Ward Connerly and his rich white benefactors want to erase Black people from the official American map. Hispanics are also targeted to disappear from the public record before they even have a chance to properly celebrate their “Largest Minority” status. Asians, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans would lose the tools to measure how society is treating them, and the ability to do much of anything about it.

It is fitting that the Connerly-led attempt at ethnic cleansing, the purest product to date of racist American illogic, will be staged in California, the first state to achieve a non-white majority – 53 percent, according to the 2000 census. On October 7, California voters will have the opportunity to engage in two acts of mass self-delusion: first, they can elect Arnold Schwarzenegger governor, which requires that they pretend he is an actual person, rather than an Aryan-modeled hologram with an accent; second, they can vote “Yes” on Connerly’s Racial Privacy Act (RPI):

The state shall not classify any individual by race, ethnicity, color or national origin in the operation of education, public contracting or public employment… Classification in other state operations are prohibited unless they serve a compelling state interest and are approved by two-thirds majority of the legislature and approved by the governor.

The intended effect of RPI is to make it nearly impossible to compile evidence of the existence of racism, or to create public policy that would counter the effects of racism, or to identify the victims of racism. A “color blind” society would be achieved by blinding citizens and government to the facts of bias. It is the equivalent of vanquishing crime by making it impossible to introduce evidence of lawbreaking, or conquering disease by eliminating the practice of medicine. Racial peace will reign in the land, the theory goes, since there will be no official racial facts available to argue about.

Minority rule

Only an insane citizenry would vote to deprive itself of information vital to the workings of society, which is why Ward Connerly has every reason to believe he will win in October. Although whites are a minority in California (and will soon be, in Texas), they still make up a majority of adults in the state, and 70 percent of the voters. Connerly and his insanely named American Civil Rights Institute won passage of Proposition 209 in 1996, ending affirmative action at state institutions and agencies. He duplicated the victory in the State of Washington, in 1998, failed in Michigan in 2000, but is scheduled for a comeback bid on that state ballot’s in November 2004.

Although the 64 year-old Connerly likes to think of himself as a dragon-slayer (“This is almost like a war out there”), he’s actually more like an Energizer Bunny in service of his creators, the Bradley, Scaife and Olin Foundations. NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, speaking at the organization’s national conference in Miami this summer, placed Connerly and the Racial Privacy Initiative in their proper, mercenary context:

If it passes, it will hide racial differences in health care, education, and disease, making it harder to file discrimination complaints and to hold discriminatory organizations and institutions responsible for their deeds.

It will keep the state from collecting much-needed demographic information by race, but as long as race counts in America, we've got to count race.

If it passes, California will keep track of every kind of discrimination except discrimination by race and ethnicity. Studies on racial profiling, disparate medical treatment for people of color, black and white rates of incarceration, racial composition of juries, pass/fail rates for students of different races, loan approval rates for blacks – knowing all this and more will be forbidden.

The only color Connerly recognizes is the color of money. After years of loudly complaining about the so-called "civil rights industry," he's created a lucrative multi-million dollar career fighting fairness. He says he's non-profit but not if you look at his paycheck.

He made four times the salary of the governor of California last year – $700,000. In the four years ending in June 2002, he made $2.1 million dollars.

Connerly is probably the Hard Right’s highest paid Black front man – and lies shamelessly about it. “If I'm doing this as a puppet for somebody, I'm one of the dumbest puppets in the world. At least I should get paid for it, you know,” the University of California Regent told the Interracial Voice magazine in April 1999. In fact, from January 1, 1997 to January 1, 1999, Connerly’s one-man-band American Civil Rights Institute collected $1,750,000 from the three evil sisters Bradley, Scaife and Olin, who contributed $1,425,000 more to their Black front over the next two years and continue to sustain Connerly’s frenetic activities. So popular is Connerly among the racist rich, he opened up an additional “non-profit” pocket, the American Civil Rights Coalition, from which he also draws a salary. Julian Bond’s figures on Connerly’s income were documented by the Sacramento Bee, in a June 28 article.

