“One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of “not racist.” The claim of “not racist” neutrality is a mask for racism.” ― Ibram X. Kendi In Genesis 9:20-21, after the flood is over and his family has settled down, Noah gets drunk and passes out, lying naked in his tent. His son Ham, specifically identified as the father of Canaan (9:22), sees him and tells his two brothers Shem and Japheth, who then carefully cover up their father. When Noah wakes up and finds out what happened he pronounces a curse on Canaan, the son of Ham, stating, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.” Noah then blesses Shem and Japheth, declaring, “Blessed be the LORD of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of Japheth. . . and may Canaan be his slave” (9:26-27). When Europeans came to Africa, they had the bible, and indigenous Black Africans had the land and precious minerals. After we "woke" from prayer, we had their bible, and they had our land. If there is a God, he will have to beg my forgiveness for reason and logic prevent me from accepting the existence of spirits, Gods or Devils. But, if I were to renounce the use and authority of reason, I would have to acknowledge that the evil colonizers responsible for the genocide of the Indigenous Americans, the enslavement and torture of African people, the genocide of Africans in the Congo under Belgium King Leopold II, Apartheid in South Africa, today's ReTrumpliKKKans, and White Evilgelicals, are the collective Devil. However, I would suffer from cognitive dissonance when reconciling the heterozygous recessive Caucasian blood (from love/rape) in my very own body. There are many theories as to why whites have and continue to behave in an inhumane, phobic, psychotic and uncivilized Neanderthal manner. One evolutionary theory, rooted in evolutionary anthropology, posits that some Homo sapiens interbred with Neanderthals - an extinct species or subspecies of archaic humans who lived in Eurasia until about 40,000 years ago. Neanderthals didn't disappear entirely. Non-African humans contain on average about 2% Neanderthal DNA. In other words, at least sometimes it seems, humans and brutal Neanderthals found each other and built communities together. In any event, I refuse to forget their evil, psychopathic behavior and I’ll continue to demand that all forms of white supremacy’s systems of racism cease and desist, and I further demand full reparations now! The Cress Psycho-Genetic Theory posits that their phobia is for white survival. The phobic theory posits, if ‘pure’ whites miscegenated with the world's diverse and genetically dominant majority of color, then homozygous recessive whites would be replaced and become extinct. No surprise, racists fear diversity, abortions and non-procreating queer people. The denial of doubt, the blind faith in a God’s existence, and the concept that man communicates with this deity, knows what it wants and this God is involved in individuals’ personal day-to-day activities is delusional. The Cress Psycho-Genetic theory speaks to an evolutionary psychopathy, and the 500 years of genocide, slavery, rape, human torture, white lies, and the selfish, cowardly complicit silence from whites - still today is factual evil. I therefore have more evidence of a Devil than Gods. So, I don't know if God exists, but it would be better for his reputation if he didn't.
If there were Gods, they will have to beg my forgiveness. But I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other 4,176 false gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. If God is willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then it is not omnipotent. If it is able, but not willing? Then it is malevolent. If it is both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? If it is neither able nor willing? Then why call it God? If every trace of every religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true, and mankind would figure it all out again. I don't believe in life after death, but I do believe in life before death. I don’t believe in any gods/devils, religions/cults, angels/demons, heaven/hell or afterlife, blessings/curses, any powers in prayers, voodoo, spells, jinxes, wishes, miracles, superstitions, karma, witches, magic, ghosts, goblins, Santa Claus, Easter bunnies, zombies, vampires, fairy tales, myths, astrology, fortune telling, Ouija boards, prophecy, clairvoyance, fate, luck, witchcraft, crystals, the supernatural, unicorns, destiny, or the concept that everything happens for a reason. However, my life is not void of beliefs. I believe in using logic and reason. I also believe that most people like myself are curious and have a sincere interest in wanting to know their life's purpose, the origins of the universe, and the identity of a moral compass, or any sort of "rule book" to live by - if any of these things should exist. I believe that people enjoy stories, entertain theories and tend to hold onto the ones that work for them. I for one enjoy human psychology and philosophy. But I also believe people tell stories that are not true and these untrue stories are passed down and believed for generations. I do have beliefs. I believe that people have a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect their