Racism in America: The Scarlet Letter of a Nation

Racism in America


Let me tell you a secret. White America’s issue with minorities is a simple one. Blacks in the US are the Scarlet Letter (look it up) on the face of what appears to be a prosperous and significant nation. A high-quality lie to the rest of the world that hard work leads to prosperity and America is prosperous because it works hard. This is a disingenuous truth.

When White America sees a minority face and most importantly a Black face, it is reminded that the wealth of this nation, the invisible labor (yes, the word no one can say) labor, not capital, is what made this country rich. The ability to, for four hundred years, give or take, burn human beings lives like kindling in the forge of what is now a great nation, is what America is built on.

White America is a very poor winner. They want to own the spoils of a war (the complete and total annihilation of an enemy, see: Native Americans) and pretend there were no wrong-doings committed. No smallpox blankets, no extermination orders, no routing of the natives, no Trail of Tears. America just spread its legs and said “come on in” we were waiting for your Manifest Destiny.

We are constantly reminded that Blacks sold other Blacks into slavery. We never question who was buying those slaves, what would happen to those slaves, how many of those slaves would become diseased by being carried like wood, how many of those slaves would die in the greatest human disaster ever (the Middle Passage) and would become part of the most monstrous human engine of progress and destruction called “The North America Project” started in 1492.

Blacks are the Scarlet Letter that says to every country, everywhere: America will eventually fuck you. Yes, we will promise you nice stuff in the beginning, (See: Black Slavers, Native Americans) but in the end, we will take everything you own, everything you believe in and replace it with our religion, everything you dream of, everything you ever held dear, we will grind it into the dust, turn you into labor and then pretend you are capital until we have taken every bit of value from you. Then and only then will we let you die, an ignoble death, bereft of any meaning, any cultural value, reduced to a cypher, reduced to a numerical statistical element, only fit for a ledger. You won’t even get a tombstone. It costs too much.

So when you hear the ranting of Conservative Party X or the mouth-breathings of Tea Bag on the Forehead member Y, you know now what this is really about. The truth of their rantings is found in their own discomfort with what they know to be truth. Their ancestors were not the stuff of heroic legend. Not at all. They were small men and women who despite writing history could not erase the far greater men and women who were destroyed so this nation could exist as a paragon of faux virtue to a world who holds them in high enough esteem to destroy itself trying to be them.

America is a land of wastrels, destroying its populace with mindless entertainment, pathetic blandishments of eternal beauty, sex past eighty, a mechanized fetishism bereft of satisfaction, little more than digital masturbation. Stroking, rubbing, playing with toys keeps the masses calm and quiet while the true monsters continue to promote left is right, right is wrong and freedom is not slavery, guns protect everyone, children should be armed, wealth is only for the rich, unions impoverish the poor, autism isn’t caused by environment, violence is caused by video games, global warming doesn’t exist and America is your friend.

Look through history and find America’s friends. None of them survived the experience. Ask yourself this question: Would White America be so unkind if just once they could imagine themselves in the roles of the victims they have destroyed over the centuries (yes, this means you Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, and any other country which participated in the slave trade).

Spare me the cultural relativism too, while you are at it. Every culture has had slavery in history. We are not talking about those cultures or those histories. We are talking about this history, this culture, this America where minorities, people of color, Blacks are still treated as second class citizens, not as part of a terrible wrong which could have been a right. If White America hadn’t spent and still spends so much of its time pretending didn’t happen, so much time trying to sanitize their evil from the pages of history (See: Kentucky, Slave Triangle). What if they had said: We have done a great wrong to the Natives, let’s make it right, truly right. Find a way to return their some of their land to them, give them sovereignty in this nation, show some measure of contriteness for our atrocities perpetrated by less civilized men. Let’s treat new members of our land with more deference than we had treated the natives who once lived here on land we have stolen from them.

No. That will never happen. Nor will any effort be made to assist the countries, the peoples, the nations, the histories of people destroyed by the social engine of Capitalism, promoted by White people as the ultimate expression of human development no matter how many people it grinds into the dust in the name of progress. Capitalism is the engine, humanity is the grain. Widgets are the bread.

Let those who survive the engine of capitalism, poor, huddled masses, quivering in the smoky darkness, awaiting the next dawn with dread and trepidation, waiting outside what was once their home, hoping for the kindness of a stranger but expecting the baton of the police or military, let those masses of tired, hungry and disfranchised masses remember, there are no other shores to go to. There are no other places where you can start over. There is nothing left out there which is not already owned by capitalists who have already tried to claim your water and will soon claim your very breath as their property. You now have no place on Earth where they cannot reach and do not want dominion over.

