The concept of justice is both simple and wildly complex. Justice at it’s simplest is fairness, but it is also supposed to be some balance of righting a wrong by making the perpetrator of that wrongdoing face punishment or rehabilitation and an effort to make the victim whole. Hmmm…🧐
But there is often a very different standard of justice for male wrongdoers and female wrongdoers. Men who wrong women are very often, simply because they are men, given a pass on even some of the most heinous crimes. Think Bill Cosby or even R. Kelly. Even these Black men benefited from the extreme patriarchy of America, where men are applauded for as many sexual exploits as they can muster and women, the same women these men are having sex with, are slut shamed. Hatred of women is such an American truth, that drugging women to rape them and raping women too young to consent is forgiven snd pushed under the rug by other men and some women alike. Patriarchy is such a deeply ingrained American value, it is accepted by the people it harms most. But women, particularly Black women, are often demonized and set up to be burned at the stake if they make a mistake. A mistake. That is not justice, but it is lauded as such.
Look… in America, “race” is specifically about color. There is no Jewish box under race. So for many Americans, especially African Americans who are most affected by the racial strife and discrimination in this country, Jewish is an ethno-religious category. So the other day Whoopi Goldberg, on The View, made the comment that the Holocaust was not about “race” but about man’s inhumanity towards man. What she said was not antisemitic, be clear. What she said was just based on American views of race… the ones she knows well. Race as a means to discriminate and separate is a colonial American construct to justify the system of slavery.
Now, what I know about Nazi Germany is that Hitler was a horrible person with marred intelligence. He was a reader and he enjoyed recalling facts, but he believed that having and regurgitating that information was more important than understanding the information. That is a fatal flaw of many narcissists. His intelligence can only be properly determined in light of those facts about him. SO, Hitler determined that Jewish people were an inferior “race” to Germans. He also similarly labeled people of African descent living in Germany. The term race was simply being used to codify a categorization based on superiority and inferiority. That is how he saw the construct of race. That is a simplistic way to view it… but not a whole understanding of the concept as it was used to justify slavery and continue to justify the discrimination of Black people in America for centuries. In Europe, however, the larger countries of France, Britain, and Germany had long before created a hierarchy of superiority surrounding ethnicity. These were White people discriminating against other White people… a question of the purity of one’s whiteness. Not racism, according to it’s historical conceptualization, but nationalism and ethnocentrism. All equally horrible.
In reality, her comment was not incorrect. There is a difference between ones “race” (a socially constructed categorization based on one’s skin color or other physical traits), ethnicity, and nationality. Regardless of how Hitler used the term, what he was referring to was something wholly different, because recall, he was a student of information but not understanding. He wanted to annihilate Jewish people based on some idea of Germans being superior racially, meaning more purely White. He believed Aryan (WHAT even is that???) people were the most pure and should rule the world, and the dominance of Jews threatened that. According to annefrank.org, Hitler’s antisemitism was framed by his two mentors, Georg Ritter von Schönerer who was a German nationalist who believed Austrians, Hungarians, and Jewish people were culturally inferior and the wild anti-semite Karl Lueger who politicized Christianity in Vienna on the platform that Jewish dominance was a threat to Christians everywhere. His heroes based their anti-semite values in ethnicity and religion, and really, at the heart of it, was a strong desire to destroy Jewish financial and political success.
So Whoopi Goldberg, in light of that comment was suspended from The View. If you believe for one second that that was more about the content of her comment than the reaction of White and Jewish executives to the idea that a Black woman would even have such nuanced conversation and opinion about the Holocaust, and frame it as a White v. White atrocity… you are mistaken. As one of my great girlfriends said…
That is an exhausting and daunting BUT 200% CORRECT premise. But it also speaks to the issue of justice. Again, she wasn’t wrong. She was giving a different take on the reason behind the atrocity of the Holocaust. She wasn’t joking about it, making light of it, trying to offend, or misinterpreting history. Race is a specific concept in America and most if the world. The use of the word race by an idiot, to annihilate a group of people, doesn’t make that tragedy about race. But a bunch of White people took offense, and she was labeled wrong and justice had to be served. She had to pay for making what generally amounted to “a mistake”… and not a mistake in terms of it being untrue but in terms of evaluating, before she said it, whether it would greatly and unnecessarily offend. Because we know, we (Black folks, Black women particularly) are going to be held to the highest standard humanely possible in terms of our behavior, but we are expected to swallow simultaneously being continuously offended by EVERYBODY ELSE! It was a mistake of greater harm to herself than that done to anyone else, if we are going to keep it 100. She never negated the heinous inhumane treatment of Jewish people during the Holocaust… EVER!
But justice, real justice, looks to me like Whoopi being allowed to explain her rationale and not blindly punished like a schoolgirl especially when We can still hear whole full rapist’s songs on the radio and see their shows in syndication. Make that shit make sense. Whoopi Goldberg is a cultural treasure, even if folks don’t acknowledge her as a national treasure. She was Celie, “until you do right by me”; Sister Mary Clarence, Oda Mae Brown, “Molly, you in trouble girl”…. and in many instances, our voice. Plus, she was born Caryn… and well that just makes her special cuz she was a little Black girl probably called everything but “Karen” because it was spelled different. 🤷🏽♀️ But I wasn’t watching The View anyway… Megan McCain’s irritating ass ended that for me, but on the rare chance I do watch a clip, it’s to hear Whoopi wax poetic. She is a legendary philanthropist and supporter of women, Black people, Jewish people, and speaking out against inhumanity. She doesn’t deserve this shit. Period. This is not justice, it’s sexism and it’s racism. Be real clear!
“Justice is what love looks like when it speaks in public!” -Michael Eric Dyson