Racism in a Post-Racism World


In the enormous unwritten book “Prominent Jackasses of History”, Louisiana physician Samuel Cartwright merits at least a whole chapter. In his version of “what I know about the negro” circa 1851, he came up with “Drapetomania”. A mental illness he invented to explain the (to him) inexplicable desire to run away from slavery. He documented this condition in his sadly real book “Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race”. The tome included helpful tips to diminish the full blown syndrome. In the event of prodromal symptoms such as sulking, depression and general non tap-dancey behavior, he recommended whipping (of course he did).

It’s high comedy how shocked the media in particular has been in response to the overt presence of Cartwright’s heirs this last week. What? The wealthy cowboy who doesn’t want to pay for grazing in the commons and happily transfers those cows for slaughter on tax-paid-for-roads has some other less than fair and inclusive ideas? No! I would have been shocked if he didn’t have some pet ideas about “the negro”. I can only imagine his notions about women, animal rights (!), and the ethical implications of “Jude the Obscure” (stupid fucker just needs to get to work, stop whining about going to school).

But that wasn’t enough. We had to get the Donald Sterling tapes. I guess he owns some sort of gladiator type group that participates in large competitive events. I’m not sure on the details. But he doesn’t want the gladiators in the seats; that is for certain. Again, quite the shock that the billionaire who is said to have driven past his slum properties to make sure that the minorities didn’t have some offense to kick them out over (like plants on their porches) would have unseemly notions. You mean the guy who has “people” to make sure if he gets a massage, it’s not one of those fucking lame ass just for relaxation things? He said a fucking massage and he meant it. That guy. And his super bold gladiators turning their shirts inside out to protest. Brave! A McDonalds worker with nobody else to take care of their kid takes part in a protest….that’s brave. Spoiled babies not even taking a significant stand when they are flush with cash against a piece of trash like Sterling? Sad. They don’t have Drapetomania.

But of course Donald Sterling would be like this. Scratch the surface of the kind of people who amass such assets. Great wealth, great crime and all….. Do you think this mangy old man would have it any other way? All is commodity, including his players. These malignant views all mesh. These are the people who are in charge and by virtue of their cash demand lickspittle from all. He can’t get a damn blow job without the commodified world. It ain’t happening. Won’t be a lovely young ethnic (one of the non-threatening ethnic ones, dammit or there will be hell to pay) and that’s what he is demanding. And here’s the other angle of it. This woman who evidently taped him saying these things. I’m guessing if she ran in his circles……well she probably wasn’t starving in a third world hell hole or any other mitigating factor. She was open to having that thing inside her for more stuff. And the people around just act smile with a glaze–it’s all so normal. They say Nero liked to do performances. People pretended like his thespianship was amazing, but the pregnant women would fake labor to leave during the performances and men would feign heart attacks. This still goes on. We just have so many Neros. And it would be obvious if we all faked labor and heart attacks, so the behavior persists with audience intact.

Our Supreme Court tells us racism is over. Why we have a sort of black president, it must be. And on a related topic, there is no sexism according to Rand Paul (since his niece is going to be a veterinarian—he probably thinks that is the medical professional who takes care of women). I think what they are really trying to say is that those of us who still see issues, well, maybe it’s just a modern form of Drapetomania.. We are hungering for a freedom from all of this demeaning bullshit from those who weren’t held in check by morality of any kind in their quest for wealth. They build theories that explain and codify the injustice and reeking reality already present. That reality that serves them. And it’s nothing new. Just consult “Diseases and Peculiarities of the ______” (and insert any of our labels they are opting to denigrate and mine for resources).

Draptomaniacs, the lot of us. Why can’t we just understand our place?

Kathleen Wallace lives in the Midwest.

Kathleen Wallace writes out of the US Midwest and can be reached at klwallace@riseup.net

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