What will it take for you to fight back against the people who oppress you with their rhetoric of “too big to fail” and use your last dollars, your retirement, your opportunities to power their very wasteful existence. Or will you go quietly to the grave cursing your enemies while playing with your electronic toys, blissfully ignorant of your role in the Great Machine, not as the cog you were promised and the opportunity to exceed your humble station, but as the grist itself.


“Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.” — W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folks

Robert Jensen: “The Color of the Race Problem is White”

Author of “The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege”

A video from a class held at the University of Texas at Austin.


“If you look at the data right from the immediate aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement, the late Sixties the early Seventies, look at that racialized gap between White and Black America then, and compare it to the gap today and what you will find on some of those measures on wealth and well-being, you find the gap is as wide today as it was forty years ago. On the measures where that gap is narrowing, it is narrowing at such a glacial pace that it will be decades or in some cases, even centuries before the gap is closed. Before we achieve parity, before we achieve a rough equality in this society.”

“The United States is the most affluent society in the history of the world. There has never been a society in the history of this planet that is as affluent and as wealthy as the United States.”

“If the United States wanted to close the racialized gap between White and Non-White Americans, could it do it? it certainly has the resources. It certainly has the belief in its ability to accomplish such things, yet it hasn’t closed that gap. What does that tell you? What it tells me is that it is still appropriate to call America a White Supremacist society in material terms.”

Black Scifi 2012 – Conventions We Know and Love

The State of Black Science Fiction 2012

This is the fourth week of the State of Black Science Fiction Blog hop being done in conjunction with the Black Science Fiction Society and Alicia McCalla. Today we were supposed to talk about the science fiction conventions we like to go to and meet other people who share our interest.

I have been a convention attendee for over twenty years. I have been to CreationCon, ComicCon in San Diego, WonderCon in San Francisco, Star Trek Conventions across the country, and numerous local conventions here in the San Francisco Bay Area such as Pantheacon, Kublacon and my personal favorite, Dundracon.

I have been an active Dundracon participant for more than twenty years. Dundracon started humbly about thirty years ago as a convention for fans of fantasy-roleplaying games such as Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. It blossomed and soon began to include many other forms of fantasy, war-gaming, board games, Live Action Roleplaying, seminars and meetings with the Society for Creative Anachronism or SCA. It has become one of the oldest conventions of its kind in Northern California and has been hosted at the Hyatt in Burlingame for at least a decade every President’s Day weekend.

I have enjoyed Dundracon as a participant, playing a variety of games including my favorites of the Hero Systems Games, Chaosium’s Games (Call of Cthulu, Elric, Stormbringer, and Basic Role-Playing), Cyberpunk 2020 and its cousins, Shadowrun. There are hundreds of these games for four days all Dead President’s Day Weekend from Friday at 6:00 PM till Monday at 6:00 PM. Games are played 24 hours a day until the close of the convention; many people play right up until closing.

For most of those years I was a game master or GM and would run games for other attendees. Being a GM is an honored position of both power and trust. People you don’t know will sign up for your game and for 6-12 hours share in a mutual experience that you will create for them and they will participate in with you. This is the element of conventions that I feel makes them most like writing with a bit of directing and even some acting.

A GM must create a series of scenarios, a story, as it were, and create all of the setttings and potential possibilities for how the story MIGHT flow. He then creates a group of adventurers (the players) who come to the game knowing the rules of HOW to play but not having any idea of what they will be doing beyond a simple one paragraph like this one:

203 Stormy Weather
Type: RPG
System: Cyberpunk 2020
Saturday, 8:00 AM in 149 for 8 hours
GM: Becky Thomas
Characters may be provided by GM
Power Level:
Variations: minor house rules
A Category 5 hurricane will hit Cabo San Lucas in 24 hours. The whole
area is being evacuated, residents and touristas. Your job is a little
counter-corporate espionage. The challenge: stay alive in the
hurricane, avoid the Federales and looters, AND bring back the stolen

The challenge is to have a session where the GM describes the scene, outlines each scenario, and acts out the parts of all the bad guys while the players take on the role of their individual character, working with or sometimes against the goals of the group. The magic happens when a skilled GM finds a group of players who can spontaneously get into their roles well enough that the entire event ends up feeling like a movie. Each person takes on their role, creates their dialog, on the fly, and takes actions that resemble that of heroic adventurers we know and love from cinema and books. Yes, most of the time its goofy, badly done, and easily forgotten, but done right it is as good as anything you have ever read or experienced and because it is not public beyond whoever shows up, can be an shared experience that bonds the group of you together for years.

