Ben Carson: Preserving Stereotypes of a Racist System
Ben Carson: Preserving Stereotypes of a Racist System — When transposed to the context of anti-racism, this critique is mirrored in one main problem of representation: tokenism. Tokenism is a problem that continues to pervade American culture. It refers to the practice or policy of admitting an extremely small number of members of racial (e.g., African American), ethnic (e.g., Latino) or gender (i.e., women) groups to work, educational, political, or social activities to give the impression of being inclusive, when in actuality these groups are not welcomed.
The tokenism of symbols in anti-racism has often been linked to the attempt to embed – rather than ally – the struggle against racism within the class struggle or, more recently, within the anti-globalization cause, at times simplistically conceptualized as the fight against American imperialism. For many black and ‘minority ethnic’ anti-racists the symbols of these generalized left-wing approaches were unable to represent the specificity of the oppression caused by racism.
Tokenism appears to be the important first step for African Americans, such as David O. Brown, retired Dallas Police Chief; Eddie Johnson, new Chicago Police Chief; and Michael Carghill, of Central Texas Gun Works and 2nd Amendment advocate — whose practices seems eerily similar to white supremacist adopted by the Trump Administration and the disenfranchisement of Blacks. For the former presidential candidate, Ben Carson, he didn’t need to knock on the door too long, before it would eventually open. Though in many African American communities, it is believed that Barack Obama knocked on that same door and walked through a threshold that would give no way to the representation of any robust policies and programs aimed at ending discriminatory practices and police brutality against Blacks—just as many believe Carson would ultimately, fail to do the same.
Tokenism has proven to be demeaning, demoralizing, and debilitating. Many have speculated that Carson is losing his black identity; if such a black identity is left within him. It just a matter of time before Carson, the token, will be under greater scrutiny. Unlike the Whites in the administration, where the mediocre conduct of others could very well go unnoticed, he may be forced constantly to prove himself.1)Kanter (1977)
Like most tokens, Carson will internalize a sense of inferiority in the Trump Cabinet as the President-Elect may very well perceive Caron’s job evaluations as being based not on achievements but on ‘‘blackness.’’ Jackson, Thoits, and Taylor (1995) also point out that tokens are always reminded of their ‘‘differences’’ through jokes,
— Erik The Web (@torgospizza) February 26, 2016
banter, and ‘‘loyalty tests.’’2)The Social Psychology of Stigma In an interview, Carson stated, “I find it a little frustrating — I say things like that, and nobody ever pays any attention. And they say, ‘Carson doesn’t know anything about foreign affairs.'”
While tokens like Carson feel pressure to blend in, they are invariably relegated to a degrading stereotyped, caricatured role. Carson may be reluctant to get involved in policies that benefit African Americans, failing to see the political system as irredeemably white-dominated—and with his participation or form of tokenism as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a Federal-aid program Carson has stated he dislikes—generally sums up the distraction set forth by the Trump Administration which is intended to steer away from self-sufficient development on present-day systemic and institutional racism.
Tokenism can never be a viable policy or practice in government. It only compounds the problems of exclusion, marginalization, inferiority, and low morale. Yet, in the Trump Adminstration, it persists.
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