3.13.2010

Drapetomania, Meet Draptoresponsia

Even now the thought of my cruel abuses begins sometimes to creep up and kindle my feelings, until I feel unhappy in my own house, and it seems as if the devil was getting the better of me. I feel, then, that I could destroy that tyrant who, knowing that I was a man, cut me with a whip in a manner worse than I will name. Then I think, “What is the use? Here I am, a free man in Canada, and out of his power.” Yet I feel the stirrings of revenge.

I been whipped from sunup till sundown.  Off and on, you know.  They whip me till they get tired, and then they go and res' and come out and start again. They kept a bowl filled with vinegar and salt and pepper settin' nearby, when they had whipped me till the blood come, they would take the mop and sponge cuts with this stuff so they would hurt more. They would whip me with the cowhide part of the time and with a birch sprouts the other part. There were splinters as long as my fingers...They didn't whip me with a bull whip; they whipped me with a cowhide.  They just whipped me ’cause they could—’cause they had the privilege.  It wasn't nothin' I done; they just whipped me.

Now, say for instance I'd go out here to S.'s place. I'd have to walk. An' I would have to be back maybe in a hour. Maybe they'd give me hour. I don' know jus' how long they'd give me. But they'd give me a note so there wouldn' nobody interfere with me, an' tell who I belong to. An' when I come back, why I carry it to my master an' give that to him, that'd be all right. But I couldn'jus' walk away like the people does now, you know. It was what they call, we were slaves. We belonged to people. They'd sell us like they sell horses an' cows an' hogs an' all like that. Have a auction bench, an' they'd put you on, up on the bench an' bid on you jus' same as you bidding on cattle you know.

Drapetomania (also spelled Draptomania), for those of you who are unfamiliar, comes from the Greek drapetes (a runaway) and mania (madness).  The Louisiana doctor Samuel Cartwright created it in 1851 to "explain" why black people would try to run away from bondage.

Modern Drapetomania

Now, despite the glowing neon duh in this situation, drapetomania continues today in America, the way many side effects of America's history have continued.  So just as white people once wondered why black people would be unhappy as slaves, their descendants now wonder why black descendants of slaves are angry.  And they focus so much on black people being angry, they conveniently ignore the anger of Latinos, Native Americans, and Asians.  In fact, they've convinced themselves "those people" aren't angry at all.

Cartwright prescribed "a solid whipping" for drapetomania.  That prescription as since been changed to denial, hipster racism, and of course, derailing.

Two Can Play That Game

Draptoresponsia comes from - again - the Greek drapetes (a runaway) and the Latin responsus (from which we get "responsibility").  Now, Cartwright was not the first to think enslaved people - or oppressed people in general - should just shut up and succumb.  Nor has he been the last to think so.  However, Cartwright did unleash the term "drapetomania" upon the world, and just as he was honored for doing so back in 1851, he will now be honored as the official Patient Zero of draptoresponsia.  That's right, folks; Samuel Cartwright was a draptoresponsic.

Typical Characteristics of a Draptoresponsic (or "drapto" for short)

1) Delusional and/or Arrogantly Racist Thinking


Yes, whites got land, slavery and wealth. Never mind that they acquired all three because of the talent and culture that allowed them to develop modern economies and armies, talent and culture that seems to be absent in Africa.

Draptos are firmly convinced they are in the right, they are superior, they are entitled, and while they don't expect people to agree with them, it's okay because anyone who doesn't agree with them is inferior.  And don't bother talking about history with draptos; they have a tendency to rewrite it.

2) Petulant Anger

I think Angry White People are at least partly justified in their Anger. Since the 1960s they’ve found themselves at the butt-end of virtually every argument about race. They’ve been castigated as overprivileged, insensitive oppressors. They’ve been ridiculed for their lack of cool and their inability to boogie. They’ve seen inner-city kids get the red-carpet treatment at Yale while their own progeny had to settle for Brickville State. They’ve watched as aggrieved minorities used the race card to defend O.J. Simpson and silence the opposition – while still managing to portray themselves as victims. And now, for the first time, a critical mass of Angry White People would appear to be saying “Enough.”

Because draptos are fleeing responsibility, they tend to get angry with the very people to whom they are responsible.  For example, the opening quotes on this blog are from blacks who were enslaved and then interviewed upon emancipation.  Reread Ms. Crane's quote.  She was whipped for hours...for fun.  The people who did this to her felt treating a fellow human in this manner was perfectly normal.  They saw her blood, her cut flesh, heard her cry, saw her tears and after all that, they rested and returned to do it some more.  People gotta have a hobby, after all.

