Having A Frank Conversation About Race

racism1

If we are to have, as Attorney-General Eric Holder suggested more than a year ago, a national “frank conversation about race,” the first thing that needs to be said is that such a conversation is virtually impossible. Why? Because those who are on the “conservative” side in this discussion will be accused of either racism or dishonesty the moment they open their mouths.

For instance, I will be accused of racism (or stupidity) by those on the “liberal” side of our frank national conversation if I declare my belief that that there is almost no significant racism left in the United States. I believe that Martin Luther King Jr. and his coworkers were almost totally successful in the campaign they undertook more than half a century ago, a campaign to persuade white Americans that racial prejudice and discrimination are morally wrong and must be eliminated from American life.

Racism, as I see it, takes two forms: prejudice (anti-black feelings or attitudes) and discrimination (anti-black actions). The institutions that have the power to do real damage to African Americans through discrimination — such institutions as big business, colleges and universities, governments (federal, state, and local), the courts, and the military — not only don’t discriminate against them any more; they bend over backwards to treat African Americans fairly (sometimes, even more than fairly). The only important institution that is still guilty of anti-black discrimination are some police forces; but the damage the police do to the black community is far less than the damage that could be done by those other institutions, were they still behaving in a discriminatory manner.

As for anti-black prejudice, three things need to be said. First, there is far, far less of it than there used to be. This is because King persuaded America to examine its national conscience and renounce its racial sins. It is also because older generations — the ones who grew up in a society in which racial prejudice was the most natural thing in the world — are dying off and being replaced by younger generations who grew up in a society that was strongly anti-racism.

Second, racial prejudice, while it is a despicable thing and can be very hurtful when expressed, can do little real damage to the life chances of blacks when not accompanied by racial discrimination. As an African-American friend of mine says: “I don’t care what people think of me; just treat me fairly.”

Third, much of what is regarded as anti-black prejudice is really anti-lower-class prejudice. Americans have always disapproved of those in society’s lowest class, regardless of race — a class marked by poor performance in school, trouble with the police, violence, drug or alcohol addiction, a lax sexual morality, an inability to speak standard English correctly, a sloppiness in personal appearance, etc. While most blacks are not lower class, a high percentage of are. Just as bad, the mass media give the impression that most blacks are from society’s lowest (and most “objectionable”) class. And so many whites reason: I don’t like the lower classes; blacks are lower class; therefore I don’t like them.

That white racism is still a problem for African Americans, I won’t deny. But on the list of problems facing blacks, it is down near the bottom. At the very top is the appallingly high out-of-wedlock birthrate (near 70 percent of all African American babies are born to unmarried women); not far from the top are such problems as a high rate of black-on-black crime, and the absurdly bad public schools typically found in poor black neighborhoods — these schools being bad not because of poor teachers or poor facilities, but because most of the students have internalized the profoundly anti-academic values of their lower-class subculture.


The myth of widespread white racism is kept alive by two groups.
For one, there are the black demagogues who are doing poor imitations of Martin Luther King. They are fighting Jim Crow in an age when Jim Crow is dead and buried. I don’t have in mind here just the major league players (mainly Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson) but also the petty demagogues, hundreds of them, found in almost any city or town with a sizable African American population. Their occupation would be gone if it were recognized that white racism is an insignificant factor in American life.

The second group is composed of upper-middle-class white liberals. These are privileged people — privileged in terms of education, career, income, assets, housing, travel, fine dining, good wine, and so on. Privileged people in all societies and in all ages have felt the need to justify their privileges by claiming to be morally superior to the non-privileged. These liberals are racism-free, and they deplore racism in others — this is their great claim to moral superiority. They don’t say they are perfect, and will freely admit to moral shortcomings of a non-racist variety. But racism is America’s great national sin — the nation’s original sin, so to speak; and with regard to this, upper-middle-class white liberals are sinless. This makes them morally superior, which entitles them to their many privileges.

Unfortunately for them, when it comes to claiming moral superiority, being racism-free doesn’t qualify if everybody is racism-free. For the claim to work, other white Americans — the great majority of other white Americans — have to be guilty of the sin of racism. Hence upper-middle-class white liberals have to keep alive the myth of white racism.

If we are to have a frank national conversation about race, we mustn’t be afraid to talk about the informal mythmaking alliance between black demagogues and white liberals.

By

David R. Carlin Jr. is a politician and sociologist who served as a Democratic majority leader of the Rhode Island Senate. His books include "Can a Catholic Be a Democrat?: How the Party I Loved Became the Enemy of My Religion" and "The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America." Carlin is a current professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island at Newport.

