Blacks, to swear, _The hair of the white man is more perfect than that of the Negro._ Some enslavers considered Dark people more perfect than the so-called human mule, or mulatto. The biracial _hybrid_ is _a degenerate, unnatural offspring, doomed by nature to work out its own destruction,_ wrote Alabama physician Josiah Nott in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal in 1843. Enslavers_ public racist ideas sometimes clashed with their private racist ideas, which typically described Light women as smarter, kinder, gentler, and more beautiful than Dark women. Slaveholders paid much more for enslaved Light females than for their Dark counterparts. From long before the United States even existed until long after American slavery ended, White men cast these _yaller gals_ and _Jezebels_ as seductresses, unable to admit their centuries of attempted and actual rapes. Some abolitionists framed biracial Light people as _tragic mulattoes,_ imprisoned by their _one drop_ of _Black blood._ In Harriet Beecher Stowe_s 1852 bestseller, Uncle Tom_s Cabin, the only four runaways are the only four biracial captives. Stowe contrasts the biracial runaway George, _of fine European features and a high, indomitable spirit,_ with a docile _full Black_ named Tom. _Sons of white fathers_will not always be bought and sold and traded,_ Tom_s slaveholder says. Freed sons of White fathers will always be _more likely to enlist themselves under the banners of the whites,_ Charleston Times editor Edwin Clifford Holland contended in 1822. Maybe Holland had the Brown Fellowship Society in mind, a biracial mutual-aid organization dedicated to _Social Purity_ in Charleston. Or maybe he foresaw the White and Light only barbershops owned by Light people in Washington, D.C., before the Civil War. When emancipation in 1865 thrust all Black people into the land of freedom, White communities built higher walls of segregation to keep Black people out. Light communities, too, built higher walls of segregation to keep Dark people out. To maintain Light privilege, the segregated Light people further segregated their Dark brothers and sisters, preserving prewar racial disparities between Light and Dark people. After slavery, Light people were wealthier than Dark people and more likely to have good-paying jobs and schooling. By the end of the nineteenth century, dozens of cities had _Blue Vein_ societies, which barred Dark people _not white enough to show blue veins,_ as Charles Chesnutt put it in an 1898 short story. Light people reproduced the paper-bag test, pencil test, door test, and comb test to bar Dark people from their churches, businesses, parties, organizations, schools, and HBCUs. But these segregators were still segregated from Whiteness. In 1896, shoemaker Homer Plessy_of the Plessy v. Ferguson case, which deemed constitutional _equal but separate accommodations__hailed from a proud Light community in New Orleans. But Mississippi professor Charles Carroll considered the interracial intercourse of the White human and the Black _beast_ the most diabolical of all sins. Naturally rebellious Light men were raping White women, leading to lynchings, Carroll warned in his 1900 book, The Negro a Beast. In 1901, North Carolina State University president George T. Winston disagreed, framing Dark people as committing _more horrible crimes._ Sociologist Edward Byron Reuter added to Winston_s position, declaring that biracial people were responsible for all Black achievements, in his 1918 book, The Mulatto in the United States. Reuter made Light people a sort of racial middle class, below White people and above Dark people. Reuter defended Light people from the wrath of eugenicists demanding _racial purity_ and from Dark people challenging their colorism. By the final days of 1920, the famous grandson of a biracial man had enough of Dark activists, especially Marcus Garvey and his fast-growing Universal Negro Improvement Association. _American Negroes recognize no color line in or out of the race, and they will in the end punish the man who attempts to establish it,_ W.E.B. Du Bois declared in The Crisis. This from a man who probably heard the Black children_s rhyme: _If you_re white, you_re right / If you_re yellow, you_re mellow / If you_re brown, stick around / If you_re black, get back._ This from a man who in his own _Talented Tenth_ essay in 1903 listed twenty-one Black leaders, all but one of whom was biracial. This from a man who heard Light people say over and over again that the Dark masses needed _proper grooming,_ as imparted by North Carolina educator Charlotte Hawkins Brown, who took pride in her English ancestry. Du Bois_s avowal of a post-color Black America after the presidential election of Warren G. Harding in 1920 was as out of touch as John McWhorter_s avowal of a post-racial America after Barack Obama_s presidential election in 2008. Either racist policies or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today. Either racist policies or Dark inferiority explained why Light people were wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Dark people in 1920. Du Bois snubbed the existence of colorism, claiming it had been _absolutely repudiated by every thinking Negro._ Du Bois had changed his thinking by the 1930s, moving closer to the deported Garvey. He replaced Garvey as the chief antiracist critic of the NAACP, which initially shied away from defending the Dark and poor Scottsboro Boys, who were falsely accused of raping two Alabama White women in 1931. Du Bois could not stand the NAACP_s new executive secretary, Walter White. The blue-eyed, blond-haired son of biracial parents had advocated assimilation and reportedly believed that _unmixed_ Negroes were _inferior, infinitely inferior now._ In The Crisis in 1934, months before leaving the NAACP, Du Bois bristled: _Walter White is white._ Entrepreneurs were hard at work figuring out a way for Black people, through changing their color and hair, to pass as Light or White, as Walter White had in his earlier investigations of lynchings. The post_World War I craze of the conk_short for the gel called congolene_made it as fashionable for Black men to straighten their hair