Many people are offended if Caucasians are referred to as “Cracka” or “Honky,” claiming these monikers are racist terms. But history demonstrates these words are based on class as much as race. After all everyone in black communities knows “honky” was a nickname black men gave to white men who would honk their horns outside their homes. These men, many times unemployed, sat in frustration watching their daughters, sisters, and even wives leaving to meet the “johns” or “curb crawlers” who came into their segregated neighborhoods looking to make prostitutes out of their family members.
“Cracka” was the name given to the foreman on the plantation who cracked his whip on the backs of the slaves. If the man cracking his whip happened to be black or mulatto, he was not any less a cracka. So this is not restricted to a particular race but many whites insist cracka is a racial epithet aimed at them. And let’s be honest, they’re probably right. But if calling your white boss or co-worker a honky or cracka is so bad why don’t Caucasians mind the most known and notorious racial tag—the infamous N-word— being used in the official names of natural landmarks such as the “Nigger Rapids,” which is a stretch of the Gatineau River in Maniwaki, Quebec?
“Nobody talks about this,” stated Claire Hamel, a Canadian resident who resides near the rapids. She insists the name is not a source of controversy. “It’s the name, that’s it. Like Bouchette, like Maniwaki, like Ottawa.”
In all walks of life the line of demarcation between the two classes is clear. Let us shift to the world of sports for our next example.
Recently Colin Kaepernick’s kneel-down stance during the national anthem has become contagious. Apparently there is a segment of America’s citizens who are not satisfied with their government’s policies; particularly their treatment by the police. It’s been a minute since a race-related protest made these types of headlines. This, in turn, has resulted in whites responding by venting their opinions, which in many cases has revealed white supremacist attitudes. A great example is the retired NFL quarterback and current football analyst, Trent Dilfer. No matter how much he tried to hide behind traditional ‘football values’ like putting the team first, what really ticked him off about Kaepernick and the other athletic protesters spilled out repeatedly with phrases like “stay in your place,” “sit down,” and “be quiet.”
Once again let’s put the shoe on the other foot. What if it wasn’t dark-skinned, unarmed men but instead Caucasians who were getting blasted by cops, do you think Trent Dilfer and the rest of the ‘Confederate Crew’ would tell young, white protesters to sit down and shut-up? Or would it be more like: “Stand up and lock-and-load!” Let’s refer to what we know. How many blacks have been murdered right after some random Caucasian woman claimed she was stared at “inapproriately.” And we don’t have to mention more than a few of their rape indictments were proven to be lies—but innocent men still got lynched. This aggression even extends into the animal kingdom as the western man will not hesitate to kill dozens of lions, tigers, or sharks in an effort to find the one “man-eater.” But in spite of their Samurai-like penchant for vengeance if one their own is harmed, whenever the victim is a non-Caucasian, the general attitude is it’s no big deal. “Ah come on, he was resisting arrest,” is a famous by-line heard in the media throughout the years; and perhaps most recently in the Sandra Bland case. It’s almost as if they’re saying that melanin-rich people dying, or being killed, is the norm. Again we are reminded of the infamous Dred-Scott ruling in 1857.
Having concluded there are two classes of American citizens, what are the factors which determine your class? In any capitalist nation a person’s net-worth largely influences his or her social status and importance. And many of our brothers and sisters have achieved important positions, stardom, and even riches; but in spite of their high-profile status, are they merely black-faces being manipulated by an unseen puppetmaster? When some are asked about the U.S. having second-class citizens they like to quote the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence which starts as follows: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” However, since the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1776—which was during the chattel slavery era—others argue this only applies to the European immigrants and not to the native inhabitants of the land, or the Africans kidnapped for slavery.
Symptoms of the Second Class
Do you identify yourself by a name created in recent years, such as African-American or Chinese-American? Or by some sort of mathematical equation such as: “I’m such and such percentage West Indian and such and such percentage white,” or “I’m half Japanese and half black”? Many people have no idea these terms were previously used to designate a slave‘s status. Recently, actress and co-host of the The View, Whoopie Goldberg, showed symptoms of first-class citizenry when another co-host made a joke about Whoopie needing to seek refuge abroad due to Donald Trump’s bid for presidency. “You know what uh uh! This is my country,” Goldberg said. “My mother, my grandmother, my great-grand folks, we busted ass to be here. I’m sorry. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American, I’m not a chick American, I’m an American!”
What about you? Have you accepted some made-up terminology to identify yourself? Or, are you the one who determines your class designation…your identity…who you are? These are questions we will explore further in future editions of AfroAsiatic Perspectives…peace!
Takuan Amaru is the author of the trilogy, Gaikokujin – The Story.