  • Ruth

    You must be white as I’ve never heard a person who is black, Asian or Hispanic claim that racism has all but disappeared. Only a white person would make this claim.

    While it is true that racism has significantly diminished over the years, we have a long way to go. The first problem is the fact that no one understands race – what it is and how to really define it. On top of that, it’s very difficult to separate race and class, which you acknowledge. Racism is not simply anti-black, it is any kind of prejudice or discrimination based on assumptions made about skin color and other physical features.

  • Briana Grzybowski

    Ruth is speaking of a phenomenon known as color-blind white privilege, which basically means that white folk typically don’t have to think about their skin color like people of color do. We don’t have to deal with the stereotypes and the unjust heritage that still affects the way race relations work today.There are still racial double-standards and racial oppression. How is it that you and I wouldn’t mind welcoming African-American families into the neighborhoods we live in but when Bill Clinton had office space in Harlem he became the butt of America’s jokes? Why do we celebrate Columbus day, when that is honoring a man who established the Caribbean slave trade, raped indigenous women, and killed their babies? Why is the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota the poorest in the country, with a teen suicide rate 4 times higher than the national average, and an 85% unemployment rate? Are you quick to dismiss what may be serious concerns about racism as “playing the race card” when you know nothing about how it is to be treatly unfairly because of skin color? I’m not a liberal by anyone’s standards, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to questions that would really help being about the frank discussion about race you are looking to have Mr. Carlin.

  • H Karlson

    It’s one of the great things which my father helped promote, and do in the real world. Of course, it also means people need to be free to see their own background and past, and own up to it. This is an example of where this has been done:

    http://tinyurl.com/24oa7mg

  • Dennis Sinclair

    I believe Mr. Carlin is correct. The replies from those who disagree point this out markedly. Why would a person use Columbus as an example of what goes on today in the United States? I’ve found that many people fall back on racism as an excuse when other non-racial causes are the root of the problem. If one is for secure borders and legal immigration, she is anti-Hispanic. If one is opposed to Ground Zero mosque, one is anti-Islamist! No. None of that holds true for the majority of Americans who are open-minded, accepting, and have a sense of country, and who are hurt by such false barbs.

    There are many other examples of this almost daily in the mainstream media which throws around anti- this and anti-that all the time. We have the Department of justice that seems to believe that only blacks can be victims of intimidation and discrimination and whites cannot so it refuses to investigate open and shut cases such as the New Black Panther party during the 2008 elections.

  • Todd M. Aglialoro

    Interestingly, two prominent black entertainers agree with Dave. Both Bill Cosby and Morgan Freeman have made recent public statements (Cosby’s been doing it for a while now) to the effect that racism will end when we stop identifying people by race — and both expressed a wish to do away with race-pandering gestures such as “Black History Month” and the glorification of insalubrious aspects of “black culture.”

    I agree with Dave that Dr. King’s dream of a color-blind society is today principally being held up not by neo-Klansmen but by professional black race-mongerers and white liberals, all of whom profit from perpetuating a narrative of racial conflict. Add to those groups the self-loathing western multiculturalists and sufferers of nagging white guilt, who empower them.

  • samharker

    Briana, Bill Clinton is the butt of America’s jokes for many reasons. One of them is that he is America’s first black president, as promulgated by Toni Morrison. This is silly.

  • Doug Moore

    But also, much good will has grown through out the Nation since the civil rights struggles decades ago. There are problems with the facts and interpretation of history as outlined by Briana, but it includes enough truth to make it and keep it an enduring indictment of the “white folks

    Which

  • Becky

    I agree that the racism narrative is perpetuated by “professional black-race mongerers and white liberals” however, there are deeper issues at play that few people want to address.

    We’re still very much a segregated society — especially between black and whites. It’s becoming more common, but is still relatively rare to see mixed race couples, for example. In my town, blacks and whites live in different neighborhoods and socialize separately. So long as we have the majority of people differentiating themselves by race, we will not truly overcome prejudice and discrimination. Race is not culture, nor is it class or gender. It is a social construct to delineate people by physical traits. Physical traits do not exist in black and white categories (pardon the pun).

    There is no biological basis for racial categories, but few people realize this. We operate with the assumption that racial categories are based on something objective, but they aren’t. (Do some research into the history of racial categories and it’s very interesting.) So there’s the first problem.

