Saturday, March 8, 2014


Dear ones,

The blacks and whites are adjectives made into nouns.  Black and white is the most rival colors due to the history of  racism.  Color profiling is the

A Personal Essay

Helene Smith
copyright © by Helene Smith 2013
All Rights Reserved including digital


"White people send black people to fight yellow people to protect the country they stole from red people"–Gerome Ragni and James Rado (musical, Hair)

            Shocking cutting-edge news flash!–"Slaves forced to race to death in chariots of fire at coliseum under four divisive sport colors during deadly Nike victory riots! " The Ancient Roman Empire set the stage for color-coding rivalry.  Source of "race," meaning vicious competition, is biblical–Psalm 19:5 "as a strong man to run a race." The same source of scriptures proclaims heathens must be slaves  (Leviticus 25:44). Man–short for human–caught in a web of archaic history is still spinning bigoted dogma. The word "heathen" means persuasion other than biased authoritarian deceit–later transferred to American Indians and American Africans with their own spirituality banned and the people targeted for slavery, as pious missionaries attempted to deprive them of their spirituality and their culture, "in God's name."
            The De Wolf family was the largest slave owners in America.  They kept human bondage going even after the emancipation. Courageous descendant of the De Wolfs, Katrina Browne, wrote Traces of the Trade. Guilt, shame, and discomfort is overwhelming to empathetic people whose ancestors come from Europe.  I discovered my own family's secrets, but in out the open at the time. Although the entire US system supported slavery, I am stilled ashamed.  A  descendant, Reason (Rezin) Bowie, was the real inventor of the Bowie knife–to help brother Jim from cutting himself in his escapades and at the Alamo.  These Bowie brothers were playing high-stakes in the slave trade where they picked up poor, bewildered people at mouths of rivers after the Middle-Atlantic horror of being yanked from their homes in Africa.  There are no words to adequately define the sheer tragedy of being  chained in bottom galleys of boats and transported like cattle to the New World of criminal bondage.
            Years ago a dear friend from the Urban League of a leading US city invited me to go with her to Ghana.  Her husband, a prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist from the city, and his family were black-balled from a prominent country club where my husband was a member. When this bigotry showed its ugly face, he and I took a stand and supported the family and their sponsors.  During the brouhaha one sponsor had his car "keyed" by a club member who objected to the proposed membership. Disparaging comments followed, such as, "We have nothing against blacks.  We just don't want 'em in our club."  Since my husband was on a golf committee we received these bigoted letters.  When it was known that American Africans were hired as employees but not allowed to join, it became a shock and awe news story for the entire nation. 
            The same institution had also rejected Italians and Jews, not a rarity in earlier days of the city.  Tongue in cheek, I wonder if it had something to do with the amount of protective brown pigment in their skin. Several TV stations called to interview us.  But so incensed that racist bigots still behave with venom, we decided a better use of our energy would be to stay the course, a strong goal to win the racist race.  When the family was at last permitted to join, it was a water-shed moment.  It is illegal for country clubs hiring people of Africa descent, but denying them membership.
            After the smoke cleared my new friend and I went to Accra, the capital of Ghana in Africa. I was delighted to be her roommate, the only non-African on the trip. I shall cherish this journey the rest of my life, along with her and her family's friendship.
            Our first tour was at Castle Elmina, largest and oldest African slave fort–Portuguese later British owned. Its holding prison held two thousand people at times, standing room only, while waiting for incoming transatlantic ships transferring human cargo to America and other ports for 200 years.  As a well-fortified holocaustic garrison it kept out competitive slavers.
When we entered the dank, damp dungeon built below the church where members used to sing The Amazing Grace, it was a heart wrenching experience.  One dark high-ceiling room with only a small barred window for air has a brick floor with a sunken trough running through it–the common latrine for shackled people. Daily the governor from his high tower apartment looked down from a balcony and chose which woman to rape, with the group of women washed with buckets of soapy water before each episode. There are still nail scratches on the sun-dried bricks from human despair of being imprisoned and fear of the next incoming no-return ship.
            Anyone physically objecting to cruel,  harsh treatment was thrown into an adjacent hole in the wall, next to the dungeon and locked behind a solid door–to slowly die without food, water or light with their relatives and friends sadly hearing their screams until they subsided. I wept as a chill went down my spine–still to this day as I write about the horror. The leader of the Urban League magnanimously put her arm around me.  But her ancestors were the ones who were tortured and tormented, while my ancestors were the torturers.  The ironies of life are as endless as war and crime.
            Everyone knows the rest of the story of human abuse based on color.  Amy Goodman of Free Speech, Democracy Now! interviewed Craig Steven Walder, professor at MIT, whose ancestors were slaves.  His book, Ebony & Ivey, reveals how early colleges broke away from churches to take on their own campaigns to justify injustice through biased missionary schools teaching "slaves must obey their masters"–at the same time boiling people of American Indian and African heritage for skeletons used in biology labs of med schools, as they do with cat cadavers.  The culprits making up their own tyrannical laws wrote their own Emancipation Proclamation–"Providence has bequeathed us God-given rights to take lands from the heathen"–even their bodies.