The best Internet source on the paymasters of the Hard Right is, which offers a veritable “all you ever wanted to know” about Ward Connerly, the political hustler who masquerades as a concerned, color-blind citizen:

“Every day that I speak out as an ordinary citizen,” he said in remarks March 23, 2000 at the Reagan Library, “ I do so as a product, a disciple, of that Reagan revolution – a revolution that produced a band of citizens at Americans for Tax Reform, American Enterprise Institute, Empower America, Claremont Institute, CATO Institute, Heritage Foundation, Manhattan Institute, Hoover Institute, the Young America’s Foundation, and a host of other think tanks, talk show hosts, and activist organizations dedicated to making America better by completing the Reagan Revolution.”

Each of the organizations named by Connerly is funded through some combination of Bradley, Scaife and Olin. Connerly’s book, Creating Equal, was published by Bradley’s Encounter Books, positioning Connerly among such literary lights as Charles Murray, author of the infamously racist The Bell Curve, who received $1 million from Bradley.

Playing to the mob

Ward Connerly, the self-described “self-made” businessman, is really just another ward of the super-wealthy, who are smart enough to realize that the only way they can remain on top while the domestic economy crumbles is to constantly incite racial conflict (“This is almost like a war out there”) – the always reliable, ever available quick fix for whatever threatens the rule of Big Capital. Bradley, Scaife and Olin understand that you can always gather a quorum for a lynch mob in America.

The Racial Privacy Act is an incitement to scorched earth race warfare, a declaration of a desire to purge offending populations from the national record, even as the U.S. moves inexorably to becoming a majority non-white country. It is also, of course, a farce.

The U.S. Census was initiated in 1790 to serve the needs of business. Commerce required that people and property be counted, to provide businessmen with better tools to sell more things to more people. Even slaves had to first be counted before being politically reduced to three-fifths their personhood. They were then counted again, their value tallied as property, a vital measurement of the health of the nation.

The United States overflows with data, its population constantly sliced and diced by armies of marketers. Speculators electronically rush their monies from place to place based on numbers expensively extracted from the cacophony of market capitalism. Politicians console unemployed manufacturing workers by reminding them that the U.S. is the leading player of the Information Age.

Connerly’s Racial Privacy Act would make it prohibitively expensive to gather information on how race really works in the public sectors of society. Black and brown people’s arguments would thus be reduced to anecdotes, even as prison populations become Blacker, schools serving minority students visibly deteriorate, and cemeteries fill up on the Black side of town.

Private capital will have no problem assembling, cooking and disseminating its own data. And who is better suited to fund and oversee this task than – Bradley, Scaife and Olin, with the help of Ward Connerly and his fellow hirelings among the “think tanks, talk show hosts, and activist organizations dedicated to making America better by completing the Reagan Revolution.”

Patricia J. Williams got it right in a May 30, 2002 article in The Nation:

It is actually about privatizing racially based behavior. And privatized racism has been a dream of the far right since the first whites-only private schools sprang up in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education. Segregation is "private choice," a "social" problem, not a legal one, according to this logic. You can't force people to love you. Suing over discrimination is victimology. As long as the government doesn't force you to drink out of a separate water fountain or go to a separate school, then that is the limit of equal opportunity.

All roads lead back to the same cabal of rich racists. In Michigan, Connerly works hand in glove with heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune and the President of Amway in support of his Michigan Civil Rights Initiative – Hard Right-speak for the anti-affirmative action referendum on the November, 2004 ballot. (See, July 24.) Organizers for BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) plan an August 23 march in Washington to “defeat Ward Connerly and his segregationist billionaires club.”

The con man’s complaints

In the final analysis, Connerly is a high-paid whore for Bradley, Scaife and Olin. But, like his fellow self-hater, Clarence Thomas, he’s not a happy hooker. Bile gurgles up from his tortured innards, a sickness that can be smelled from a distance.

In a crude pitch to African Americans, Connerly warns that Californians of Mexican descent “will soon be a majority” – showing that he does count racial and ethnic heads when it serves his purposes. In a July 5 interview with the Washington Post, Connerly "said he was tired of seeing Mexican Americans characterize themselves as underprivileged minorities.”

"They don't want to see those categories go," he said. "They want to see affirmative action policies remain so they can take advantage of them. They want to claim minority status when, in fact, they will soon be a majority in California. They want to hide behind the term 'Latino' and 'people of color,' but most of them check the 'white' box [on the census form] anyway."

