ABSTRACT

The system of racism/White supremacy and all that goes with it-from slavery, to Jim and Jane Crow laws in the South, to northern forms of segregation called “districting,” to recent forms of institutionalized racism-represents America’s greatest embarrassment. The embarrassment is so great that most self-respecting White Americans would like to put this history as far behind them as possible. The mechanisms for forgetting are so powerful and pervasive that Michael Eric Dyson has referred to the U.S.A. as the “United State of Amnesia” and, following Joseph Lowery, “the 51st state, the state of denial.”1 Many White Americans would like to think that racism was the product of past generations, and that they no longer benefi t from racial discrimination. They think that the racists today are groups such as the KKK. Since they neither belong to nor support such groups, and since they are on friendly terms with several Black people (and perhaps they even voted for Obama), they are not racist.