    The other thing is that there is no such thing as a color-blind society… all of us notice what others look like and how similar or different they look from us. What we must work towards is a deep change in attitude about these differences, and then change our assumptions, expectations and behaviors. This is not easy to do since most of this can be very deep-rooted. Show me a person who claims that they aren’t racist and I’ll point to a racist. Most of us have some racism in us… that doesn’t mean we hate people, but that we hold subtle prejudices and assumptions about people who look different from us.

  • Ender

    Although they may be the most prominent purveyors of the idea that racism is alive and well in the US, black demagogues and white liberals are by no means alone in accepting it. The real problem with this perspective is that it is believed by many (and probably the great majority) of lower class “people of color.”

    The individual facing the question of why he’s poor has three possible answers: his fault (lack of ability or effort), nobody’s fault (bad luck), or someone elses fault (racism etc). The inclination to put the blame on someone else would be strong in any case; when it is reinforced by appearing to be “common knowledge” the inclination becomes pretty much irrisistible.

    This may well be why so much animosity is directed at minorities who go off the reservation and reject the profoundly anti-academic values of their peers. When you’ve seen young blacks jeered by their friends for “acting white” because they listen to classical music you can understand the extent of this problem.

  • Lee

    Why? Because those who are on the “conservative” white side in this discussion will be accused of either racism or dishonesty the moment they open their mouths.

    You must be white as I’ve never heard a person who is black, Asian or Hispanic claim that racism has all but disappeared. Only a white person would make this claim.

  • GW

    Mr. Carlin, you

  • Mary P.

    I agree with the author. Systematic discrimination by institutions, public and and even most private, is almost nil. Yes, there are country clubs and social organizations that make it a practice to keep others out and a person’s membership in them speaks more about the member’s character than anything else. Regarding people choosing to live among those of the same race or ethnicity–that’s just life. It is silly to pretend that differences don’t exist in the fabric of culture. Little Italy, Greektown, etc. exist today because people choose to live among those with whom they have a lot in common. Ditto for chosing dating and marriage partners. We all choose based on what we feel comfortable with. Cultural issues matter. That’s not racism. Racism is mean, vile and unjust. Cultural practices of free association with those whom we want to be with are not mean, vile and unjust.

  • DWC

    No question this is an emotional topic. I doubt Mr. Carlin is naive enough to recongnize that racism has disappeared … for when we read his points, he is separating racism from discrimination. Thus, it is true after decades of race laws opportunities have improved the degree of “equality”. And I agree, most of the emotional discrimination comes form socio positions rather than pure skin color. Educated to educated, professional to professional, good neighbor to good neighbor — rarely are these problems regardless of the skin color. Professional to hiphop tough looking slang talker … problem. You get the idea. I do believe that the black community does a disservice to themselves by not more forcefully speaking out and shaming those who wish to support such bad attributes (disrespecting education, marriage, etc.). Of course, I can only share my experiences … as a white middle class male.

  • Chris

    One of the problems with racism is that the very category of race is an illusion. There is merely the human race. There is absolutely no genetic reality to race. You can look up the PBS special which spells this out. I don’t agree with all of the conclusions of the special but the science is good. This information through science merely confirms what we have known through revelation for centuries. We are all human and we all share the same original parents.
    I agree very much with Dr. Carlin’s overall argument and have made it myself on a number of occasions. Unjust discrimination has been practically eradicated from the U.S.-racism is a different issue to some extent but is not something that can be solved with policies and programs.
    People need to see every person through the prism of human nature. We need to applaud virtue and reject vice. The absurdity of seeing teenagers wearing pants hanging down to their knees, wearing crooked hats, listening to ugly misogynistic music, etc. is a problem because it is beneath the dignity of being human being. It is not a black thing (note much of Africa does not do this!) nor is it a white thing-it is an immature human thing and should be called such.
    It is not culture-it is an anti-culture. This is just one example of many.
    If we begin to talk again about human nature-fulfilling it and falling short of it-we can get past much of what accounts for “racism” in the U.S.
    As it is unjust discrimination is dead in the U.S. and attempts to find it are almost always examples of racism.
    Oh by the way my “color” and sex are irrelevant to whether my argument is to be judged as reasonable or not.

  • Joe H

    Racism will never die because anti-racism is now a part of the American left’s historical narrative and self-justifying myth. It would be like America without the Stamp Act, it would vanquish one of the key reasons that the whole movement came into being. Racism gone = sorry leftists, we don’t need you anymore.

