The Condemnation of Blackness

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Historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad observes in his book The Condemnation of Blackness that “to think and talk about African Americans as criminal is encoded deeply in our DNA.” In this 2012 Moyers Moment from Moyers & Company, Muhammad tells Bill how, during Reconstruction, former slaves were perceived to have a moral failing that made them different from white European immigrants. As a result, he explained, “immigrant communities got police reform. And black people got police repression.”

Watch Bill’s full interview with Khalil Gibran Muhammad.

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  • John Bailo

    This is idea of encoded responses to “others” is part of the Neanderthal Predation theory.

  • Anonymous

    A sad state of affairs exists in the black community..Thirteen % of our population is black. yet over 50% of all homicides are committed by blacks. Of that number 93% of them are black on black crimes. What can the black community do to change the social life among the folks.. Are they lacking community leadership?? The crime rate does not seem to improve no matter how much money is spent on curbing it. Are the churches failing; is the family not getting the job done; schools failing? Mr Muhammad make the point that folks sterotype the blacks.. I don’t feel this is our national view but it does not change the facts. It is sad that a nation that gives opportunity to the folks can not include more or are we just paying the folks to stay poor?? It’s a serious national problem which politicians talk about but as usual do not address it.other than throw money at it.

  • Kenneth Brown

    This interview was very enlightening. I am going out and buy the book.

  • Pat Thompson

    It’s more complicated than that. All humans everywhere and for all time unconsciously relate “black” to dark evil, danger, without light or irrational, the shadow-elements…

  • Joey

    Where did you get that crap?

  • Pat Thompson

    This is understood worldwide. If you will Google “psychology, black as dangerous, evil, mysterious” you’ll receive pages full of headings, for examples.

    This is what historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad meant by “encoded deeply in our DNA” and WHY people need to become *conscious*, to OVERRIDE the automatic, unconscious associations the human MIND makes and sets instinct into motion, to fight or to flee. Zimmerman went looking for a fight and Martin responded with the same.

    If the situation had been reversed and Martin had been on community watch, I believe Martin would have had sense enough to explain who he was and what he was doing. Zimmerman could not do that because he’d been told NOT to approach Martin. The only justice that was served by “the law” was for the special NRA “stand your ground” law which doesn’t work when the person standing HIS ground doesn’t have a gun. But Zimmerman’s life will be ruined if he lives in fear for the rest of his life. I’m guessing he’ll eventually envy Trayvon

  • Joe Hardwick

    You just don’t get it , educate yourself on our African American community, find out what they live with everyday , see what its like to be born in a country and feel like you don’t belong there. There is so many influences in the United States that make white people scared of our African American brothers, I know I have grown up in a all white small town. I have since been lucky enough to become very good friends with a person from Chicago that has a very liberal view and has a very high intelligence, that lead me to a better life and taught me to research and try to understand others before condemning them.

  • Jay Glenn

    blacks were criminalize to access their use as prison labor. after slavery, you didn’t have to commit a crime to be imprisoned.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t get it.. WHAT?? That you have one black friend who educated you on race relations etc.. WOW..I did not condemn “them”. I criticized the govt for enabling them to live poor.. Having lived in Chicago for 7 yrs & traveling in Detroit; St Louis: Cleveland & Indianapolis I had contact with the black community.. as well as working with them.. A few had their MBA’s & many had a bachelors degree.. Many were brought up in the black getto ; a couple admitted they knew what kind of life they would have if they did not get an education because they were tired of being poor…. I condemn the politicians using them for votes with hand outs rather than a hand up.. Joe if you put folks down without adding to the discussion with facts why waste our time. +.. Did I not state some facts?? I don’t get it. REALLY!!!

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely, you DO NOT GET IT! Read what you are saying before you put it down, and if it does NOT sound racist to you,then you simply are not paying attention. Racism has been a part (a BIG part) of public policy in this country since well before Reconstruction, and that was NOT helped by the Emancipation Proclamation, by the 14th and 15th Amendments, by school integration, by Brown vs. Bd. of Education, by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or by the election of the first black president. Jon Stewart said it much better than I can when he said to just try living it for a day. Whites can live a few days in a black neighborhood, mingling with the neighbors, talking with them, eating with them. But, at the end of that visit, that privileged white can go home to his white neighborhood and his white friends and no longer be black.