mood, thinking and behavior such as depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors and any of these mental health conditions can lead to interesting stories to be believed by generations to come. I believe that people lie, misrepresent and honestly misinterpret things. I believe that people have fantasies, dreams, hallucinations, see mirages and have financial incentives and huge egos that can sometimes take on a life of their own. I do believe - that before video recordings and other technologies - people thought they observed events that never happened, which partially explains why we stopped getting new miracles. I also believe in the power of peer-pressure, group thinking, home training, the strong emotional desire of wanting to belong, religious training, miseducation, brainwashing, propaganda, socialization, tribalism, and the sheer wish that something was true. People have various cognitive biases such as "confirmation bias" and "conservatism bias," or the "commitment effect" - just to name three or twenty kinds of common biases. Most people inherit their beliefs from their less informed parents. It's not a coincidence that your gods have the same name as your maternal grandma's gods, or that Jehovah's Witnesses (such as my maternal grandmother) don't suddenly sprout out of Muslim countries. I do find it particularly strange that as science and technology advances, science is never informed by religion, but religion continues to be unsubstantiated by science. The earth is older than 9 thousand years, actually it closer to 4.5 billion years old. The bible hasn't told us anything that has later been confirmed by science. We never got a cure for disease from the bible. We have found dinosaur's fossils going back 240 million years but not a single plank from Noah’s Ark, or evidence confirming any of the other holy stories. We were told God created the heavens and earth, but apparently God failed to inform the farmers that the earth was the third planet from the sun, or we had other galaxies besides the Milky Way. I believe that people will accept a fictional explanation as an answer to significant questions of life's purpose and its beginnings, as opposed to accepting that we simply don't know. I share Donald Trump's belief that most people are gullible, and the human psyche is limited and predictable. Ignorance, jealousy, hate, fear, and tribalism are pervasive. Selfishness, greed and apathy will ultimately be the cause of our Armageddon. Thus, hope for mankind is not love, but a cultural transformation, and we scientists don't know how to do that. Holy books were literally handed to future believers, and many believers never even read their own holy book completely nor the opposing holy books to compare and contrast. Even if there were gods, until they made themselves known to me, it wouldn't be consequential for me. There is an inverse relationship between peoples' reading materials and the strength of their religious convictions. The lower the scientific literacy levels and the less diverse the reading materials are, the stronger and narrower their religious conviction tend to be. I try to base my conclusions using math, logic, facts, and reason, not emotional wishful thinking. So, I'm a humanist! It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled, and I accept science, and mathematics as fact and it informs my lifestyle and decisions that I make such as dieting and exercise as just two examples. I accept conclusions that are peer-reviewed, science-based, evidence-based and reached through deductive and inductive reasoning. I accept the general theory of relativity. I accept that the universe can endlessly expand and contract, I also accept evolution, and natural selection but, I am willing to denounce each of my beliefs as soon as I have contradictory evidence, and I will not be ashamed of myself for having had those past beliefs, making my discarding them all the easier. Some questions theist must answer. If an omniscient omnipotent, perfect being is the mastermind behind the bible, why does the book reflect only the culture, science, history, literature, technology, morals and values of the era in which it was written? Why does it have so many inaccuracies and inconsistencies? Why does the Bible contain so much anti-scientific nonsense? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is faith required? Why is God hidden? Why are there natural disasters? Why are there so many starving people in our world? Only in an alternative reality can you be silent on: the death, war, nuclear weapons, and torture, or passive on racism, healthcare and feeding the poor and hungry, environmental issues and still think of yourself as moral and Pro-life. Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what denomination, or kind of Christianity you profess; there are still only two types: one is the member of a Christian religion, and the other is someone who is actively living like Jesus. (Matthew 25:45) Which one are you? Me? I do unto others as they would want done to them and/or as I would want them do unto me. I work to live a healthy and happy life while continuing to make the world a more habitable place for all. I preach the gospel but I only use words when absolutely necessary.