    For poverty is largely a technical problem which could theoretically be fixed, at least for the poorest of poor, total abject squalor. Racism, though, exists deep in the heart of man, like lust and greed. It’s one of the new deadly sins for the new religion I wrote of some time back. Once it became evident that institutions weren’t inherently racist, it had to come back to the individual. Inside every white man, no matter how hard he struggles, beats a racist heart. The left truly treats it as an original sin, and only the most smug totally exempt themselves. Many white leftists, believe or not, believe that they TOO are racists – but like the devout Christian who struggles with sin, these religionists also struggle valiantly, every day, against their racist inclinations.

    It’s a completely new and warped and inverted religion, a mockery of the true one.

  • Mary

    Of course there’s racism in America. Asians are rewarded by discrimination at colleges as a reward for their history of discrimination.

  • Mrs. F

    If we are going to have a frank discussion of race, it needs to include more than just the white and black communities. While there are still people today who are racist (on every side of the color fence, not just the white side), people in every group need to take responsibility for what they can change, which is themselves, not others. My husband, who is Hispanic, cannot change our neighbor’s attitude that anyone with that shade of skin and bilingual fluency is a dirty illegal who should be deported. He can conduct himself as the best Catholic he knows how. He projects a much different image to the world than many Hispanic males (even those in the family) by not drinking, being a faithful and involved father andgetting the education he needed to provide for his family. Those were choices he made. Some of his brothers and nephews, coming from the same environment and family, chose to sire several babies out of wedlock, abandon them, and bought into the cultural lies that glorify a hot car, lots of drinking, and a disdain for the education that would bring more secure jobs in this economy. None of these choices was caused by racism or discrimination. Their schools were the same as the white schools in the area. The churches were the same churches, for those who chose to go. They made the decision to stay in the culture and in the neighborhood. It’s that culture that many people, of any color, dislike, because it glorifies vices such as fornication, greed, violence, and addiction.

    I cannot speak about any black community because I’ve never lived in an area what there more than a handful. I have lived in areas with significant populations of Hispanics and Laotians, and also close to the Indian reservation in this state. Briana, I would guess that the high rate of alcoholism and abuse that is common on Indian reservations, as well as an attitude that getting an education is “acting white”, contributes to both the suicide rate and high unemployment in that group. Yes, help is needed, but in my personal experience, some minority groups do not want help to change their situation. Not from the white man.

  • Steve

    It may be true that whites don’t typically have to think about our skin color the same way people of color do, it can’t be said that we never have to. Those whites who live in urban areas would be foolish to forget, for the reality is that racism goes both ways. We do have to deal with stereotypes it affects us personally and it affects all whites in as much as it affects the whole of our society.

    Additionally there are a number of us in Affermative Action states who know the sting of institutionalized racism.

    If it were understood how racism affects us maybe people of color would be less quick to make assumptions.

  • sibyl

    In response to the person above who mentioned that blacks and whites are still effectively segregated although not legally: it seems to me that this is a willful choice. At my high school — quite racially diverse for the area — blacks and whites mixed to some extent, and there was definitely friendliness between us, it was often the case that the black students stuck together tightly. As did the white students. It was more a matter of comfort, or of familiarity. If it was the result of racism, it was a racism on both sides.

    The truth is, I suspect that when someone says that race is a “social construct,” what they’re really saying is that race is without meaning. And while I wish that were the case, it clearly does have meaning — African Americans voted for Barack Obama almost unanimously, and many said it was because he was one of their own. Since only a tiny minority of anybody at all is a law-degreed community organizer, we can postulate that his race meant something significant to them.

    And it does mean something. Maybe my white skin doesn’t mean much to me, but the history of Europe does, and that’s something that my skin shows I share.

    And now I can predict that people will accuse me of racism. Which is exactly the author’s point; a discussion has room for differing views, and to the extent that mine is different I will be excoriated.

    Last, discussion would be greatly enhanced by not having to add the disclaimers about my own personal respect for people regardless of their skin color. As I stand before God I do not think that discriminating against people because of their skin will be one of the (many, many, many) sins I must explain.

  • Tony Esolen

    Sometimes I wish we were all skinned alive, or had our eyes gouged out, just so that we could get over this absurd preoccurpation with melanin content. Unlike ethnicity, which has some cultural meaning, “race” has none at all. Go tell an African from Kenya that he’s just like the African from Senegal, because they belong to the same “race.” You might as fairly say to the Irishman in Galway that he’s just like the Armenian on the other side of Ararat.

    I remember traveling with my family in Italy, when one night in a nearly empty train we were joined by four young men from Nigeria. They didn’t speak English, so we chatted in Italian, and it came out that they were Christians, working in Italy and sending most of their money back home to their families. So we talked a little about Jesus. They were my brothers in the faith. I felt closer to them than I feel to secular academics among whom I work (though, I thank God, there are not so many of those at my school as at most places). I felt closer to them, because I was closer to them.

