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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  • http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com/ John Bailo

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

    http://www.themandus.org

  • 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.

  • NotARedneck

    Get rid of the imbecilic drug laws (kept in place to cater to fundamentalist imbeciles and other fearful nut cases) and 90% of the violence out there will disappear almost immediately.

    These laws destroy poor neighborhoods and blight the lives of those living there while doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to deal with the problems of drugs. They are just a subsidy or protection racket, run by the DEA and police to allow the scumbag element of society to earn an quick buck.

    White neighborhoods would have the same levels of violence if whites needed this income to the same extent.

  • Paula

    What’s a drag for me personally? I’ve lived in a majority black neighborhood since 1987. Adorable little town just south of Atlanta. Everyone’s always been friendly. But long before Ferguson, I’ve felt a change. From young people. Whether in the grocery store (my nearby “black” store, where ham hocks are on special often) or on the street. It doesn’t help that gentrification has turned my former renting neighbors out. The kids know their parents are feeling the heat. It’s not a black/white thing here, it’s a have/have not thing, with black and white overtones. About four years ago I was robbed and the guy smashed my teeth into the sidewalk, calling me a “white bitch”. Besides the teeth and the loss of my beloved, near irreplaceable 1993 Accord STATION WAGON, that really hurt my feelings. I mean, I gave up most of my job to work on former Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s first campaign. I parked in front of a young black couple, got out of my car and said hello, at 11pm. And that thug’s trying to justify robbing an old lady by implying I’m some white bigot? Now this week, the burden of feeling race was a big park of the beating, a young black man shot a young black woman when she tried to hang onto her purse during a robbery, as I did. The system gave up on a lot of these violent robbers long ago, we’re all paying for that now.

  • Paula

    I’m a white woman who’s lived in a 76% black (according to City Data) city since 1987. It’s not been a problem. Now I think it’s an age thing too. Young black people are pissed. I wanna get certified. I gave my first political contribution to Jackson in 1976, Moved here after living in a hillbilly hood for 13 yrs. I can’t find tulip bulbs because the local box doesn’t think black folks do tulips so they only sent two boxes. Kroger advertises organics on sale but don’t stock them at the store near me. I want Quincy Jones to give me official “almost black” certification t-shirt. Of course I don’t suffer the worst things about shopping while black. No one’s following me around thinking I’ll steal. But in another way, product deprivation, I do suffer from shopping while black. Plus, the beyatch at Kroger didn’t ask for my card and cost me $8 before an older cashier called it to my attention. That was a result of shopping while white I’m afraid. Hope I’m wrong.

  • Emily Kline

    It is also hard to be a white person brought up thinking all are equal and that racism is bad and then to have a lot of crap attributed to you that you don’t actually feel or believe. I understand all the psychological and sociological arguments. But I also feel pre-judged.

  • Anonymous

    I was brought up as a white person thinking all are equal and that racism is bad, and didn’t attribute any of this discussion to myself. No where in this interview did he say “all white people.”

  • Anonymous

    That’s quite the leap that I sincerely doubt “all humans everywhere” make.

  • Pat Thompson

    What other problem do you believe the African American historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad was talking about when he said “encoded deeply in our DNA”? The associations are automatic and unconscious. That is WHY people need to become *conscious*, to OVERRIDE the automatic, unconscious associations the human mind makes which set instinct into motion, to fight or to flee. The southern fundamentalists you mention are at a primitive stage of mind-development and don’t know any better; they seriously believe they’re right. Their unconscious selves — which they presume to be evil — are “black”.

  • Pat Thompson

    What other problem do you believe the African American historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad was talking about when he said “encoded deeply in our DNA”? The associations are automatic and unconscious. That is WHY people need to become *conscious*, to OVERRIDE the automatic, unconscious associations the human mind makes which set instinct into motion, to fight or to flee. The southern fundamentalists you mention are at a primitive stage of mind-development and don’t know any better; they seriously believe they’re right. Their unconscious selves — which they presume to be evil — are “black”.

  • Anonymous

    “Zimmerman’s life will be ruined if he lives in fear for the rest of his life.”

    One can only hope so, since that will be his only – entirely inadequate – punishment.

  • Pat Thompson

    The condemnation of blackness is not limited to white people. It’s an unconscious attitude (or cringe “sensation”) that blacks also have; and that’s probably the reason there is more black-on-black crime than black-on-white crime. Human laws cannot change this — only consciousness and maturity will remove the problem. But the folkways and mores of societies are built around their religions. As a result, humans are born into a false concept of sin that perverts social ethics, displaces inborn conscience to an outside “controller”, and blocks awareness.