Another fine post by guest author Alpha Unit. Alpha Unit is a Black woman.
It is an old notion that Black people can never truly be Westernized. Western civilization itself, some suggest, is a by-product of Caucasoid genes. If this is true, then how can Blacks ever get along in White societies? Are they to create a perpetual “Negro problem” for those who uprooted them?
Part of the mythology surrounding Black people is the notion that Whites have taken us out of Africa but Africa can never be taken out of us. We are therefore not to be trusted and will revert to savagery under the right conditions.
This fear of the Black Savage, with his bestial impulses simmering right beneath the surface, has served racists conveniently, allowing them to engage in everything from restricting where Blacks could live to outright murder of Blacks on the flimsiest allegation that the purity of some White damsel is under attack.
What such people either don’t know or won’t accept is that there is no such thing as “White” nature or “Black” nature. As one anthropologist stated a long time ago, “Human nature remains fundamentally primitive.” Racial characteristics provide only a veneer for what human beings really are.
The anthropologist cited above was quoted by another, the pioneering and eminently accessible Bronislaw Malinowski. Malinowski was an academic with the gift of being able to take a potentially dry subject like anthropology and making it engaging to ordinary people.
Malinowski is famous not only for his field work in Papua New Guinea but for being a founder of the “functional school” of anthropology, which arose from his desire to put anthropology on a more scientific footing.
His view was that every aspect of a culture served some genuine purpose, having the function of addressing some fundamental need within the group. Primitive peoples (or “savages,” to use the term of his day) were every bit as rational as “civilized’ Western man, no matter how much certain of their behaviors mystified or repulsed outsiders.
In a talk titled “Science and Reason” that he gave to the BBC which was later published in as part of a book in 1930, Malinowski states :
Now here the most important thing to realise is that primitive man makes full use of his knowledge whenever he can. You must discard the notion that the savage is a child or a fool, a mystic or a nincompoop. I have seen the savage hunter at work: he knows his animals and their habits; he is familiar with the properties of his weapons, the strength of his spear and the flight of his boomerang.
I have trusted myself to savage sailors on their frail craft over dangerous seas and under trying conditions. They understand wind and weather, stability and tides, in a truly reliable, that is, in a scientific way. It is only because he is able to observe correctly and to think clearly, that, with his simple tools and limited cooperation, that primitive man can master nature as well and as effectively as he can.
Malinowski pointed out the error in the idea that the “savage” has a mind that is essentially different from that of civilized people. I am convinced, as Malinowski is, that human nature is the same everywhere, regardless of DNA.
Malinowski acknowledged that this idea was hard for many Westerners to grasp. And due to what they “know” to be true, many people today cannot see that Blacks have the same basic nature that they do.
When not the result of simple ignorance, the belief that Black people are by their very nature “different” from Whites (or anyone else) is a self-soothing conceit, a teething ring for those with the compulsion to assert their own superiority. Such people love pointing out the sins of Blacks, disregarding the fact that the same sins are found in every group on earth. To them, any behavior exhibited disproportionately by a group belongs to that group.
Whites have engaged in violence both individually and collectively (like all other groups) throughout history and on nearly every continent–including violence of the magnitude made possible by advanced technologies. Yet no one says that Whites are violent “by nature.” Asians–again, like everyone else–have inflicted violence on their fellow human beings. But who in their right mind would show footage of the Rape of Nanking and assert that it illustrates the “true nature of the Japanese?”
Blacks are no different from other human beings. When they know they have a stake in the societies in which they live, they tend that investment as much as anybody else. They do everything they can to maintain and develop it. Black people absolutely can and do respect and adopt “Western” values. Unfortunately, there are still too many of us for whom there is nothing to lose by rejecting them.
- Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1962. Sex, Culture, and Myth. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World.