How Derrick Bell Beat Martin Luther King Jr.

The legacy of racial hatred reigns among black leaders and role models.

[](/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/03/Picture-8.gif)“History proves that the white man is a devil,” said Malcolm X. “Whites are liars,” said Jeremiah Wright. “I love to harass white folks,” said Derrick Bell.

“This is what you deserve. You get what you deserve, white boy,” a black teenager said to Allen Coon, a white student on the porch of his own home, as he set him on fire.

“Don’t tell me words don’t matter,” Obama once said. And he was right. Words do matter. The words of his mentors that have rooted hate so deep in the black community that it has become a cancer, a sore that bleeds violence, a stain on the soul.

While white racism continues to decline year by year, black racism has advanced to the White House and into the hearts and minds of millions. It leads to everything from discrimination to murder. It led to a thirteen-year-old boy screaming as fire ate at the flesh of his face, burning away the white skin that his attackers had been taught to hate so much.

“While city officials, state agencies, white liberals, and sober-minded Negroes stand idly by, a group of Negro dissenters is taking to street-corner step ladders, church pulpits, sports arenas, and ballroom platforms across the United States, to preach a gospel of hate that would set off a federal investigation if it were preached by Southern whites.”

The year was 1959 and the voice was that of Mike Wallace. Since then the “Gospel of Hate” has become mainstream in parts of the black community. Black leaders like Jeremiah Wright have discarded the Black Muslim origins of their hate, along with the tales of UFOs  and Mohammed, but have retained its deep-seated venomous racism.

The Nation of Islam, the subject of Wallace’s documentary, has won. Its Million Man March was the largest organized show of political force by the black community in decades. Its breakaway activist, Malcolm X, has displaced Martin Luther King, as a political role model in the black community. Most of all its hate has become distilled into the rhetoric and beliefs of even non-Muslim clergy and scholars.

While we look at the hateful words of a Jeremiah Wright or a Derrick Bell who preach from the pulpit or propound from their ivory tower desks, we often ignore their impact on the ground floor of public life and what happens when their teachings trickle down to create an atmosphere of oppression and hate.

Allen Coon, a 13-year-old boy, was set on fire as a consequence of the mainstreaming of racism in the black community to the extent that hatred for white people became a regular feature of his classes at school.

“You’ve got to be taught, to hate and fear,” Lieutenant Cable hummed in Rodger and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. “You’ve got to be taught, from year to year.”

Allen Coon’s assailants, who followed him home from school, poured gasoline on him and flicked the lighter, had been carefully taught to hate by teachers in the Kansas City public school system. Those teachers had also been taught to hate from year to year. The burns on the face of a thirteen-year-old white boy did not emerge out of thin air. They are marks of the bigotry of men like Jeremiah Wright and Derrick Bell, of words that collect like rainwater in the gutter, seeping into the hearts and minds of those in the black community who consider those bigots leaders, until it overflows and torture, rape and murder follow.

The greatest testament to the triumph of black racism in the black community is in the number of racist figures surrounding Barack Obama. If anyone imagined a black president in 1959, few would have imagined that his wife would pose in a photo together with the wife of the leader of a black hate group, that his mentor would screech “God damn America” from the pulpit or that his good friend would proudly proclaim, “I live to harass white folks.”

As parents and students from the same school that Allen Coon attended come forward to testify to the atmosphere of racism and racial intimidation, we can easily imagine the coverage that the story would receive if only the races were reversed. Cameras would fill every corner of East High School, assemblies would be called, tolerance programs would be implemented, and every media outlet would demand an orgy of soul-searching by white parents and students to understand their part in this atrocity.

Two years ago Newsweek ran a photo of a white baby asking the question, “Is your baby racist?” While the media will gleefully charge 6-month-old white babies with racism, accusing them of bigotry for staring longer at photos of other races; it will go on ignoring the Allen Coon case, as it has ignored any number of similar and worse cases. Obama graced Sandra Fluke with a sympathetic phone call over the devastating trauma of being called a slut. Having your face set on fire though doesn’t qualify for a two minute long distance call from the Oval Office.

The eager critiquers of white bigotry are unwilling to take a hard look at the unpleasant reality of black racism and their role in sanctifying and perpetuating it. They are unwilling to analyze language like, “You get what you deserve, white boy,” to find the legacy of hate embedded within from their own teachings, which say that victimization invites a violent response, that guilt is racial rather than individual and being told you are the victim exempts you from accountability for your own actions.

“I pale in hatred to the hatred of white people,” Farrakhan once said, justifying his black racism through the prop of white racism. That prop is still there, and its spectral image of a universal and pervasive white racism is taught in every school and used to justify every aspect of black racism, from discrimination at colleges to intimidation at polls, to setting a thirteen-year-old boy on fire.

The Allen Coon case is yet another reminder that an end to racism does not mean an end to white racism. It means an end to all racism. And that day will only come when black people are just as ashamed of Jeremiah Wright, affirmative action and schools like East High School where white students are harassed because of their race, as white people already are of separate lunch counters and drinking fountains.

“You get what you deserve, white boy,” isn’t just the credo of Coon’s attackers; it’s the credo of Al Sharpton, of Derrick Bell, of Jeremiah Wright and of a legion of black activists, academics and clergy. And until that credo is rooted out as completely as “segregation forever,” then America will remain a nation divided by race.

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