Racism Is Real…It’s Far From An Illusion

I love magic shows and watching magicians and illusionists perform.

I have been fascinated with magicians like Harry Houdini for a while, and recently went to Las Vegas and caught a show from David Copperfield. I have also enjoyed watching movies featuring magicians, like “Now You See Me,” and viewing TV specials from younger and more mind-blowing magicians and illusionists like David Blaine and Criss Angel.

I always seem to have the same reaction…..wonder and amazement. Are you the same way?

Think about it for a second.

In our minds, we know there is absolutely no way they could have actually done what we saw them do, but no matter how many times they do it and we see it, we don’t know how they pulled it off.

Magic and illusions are meant to overwhelm our minds to the point where we aren’t fully aware of the sleight of hand movements and the behind the scene activities that are allowing the feat to appear spectacular and come off realistic. At the end of the day, we know something is abnormal, but we just can’t figure it out and end up accepting the fact that while we can’t explain what we just witnessed, we can’t deny that it seemed so real to us.

There is a different type of illusion that has been, and continues to be a part of the American fabric; and that is the illusion that in many people’s minds, racism either doesn’t exist, or is not as bad as African Americans and others say it is.

If we step back and look at the history of this country, and then turn around and take a macro-view of our current reality, it is easy for many people to become so enthralled with the distractions and entertainment of life that is thrown in front of us, that we become like that audience member watching a magician put in work.

Like a magician, many Americans have been performing the perfect illusion; getting people so caught up on things that don’t matter that they ignore the realities of life in America that do matter. Racism is real and many American’s treat racism as an illusion.

I could litter this column with a ton of stories about racist acts and actions, but one recent situation truly caught my attention, because I believe it truly speaks to my point and is a primary reason why I am so adamant about Black people getting involved in local politics.

The mayor of Warren, MI, who happens to be White, has been catching hell after audio recordings were recently released of him allegedly saying, “Blacks do look like chimpanzees. I was watching this Black woman with her daughter and they looked like two chimps.”

Reports have since come out that a former adviser to Mayor James R. Fouts, named Joe DiSano, alleged that “he has sat in meetings in which Fouts used the N-word and once saw him ‘dance around like he was a monkey’ while referencing Black Detroiters.”

These are some serious allegations. Although he has been asked to resign, he refuses to, and went on Facebook to defend himself by saying it wasn’t his voice on the audio tape, and to accuse other people of seeking to attack him politically so he would resign. Fouts wrote on Facebook:

“There is tremendous effort to force me out immediately by slander, by character assassination, lies, and by out right condemnation of me. This is an attempt to reverse the 2015 election results when I won with 85% of the vote. I won with 81% in 2011. This is despite solid evidence that I did nothing wrong whatsoever. My actions as Mayor have been inclusive and no one can deny that. We are the best run city in the state when it comes to police, fire, and fund balance. I will not resign. I will be here through at least 2019 as the people wanted me to. I will not capitulate to a rush to judgement by those who wish to take over city hall and hijack the 2015 election. Why? – Because I have changed things for the better in the city. I serve the citizens 24/7 and they know it. I’m not answerable to any politician I’m only answerable to the people of Warren. I serve the interests of the people of Warren not the politicians. I will continue to push for diversity in employment in Warren and that is why I hired Greg Murray as Diversity Coordinator.”

So, the illusion being presented to the people of America by Mayor Fouts, is one that he is a good person and has done wonderful things, so it doesn’t matter that his prejudices and bigotry, are more than likely being used to do irreparable harm to the Black community in Warren. In other words, don’t look at me and my actions, just let me get you distracted by focusing on something else. Sound familiar? Delivered just like a true magician and illusionist.

People tend to confuse racism with bigotry and prejudice. Prejudice is when you have a negative view of someone without getting to know anything about them, but those are mere beliefs. Bigotry is merely an advanced form of prejudice, in that you may spew hateful rhetoric and express discriminatory behavior towards another person or group, but those actions are not the same as racism. When you are a racist, you are using your power and exerting your influence to create a system that allows your prejudices and your bigotry to negatively impact another racial group so that the group that is already in power keeps their power by any means necessary.

How can any group, other than White Americans, practice “so-called” reverse racism, when this country was founded by European Whites, and all of the major institutions in this country have been in the total control of Whites since this country was founded?

This past week, we once again celebrated the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a country, thanks to the federal holiday that was signed into law back in 1983. Mayor Fouts spoke at an event honoring Dr. King, where he was confronted by protestors. Mayor Fouts and other Americans could learn a thing or two from Dr. King through his actual words.

On August 16, 1967, Dr. King delivered a speech at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention in Atlanta, GA called “Where Do We Go From Here?,” where he stated:

“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn. The reality of substantial investment to assist Negroes into the twentieth century, adjusting to Negro neighbors and genuine school integration, is still a nightmare for all too many white Americans…These are the deepest causes for contemporary abrasions between the races. Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook. He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash.”

Dr. King was a realist and far from an illusionist. While he was eloquent with his words, Dr. King was target specific when it came to the issues that mattered most in this country. In his “Three Evils of Society” speech that he delivered on August 31, 1967, Dr. King proclaimed that he believed the biggest issues facing America at that time in 1967 were war or militarism; poverty or excessive materialism; and racism.

We must deal with racism because it impacts the livelihood of others, and those who operated with a spirit of racism use their power and exert their influence to harm others.

America, hear me loud and clear!

Racism Is Real…It’s Far From An Illusion.

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey has been a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield. Jeffrey has a national daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney, and is a dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at jboney1@forwardtimes.com