Apples And Oranges: Happy Negroes Picking Cotton Vs. The Beating of An Innocent Motorist

My Dear Readers,

     There are times when I receive correspondence that “compare apples to oranges.” In today’s posting I am responding to such a request.  Although the writing initially surprised me greatly, I appreciate the opportunity to respond to this.  Knowledge can eliminate ignorance, but only if we want to work towards that healing as a response to hate.

Dr. Kane


Dear Visible Man,

In light of your recent verbal attack on the black men who you denounced for being full of “racial hatred” for attacking a white man (Another Consequence of Racial Hatred, 4/14/2014), I wonder how you now feel after hearing Cliven Bundy’s remarks about slavery, the black family and picking cotton?

Here’s this white man, whom after refusing to pay fees for grazing his cows for 21 years on federal government land, talking about blacks being lazy and on welfare, and he feels that he can speak about the work ethic of black people?

Maybe there’s a reason why some black folks get really upset and act out their anger.  Look at all the garbage we have to contend with! In the case of the men in Detroit, I think they were angry and just blew up out of frustration.  As a black man born and raised in America, you of all people should understand what we as black men have to go through on a day to day basis.

It may be that since you have received all of that education, you may have forgotten what it is to be black.  Or it may be that you just don’t deal with the average issues confronting black men in white America anymore.

Given what you said about the black men in Detroit in comparison to what Cliven Bundy is saying about us, you may want to reconsider your position.  Perhaps, even publicly write an apology.

Just saying,

Really Black, Seattle, WA

Dear Really,

Just saying?  It seems you have said a lot.  It would be “real” for me to simply dismiss your correspondence as simple and petty.   However that would be a serious mistake on my part.

It is my belief that you have just confused the point of my previous posting.  Furthermore, it is clear that you are attempting to use the comments of Cliven Bundy to justify or explain the actions taken by the African-American males as they almost beat a white motorist to death. And, neither my profession nor my education indicates that I don’t understand that frustration. I am secure in my ethnic and cultural identity. I simply disagree with you.

First, let us bring clarity to the actual comments made by Cliven Bundy.  In review of the online version of the Seattle PI (4/24/14), Mr. Bundy is cited as stating the following:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro. … and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids- and there is always at least a half-dozen people sitting on the porch-they didn’t have nothing to do.

They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do.  They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.  And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?

They abort their young children.  They put their young men in jail because they never learned how to pick cotton.  And I‘ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?  They didn’t get more freedom.  They got less freedom.”

Cliven Bundy’s remarks on slavery, the black family and picking cotton were met with shock, as his conservative supporters sought to distance themselves.   For example:

  • Senator Rand Paul (R) Kentucky, who has praised Bundy as a defender of states rights, stated, “His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.”
  • Glenn Beck, television and radio host stated, “If he really thinks that slaves had a family life, just that shows you how unhinged from reality this guy is.” Beck goes on to encourage conservative defenders to “end their relationship with Bundy.”
  • Dana Losech, conservative radio commentator states Bundy is “not media trained.”

Cliven Bundy reacting in his own defense to his critics, states:

“They’re making it a racist type thing.  I’m not a racist.”

Cliven Bundy, despite his faults (and there are many), may be correct here, but for a different reason: in his heart of hearts, he really does not believe he is a racist.  As much as he is truly speaking directly from his heart and belief system, he is also speaking out of ignorance, which, as defined is the “lack of knowledge or information.”

It would be a mistake to engage in similar behaviors as Mr. Bundy’s current detractors (and former supporters) to simply dismiss him because of his views.  It is unfortunate that none of his detractors have shown any interest in understanding the basis of his views or attempting to educate him by providing accurate information regarding slavery, its impact on the black family and the current dilemmas being faced by black men. Rather than be dismissive of Mr. Bundy, we as individuals must want to examine the basis of Mr. Bundy’s beliefs.

This form of racism, typically referred to as “unconscious racism,” reflects anti Black feelings and behaviors among the affluent middle class.  It consists of assumptions and expectations as to how African-Americans as a group do act, how they should act, what they deserve and whether they should be treated equitably.

Mr. Bundy’s comments also show characteristics of “aversive racism,” which is a form of racism where the aversive racist says, “I’m not a racist, but…” and may then engage in racist statements. In doing so, the aversive racist overtly denies racist intent, while acting in ways that still feel racist to the target.

Mr. Bundy’s former supporters now seek to distance themselves from his remarks as they too realize, despite Mr. Bundy’s denials, the insidious impact that such comments have on the people they are attempting to influence.  Unconscious and aversive forms of racism are insidious because those who practice it not only deny racist attitudes in a defensive manner, they also engage in racist behaviors that are based on supposed evidence consisting of singular personal encounters.  In this situation, it’s Mr. Bundy’s personal knowledge of “Negroes.”


Concluding Remarks

Mr. Bundy’s words, in comparison to the actions of the group of African-American males in Detroit,  are in reality a comparison of apples and oranges, which other than both groups being fruit, cannot be practically compared.  Specifically, both are derived from being  rooted in racial hate and pre-supposition, yet are dressed attractively for the unsuspecting consumer, their own social groups, and the naïve public.

However as previously stated, Mr. Bundy’s words are built on a foundation of “unconscious racism” whereas the acts of violence in Detroit by African-American males upon an innocent white motorist were “conscious racism” based on emotions.  Regardless of the “intent” by either Cliven Bundy or the group of African-American males in Detroit MI, the “outcome” was wrong.

Both outcomes have traumatic impacts and will continue to work to reinforce division among us. It is up to us, all of us regarding of ethnicity, racial group or political views not to allow that division to continue to create disunity among us.

As stated in the Ten Flashes of Light in the Journey of Life, (#5)

“When a person exposes the true self to you, embrace the action and treat it as a gift.”

I do want to thank the writer for providing me the opportunity to take what was stated and create a vehicle of healing and understanding.

As I stated in the previous writing:

“It is up to all of us as individuals or as members of the larger group (society, community and family) to decide whether we will continue to “live in fear” of each other or have the willingness to “live with fear” and in doing so have the willingness to openly communicate across the table of human interaction the differences which not only separates us and also works at keeping us apart.  We will either learn to work together or work apart.”

The Visible Man

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