The white racial frame justified implementing the racist system of capitalism, and it continues to rationalize current racial oppression, racial inequality, and the racist system of white supremacist capitalism. For instance, the mainstream white viewpoint today blames current racial inequality on blacks and people of color, arguing that if they only worked harder — or worked as hard as whites — they could reach parity with whites.
This piece argues that African American counter frame metaphors challenge the racist status quo, the white racial frame, and bourgeois ideology in the United States by showing that racial inequality is not natural. On the contrary, it is caused by an oppressive, brutal system of white supremacist capitalism that exploits people of color, ultimately benefiting whites, and most especially white capitalist elites.
Counter-Frame Metaphors About Capitalism: White Supremacist Capitalism As Bloodsucker
The common language in these counter-frames involves, blood, bloodsucking, raping, and beating as opposed to “harmless competition.” The language and metaphors of these counter-frames are effective tools that show how global white supremacist capitalism survives by brutally victimizing people of color.
A key metaphor that African Americans use to counter frame the white racial frame characterizes white elites as blood sucking predators. For instance, David Walker describes whites as “unjust, jealous, unmerciful, avaricious, and bloodthirsty set of beings” (Walker 162). Countering the white racial frame, which describes whites as holy, good, and virtuous, Walker described whites as the evil predators who profited from the suffering of black people in slavery.
Walker’s predator metaphor shows that racial inequality is not natural, but rather due to white-imposed oppression of black people. Also Walker shows that the wealthiest people (traditionally, the white slaveowners) are not wealthy because they work harder, but rather because they are the exploiters of other people. They are essentially people who leech off the hard work of others, such as African American slaves. This challenges the white racial frame by pointing out that black people are not the dumb, evil, or lazy, but instead are the victims of white capitalist oppression.
Malcolm X And The Bloodsucker Metaphor
Malcolm X challenged the white racial frame and bourgeois ideology with his metaphor that describes the system of capitalism as a system of bloodsucking.
For example Malcolm X said, “It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, the capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”
Malcolm X also said, “You show me a capitalist and I’ll show you a bloodsucker” (http://www.malcolm-x.org/quotes.htm). In this metaphor, Malcolm X describes the system of capitalism, not as a system based on competition where the good and hardworking succeed and the bad and lazy fail, but as a system where the worst and most evil people succeed by oppressing and “sucking the blood.” Survival consists of exploiting and killing other people, primarily people of color, in the United States and throughout the world.
Zero Sum Game: One Wins, Another Loses
Blood sucking implies that the system of white supremacist capitalism is a zero sum game, meaning that for one person to win, another person has to lose. Bloodsuckers survive by sucking the blood and killing other people. The people with the most money are the bloodsuckers, while the people with the least money are the victims of a system of bloodsucking. Of course, the bloodsuckers are the white elites and the people being preyed upon are disproportionately people of color in the United States and throughout the world.
Kwame Ture And The Rapist Metaphor
Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) countered the view of the United States as a good, moral, white nation that is rich because of its own hard work, virtuousness, and exceptionalism. Instead, Ture argues that the system is built on exploitation and dominating, or raping, other countries that are predominately of people of color.
Carmichael uses a “United States as a rapist” metaphor. He said, “I do not want to be a part of the American pie. The American pie means raping South Africa, beating Vietnam, beating South America, raping the Philippines, raping every country you’ve been in. I don’t want any of your blood money” (americanrhetoric.com).
Raping could mean one person violently forcing someone else into sexual intercourse, it also means violently seizing and plundering land. Carmichael is referring to U.S. and European colonialism and imperialism, in which the United States and European countries invaded and colonized territories where people of color live throughout the world. These invasions were done in order to exploit people of color for their labor and natural resources simply for the benefit of the elite whites in these imperial countries (Feagin 147).
Beneficiaries Of Abuse And Exploitation
While raping and beating other countries is literally what Americans have done on behalf of the United States to non-white places around the world, it provides the brutal imagery that shifts the belief that whites in the United States are wealthier because they somehow worked harder, are smarter, or are better. Rather they are the beneficiaries of abuse, and have raised their standard of living as a result of the suffering of people of color throughout the world.
Conclusions On Capitalism And Inequality
These African American counter-frames to the white racial frame and bourgeois ideology shift the thinking about capitalism and racial inequality. The mainstream viewpoint of the status quo is uncritical of the exploitative and racist nature of capitalism, describing it as a system of competition where the most deserving are rich and the least deserving are poor.
Since people of color are disproportionately exploited in the United States and throughout the world, it is believed by mainstream society that they are poor because they are less deserving, lazy, dumb, uncivilized, and generally inferior. Hence, white supremacist capitalism is justified by the white racist frame.
African American counter frames by David Walker, Malcolm X, and Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) shift this discussion and challenge this mainstream viewpoint of white supremacist capitalism by using metaphors which describe it as a brutal system involving, the predators, prey, bloodsuckers, rapists and beaters. This language shows that the wealthiest people and countries throughout the world are not the best (largely white dominated countries) rather the opposite, they are the most evil as they benefit from harming others (disproportionately people of color throughout the world).
Feagin, Joe. 2010. The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counterframing.