   Meanwhile–more ground-breaking news–"There's no such thing as human race!"  In 1779 German Johann Friedrich Blumenbach–father of color segregation and race–invented a hierarchy, classification based on color and persuasion–what fueled the racist WWII holocaust. Rival human segregation was broken into grades of differing melanin. Indo-Europeans started the caste system in India, as Anglo-Saxon racism took root in the rest of the world–blacks, reds, whites and yellows. History of so-called "whites" afraid of "so-called  "darks" or "darkies" has proven that "pure as soap" supremacists view themselves as top dogs of the ladder of racism.  There is no such thing as race, other than in horse, dog, car, sports and political races.           
            Carolus Linnaeus classified plants and animals as genus and species in1735 with no physical profiling: American Indian, Caucasian; Negroid or Hamite; and Mongoloid. Inhabitants of Easter Island targeted ears for bigotry–big ears and short ears, as they annihilated one another. Biblical Ham, whose father was Noah, was "cursed." Ham was sent in sexual shame into Ethiopian bondage–endless, inherited stigma. Early Semitic cultures–Jewish, Christian, and Islamic–knew "black" was code for slave, now a stereotype.  Sacred imbedded myths in the psyche die slowly. Man easily erased two rival colors–reds and yellows. So we are halfway there. Two down, two more to go. But cutthroat aggressive black and white remain as sticklers.
            Pulitzer/Nobel Laureate Pearl Buck chided Americans pegging Asians as cowardly, what yellow implies. Washington, DC football mascots are named "Redskins." Although Native American traditionalists call themselves "skins"–sans color-coding. Racial epithets comparing people to animals is offensive.that  American Trademark Law disallows "disparage and disrepute of others" through labeling–names of sports teams and businesses. Respect and dignity for others prevent wars, in which Asians were pegged as "gooks" to make them appear inhuman–military strategy for guilt-free killing.
            Docile brown is now in as skin tones become less rival through time. Nevertheless, although the Civil War was fought without the help of foreign powers, racists still duke it out with vigor, gnashing teeth, and foaming at the mouth–behind closed doors with biased jabs and demeaning jokes against one another.
            Bigots are not born. Fortunately childhood is too short for scorn and contempt.  Years ago I did archeological work at a historic fort site, first British court of justice west of the Allegheny Mountains. Here I brought my five children to dig in glorious days of sunshine. Suddenly one of my daughters ran up to me out of breathe, "Look, mommy.  Look at all those black people!  Hesitating to look up, I was relieved to see a tour of visiting nuns! I should have known not to be concerned.  To this day none of my kids have shown any racial prejudice.
            Historically the following peoples were called "blacks"–American Indians, natives of India, West Indians, Africans, Italians, Slavs (from word, slaves), Arabs, Jews, Hispanics, Asians, and Latinos. The Irish were profiled "black" for dark eyes and hair, with their Viking invaders called "white foreigners" and "black foreigners," the latter meaning evil, black-hearted intruders–black being a negative word conjuring up, blackmail, blackball, and black mark, together with contrasting symbols of black and white hats.  And everyone knows who the good guys are–by traditional white hats.
            Years ago a Filipino friend read a sign in a city restaurant:  "Blacks on left, whites on right." In frustration she told the manager, "Where do I sit?  I'm not black or white."  Transparently he replied,  "If you sit in the black section, I'll pay for your lunch."
             When visiting the gravesite of W.E.B DuBois in Africa I read how he looked forward "to the end of the color line." Oxford Universal Dictionary associates white with fearful coward. We can call ourselves anything we wish–but ingrained pejorative connotations of colors provoke aggression.  Cause and effect, this hostile fixation on color leads to genocide and toxic chemical and radioactive war contamination that kills young combatants and deforms the offspring of soldiers, as well as women  and other citizens caught in urban war zones–all illegal under International Law.
            The University of Chicago Press 2003 stylebook suggests "African American," not  former "black," for word usage–a watershed publication; but it still clutches on to "white in inconsistency. The Associated Press, worldwide distributor, and other presses rely on this guide. The public ear picks up words from influential media that not always check on updated stylebooks.
             Census Bureau's race boxes confuse college applicants and the public in general as to which one to check. France already eliminated race on forms. Why not think outside the box–nationality identification, consistent across the board having no color-discrimination?           
     Man gives more homage to cattle than humans.  Cows are named for their origins, such as Jersey and Holstein, neither blacks nor whites.  According to black and white prismatics, black is devoid of color; white contains all colors of the rainbow. No wonder racism is a hardball-game called madness!
            Complexion determines how far or near our ancestors lived from the equator.  Anthropologists claim 20,000 years for dark skin to lighten in DNA through evolution, mutations, and migration. All human beings have similar light toned soles and palms not radiated by direct sunrays.
            Jim Crow discriminatory laws forbade mixed ethnic marriages–Constitutional violation against freedom of association. Now that marriage has become legal after being denied between clans and cultures fro eons, human complexion in the future will reflect one common, neutral tone. What, then, shall we call ourselves?  Better still, erase race!
Prophets–Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and Gandhi–had handsome dark complexions. Ironically those who worship these most esteemed men commit violence against the very families of these great seers–their ancestors. Lady Liberty is not called green, although outer space aliens become "little green men." When color-coding returns to the horse track where rival "race" originated, Lady Liberty can hold her torch high–one nation, indivisible, with justice for all.