THE CRITICAL RACE THEORY:
My Undergraduate Years as Seen Through the Lens of a Critical Race Theorist
I graduated from grammar school, high school and the only college in the small 3.9 square mile town of East Orange. The high school I graduated from (now called East Orange High Campus) has relocated to the exact same site of my - now defunct - undergraduate college. During my doctoral studies, I ran across an interesting theory. I would like to make the point of the theory by embedding my college experiences in the story telling – a key feature of the theory. The Critical Race Theory, originally coming from the Harvard Law School legal scholar Derrick Bell in the 1970s in what was called the Critical Legal Studies, has evolved to become applicable in many fields including the field of higher education (Ladson-Billings, G., 1998). The Critical Legal Studies (CLS) like all theories – has shortcomings. One blatant limitation in the CLS is that it reduces racism by making it analogous to class discrimination (Bell, D. 1980). Many of the original Black authors of the CLS questioned those shortcomings, and the CLS evolved to become the Critical Race Theory (CRT). The CRT is somewhat different from many of the educational theories discussed in education and psychology today, in that it consists of anecdotal, legal storytelling and biographical stories to make its point (Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. 2007). Although the CR Theorist supports the aims of the civil rights activist, they question many of their “Ban Aid” approaches to racism such as the U.S. Supreme Court landmark ruling in the 1954 Brown v. Bd of Ed (Bell, D. 1980). The following anecdotal stories are used to highlight how White supremacy played a role in too many of my college experiences.
Although there is no single proclamation that defines the CRT, the Critical Race Theory has three posits, they are:
Race continues to be significant in the United States of America. Racism is perceived as normal and expected,
The United States of America is based on property rights, not human rights and,
The intersection of race and property creates an analytical tool for understanding inequality (Ladson-Billings, G., 1998).
One of the key characteristics of the CRT is storytelling. As an example, there is a story in “Voices of India” by A.K. Rumanujan about a poor widow forced to reside with her two evil sons and wicked daughters-in-laws. She was castigated for gaining weight as she aged. She felt terrible and went for a walk with no particular destination in mind. She came across an old, dilapidated home, without even a roof. She went inside the house, looked at one of the walls, and told the ugly story of how one of her sons humiliated her. The wall tumbled down. She went to the next wall and told the story of his wife’s cruel behavior towards her. That second wall also came down. Each time, she felt lighter than she felt before sharing her story. She went on to the other two walls, telling a story to each wall until she was surrounded by rubble. She returned home, only this time, feeling lighter than she has ever felt (Baltuck, 1994). The Critical Race (CR) theorist asserts that telling stories can be an enormous relief for the storyteller.
Race continues to be significant in the United States of America.
It was the first day of my first year at Uppsala College. I was seated on the floor, in a jam-packed, predominately White, freshman chemistry classroom, when my White chemistry professor, Dr. Joseph Most asked the class for examples of chemical or physical reactions. I eagerly raised my hand with enthusiasm and responded, “electronegativity!” Professor Most smiled, aggressively pointed at me and yelled; “Now that’s a man who has studied chemistry!” One White girl in particular, was very impressed with my knowledge of chemistry. She wasted no time befriending me. We frequently talked after lab. She told me about the racial unrest in her hometown of Boston. Rachel explained the anger between the Whites and Blacks in Boston. She blamed the busing policy, aimed to racially integrate the public schools. One night, I was in Rachel’s dorm room, and a small group of her White Bostonian Jewish home girls dropped by and acknowledged the intimacy of our relationship. One of the girls said, “Rachel, I thought you had more class than that!!” Rachel reacted angrily with Ann in my presence, but she heeded to her suggestion and gave me the cold shoulder ever since that incident. It can be seen very clearly through the Critical Race theoretical lens that Rachel’s White peers reminded her of her innate superiority for having White skin. My superior knowledge of chemistry compared to her lower level was not important. What was important was the fact that Rachel was White and I was not White.
The United States of America is based on property rights, not human rights.
During my second semester, a Black freshman girl told me that she was leaving school to return home to Boston. After having a long, deep and emotional discussion with her, she finally disclosed how four White students raped her during the previous semester. She reported the rape to the school. However, Uppsala College chose to protect the White rapist and never reported the crime to the local police. Angela’s grades dropped precipitously, and the same school official that took the rape report expelled her from school for “substandard academic performance.” She took the bus back to the racially segregated section of Boston - where she undoubtedly had an inferior education from the start. This school official, Dean Aaron Nierenberg had a Ph.D. in psychology, and I only wonder which theories on student socio-psycho cognitive development he was reading in the 1970s. Angela had a burden she carried alone. Because of self-inflicted shame, she could hardly bring herself to tell all of her friends and family of the violent trauma she experienced, nor could she elaborate about the inferior academic preparation for college or the lack of professional support or legal redress after the rape- without sounding irresponsible. The fact that those four white rapists had their way with her beautiful black slender body, speaks to how for centuries, Black people in America were legal property -owned by White men. According to the Critical Race Theorist, the intersection of race and property creates an analytical tool for understanding inequality (Ladson-Billings, G., & Tate, W., 1995). Angela was property, owned by four White rapists.