    My gosh, what difference can it possibly make, what shade a person’s skin is? Do we know what shade Augustine’s skin was? No, because nobody in the time of Augustine thought it worth remembering. Augustine was born in North Africa, and for all we know he had Berber blood, or Ethiopian blood, or European blood, or who knows what kind of blood — as if there were any other kind of blood besides the red kind that we all have.

    Is my attitude all that uncommon now among Americans? I don’t think it is. Did we not just elect a black President? Did Republicans in South Carolina — think of this — not just elect a Black congressman, in a primarily “white” district, with most of the “whites” voting for him? And the same thing happened in another state, I forget which. We have made a great deal of progress on this issue.

    Here is the problem. The stupid sexual license that the Left has sold us has done what I believe Lord Acton said that vices do: they addle the rich, and devastate the poor. The sexual license that merely debauches the Kennedy family destroys the family just struggling to pay the rent. Pat Moynihan tried to broach these issues a long time ago, and what did he get for it? He who did not have a racist bone in his body was tarred as a racist. So we never did have that conversation, and now, as David has said, seventy percent of all African American children are born out of wedlock. I am told that one third of African American men in their twenties will do some time in prison. If anything that figure must understate the actual extent of crime among those men, for the simple reason that most incidents of crime do not result in arrests and convictions.

    Talk about racism is not the answer. Conversion of heart, on all sides, is at least the beginning of the answer; it at least will make a conversation possible. Let whites (including liberals, who have no compunction whatsoever when it comes to the destructiveness of their sexual liberalism and their aggressive dismantling of every institution established to lead boys to become responsible young men) admit their sins, and let blacks admit theirs. Let them NOT indulge in the self-serving “confession” of sins that OTHER people are supposed to have committed, nor in the self-serving aggrievement at suffering from the sins committed against OTHER people. Our own sins will be quite enough to consider.

  • dymphna

    I’m black and I don’t want to be colorless. I don’t want to be an honorary white. I like my race, most aspects of my culture and yes, on the weekends I tend to socialize with other black people and if I had the option I’d probably go to a black parish. That’s not racism that’s just my freedom of association. I don’t care if white people love me or like me. That wasn’t what MLK died for.

  • Zoe

    Amen to what Tony Esolen has said. The shade of one’s skin is about melanin and nothing more than what we make up about it.

  • Aaron B.

    If race were an illusion, we could have as many conversations about it as we want. Its reality is what makes it such a touchy subject. It’s true that we shouldn’t treat people differently because of their skin color, but as Mr. Carlin points out, we’ve outlawed that, and most people seem to think that’s a good thing.

    We’ll never get rid of segregation in a free society because people — of all colors — tend to segregate themselves. A racial group is, to use Steve Sailer’s excellent definition, “a partly inbred extended biological family.” That explains why race matters to people and why people segregate voluntarily. To put it simply, I’m more related in general to other people in my racial group than I am to people in other racial groups. If I’m white, I’m more likely to share a great-great-great-great-great-grandparent with another white person than with a black person. And the fact that there are people like Barack Obama and Tiger Woods who cross multiple racial groups doesn’t change this basic fact.

    Of course, as Christians, we’re supposed to love and care about the entire human family. However, as fallible human beings, we can’t help but care more about the people closer to us. I’m praying more for my uncle who’s in the hospital than I did when thousands of strangers were killed in an earthquake on the other side of the world. Does that mean I’m not a saint? Quite likely. But that’s how people work. We’d rather live and spend time with ‘family’ than not, if we have the choice. We should just accept that people will always tend to congregate with others of the same race and culture; and as long as no one is forced to do so, stop beating ourselves up over it.

  • Aaron B.

    Tony,

    I don’t think anyone’s saying the man from Kenya is “just like” the man from Senegal because they’re both “black.” But they probably do share more ancestors than either does with the man from Ireland. If you’re saying that there are racial sub-groups within the very broad groups like “white” and “black,” then that’s certainly true. But that doesn’t mean that the very broad groups don’t exist or have any effect on people.

    The Obama election is very instructive on this. Black Americans came out in unprecedented numbers and gave 96% of their votes to a man whose “black” blood was Kenyan. It didn’t matter what part of Africa their own ancestors came from; they felt an instinctive connection with Obama that they wouldn’t have felt with any white candidate. Likewise, people across Africa cheered when Obama won the American presidency. They cheered the loudest in Kenya, of course, because they feel the closest relation to him; but even way down in South Africa, blacks were cheering that “one of us” had won.

