“The system of espionage being thus established, the country will swarm with informers, spies, delators, and all the odious reptile tribe that breed in the sunshine of despotic power. The hours of most unsuspected confidence, the the intimacies of friendship or the recesses of domestic retirement, will afford no security.”
Representative Edward Livingston, in 1798
Inferential racism, in general, is “invisible” because it is not considered to be offensive… Attacking blacks by paying tribute to “Asian intelligence” makes one immune from charges of racism, and the model minority thesis is thus a pillar of inferential racism.
This stereotype was a godsend for desis. It provided them with an avenue toward advancement, despite its negative impact on blacks and its strengthening of white supremacy. In the throes of an intensified Black Liberation movement, the white establishment pointed to its civil rights legislation as the ceiling for state action. The rest, they said, was to come from the initiative of the oppressed themselves. This implied that the oppressed did not take initiative, a notion as condescending as it was erroneous. (170-1)” —
Vijay Prashad, The Karma of Brown Folk
After witnessing an overt, malicious expression of antiblack racism by a desi man recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about this chapter. Condescension and inferential racism slips into overt racism all too often, but it’s too simple to dismiss malicious expressions of racism as “just some moron.” Only overt expressions of racism are identified as such, but it’s extremely important to discuss the racist structures that inform and perpetuate these acts.
Visit Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s office in Washington, DC today and on the door you’ll find the 9 demands motivating thousands of Georgia prisoners who are on strike. Prisoners there have been refusing to do slave labor for the State since the strike began on December 9. Drop by the National Governor’s Association (NGA) downstairs and you’ll find a bewildered bunch who’d rather pretend they have nothing to do with Perdue and his peers than acknowledge what the prisoners have brought to the fore: so many years after emancipation many US Governors today are effective slave masters over their states’ incarcerated population.
“You’re in the wrong place to reach the governors,” Matt Malmo, Health and Human Services Director at the NGA told a group of DC locals who visited the office this morning in solidarity with the striking prisoners. Funny statement for an organization that calls itself, “The Collective Voice for the Nation’s Governors.” Malmo is not alone in his shamefully dismissive attitude towards the health and humanity of the prisoners. The Georgia Governor has yet to even acknowledge the strike and his Corrrections Department has outright denied that the strike is happening.
“We have a message for Sonny Perdue and all the governors. Slavery and injustice in the State of Georgia is an injustice to all of us.” Explained one of the visitors as they presented the prisoner’s demands aloud and submitted a letter. Indeed, unpaid or penny-wage coerced labor programs exist in prisons across the country. Georgia pays most of its prison laborers nothing, while typical wages in other states range between 21 cents and $2 an hour. In recent memory an Illinois governor unilaterally declared a moratorium on the death penalty. We expect the same responsible use of gubernatorial authority to halt prison slavery and initiate just labor policies.