The intersection of race and property:
Critical Race Theorist advocates that the United States of America is built on property rights and citizenship as opposed to human rights (Ladson-Billings, G., & Tate, W., 1995). This dates back to the early colonial days when only White men enjoyed the franchise of property rights and land ownership. The concept of race and citizenship was demonstrated in the first Black President of the United States of America having to actually show everyone his papers (i.e. birth certificate) - while presiding in office - to verify his American citizenship. The intersection of race and property rights is reflected in citizenship on campus as well. Although Uppsala College was located in a Black town, the small predominately White college demonstrated its property rights by erecting a high, black iron fence around the circumference of the campus.
I frequently shacked up in the dorm rooms with scores of Black and White girls. However, I mostly lived at home with my parents on the corner of Lincoln and William Street - walking distance of the college on Prospect and Springdale Ave. There was a #96 New Jersey Transit public bus from the corner of my house to the campus. I often rode my Motobecane bicycle or drove my MGB English convertible sports car when I didn't take the 0.8-mile flat walk to school. In any event, my commute to the campus was not extremely challenging. The college population was predominately White and conversely the surrounding neighborhood where I lived was largely Black. I remember one autumn morning, approaching the campus on route to the library, and noticing a high, black rough iron fence enclosing the campus. The fence had a blockade appearance. Except for its blackness, the architecture did not blend with the community -in any way. It was clearly erected to protect the White transplants from Boston (and other American cities), by keeping the Black “townies” out. (‘Townies’ is a term used by college students to identify municipal citizens not attending the college). The black Iron barrier offended me; I was one of those Black citizens! I wondered if that black fence protected the four White rapists from the Black townies, or if Angela ever saw the interior of the protective barrier.
After cycling past the black iron barrier, and stepping onto campus property, I noticed red spray paint across the glass of the student’s center, and on the nearby sidewalks. The large print read: “Niggers go back to Africa and Spicks just die!” (Spic is a derogatory term for Latino people.) Someone eventually removed the graffiti, but no school official made a formal apology or even admitted to having recognized its offensiveness.
BIG MAN ON CAMPUS
The student’s demeanor was somber that week. No one openly discussed what happened, but you could see the thoughts in students’ eyes. The hate speech was not openly discussed nor mentioned in Uppsala Gazette newspaper. It was kind of like Angela’s rape. Nothing said, nothing done! These events took place in the 1970s when the NJ minimum drinking age was 18-years-old. Many colleges -including Uppsala College - had a pub. One evening, I was having a cold mug of Budweiser beer, when a popular dance song came on by the ‘Average White band’ entitled, “Pick up the piece,” (No, I am not saying the band was average, “The Average White band” was the band’s official full name.)
I purposefully asked a familiar hot Italian girl, that I suspect liked me, from my physics lab to dance. She had a Black girls butt and lips and graciously accepted my invite for the dance. Then, one of my Black friends- took my lead and tactically asked another White girl to dance. She accepted. Then one of the nerdy but cool, socially smart Jewish boys caught on quickly and strategically asked a Black girl to dance with him. She graciously accepted. Before the song was over, every Black student was dancing with a White student, and the surplus of White students danced along as well. It was very clear that 100% of the people in the pub were dancing -which was unusual that everyone would be dancing. Nevertheless, it was a protest dance against racism spontaneously and eloquently executed. Everyone on campus heard about the interracial protest dance faster than today’s social media could have informed anyone. It was at that time an informal apology was made and accepted. One aspect of the CRT is that progress in race relations is made through grassroots protest as opposed to legal procedures (Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J., 2007). I got to know my hot Italian physics lab partner much better over the course of that night. Except for her sky-blue light eyes, she looked just like Maria Bartiromo (CNBC television journalist). After leaving her dorm room that next morning and hearing the positive responses to the 'protest dance' at the dining hall during breakfast, I felt like THE BIG MAN ON CAMPUS.
