What started off as a personal quest for more information and a possible book review turned into so much more. The covers are both available for purchase online and the covers of both can be found at the bottom of this page.
I was keen and interested when my copy of "white racism" came through the post. However from a phenomeological perspective I truly didn't want read what Kovel had to say. I didn't want to be 'woke' I wanted to remain limited by the knowledge I already had, I would start to drop asleep whilst reading. Dropping asleep when I feel I need to read an important book is not a new phenomenon to me. So I tried reading at home, early in the morning, mid afternoon, with a glass of water, etcetera. I then convinced myself to just read one chapter at a time. But nothing worked. I succesfully managed to read two other books, so my journey with "white racism" went on hold.
That being said I was able to read and digest "The mis-education of the negro" so I will share with you some of the reasons why racism still exists by exploring some of the defence mechanisms that facilitates racism. It will be a combination taken from both books, which I hope will give you some insight into the content of each book.
1. The splitting of capitalism and racism.
They could be one in the same thing. The use or misuse of another in order to gain financial capital and or status.
If we look at the UK in relation to the Common wealth country (former member of the British Empire) of Jamaica you may notice that various types of wood, the sugar cane from and other exports fuelled the UK economical growth. Whilst boosting the UK economy Jamaica received few monetry benefits of the booming trade of its exports to the 'mother' country. Why is this? Are non-white countries less worthy of being paid for their contribution?
The 'use' of Jamaican man power in the world war and the efforts of 'black british' workers to rebuild Britain became 'abuse' when they were treated as less than by 'other' (white) British citizens. Even as recently as 2018 there are examples of British citizen's being removed from England for not being quite British enough (i.e. deportation of windrush generation).
Until all trade in and between commonwealth countries is fair trade the wealth will remain unequally distributed between different 'types' of British citizens.
Until black bodies and people are seen as deserving to share in the wealth created by them, racism will exist. Racism is a divide that keeps one race or group of people away from the very resources they create and should have free access to.
2. Proclaiming not to be racist is the end of the discussion?
How many times have you heard someone say (or perhaps you have said it yourself) "I'm not racist"?
If you take a promotion knowing that there is a non-white person more qualified than you then you are racist.
If you stop helping or financially backing a woman of colour in a joint enterprise because she corrects or questions your judgement you are racist.
If you are an advocate for ending racism but are a white man or woman surrounded by and or taking advice of more white than non white members of society then you are racist.
If you choose to eat carribean food but would rather eat it from a caribbean food chain owned by a white man or woman than from a food chain run by carribean company then you are racist.
These are hard truths. Actions speak louder than words. You cannot be perplexed by the number of non-white persons in your organisation if you are not willing to find and employ them. You cannot be perplexed by the number of non-white persons graduating from schools, colleges and universities of you are not willing to fund educational programs that support and sustain them. You cannot expect non-white individuals to continue to be entrepreneurs and run successful businesses if you chose not to spend your money there.
If you are not racist then Kovel suggests you "prove it".
3. People of colour should not compete with one another.
This is especially important in small communities. Woodson makes a clear point. POC often see another POC doing well and decide to create a similar business in a nearby vicinity and so custom is then split making it harder for either business to flourish and expand. Think of a different idea or agree to be a sleeping partner by investing in a business you admire. That way you drive custom into your community in order to grow and provide more opportunities.
These are just some of the ways in which individuals and organisations defend the need for racism. These defences will need to come down for change to occur.