    Whites are the only group that’s not allowed to express those feelings of racial solidarity in the US, because as the majority, they would be able to shut out the other groups in a way the others can’t do in return (and did in the past). So it’s a double standard, but probably a necessary one.

  • Dan Curry

    I agree with the theory of treating people fairly, period. I feel the following: (this is NOT to mean ALL of them, but this is my experiewnce !!)
    1. blacks attitude when I go to the store. You want to see “hate.” Look at the attitude when you encounter a group at a store or other place. They often dispise you BECAUSE you are white
    2. inattention to customers, always talking about their breaks, former boyfriends, or some complaints they have about their job…RUDENESS!
    3. crime, crime, crime…in comparison to their 12-13 percent of the US population. They commit 50% of the murders in this nation and they are 12-13 % of the population??? BUt the black “leaders” say nothing about it…except to blame whitey
    4. rap thuggery music. The “gangsta” stuff that permeates the music today. Its trash and unfortunately, its conventional, and white kids buy it and have NO other option. But it is something that is low life and void of talent.
    5. never-ending affirmative action, set asides and quotas for jobs, scholorships etc….(do we have enough blacks?, instead of asking do we have the people who MADE THE BEST GRADE)….and its law, no matter how MANY TIMES we vote politicians in who say they are against it. HOW long do blacks get the favored treatment. Give me a date this unfairness ends!
    6. Im tired of paying for their babies and for their mothers having them. and its not MY fault they are having them
    7. “racism” card, played anytime you disagree with their actions, want to fire one who has not performed the job, or criticise anyone in thier race. Of course THEY are not racist…OH NO !!! never
    8. they vote 100% for Obama (98% actually) and then say we are racist because we criticize his liberal policies?
    9. the white folks are moving out of this town because the black majority TEACHERS in the high school reinforce the anti American (you were former slave-holders), pro black studies, pro Obama, black “ebonics” conversation, as well as letting them disrupt the class enough that my kid said—let me out of here
    10. they work the system as much as possible to get whatever “check” the government can give them.
    NOT EVERY ONE, not all the time. But if we are going to “TALK”, my comments better be at the table

  • Aaron B.

    Aaaaaand, there’s the other reason most of us don’t like to talk about race.

  • Pammie

    I once heard the comment that the only thing liberals hate more than racism is to put their children in a minority public school. Wasn’t Amy Carter the last presidential kid to go to her local public school in Washington D.C?

  • Aaron

    This guy is not a racist just a fool. To believe that prejudice has been wiped out he must have blinders on. I have heard his remarks before they are at least 40 years old.

  • Dori

    I raised my boys, partly as a single mom in student family housing at a major university (deserted by the ex-husband). We were poor, homeless at first and one step away from homelessness all the time I was in school. My son’s best friend during this time was a little boy from Kenya named Walter. One afternoon they were playing in my apartment and I ran down to the laundryroom for a few moments. These two five year olds were loudly arguing about what “color” they were. This had nothing to do with racism, simply two young children noting the physical differences in there appearances. Walter insisted that he was black and my son was white. My son insisted that Walter was brown and that he was “peach colored” (the color noted on the crayon he used when coloring the skin areas of “white” figures). My downstairs neighbor was appalled that my son was so racist and couldn’t believe that I had “raised him that way.” This neighbor had heard the argument but did not know us otherwise. Of course he did not accuse Walter of racism. This innocent exchange between young children who were and remained inseparable best friends; and the reaction to it by my neighbor, opened my eyes to the paranoia and blockade to true “color-blindness” in our society.

    Racism still exists. There are a subset of persons who will never let it die. We have come a long way. Racism goes both ways. As a non-traditional, white, single mother in college who had not been to school in twelve years, I could have used services and assistance to which I was not entitled because I was not considered “underprivileged.” If my situation were entirely unchanged, but my race had been different, I would have been. I don’t resent it. I simply worked harder and have succeeded in achieving my goals. It was a long time ago. If we are to have a frank discussion about racism, it must be acknowleged that there can be as great a predjudice on the one side as the other. Racism is not a uniquely caucasion phenomenon, as any anthropologist will attest. Classism is not synonymous with racism. The two can be difficult to disentangle only because people insist upon stereotyping.

    I am in agreement with the comedians mentioned elsewhere who feel that until we stop highlighting the differences (i.e. “Black Culture Month,” etc.) it will never go away. One of my dearest and beloved friends while doing my undergraduate work used to say “Don’t call me African American! I am an American! Black, Caucasian, Asian, these and others are adjectives that can be used in describing a person. In many cases they may be associated with cultural behaviors and social mores that are common to a group, or not. They are not statements of value.