Make no mistake, playing in a game is tough work. Running a game is tougher. Its akin to writing a novel where characters are completely autonomous and you still have to challenge their decisions and actions, even if they were not what you intended when you wrote the story outline. Often, that is where the fun comes in for the GM. He must be able to change his storyline to deal with creative thinking on the part of his players who might come up with a solution to the problem he didn’t even know could exist. This builds the creative muscle in a way almost nothing else I can think of.

I have been a GM since 1981 when the first versions of Champions and Dungeons and Dragons were published. I have run a series of gaming campaigns that span over a decade with the same and often evolving groups of gamers and we have many shared experiences and late nights running adventures that span a continuum of genres, themes, ideas, stories and game systems. Gaming unfortunately is not an experience done by many People of Color. When I started there might have been one other out of a room of one hundred people. That ratio is much better now and I am often pleased by the increasing number of People of Color and women who are now participating. I remember the arguments about women playing games and how it was thought they would erode the quality of play. That idea is so dead. They are better players and often better GMs as well. Something about how women communicate allows them to see players and story themes that were previously not considered by male GMs, such as storylines involving complex intrigue and dare I say it, romance.

You might think that the lack of People of Color is reflective of a particular discriminatory nature of gaming but and I emphasis this: Nothing could be further from the truth. I have gamed for thirty years across the entire USA and even in the deepest parts of the South, I have almost never experienced anything resembling racist behavior from gamers. I would even be so bold to say, they are often the nicest, most polite people I have ever had the pleasure to talk with. Two random gamers can meet anywhere, find a game they have in common and talk as if they were friends forever. And even if they don’t share any games, the nature of the hobby seems to bring an inquisitive mind, a mind open to new ideas and new possibilities. It is why I believe I have remained involved in the playing side of the industry for so long. I once wrote for the industry, but that is another story.

How does this relate to Blacks in Science Fiction? If you have never played a roleplaying game (RPG) or a tactical board game such as Warhammer 40K, you are missing a hobby that expands the mind, challenges assumptions, considers possibilities, and teaches social skills, negotiation, communication at a number of levels, language, art, design, and done properly can offer a lifetime of benefits able to be translated so they improve your workplace life, your home life and anyplace in between. I have used RPGs as a mentoring tool to give students a chance to roleplay circumstances they may experience in real life, or as an opportunity to think about an event from a more direct point of view. Gaming has been a passion in my life and conventions were the first time I got to meet other people who shared it. If you haven’t done it, you might be missing out.

Since I started all those years ago, I have run games, small personal affairs and large multi-group gaming events. I have spoken at seminars on the best ways to run games, research eras, create maps, talk about the science of science fiction, and help new GMs improve their game play. I can safely say, conventions and I are inextricably linked. Attend a few and you may be too. ComicCon has become a cult phenomenon offering sneak peaks of comics, movies, stars and the dreaded/beloved cosplay. One day when I have had a beer or two I will tell you about my first ComicCon. The horror, the horror…

Thaddeus Howze, Author – is a veteran of the IT and Communications industry with over 26 years of experience retooling computers to best serve human needs. Unknown to humanity, our computers have another agenda. Thaddeus recently released his first collection of short stories, Hayward Reach. In a coded format, he has secretly informed Humanity of the impending computerized apocalypse. You can read parts of the code here: https://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com. You can read excerpts and other short stories at Hub City Blues

Part of a series of essays on: The State of Black Science Fiction
Check out the other members of this Online Black History Month Event

Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer – is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy. Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him: http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/ or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/

L. M. Davis, Author – began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade.  Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers: A Shifters Novel will be released this spring. For more information visit her blog: http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.

Ja Ja (DjaDja) N Medjay, Author – DjaDja Medjay is the author of The Renpet Sci-Fi Series. Shiatsu Practitioner. Holistic AfroFuturistic Rising in Excellence. http://authordjadja.wordpress.com/ Transmissions from The Future Earth can be found at: www.renpetscifi.com  or on Facebook – www.facebook.com/RenpetSciFiNovel or on Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/Khonsugo.

Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: www.mvmediaatl.com and www.wagadu.ning.com.

Margaret Fieland, Author – lives and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines: http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/is available from Amazon.com  Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013. You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author – is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/

Alicia McCalla, Author – writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: www.aliciamccalla.com

Carole McDonnell, Author – She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. Visit Carole: http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/ or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/

Balogun Ojetade, Author – of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: TheChronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steampunk) and the feature film, “A Single Link”. Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/

Rasheedah Phillips, Author – is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.

Nicole Sconiers, Author – is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage. Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. – is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd