Dr. Ben Carson, like the Tom archetype he embodies, appears anti-rebellious and indifferent to the type of racism that sparked Ferguson’s uprising.
Because race and racism for so long in America has been de-emphasized and not talked about in an effort to educate, nor rarely acknowledged among the country’s first sins, most consumers – particularly millennials – can’t identify the racist archetypes associated with iconic American brands, nor can they spot their flesh-endowed doppelgängers who, in real life, embody the characteristics associated with the manufactured caricatures.
For example, Converted Rice in the 1940s changed the name of its flagship product to Uncle Ben’s Brand Rice and based Uncle Ben’s likeness on the Tom archetype, which portrays black men as non-threatening to whites and content with servitude, eager to please and never self-asserting.
Like with the Coon and the (black) Brute archetypes, the Tom was propagated in various mediums, including films and stage plays.
Philadelphia-born writer, Mr. Donald Bogle, in his first book, “Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, & Bucks,” writes:
“Always as toms are chased, harassed, hounded, flogged, enslaved, and insulted, they keep the faith, n’er turn against their white massas, and remain hearty, submissive, stoic, generous, selfless, and oh-so-very kind. Thus they endear themselves to white audiences and emerge as heroes of sorts.”
When I think of current representations of the Tom, no public figure is more immediate on my mind than Dr. Ben Carson, a Republican presidential candidate who said recently that race in America needs to be de-emphasized and called the Black Lives Matter movement “bullies” for asserting themselves into spaces where they aren’t necessarily welcome, spaces reserved primarily for Whites.
Dr. Carson, like the Tom, is a hero among white folks. In fact, after publicly shaming President Barack Obama and his hallmark legislation, the Affordable Care Act, the Detroit-born 63 year-old was heralded as a “conservative folk hero” by Atlantic Magazine.
And like the Tom caricature in ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ Dr. Carson is religious – a Seventh Day Adventist – soft-spoken and gentle.
By all measures, those who affiliate with the Black Lives Matter movement are in the deepest contrast to the second most popular Republican presidential candidate and the caricature he embodies, which finds solace in non-rebellion.
An example of the gross polarity is that Dr. Carson wants the movement to remove the word “black” from their name and focus more on respect.
The suggestions were spewed by Dr. Carson while touring Ferguson, Missouri, last week, a little more than a year after the death of Mr. Michael Brown, Jr., who Dr. Carson called a bad actor and said the community was unwilling to accept that truth.
Despite all the criticism, though, Dr. Carson at least acknowledged that all the protesting resulted in attention for issues long ignored, like race, justice and economic opportunity.
The Ferguson Commission, a state-level body assembled by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon after the uprising which followed the fatal officer-involved shooting of Mr. Brown, issued a nearly 200 page report this week and said that racial inequality was “a major underlying factor driving the at-times violent community reaction to the shooting,” reports the Washington Post.
“We know that talking about race makes a lot of people uncomfortable. But make no mistake: This is about race,” the report, titled “Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity,” states.
If Dr. Carson really wants to be President of the United States and not just a hero among conservatives, he needs to grasp reality, stop portraying the Uncle Ben character and acknowledge the right now truth: Black Lives Matter aren’t bullies but are fighting back against a racist system that has bullied them; they’re, in fact, fighting for their lives.
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Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™