A Different World

Critics of Powell, Rice have become slaves to race

Published Oct. 27 in The Sun News

I graduated from St. Stephen High in 1991, an almost-all ``black'' school.

After I decided to attend Davidson College, an almost-all ``white'' liberal arts institution, a friend of mine pulled me aside and gave this command:

``Don't come back white.''

Her message was clear. It had nothing to do with skin tone.

In her mind, being ``white'' included having a love for country music and/or rock 'n' roll, speaking ``proper,'' questioning programs such as affirmative action ... and, God forbid, dating ``white'' girls.

In other words, I was to avoid any independent thinking and living that would be an affront to tradition.

During my senior year at Davidson, a fellow African-American student informed me I had become just that. ``White.''

She was upset over a column I had written in the student newspaper that outlined our need for increased dialogue, particularly concerning the practice of campus police stopping and questioning dark-skinned males.

She wanted me to be more forceful, to bash the police, something I had essentially done a week earlier before considering all sides.

Her message was clear as well:

``Agree with me or else.'' ``Do what I say.'' ``Say as I do.'' ``Don't question me.'' ``Enjoy only what I want you to enjoy.'' ``Hate when I want you to hate.'' ``Love when I say you must love.'' ``Hurt when I say it's time to hurt.''

``Only Uncle Toms and sell-outs will veer from this mandate.''

And in case you missed it, entertainer Harry Belafonte sent Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice the same message. Only he didn't call them ``white,'' but rather house slaves who have succumbed to the will of the master, President George W. Bush.

``When Colin Powell dares to suggest something other than what the master wants to hear, he will be turned back out to pasture,'' Belafonte said.

Belafonte's words were wrong-headed, hurtful, off-base - considering Powell daily is barraged by conservatives for not being in step with the Bush administration on a variety of issues - and revealing.

The next time Belafonte or any of his defenders cries about the lack of minority representation in government, in the movies, on the sidelines of Division I football teams, in boardrooms - anywhere - don't believe them. They're lying.

If critics like Belafonte were serious about equality, they would welcome and celebrate the diversity of thought and experience brought by those such as Powell and Rice who struggle to make decisions based on careful thought and moral reasoning.

But that's not what they want. They want people who will be slaves to an outdated way of thinking.

They don't believe in equality. They believe in enslaving people just as much as the slaveowners of the 1700 and 1800s. Only they can't use whips or chains, only words and a warped since of loyalty.

Theirs isn't a physical slavery, but rather a psychological one.

Funny thing, though. Their anger and hurt has so blinded them they don't realize they have become slaves themselves.

Slaves to race, a mythical entity.