Coloreds need not apply
The following year, during my histology course, I needed more study time viewing the tissue slides. The cool Jewish boy from the pub sneaked me upstairs to his private research laboratory to use his compound light microscope. I’ve taken classes in Puder Hall many times but never thought to go up that extra flight of stairs before this invite. I never knew that ‘certain’ students had research labs for independent study. During my histological study of the slides, a group of White boys came rushing up to the area. My Jewish friend stepped outside into the hallway and immediately closed the door behind him. I instinctively remained silent while the White boys were questioning him about me. I overheard one student asked my friend, “Did you see a colored boy come up here?” My friend lied, and said, “No”. The only thing that I could think is “why am I hiding?” I am not doing anything wrong. Matter of fact, I’m studying, which is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. One of the canons of the Critical Race theory is that White people have privilege, and these student’s laboratories were for White people and not for ‘Colored’ folk such as myself.
After college graduation, I landed a job as a research Biochemist for Merck & Co., Inc. My former chemistry professor Dr. Most, asked me how “they” [White biochemist] treated me at Merck Pharmaceuticals. I was not sure how to interpret or even answer him until 2012 when a White union president – asked me the same question. The president and I have a long-term working relationship, and he knows that I serve as an officer and trustee for the Community College of Morris, so he felt free to ask me, “How do the [White] “Republican” trustees treat you?” Like everyone, my identity is more than my mere race. The intersectionality of my identity includes me being: Middle class, African American, a cis-gendered heterosexual man, able-bodied, a writer, a racial justice advocate, a Woke Atheist, a swimmer, a jazz saxophonist, a stargazing amateur astronomer, an avid reader, etc. Interestingly, both lines of questioning regarding how I was treated circumvented my race, and phrased from job title or political affiliation. Critical Race Theorist would hear the affirmation of a racist system and the subtler question - How are you navigating under this system of White supremacy?
White scholars of education typically don’t embrace the Critical Race Theory, largely because it is not optimistic that “colorism” will ever be resolved in the interest of Black people (Van Allen, Michael A. , 2012). Numerous White scholars profess one of several schools of thought:
1) Colorism doesn’t exist anymore, so move one and stop making excuses or,
2) OK. Sure, racism may exist here and there to some extent, but it’s not as bad as it used to be. You have your Black president [Obama] now, so institutional racism doesn’t exist any longer or,
3) Sure, colorism exists in America today, but it will soon fade away when White people become racial minorities (2043) and it becomes in White people’s best interest to eliminate it once, and for all.
Dr. Derrick Bell, the Harvard university professor and pioneer of the Critical Race Theory addressed what he coined “the Interest Convergence Dilemma” (Bell, D., 1980). The concept is that White people would not do anything to benefit Black people unless it was in the interest of White people. The student demographics at Uppsala College darkened as time progressed. It was in the interest of the school that was increasing its Black student body population to have additional Black faculty. As the first student of color to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, I later became the first non-White instructor in the Chemistry/Physics department, hired by Chairman Joe Most, Ph.D. When Uppsala College ultimately went out of business and closed its doors for good in the mid-1990s, Professor Most sought a chemistry teaching position at the Newark Public Schools. Ironically, had he been hired I would have been his supervisor. Had I seen him at the job fair, I would have aggressively pointed my finger at him – in plain sight of the interviewers and yelled, “Now, that’s a man who has taught chemistry!” (Joe is a good man and fortunately secured another chemistry teaching position for himself at a neighboring institution of higher education i.e., Bloomfield college/Montclair University.)
I shared these undergraduate accounts with my wife – who has white skin. She naively asked me with a frightful tone and shocking frown, “Michael, are all your college experiences race related?” I responding lovely with, “Debbie, I was Black the entire time I was there!” We both laughed aloud, and I felt “lighter” having shared the story with her. Thank you for listening to my story! I only ask you to think about the kind of employment Angela may have accepted for not having a college degree. Could Angela possibly be a waitress serving food to the children of her rapists while they enjoy the American Dream by attending upscale schools in Mass? Might some of those Ivy League students look at her with disdain wondering why she never did anything with her life or even worse not see her at all? More importantly, I wonder if that beautiful black- complexioned, brown-eyed, sexy, lean girl with that radiant white smile and contagious laugh, ever came across a roofless, house where she was able to share her experiences to four walls so she too, could feel lighter than she felt before she was violated.