as for Black women. _I had joined that multitude of Negro men and women in America_ trying _to look _pretty_ by white standards,_ Malcolm X recalled after receiving his first conk as a teenager. Skin-lightening products received a boost after the discovery in 1938 that monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone (HQ) lightened Dark skin. By the early 1970s, Black power activists inspired by Malcolm X and Angela Davis_including my parents_were liberating their kinks. No more killa cuts for the Black men. No more straight hair for Black women. The higher the better was in. Not many men had a higher Afro than my father. Dark people like my father were saying it loud: _I_m Dark and I_m proud._ _ SOME DARK PEOPLE took too much pride in Darkness, inverting the color hierarchy as I did at FAMU, deploying the two-drop rule to disavow the Blackness of Light people even as they adored the Light Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton, and Kathleen Cleaver. And, eventually, the Light ideal came back with a vengeance, if it had ever left. In his 1988 film School Daze, Spike Lee satirized his experiences in the late 1970s at historically Black Morehouse College as a battle between the Dark-skinned _jigaboos_ and the Light-skinned _wannabes._ My father slowly cut his Afro over the years, and my mother straightened her kinks by the time I arrived. In the 1980s, Light children were adopted first, had higher incomes, and were less likely to be trapped in public housing and prisons. _The lighter the skin, the lighter the sentence_ became a popular antiracist saying as the era of mass incarceration surged in the 1990s. In 2007, MSNBC_s Don Imus compared Rutgers_s Dark basketball players__that_s some nappy-headed hos there__to Tennessee_s Light players__they all look cute__after they played in the NCAA women_s championship. In a 2014 casting call for the movie Straight Outta Compton, the Sandi Alesse Agency ranked extras: _A GIRLS: _Must have real hair_B GIRLS: _You should be light-skinned_C GIRLS: These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave_D GIRLS: These are African American girls_Medium to dark skin tone. Character types._ By then, singer Michael Jackson had paved the skin-bleaching boulevard traveled by rapper Lil_ Kim, baseball player Sammy Sosa, and so many more. Skin-bleaching products were raking in millions for U.S. companies. In India, _fairness_ creams topped $200 million in 2014. Today, skin lighteners are used by 70 percent of women in Nigeria; 35 percent in South Africa; 59 percent in Togo; and 40 percent in China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and South Korea. Some White people have their own skin-care _addiction_ to reach a post-racial ideal: tanning. In 2016, the United States elected the _orange man,_ as NeNe Leakes calls Trump, who reportedly uses a tanning bed every morning. Paradoxically, some tanning White people look down on bleaching Black people, as if there_s a difference. Surveys show that people consider tanned skin_the replica color of Light people_more attractive than naturally pale skin and Dark skin. _ HALFTIME ARRIVED. LINES of musicians linked together and outlined the entire football field. The largest human-made rectangle I had ever seen. Colored orange and green. Not Dark and Light. My eyes widened in awe at the length of the FAMU Rattler. On the far side, seven tall and slender drum majors, five yards apart, slowly low-stepped to the center of the field as announcer Joe Bullard yelled their names over our screams. They stopped when they reached the center of the field, facing us. Slowly, they twirled. The drum line sounded. The drum majors sat and then stood, leading the band in a twerk, twerk, twerk, twerk, twerk. We went mad. _Please welcome what has become known as America_s band,_ Bullard said as the band played and high-stepped around the field, knees folding into their chests with the ease of folding chairs. _The innnnn-credible, the maaaaagnificent, the number-one band innnnnnnn the woooorld. The faaaantastic Florida AandM University Marching Band!_ Band members stopped in straight lines and faced us. They kissed their instruments. _First the souuund!_ Daaaa_da, da, daaaaaaaa_the trumpets blew Twentieth Century Fox_s thunderous movie introduction, blasting our ears off. Then the show. High-stepping band members changed in and out of intricate formations and played choruses by Destiny_s Child, Carl Thomas, and Sisq?, as the tens of thousands of people sang backup as the world_s biggest choir. The RandB ballads warmed us up for the climax_the rap songs. Bucking and twerking and twisting and jumping and swaying all in unison, the band and the backup dancers were one as the crowd rapped. I kept rubbing my eyes, thinking they were deceiving me. I could not play an instrument and could barely dance. How could all these heavy-coated students play tough songs and dance sophisticated routines in harmony? Ludacris, Trick Daddy, Three 6 Mafia, Outkast_the band paraded these Southern rappers before high-stepping off the field to the theme song of Good Times, to our deafening applause. Utterly exhilarated, I don_t know if I ever clapped and stomped harder and louder. Halftime over, the exodus out of the stands startled me. The people had come to see what the people had come to see. _ I HAD COME to see Clarence. I walked into our off-campus apartment, all giddy, like after watching the Marching 100 that first time. Quietness shrouded the afternoon. Dirty dishes sat in the open kitchen. Clarence had to be in his room, finishing homework. The door was open; I knocked on it anyway, disturbing him at his desk. He looked up in wonder. We had roomed together for nearly two years. Clarence had gotten used to my midday interruptions. He braced himself for my latest epiphany.

  • Mans Search for Meaning /     (by Viktor E. Frankl, 1946) -   Mans Search for Meaning /
  • The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts /   :    (by Gary Chapman, 2010) -   The Five Love Languages: The
  • The Universe in a Nutshell /     (by Stephen Hawking, 2001) -   The Universe in a Nutshell /
  •   -  !  .. ( 2012, 224) + mp3 - !

, , .

  • .

  • ,