Connerly vacillates wildly between assertions of Blackness (“I say as a black man that black people have to come to terms…”) to spittle-dripping rejection of African American-ness.

“…African-American is a term that I don't like. In fact, I hate that term, because it presumes my ethnic background or my national origin, and when you say that I'm African-American, especially when my African ancestry is less than all the rest of me, you're embracing that one-drop rule mentality. So, I fight the one-drop rule, because I am of mixed origin. My wife is white, and my grandkids are all of me, all of my wife. Their mother is half-Vietnamese. For us, these silly little boxes on these application forms have got to go. Implicit in all that I do and say is my personal agenda of getting rid of those friggin' boxes and getting the nation beyond the point at which you demand that I identify myself as a black man or an African-American.”

Connerly made those remarks to the Interracial Voice. He assiduously cultivates self-styled multi-racial organizations, and has established a network of Racial Privacy Initiative chapters among such grouplets across the nation.

While preparing an article on Connerly last year, ran across a Florida Civil Rights Initiative web site. Hilariously, when we returned to a few days ago, we discovered the address now belongs to a site offering – Interracial sex!

In a 1997 interview with the New York Times, Connerly carefully delineated his ancestry as “one-quarter black, three-eighths Irish, one-quarter French and one-eighth Choctaw.” Clearly, however, the Leesville, Louisiana native would sell all of his ancestors for a dollar.

The Race to nowhere

Some Republicans in California and Michigan fear that Connerly’s Racial Privacy and anti-affirmative action initiatives will draw large numbers of Blacks and Latinos to the polls, threatening Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial chances October 7 and George Bush among Michigan voters in 2004. People of color and sane whites will find themselves performing the counterintuitive, unnatural acts of voting “No” to Racial Privacy (Proposition 54, CA) and Civil Rights (MI). A recent poll shows only about a quarter of Californian’s are familiar with RPI – although Connerly’s allies will provide plenty of money to ensure that their voters punch the right hole.

Whatever the outcome, the troglodytes at the Bradley, Scaife and Olin Foundations will have achieved their larger objective: to impose yet another layer of unreality on the American body politic in order to obscure the true state of the nation. Only two generations have passed since the Civil Rights and Black Power movements hammered the first cracks in the edifice of America, White Man’s Country – an assault on the core assumptions of native and immigrant whites of every previous era. Connerly’s racist referendums are designed to push the buttons of those whites who long deeply for a return to “normalcy” – a society in which whites monopolize the national conversation, like in the good old days.  By voting to censure reality, in the form of racial data, these whites imagine they are shouting a collective “Shut up” at the colored intruders on their domain.

It will no doubt cause a dizzying feeling, this rush of victory, heightened by the swirling motions of a society going down the drain.

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Issue Number 52
August 14, 2003

Other commentaries in this issue:

Cover Story: Wanted: A Plan for the Cities to Save Themselves - Black labor's role in transforming the urban landscape

Cartoon: Ward Connerly

Imperial Racist Fantasies and The Digitalization of Colonialism by Kweli Nzito, Ph.D.

e-MailBox: The IRS sweats the poor... Rich, secessionist white men... AIPAC’s long political hit list... African Americans and Zimbabwe

Condoleezza Rice and the Birmingham Bombing Victims by Margaret Kimberley, Guest Commentator

RE-PRINT: Racism and the heartland reparations drive by Derrick Z. Jackson

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Contents of Issue 51 - July 31, 2003:

Cover Story - Analysis: The Debate on Zimbabwe Will Not Be Throttled... African Americans must debate the issues of human rights and economic development in Africa among themselves

The DLC’s National White Man’s Conversation - Let the rich rump of the Party go where they belong

Cartoon: Halliburton Coming and Going

Bush Uses IRS To Push Around Poor People - ACORN fights fed's proof-of-poverty scheme

e-MailBox: Hip-Hop Hits Back... Killing Africans as Policy... Bush Mental Disorder Catalogued... Obama’s name off DLC list

No safety without peace, no peace without change - A speech by Cynthia McKinney, Former U.S. Rep. (D-GA)

You can read any past issue of The Black Commentator in its entirety by going to the Past Issues page.