Don’t Let The Name Fool You, The ‘10 Cracka Commandments’ Are Spot On

White privilege is handled in a few ways in the United States; it’s either dismissed entirely, or it’s acknowledged and opens one’s eyes to the reality of systemic racism in the U.S., or it is acknowledged and only creates a backlash of anger and denial for having it rubbed in white society’s face. It is the latter of the three that has unfortunately been displayed by mainstream media after a white Lehigh University assistant professor in Bethlehem, Penn., got together with a couple of colleagues to create the “Ten Cracka Commandments” and post them on his blog, Shades of White. Check ‘em out below, and don’t be afraid to take notes:

1.  #AllLivesMatter won’t matter until #BlackLivesMatter. This commandment is a litmus test and the greatest commandment.

2.  Always remember that white privilege is real, even if you do not understand it. Use it to convince other people that black lives, including black women’s lives, matter. Show up for protests, write letters to representatives, and start discussions with other white people about black lives mattering.

3.  Always remember that ignorance is real, and is a product of privilege. Treat the ignorant with compassion, but hold them accountable.

4.  Never think that the critique does not apply to you. Just because you were at Barack’s inauguration and your dad was a freedom rider, or because you are the head of your local chapter of GLADD, that does not mean you do not have more work to do on yourself, your family, and your community.

5.  Always remember that it is never a question of if violence, but whose violence are you going to defend. Unjust state-sanctioned and racist violence, or justified resistance; the choice is yours, the choice is ours.

6.  Never tolerate racism from your friends or family. Whether it is coming from your eighteen-year-old friend, your thirty-one-year-old cousin, or your eighty-year-old grandmother, confront it always. Confronting racism does not mean you will lose your friend or family. It means you will help to make them act and think in less racist ways.

7.  You cannot love cultural products without also loving the people who make those products. If you like black art or athletics, that appreciation is an entryway into recognizing that black lives matter.

8.  Never quote black leaders like Dr. King in order to criticize protesters and activists.

9.  Always embrace uncertainty. Life is uncertain; death is certain. Uncertainty promotes life; certainty produces death and destruction.

10. Never put white fragility ahead of justice. If you are more concerned to argue that you “aren’t racist” than you are with racism or with people dying, you’re priorities are skewed. Do you want justice or comfort?

10 cracka commandments

Christopher Driscoll handed down the 10 Cracka Commandments and send the right wing into a not-at-all-racist frenzy of outrage. (Image courtesy of religion.cas2.lehigh.edu)

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While conservative publications such as Mad Patriots are covering assistant religious-studies professor Christopher Driscoll’s commandments with disgust and anger for using the derogatory word “cracka” in the title of the commandments, rather than something more politically correct, it’s important to understand that calling a white person a “cracka” in a society designed heavily to favor white people, as opposed to calling a black person “n*gger” in that same society, is akin to saying Palestinian rockets plinking over the border toward Israel are just as bad as Israel’s state of the art shock and awe capable of snuffing out entire Palestinian communities at a time. There are sticks, and there are stones, and then there are hundreds of years of brutal slavery and racism. Somehow, “cracka” just doesn’t have the same whipping snap to it, right?

After all, what is the effect of calling a white person a “cracka”? “Mom! This person we’ve oppressed at every turn called me a name!” And then Johnny cries all the way to the ice cream shop.

No, that’s of course not the reality of the situation, because white privilege allows white folks to dismiss and laugh off “cracka.” It’s laughable, because white folks know it’s just a childish name. Whereas, black folks know being called “n*gger” is tied to so much more than just a juvenile name. It’s tied to slavery, to oppression, to lack of opportunity, to a sense of shame for one’s self resulting in a lack of pride and self-respect, which is nothing more than a lie pressed on them by white society. It’s tied to the core of what has been maliciously inflicted upon black people, by white people, for literally hundreds of years, so calling a white person a “cracka,” while not entirely mature or exactly unifying, is just not in the same ballpark as the other side of that coin.

So get over the “cracka” issue and open your mind enough to take in what Driscoll and his colleagues are telling us so poignantly. Take it like the concerned words of a lover sitting you down to let you know how to improve your relationship. Take it like a friend offering you a lifeline when you’re really f*cking up your life. Take it as what it is, love. Don’t get mad, try listening instead, and let those revelations begin to change the way you live your life, because the “Ten Cracka Commandments” are solid keys to understanding and dealing with white privilege, as well as a means by which we can begin to come together as a country.

To do that, white folks, it’s like Chris Rock said, we have to own our roles in history first. Like the first and most important commandment says:

“#AllLivesMatter won’t matter until #BlackLivesMatter.”

Besides, considering how the commandments came about in the first place, as part of a hip hop symposium, and primarily being created by a white guy with a couple of friends and colleagues in the hip hop community, it’s entirely likely the use of “cracka” is very much tongue in cheek with a nod toward the more casual uses of language so well embraced and artfully crafted by the hip hop community. It’s also an easy means for creating just enough scandal amongst the up-tight-and-white crowds to gain the larger attention it deserves.

Those caught up in the term “cracka” so much that they cannot absorb the information that follows in the commandments because it makes them uncomfortable — you still just don’t get it. And where does that leave you on the path to justice but walking against traffic with your eyes closed, your ears plugged, and your hands in your neighbors’ pockets? Perhaps try an old reading trick we’re taught in elementary school and block out the title with another piece of paper so you can focus on the commandments themselves, rather than getting so bent out of shape by a title intended to be both silly and sensational by design.

Featured image via religion.cas2.lehigh.edu / WikiMedia