I would like to take a moment to address some of the concerns that some of my white readers have with “My Nommo.”

By Gus Bode

Ever since the inception of “My Nommo’ in the spring 2000 issue of the Daily Egyptian, I have been very clear that this is an African-American column that speaks to theoretical and political issues of race and integrationism as it affects blacks and other people of color. As such, the emails I have received saying that I need a new theme are misplaced and pointless.

Second, I have also been very clear that “This ain’t for you.” My interest as a columnist is to analyze and assess the theories we have that explain race and question whether or not those explanations do an adequate job in articulating the black experience.

The most recent question on my mind has really been about whether or not the “idea” of a human race is adequate in explaining the experiences of African-Americans and other people of color. Many white individuals seems to be quite adamant that everyone is the same, and that if black people work hard enough, they can overcome the problems that have been historically associated with racism.


This view is not alien to many colorblind or race-neutral advocates. However, it largely ignores the economic and socio-political reality of racism.

In my last column, I argued that “race neutrality” forces us to assess groups of people as individuals, while simultaneously explaining the failures of people of color as a group phenomenon.

The debate on affirmative action is a great example of this. We constantly hear that affirmative action is unfair because it privileges one’s race over one’s merit or ability, while also maintaining that the individuals hired based on race are largely unqualified and less skilled than the white individuals they displaced. Sound racist? I thought so too.

My concern with humanism and its mistress “race neutrality,” is that we see the progress of historically oppressed groups that challenge the status quo, or whiteness, as an ethical issue, and not a practical one.

Under “race neutrality” we must maintain that race is an unfair basis to grant one rights or privileges not enjoyed by another group, but it says nothing about how we assess the failure of one’s group, so we can maintain that it is unfair to grant African-Americans and other people of color more opportunities than their white counter-part and assess black under-representation in higher education and the workplace as inconsequential.

Race-neutrality would demand that we not look at inequalities of society in racialized terms, so even though racial inequality exists, policy cannot be used to correct it.

As such, people of color can stay impoverished and under-represented and the reason given – “they just don’t work hard enough.”


Race neutrality constructs a paradigm in which people of color can belong to a group of individuals who coincidentally all are poor, uneducated or criminals, because these stereotypes are social. They are based in the attitudes that white Americans hold against people of color – these are not covered by the theory.

Race is only inconsequential in terms of making policy, because the advancement of these groups politically is almost always about destroying the privilege and entitlement of white America, and as we all know-they ain’t having that.

I think it is dangerous for African-Americans to assume that the color of our skin is of no consequence, and then deal with the consequences of our skin color as mere accidents and not systemic and historic impacts of white culture.

Tommy is a graduate student. My Nommo appears every Thursday. These views do not necessarily reflect those of the DAILY EGYPTIAN.