A scholar navigates between the academic and the vernacular in delivering some hard lessons on racism and white supremacy.
Fleming (Resurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France, 2017) promises to make her readers uncomfortable, particularly her white ones, and she succeeds. Yet the “stupid” in the title isn’t simply an insult. People are stupid about race, as she herself was, because they haven’t been properly educated. They know nothing of the interdisciplinary Critical Race Theory and think that “white supremacy” references should be limited to guys in hoods and other extremists. Fleming offers a crash course in what will be a radically new perspective for most and a provocative challenge that should inspire those who disagree with her to at least consider their basic preconceptions. “There are a certain number of prerequisites for the course that you will find in these pages,” she writes. “These include critical thinking, reflexivity, compassion, and a willingness to experience discomfort.” She proceeds to distinguish between personal prejudice and the more insidious and pervasive “systemic racism (a system of power).” It is by no means limited to America, but it has flourished along with white supremacy as “capitalist inventions.” As the author examines the history of a country in which white settlers appropriated the land of Natives from a different race and then harvested it through the labor of imported slaves of a different race, she builds a strong case that the existence of systemic racism is undeniable and is perpetuated by a white power structure, a white education system, and a white-controlled media for the benefit of a white elite. Rather than finding any sort of post-racial hope in Barack Obama, for whom Fleming once served as a campaign spokesperson, she now dismisses him as “the king of neoliberal tokenism…it’s almost as if he's competing for the title of the Most Sold-Out Sell-Out of all time or the Unclest of Uncle Toms.”
A deft, angry analysis for angry times.