Yvette Carnell: What Black People Have in Common With Pavlov’s Drooling Dogs
Pavolov was a scientist who studied physiology, and this was Pavlov’s experiment:
Pavlov became interested in studying reflexes when he saw that the dogs drooled without the proper stimulus. Although no food was in sight, their saliva still dribbled. It turned out that the dogs were reacting to lab coats. Every time the dogs were served food, the person who served the food was wearing a lab coat. Therefore, the dogs reacted as if food was on its way whenever they saw a lab coat.
In a series of experiments, Pavlov then tried to figure out how these phenomena were linked. For example, he struck a bell when the dogs were fed. If the bell was sounded in close association with their meal, the dogs learnt to associate the sound of the bell with food.
Black people react to racism, or the mere suggestion of racism, the same way Pavlov’s dogs reacted to lab coats and bells. It is a learned response to a perceived threat, but it makes us weak prey to people who would much rather have us distracted than engaged. And this reflexiveness is damning us to permanent second class status, especially here in America.
Take for example the highly sensationalized reporting on Ron Paul’s 20 year old racist newsletters. Republicans didn’t even need to do any heavy lifting to get Ron Paul disqualified based on that inflammatory accusation. Why? When all they needed to do, all they did, was mention that Paul supposedly wrote racist newsletters two decades ago and, instinctively, black writers went in for the kill, and wasted their time and valuable platforms fighting a battle that wasn’t their own.
With unemployment at record levels and discretionary spending being gutted, the space underneath the bylines of black writers would’ve been put to better use un-peeling back those layers of injustice, and sounding the alarm so that black Americans were made aware of the devastation to come. But, Pavlovian as they are, black writers couldn’t resist drooling over a story which involved race. You see, it is not just racism that undoes us, but our reaction to it, as well.
Another example: Today in the news, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his posse are *reporting* that President Obama’s birth certificate is a fake. It doesn’t mean anything. Arpaio doesn’t have the power to make any arrests or force the President to step down, but still, black people will flock to this largely irrelevant story. We can’t help ourselves. We’ve been conditioned to respond to perceived and real racism with an undeserved ferociousness. Race clouds our thinking, and since powerful interests have long observed this child-like quality in us, they throw us a little red racism meat to distract us from things that really matter, things that we could actually change.
The Black Standard is now synonymous with The Race Standard. Our mainstream writers refuse to cover stories with directly impact black communities because there’s always some lascivious race story that takes precedent. And black readers, like Pavlov’s dogs, eat it up.
Powered by Facebook Comments