    I disagree with both sides of this discussion. The original article reduced the issue of racism to a ridiculously simplistic characature of the true issue today. However, he did make a valid point that there are people who benefit from and seem to enjoy promulgating the image of hideously racist caucasians bent on “keeping down” those of other race. Racism exists. If we are to have a truly frank discussion about it, both sides must accept that racism exists and that all races have among them, those who are racist. Racism hurts people. It damages emotional trust and can, though significantly less often than in even the recent past, damages the economic opportunities of its victims. For those who choose to do so, those obstacles to success can be overcome, but not all people have the intellectual, emotional and physical tools to do so. Having those tools is not a function of race. As a civilized society, it is our duty to continue to dialogue in a civilized fashion, as followers of Christ should, to achieve a society that is as close to “color blind” with respect to opportunity and advantage as imperfect humans can become.

  • Dan Curry

    But this is a conversation “about race.” There is prejudice. Prejudice means to “pre-judge” someone because of color or whatever. Im not prejudiced. I odnt pre-judge, I make judgments on facts and perceptions. Im telling you that blacks can be “prejudiced,” so we cant end the conversation on that definition or reality. WHY are whites moving out from the schools here? Its NOT color….not color. A lot of it is “culture,” summarized by the comments I made 3 posts back. There are Af. American employees who are my supervisors. Great folks, not prejudiced, fair, not trying to promote blacks over anyone. Thats the kind of person, black or white, I want to associate with. Im tired of Jessie Jackson, that criminal white-policeman set-up artist “Reverend” Al Sharpton, Obama and his anti-white (read his book) opinions, and I hope IF there is a discussion on race, we can talk FREELY about why there is a problem and address issues white folks have with this endless race conscious, unfair, attitude which most people SEE as a politically correct nonsense it is

  • Meredith

    I’m not really sure why this article needed to be written. Why is it so important that we white people be allowed to get on with feeling good about ourselves? Why the frantic concern about affirmative action? “Oh, oh, a deserving white person might be passed over in favor of a black person!” And yet we aren’t too terribly concerned about the reverse scenario, which still happens much more often: http://www.dmiblog.com/archive…to_be.html Sure, we agree that discriminating against black applicants is dreadful – “but that doesn’t really happen any more does it? Not a lot, anyway?” In contrast, anecdotes of whites being passed over are a cause for alarm. We must all be aware of this very painful societal trend; it’s not fair, etc etc.

    “Second, racial prejudice, while it is a despicable thing and can be very hurtful when expressed, can do little real damage to the life chances of blacks when not accompanied by racial discrimination.”

    I’ll grant you that, Mr. Carlin. But prejudiced people tend to discriminate. Action follows thought. Institutional policies aimed at preventing such discrimination have multiplied, which is for the best; but they can’t absolutely prevent people from acting on their deeply held prejudices. We’ve come a long way, yes, but there’s plenty of evidence that we have a long way to go.

    I like what Aaron B said: “Of course, as Christians, we’re supposed to love and care about the entire human family. However, as fallible human beings, we can’t help but care more about the people closer to us.” This is how we are, Anglo, African, Chinese, everyone. And yet, we can strengthen our love precisely by becoming closer to people who are different from us. One way we can become closer to people is by listening to them and understanding their frustrations. And if I were black, I think I would get annoyed if white people kept complaining that I was complaining. This guy finds it annoying: http://www.salon.com/life/feat…index.html

  • Art Deco

    Welll, that was productive.

    In lieu of ‘national conversations’ about race or whatever, we might just address the deficit of public order in slum neighborhoods (with regard to which their has been some progress in the last twenty years), the disorder and ineffectuality of primary and secondary education (about which very little has been done), and the manner in which common provision as practiced works reliably to generate agencies which employ those credentialed as teachers’ and school administrators and social workers but works only half-assedly to enhance the living standards of the impecunious without severely injuring their acquisition and maintenance of skills and work habits.

    Addressing the foregoing is likely to have only a limited effect on people’s subjective sense of well-being. The trouble is, a great deal of what counts as progress is individual and inward. It is difficult to imagine how gassy blather from Eric Holder or Bell Hooks or some other national converser is going to provide a facility for that.

  • Cord Hamrick

    Perhaps it would be helpful to observe that in the U.S., institutionalized and politically-powerful racism is extremely low relative to other countries and to human history generally?

