Dixie Newspeak of Nonprofits

Dixie Newspeak of Nonprofits

“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

The Trump administration championed the Farmers to Families Food Box program during the pandemic.  These food boxes can be likened to a Jack-In-The-Box with Pennywise the Clown waiting to jump out: Amazing on the outside, cruelly inadequate on the inside.   It was part of a long trend of the racist right providing cruel alternatives to the USA’s already inadequate safety net and the unfulfilled social contract.  Farmers to Families Food Box program did not feed families. It was a give away to corporate farmers. It was a way to divert funding from our already underfunded mandatory food stamp program. It was an action that even most of the left didn’t notice, because how could a food bank and appealing box of food direct from the farmer be a bad thing? These programs were cleverly structured to mimic left alternatives like local food co-ops and Community Supported Agriculture.

Food Stamps

For over 50 years the Southern Strategy chipped away at our social services, using anti-blackness as a weapon.  One of the key strategies was replacing these services with nonprofits under the guise of “Getting Inefficient Government Out of the Way.”   Ronald Reagan famously stated “Government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem” in true Orwellian fashion.  It has been very successful. Twisted messaging has manipulated the left and progressives to think they are helping when they are hurting. It has forced a kind of bizarre language upon anyone who works with or for the Black communities even those with the best intentions. You are forced to speak in the jargoned, inauthentic, and pathologized nonprofits style or what I call Dixie Diction. Its point is twofold, dehumanizing Black people and reinforcing the idea of white supremacy:

“Black bodies are used to death. I am tired. I knew the Black body cradled in the food desert would be left marginalizing on the floor. BIPOC people expect this. Please donate to my nonprofit to help.”

The Dixie Diction of nonprofits has invaded our schools, which spread the discarded, well —repackaged eugenics mantra “achievement gap.” The Dixie Diction took over our Black newspapers, infecting our narratives with the wealthy’s pet projects that featured their Black dogsbodies. Even our fiction writing and poetry have been infected, putting parameters that require “Black” pain being featured prominently as a requirement for publishing. 

What are the consequences of this insidious “Newspeak” to Black literature and an African American weltanschauung? 

You write and gain perspective from what you read. If you read these kinds of narratives without the knowledge that this propaganda is maliciously contrived, you begin to believe these narratives uncritically and integrate them into your narrative. Especially when they appear to be often repeated ubiquitous facts.

You begin to think and communicate in the way of this ubiquitous media that is explicitly designed to manipulate you.

It is dangerous to use nonprofit style narratives. Narratives used to gain money, and sympathy from white benefactors will lead to fundable pain. Black America’s editorial story deserves a better lens.

To get nonprofit funding year after year, you have to amplify a story that seems too big to fix in one year or two years. It is necessary to amplify a seemingly unfixable problem. 

You chase money and pain, instead of demanding an enforcement of the social contract. 

You write and speak in a manner that will allow you to ask for funding the next funding cycle. 

You are dependent on the suffering of others to make rent. And who do you blame for this suffering? THE GOVERNMENT! 

Dixie Diction has you hating yourself and distrusting the government, but not distrusting the rich who won’t pay taxes, funny how that works.  

A person who engages in this, whether they know it or not, is strategically communicating in a manner that demands suffering never cease. If the suffering ceased, funding would stop, and even the most masochistic among us wants to live. 

The propaganda of nonprofits also demands a sort of personal lens storytelling. 

It likes stories of struggle. 

It likes the caricature of struggle. 

Predominantly white organizations even teach classes how to shape and create a struggle story that appeals to racist white donors. 

Stories where Black women fail over and over and over and over again. Where it is repeated that “everyone hates Black women.” 

It is a story of the horror of Black girlhood and womanhood told, not to fix it, but for funding. 

 It continues on and on. These stories numb people. It normalized injustice to Black people.

People expect and are relieved at the horrible ending, because everyone is a little proud of themselves for being right, even if right is wrong and horrible. 

These stories only reward the Black people who believe white supremacy will never end, and we should just accept our place and get our knees and ask rich people to sprinkle change (that’s always the plan), and it’s becoming a problem. 

It is a problem when I can’t even be viewed as the left anymore because of the Dixie Diction that demands a narrative that puts Black people in forever the role as a submissive to be dominated in order to be viewed as authentic. 

Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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