Notice how Ms. Crane explains why a [supposed] human being would behave in such a manner: privilege.  You know...that thing POC aren't supposed to mention because it "doesn't exist"?

Draptos are in deep denial of their privilege, which is ironic considering their feelings of superiority and entitlement.  So why does the P-Bomb cause such a ripple in Drapto-world?  Being white, living in America, and accusing people of color as being the problem, is in itself, a side effect of privileged thinking.  In fact, it's the same privilege of which Ms. Crane spoke.  While they're white and annoyed with "Other people" being in America, it never seems to occur to whites that the people who lived here before them feel the same way about them.  White Americans are the original illegal aliens; they brought about the deaths of millions and enslaved millions more to build up the cities and plantations of which they are so proud and protective.  Though proud of one of the "greatest American technological feats", White Americans didn't build the transcontinental railroad, but they rewarded the people who did by discriminating against them and branding them an "inferior race".

The history of White America comprises theft, violence, and arrogant ingratitude.  Modern White Americans, though usually seeking to distance themselves from that history, refuse to relinquish the glaringly obvious benefits of those atrocities: a country that's not theirs, cities they didn't build, and a system which protects them above all else.  That they have the gall to cry foul is a horrendous yet perfect example of their privilege.  And whenever a white person is finally brave enough to self-examine and talk honestly about history and dismantling privilege, the draptos immediately rear their ugly heads.  But as loudly as they denounce the existence of their privilege, draptos are simply too frightened to give it up.

3) Aggression

Violent black youths are the result of generations of single-parent homes and politically correct BS that absolves them of any responsibility for their violent actions. The usual race-baiting suspects will show up on the local news saying “my baby is a good kid” and claiming police brutality, racism or some other dizzy excuse rather than admit their kid is a violent, undiscliplined monster! How many times must we see respectable citizens be punching and kicking bags for gangs of violent, black youth? These soulless monsters have no conscience and are a tremendous danger to society!  [...]we see weekly reports about black youth attacking innocent people in violent mobs! It is past time black people start disciplining their own! Black people must take responsibility for their offspring! White people have only one protection from these violent animals…concealed carry. Prudence and experience dictates whites must be vigilant when in close proximity to groups of black youth. We must teach our children to be careful when they see black youth gathered in numbers.


Had I not already written a post about how statistics threaten white privilege, I'd be upset right now.  Draptos looking for an excuse to hurt POC is nothing new; yet I bet you this drapto can't see any connection between what he wrote and what Ms. Crane recalled.  As in my prior post which I just linked here, you'll notice that white people are more likely to kill other white people.  That's why they have such high victim numbers.  They're so desirous of an enemy/target of color that they hole themselves up in monochromatic communities which house their very killers.

And while I am a civilized being who would not wish harm of any sort upon the innocent, I'm honestly not going to lose any sleep over that.  America is an exhausting place for POC sometimes...I need my rest tonight.

4) Avoidance

I’m sick of white folks. It’s not just that we command an unseemly portion of the world’s resources, exploiting hundreds of millions of non-white folks and causing horrendous environmental damage in the process and then patting ourselves on the back for paying the merest lip service to righting our wrongs. It’s that when we make movies about the atrocities committed for our benefit and with our tacit consent, we insist upon setting up one of our own as the hero. It’s really pretty sick.

The latest outbreak of this particular affliction is Blood Diamond,a film that’s ostensibly about the murder, mutilation, forced labor, kidnapping, and brainwashing of black Africans but whose creators insist that what’s important is whether the roguish white guy gets it on with the hot white chick. This, of course, is a gross oversimplification, but then so is the movie.


If you go to Wikipedia to look up Blood Diamond, not only can you find its "Reception" section immediately, but you'll also see that it earned fairly positive reviews.  However, if you try to do the same for Amistad, not only does it not have a "Reception" section, not only did it not do well in theaters, and not only are its reviews decidedly higher than Blood Diamond, but as this critic puts it:
In ``Amistad,'' an admirable but disappointing effort out on video, [Spielberg] veers between stoic political correctness and mushy Hollywood platitudes.

