The English scientist and philosopher, Sir Isaac Newton (1672 – 1727) who formulated the physical laws of motion and gravity must have been thinking about social conflict. His third law of motion, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” seems to have some applicability to social conflict.
One social conflict that Newton’s third law of motion could be interpreted as being applicable to is racism. This applicability has existed from the time of slavery when slaves resisted its oppressive forces at every chance they got.
Following the abolition of slavery and the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and later Jim Crow racism, blacks struggled or reacted against the oppressive force of racism.
Despite the KKK not as powerful as they used to be and the dismantling of Jim Crow racism through the effort of the Civil Rights struggle, the seesaw struggle of racism continues to persist in America.
Like an earthquake, which shakes the earth and sometimes results in physical damage, injuries, and fatalities racism shakes society and results in injuries and fatalities. Like the San Andrea’s earthquake fault line in California, racism has its fault lines that run all over America.
At the 50th Super Bowl halftime show, some people felt the tremor from one of racism’s fault line. It happened when Beyoncé performed her Formation X routine, which was seen by some as a tribute to the Black Panther and a message about police brutality. While some might have missed Beyoncé’s subtle message because they were enthralled with her talent and erotic choreographed performance, some people did not.
Those who saw Beyoncé’s performance as a tribute to the militant Black Panther group, and an anti-police message are outraged. In their outrage, they have called for boycotting her shows. It was even reported that the police would not provide security for her upcoming shows. This reaction though does not resolve the problem of racism in America. Instead, it only helps to foment and perpetuate racism.
Another aspect of Beyoncé’s super bowl fallout is that it has exposed the double standard that is usually associated with racism. I do not recall anyone saying they were going to boycott or withdraw their services to musician Ted Nugent when he made his racist comments against President Obama in 2014.
There is no doubt that Beyoncé’s performance is a reaction to what she sees as racism. In a perfect world without racism, there would be no need for any action or reaction to racism. Unfortunately, the US with a history of racism cannot claim to be perfect in this area. So actions and reactions like that of Beyoncé’s and her detractors will continue until racism is resolved or reconciled.
Several disturbing ideas can be concluded from Beyoncé’s controversial Super Bowl performance. These ideas depend on one’s perspective relative to racism. An objective perspective, however, should include these ideas:
• White society is not willing to accept responsibility for racism whether it’s real or perceived.
• Racism will continue to persist as long as this seesaw motion continues between the races.
• Racism will remain controversial because of the denial and lack of understanding about its overall nature.
Until we understand the nature of racism, society will continue to struggle with the conflict of racism. The book, Racism in America, (Outskirts Pres, 2016) provides some insights to the above ideas. The theme of this book is that only when society begins to understand the nature of racism; reconcile its history; recognize that it provides no benefit to society; and accepts the fact that racism is an evil that destroy lives, can society have a real chance of breaking the yoke of racism in America.
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