At the outset, I must make one thing crystal clear. I do not and will never judge or condemn any Black person for speaking out against racism. That includes Minister Louis Farrakhan, Elijah Muhammad, Khalid Muhammad, Sister Souljah, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Nick Cannon, or anyone else.
I adamantly and reasonably take that position because any particular statement that was made by any of the aforementioned persons- even if factually wrong, historically imprecise, intellectually misconstrued, or maliciously offensive- was a Black symptom of a white disease. Stated another way, it was a benign Black lesion caused by a malignant white cancer.
And, most important, it was an isolated oral response to a systemic physical assault. Not one of those aforementioned Black persons ever kidnapped or bought or sold or whipped or lynched or sharecropped or convict-leased or Jim-Crowed or redlined or gerrymandered or disenfranchised or miseducated or ghettoized or mass-incarcerated or police-brutalized or otherwise systemically oppressed any white person. And not one of those aforementioned Black persons had or has the ability to do so!
The only thing Cannon (and the others) did was say some words- which alone can’t physically hurt anyone. But systemic racism can and does break Black people’s bones, spirit, educational access, employment opportunities, healthcare options, etc.
That’s why I’m neither judging nor condemning Cannon. And besides, although I’m not a Christian, I do recall hearing about Jesus having said in Matthew 7:5, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Therefore, hypocritically, systemically, historically, currently, and blatantly racist white America can’t tell me a damn thing about what Cannon recently said on his “Cannon’s Class” podcast.
By the way, what exactly did he say that compelled so many white folks to clutch their pearls in contrived outrage? You’ll be surprised to know that, despite his obvious lack of substantive knowledge regarding the topics he discussed, he actually got some things right. Here are two examples:
1. Cannon stated, “The people that don’t have... [melanin]... didn’t have the power of the sun, then the sun started to deteriorate them....”
Let’s break that down. Although special skin cells- known as melanocytes- produce much more melanin in Blacks than in whites, whites nonetheless do have some melanin, just not nearly as much as Blacks. Accordingly, Cannon, although imprecise in his assertion, was on the right track. Melanin is a natural skin pigment that creates color in the body (and thickness in the hair). Because Black folks trace their roots to sunny Africa beginning approximately 200,000 years ago and whites to cloudy Europe beginning approximately 30,000 years ago, the melanocytes in Africans’ bodies produced more melanin- technically called eumelanin- to protect their skin from the sun’s powerful ultraviolet rays. Obviously, white folks in Europe didn’t have as much melanin because their climate was cloudy, which kept their skin pale and explains their continued need for suntan lotion during the summer months in America and elsewhere. For more information about melanin, read a webmd.com article entitled “What is Melanin,” by Dr. Melinda Ratini.
2. Cannon also stated that due to white folks’ lack (or lesser amount) of melanin, “They may not have the compassion [of Black, Red, and Brown people who have much more melanin].... Therefore, the only way they can act is evil. So then these people who didn’t have what we have [meaning melanin]..., they had to be savages.”
Let’s break that down, too. Cannon uses the words “evil” and “savage” to describe the European who, throughout the 15th through 17th centuries, first encountered the Red and Brown people of the so-called “New World” or so-called “Western Hemisphere” and the Black people of Africa. It’s so-called because there was nothing new about that part of the world. It had been in existence forever.
Europeans have a bad habit of arrogantly assuming that nothing exists until they “discover” it. I must mention that Columbus didn’t “discover” anything. In fact, the Red/Brown people, i.e., mostly Taino along with Arawak and Lucayan, were living in the so-called “New World” 14,000 years before his 1451 birth. In addition, I must mention that Columbus’ evil and savagery were so efficient that when he arrived in what’s now known as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean islands in 1492-1493, there were eight million Taino. That number, within a mere three years, was reduced to just three million. By the time he left in 1504, only about 100,000 remained alive. Wasn’t that evil? Wasn’t that savage?
And subsequent Europeans along with their descendants continued that evilness and that savagery through genocide, slavery, land robberies, and colonialism each and every time they traveled to foreign lands occupied by people of color.
If you believe that’s not evilness and savagery, explain Columbus.
Explain the 13 million Africans kidnapped from the Motherland by Portugal and other European countries from 1525 through 1866.
Explain the “Trail of Tears” from 1830 through 1839 when white America murdered 30 percent of the 100,000 forcibly displaced Red men, women, and children and stole 25 million acres of their land.
Explain white America’s slaughter of Mexico and the bloodthirsty taking of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah.
Explain King Leopold II of Belgium, the worst sadistically racist genocidal maniac in modern world history, and his horrific murders from 1885 through 1908 of an estimated 15 million African women, men, and children in the Congo (equaling about half the population).
Explain the 14 European nations along with the United States that co-signed Leopold’s wickedness during the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 when Africa was sliced up like a pie and brutally exploited by white countries.
Surprisingly, Michael Bradley, a white Canadian scholar, apparently agrees with the point Cannon attempted to make. In his seminal 1978 book entitled The Iceman Inheritance, Bradley writes, “Drs. Eric Trinkhaus of Harvard’s Peabody Museum and T. Dale Stewart of the Smithsonian Institution jointly undertook a forensic-style examination of all known Neanderthal skeletal material. They discovered a much higher incidence of violence inflicted injuries among Neanderthals....” Bradley added, “Trinkhaus and Stewart thus demonstrated empirically what I argued in the Iceman Inheritance: that the Neanderthals were more aggressive than other ancestors of modern man.” And in 1985, Bradley pointed out that “A previously unpublished and unpublicized paper was found among Sigmund Freud’s manuscripts. This 12 page essay suggested that Western [i.e., the white] man’s psychosexual aggressions... were caused by glacial evolution during the last European Ice Age.”
Nope. I ain’t judging or condemning Cannon.
Well, on second thought, maybe I will. But that’ll happen only after the privileged descendants of those evil and savage people surrender their privilege, then judge and condemn their ancestral benefactors, and then provide reparations to every Black, Red, and Brown person in America.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are his. View more opinions on phillytrib.com.