On August 9, 2014, the killing of African American Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri put the topic of race relations back at the forefront in ways that hadn’t been seen in decades. This renewed wave of discussion sparked other such groups as LGBTQ, women, and other minorities to ask questions and discuss their own places in our society. Questions of intersectionality have also been raised — where does a gay woman of color stand compared to a straight white woman, for example?
I observed and participated in countless debates on the subject. I heard opinions from a plethora of people from a plethora of backgrounds on the problems faced by minorities and solutions. Some denied there were problems at all while others demanded the immediate reversal of White Western colonization. I’ve heard African Americans subscribe to the notion of self-empowerment while Whites called each other out on their own perceived privilege.
I decided that outlets where everyone — even those that have never felt the effects they claim to be fighting against — voiced their opinions were not sufficient for me to gain clear comprehension of what the hell is going on. I wanted to get into their minds. I needed to take the time to truly understand how people of various backgrounds feel living in America today and what their ideas to solve these problems are. I chose to do something that I wish more people would do: I asked them.
My first interview was with an African American man I knew for a number of years. He moved to Los Angeles recently to pursue a career in acting. Being outspoken on these topics, he was an easy first choice and he agreed to an interview on the condition that he remain anonymous under the pseudonym Sal-T.
Chad: Does it matter whether I say “African Americans” or “Black people”?
Sal-T: Well that’s the thing. We are neither. Far as I believe. Black is a color and Africa and America are two separate continents. There is no “Africa America”. Right from the start we’ve been called out of our names. So in other words, I don’t even know what I am exactly. Sadly a lot of Black people in the USA don’t know what type of “Black” they are. During slavery or before, our history was erased. Me and Snoop Dogg are both “Black” to the naked eye and we’re forced to call ourselves “Black” due to lack of self-knowledge and an oppressive system. But we could be two separate things, like Chinese and Japanese. For this case I’ll go with Black. Like unto the Sun.
C: It seems like history is really important to you. Would you say that this is where oppression begins for young Black people? In the classroom?
S: Yes because you can’t expect a white teacher to teach you your history. Your real history. When I say white I don’t mean a white individual. But the system, our government. We have an in-depth educational system that emphasizes European history in the schools. Right there already, I believe that’s how Black children develop inferiority complexes. But when they do teach African American history we start with slavery. Why is that? And when people actually teach through special programs about colored peoples’ history, let’s say Hawaiians because we are from Hawaii and it’s a good example, there is still strong European influence. From classrooms to movies we are taught that the white men are conquerors, explorers, masters, educators, pioneers, warriors, astronauts, etcetera, etcetera. Basically everything good. But when it comes to Blacks, nothing but damn slaves or people trying to prove their humanity. They instill and reinforce White superiority. White is good, Black is bad. White lies, white as snow, white magic, etcetera. Black sheep, Black cat, Black magic. We are reduced to a troubled race where a lot of people believe they offer nothing to society. While at the same time everything is taken from us. Our history, our ideas, our freedom, and our humanity. To this day we are still ridiculed, and still the topic of controversy due to our skin color, if you really look at it.
C: So what’s the solution? Courses on African history? The studying of African civilizations like Aksum or Mali? I think we both can agree that America is a western country so wouldn’t it makes sense that our history would be taught in a western-eurocentric way?
S: Yeah. Of course. But if you look, China has their history and their educational system to support it. So do the Eastern Indians, the Europeans, etcetera, etcetera. But what do Black people have? What land do they own so they can form their own system for them so they can grow, learn, and flourish? Because there are too many problems dealing with race in America. That’s why I say integration was a plan used against Blacks.
C: Now that’s interesting…
S: Integration actually immobilized us as a people and made us strive for white approved success — having to be accepted by our white counterparts for our own self esteem. This falls on the government and political system of lies. We were automatically set up to believe that integration is good. People consider you racist if you don’t. They’re well meaning White people, no doubt. But I believe in separation and here’s why: The system was extremely flawed from the beginning. America was built on racism and we still face that today. We’ve been oppressed for 400 years and are extremely lacking as a people. When Black people came together and created businesses — Tulsa and Black Wall Street — White folks burned the whole thing to the ground. What if Black people had some time away to grow and learn as a people?
C: So would you say you subscribe more to Malcolm X than MLK?
S: Yes I do. And Marcus Garvey. Do you know what MLK’s last words were?
C: No I don’t. What were they?
S: I’m paraphrasing but he said something along the lines of, “I’ve integrated my people into a burning house.”
C: How then do you feel then when Whites and other Blacks who are looking out for Black interests insist on preserving things like Affirmative Action?
S: I believe they are honest and good-hearted. But government handouts are toxic as well.
C: How so?
S: It’s like the government wants us to relax. Even though we’ve been through bullshit they’ll throw us a few li’l bread crumbs to make us comfortable in our state, make us believe that they are actually for us. If they were they will give out the reparations like they did for the Jews or whatever. Here’s how I see it, Chad: The Chinese people are united among their own. So are the Japanese. Even White people in Europe and in America. When they are together and have power, they prosper. They are on the same page, for the most part, on their land. Black people are assimilated and integrated. We will never rise to our own power. That’s the point. That’s the plan. They never want to see that. We are uneducated, lost, thugs, poor, etcetera, etcetera.