A message film about freedom, justice and human dignity, ``Amistad'' tells the true story of an 1839 slave-ship mutiny in which 53 Africans kill all but two of their Spanish captors off the Cuban coast. Conned by the survivors into thinking they are headed home, the Africans are captured by a U.S. naval ship and brought to trial for murder. It's a classic piece of buried history, and Spielberg deserves a heap of credit for bringing it to light.

The brutal Middle Passage across the Atlantic occupies only a tiny part of the film. Instead, we hear legal arguments from McConaughey and see the opportunism of President Martin Van Buren (Nigel Hawthorne), who fears losing Southern votes if he sides with the Africans.
Both films are in the "white guilty fantasy" genre.  Both have white heroes.  Both treat POC like scenery.  So why did whites flock to see one and not the other?

Because one film had DiCaprio and Connelly making African suffering all about them, while generously showing Africans being violent and abusive towards other Africans.  Whites - and draptos in particular - could stomach that.  The other film, however, even in its brief, nightmarish glory, hit a little too close to home.

14 comments:

  1. The opening anecdotes were very hard to read and I applaud you for this insightful dismantling of White privilege from the 1800s to seeing its intrepid, poisonous roots today. Beautiful and eye opening. Thank you.

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  2. Thank you. I was surprised at how warm and elated I felt to hear Mr. Hughes's actual voice. I had expected to burst into tears, but instead my heart filled with this overwhelming love, you know?

    Reading through the so-called "Slave Narratives" is extremely difficult; it's like watching the Middle Passage section of Amistad. But when Ms. Crane, qu'elle repose on paix, made sure to mention white privilege, all I could say was, "Bless you. Bless you, bless you, bless you."

    And then I broke down.

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  3. My Grandmother's Grandmother Hattie Mims Horn was the first person in my family born free. She was born in 1889 in Alabama and did not die until 1981. A photo of her tombstone is in my profile. Her mother Rosetta was born a slave.

    Rosetta, my great great great grandmother
    Hattie, my great great grandmother
    Richard, my great grandfather
    Margaret, my grandma
    Ernest, my Dad
    Me

    So yes this is all very personal and very recent and I hate how much white people with their white privilege minimize the suffering of MY FAMILY.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @ thelady,

    Thank you for sharing this with us. My love to you and all your family.

    Indeed, it is so frustrating to listen to white people talk about how slavery and colonialism were "a long time ago". Both of my own parents were born under colonial rule.

    How quickly white folks forget. But then again...'tis their privilege.

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  5. @ the idiot troll who tried to comment (you know who you are)

    Let's get something straight right now. You are not welcome on this blog. I've rejected your past comments and ignored you on Abagond for a reason.

    And since he's not here for you to crawl and hide behind like the dickless sack of shit you are, allow to me share this tiny little secret with you:

    Your mother should've drowned you at birth.

    xoxo,
    Ankhesen

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've been thinking about the way slavery is discussed in America. The word ancestors is always used which makes it sound like some 10,000 years ago before Homo Sapiens discovered fire. Which is why I deliberately used the word family, because we are talking about people my Grandmother knew, about people who were still living 50 years ago. This humanity seems to get lost in the discussion of ancestors. These slave narratives are not some abstract fable credited to Homer. This is about human beings and human suffering.

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  7. @ the lady,

    Hence the banning of the troll.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Gamer culture is rife with cases of draptoresponsia.

    Here we have a cluster of draptoresponsiacs clearly in need of treatment.

    If I'm not mistaken, it seems that draptoresponsia is a cumulative phenomenon, wherein they cluster together in groups and intensify their individual symptoms.

    Clearly, more research is needed. I suggest vivisection.

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  9. Vivisection is actually not a bad idea, RVCBard.

    Better toxic draptos than innocent, harmless animals.

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  10. Greetings, fam.

    Just wanted to tell you, (Sister?) Ankhesen that I love you.

    Thanks for writing, thanks for bringing the truth to light, thanks for using your private time to share information with your family - the Ancestors/our family is proud.

    One,

    - Brother Chimaobi

    ReplyDelete
  11. @ Chimaobi

    Welcome! And yeah...I'm a sister.

    ReplyDelete
  12. truthbetold2/16/12, 3:07 PM

    This post is brilliant.
    I enjoy your honesty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why, thank you. This post caused a bit of grief back in its day.

      Let's just say a loooooooot of comments are missing.

      Delete