C: Recently, a University of Hawaii professor suggested that all white men quit their jobs. The thought process is that they are privileged and therefore shouldn’t have what they have — they took the place of capable minorities. Is this is a viable solution?
S: No, that’s a stupid idea. The way I see it, I do believe White people are more privileged. They have more access and opportunity. Let’s remember, Blacks for awhile were forbidden to learn how to read and write. During the time we couldn’t grow intellectually, White people got like a 400 year head start on everything. So they were better equipped for a lot of jobs. And when Black men were equipped, we were denied, discriminated against, and so on and so forth. The Black man has to work ten times harder than a White man just to be considered to be in his place. Or of the same caliber.
C: Is it a racist remark to say that Black people are simply not qualified for jobs? And can the same be said about high crime rates?
S: No. It wouldn’t be such a racist remark if people actually knew the reasons why. When we are talking about numbers and statistics it can get iffy because it’s a sensitive subject. But I believe in personal responsibility. I also believe it is Black peoples’ responsibility to talk about black issues among themselves.
C: What are your thoughts on the narrative that Blacks enslaved Blacks and therefore slavery is just as much a Black injustice as a White one?
S: Remember how I said, to common people me and Snoop Dogg are perceived as Black when in actuality we could be two different races? Saying “Blacks are to blame for slavery because Blacks enslaved other Blacks” is like saying “Japan’s invasion of China in World War II was fine because Asian are just beating each other up”. Africa is a continent, not a country. We were made to believe that every Black person was the same.
C: Is all this oppression conscious or is it unconscious on the part of the oppressors?
S: It isn’t unconscious. The CIA flooding dominant Black L.A. neighborhoods with drugs to take them down happened not too long ago. Dismantling of the Black Panthers — who actually were about Black empowerment, helped their communities, fed children, and provided good programs. Whenever we try to help ourselves the government and racist Whites go out of their way to stop it. But everyone else gets to flourish. The Japanese, Chinese, and Mexicans all own restaurants over here in California. The Asians sell Black products to Black people in the hood! We don’t own anything . Not even our own stuff.
C: Moving from Hawaii to California must’ve been quite the culture shock…
S: Do you know what I noticed when I moved out here to Cali? Black people are the ones working at McDonald’s, driving buses, and sleeping on the streets. It shocked me. I grew up in Hawaii so I wasn’t used to seeing that. I talked to a friend about it and he said, “Bro, it’s like this all over America.” It’s crazy. I wasn’t aware of that and I’m Black. Now I have a deeper understanding for myself. We get out into low income hoods because of red lining, Jim Crow, etcetera, etcetera, and the lack of opportunity and knowledge turns us into savages. We end up killing ourselves for a quick buck to make it in this world. They give us guns and crack to finish ourselves off. They even have abortion clinics in the hood to get rid of us.
C: In New York, there are more Black abortions than live births.
S: Right on the money. That’s why I don’t stand with Planned Parenthood. I’ll never agree to baby killing of any race.
C: What about the argument that by aborting unwanted children, you can remain financially stable?
S: Putting more value in worldly possessions and materialism over a breathing spiritual and physical being is just not right to me. I’ll will always have a chance at success. But I’ll never get that same baby back. It’s devaluing a human being.
C: So with all of this oppression, do you still believe in the American Dream — if you work hard enough you can achieve anything?
S: The American Dream was never for Blacks. We weren’t included in that. We never were. We came here as slaves. 1/4 of a human. Nothing more nothing less, when in actuality every race derived from the Black man. The Black man has the original DNA. You can’t be more human than the Black man and that’s a fact.
C: I’m curious what your reaction is to this very recent story that humans could’ve originated in Europe.
S: Haha. Well, my thing is, anybody can throw articles with new discoveries and all of that. But what I know is that the Black man always had dominant genes. Dark skins, dark eyes, etc. Anything other than that is recessive. Lighter skin and light eyes are recessive genes. I was reading that light skin is a mutation. In other words, Chad, I already believe the first humans were black — no doubt in my mind. For a long time, racist whites tried extremely hard to make themselves appear superior. We can see it from history.
C: I’m a Republican and I think you and I agree on most of this, yet I’ve been called a white supremacist for holding some of these views and probably will be after posting this interview.
S: Yeah. Some of that liberal crap gets to me. And some of the blind racism of conservatives gets to me. A lot of Christians are Republicans and it shows what they think of me. They believe in a white Jesus — white and pretty with long straight hair like he looked in the movies.
C: Finally, what is one singular thing that could improve the situation of Blacks in America?
S: Knowledge is the biggest weapon. That’s the first thing they took from us. The very thing we need to get out of our condition is self-knowledge.
Special thanks to Sal-T for participating in this interview and allowing their answers to be published.