    Doesn’t mean it isn’t there, especially among black-separatist communities and among schoolkids who accuse their more-studious peers of “acting white.”

    But look at other countries, and historical precedent, and you realize that the U.S. is in really great shape relative to the human norm.

    (Try Mexico sometime. Ye gods. A university-teacher friend there, whose husband is — to my eye — only slightly darker-skinned than she, gets regularly told at faculty parties that her husband is no good for her and that they’ll try to find her a “more suitable” one. Naturally, she is invited to these parties, her husband pointedly isn’t. Other faculty-members show up with their pale-skinned spouses as a matter of course.)

    In general, the only societies prior to ours in which race was so little a factor in getting and keeping jobs, in marrying, and in political life were countries where the population was so homogeneous that the few people who “didn’t look like everyone else” were viewed as novelties rather than threatening hordes.

    That a country can be as pluralistic and well-mixed as the U.S., without undergoing constant bloody civil war over it, may well have no human precedent apart from the modern U.K. and certain periods in the history of ancient Rome.

    None of this is to say that Driving While Black isn’t still a frequent problem, or that mousy white guys can walk in certain neighborhoods as safely as a black guy, or that there aren’t KKK doofuses out there, somewhere, planning their next pointless march through some undeserving suburb…and of course their New Black Panther counterparts have been in the news recently for intimidating voters.

    (Readers of C.S.Lewis’ Screwtape Proposes a Toast can well imagine that when Screwtape, having toasted Principal Slubgob and the College, enjoys his glass of “vintage Pharisee” blended from different and opposing souls damned for self-righteousness, he may very well follow it with a dichromatic desert fondue blended in angrily writhing swirls from the souls of White Power and Black Power Bigots.)

    But still: If we could diminish our public debt, joblessness, and currency-devaluation problems to such historically minimal levels as we have with racism, what an achievement that would be.

  • Dan Curry

    To me this is the best article that summarizes what I feel about race and racial unfairness and racial guilt. As I say, lets have the discussion about race, but you got to be fair and truthful or it wont happen. This article makes you see the other side, in my opinion.
    http://buchanan.org/blog/pjb-a-brief-for-whitey-969

  • BPS

    There is a lot of truth being spoken here, and that’s always a good thing. As a black American, I thank God everyday that I was born here in America. I consider myself a conservative Catholic.

    One point to I offer for discussion, about affirmative action. Some white conservatives talk as if nothing like affirmative action existed before the federal government created affirmative action programs. Yes, I’m aware of the “No Irish Need Apply” signs and practices. Read Dr. Zmirak’s article here about the problems and pathologies of the Irish poor in NY and the efforts of Bishop Hughes. But when the Irish gained sufficient numbers in the cities or gain enough political clout to team with Italians or other ethnic minorities, who do you think got the city or local government jobs or no-bid city contracts and gained economically?
    And not just the Irish. On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where I’m from, Dalmatian folks came from what’s now Croatia to work in the fishing industry. Poor as dirt when they came here, but teamed up with the Irish and Italian emigrants in Biloxi and took over the city govermnent in the 2nd largest city in Mississippi in the ’30s and 40s.

    But there was always one group that was left out of these local government colitions. Care to guess which one?

    And this is NOT a defense of affirmative action. Just want to state that economic power has always followed political power in our republic.

  • Dan Curry

    You are correct in your comments. I just wonder how long do we need affirmative action, and under what criteria do we have it, and how long (what is the date?) do we have to allow the set asides, affirmative action, quotas, the diversity trap, et al?? We have the Federal Courts and EEO investigation to prevent illegal discrimination, and the conventional wisdom nowadays that whatever group you have must “look” “diverse,” no matter who you have applying, playing, joining—whatever. I think thats unfair and just try to fire someone who is not white and you will fear lawsuits and raised eyebrows…even though you may have good grounds to take action. People are just sick of it Its soooo obviously stacked and makes no sense.

  • ann

    The article up top about black hatred for the “white” can be duplicated with the Hispanics in Arizona.

    Their hatred for the gringo is palpable in the stores.

    Hate to say it, but give poor, uneducated people power with affirmative action and they turn on those who try to help.

    Shame on all who are racist and shame on all who think affirmative action or reparations will solve it. Only character will solve it.

  • Nino Baldino

    Good article..if one looks at the classic movie channel and reads the story lines since the 1930s,,the main groups that have been attacked by the hollyweird crowd are the Irish,Italian and Polish. Most other groups have been treated fairly so that if there is any dislike of these folks its from personal encounter. Rascism is an old agenda of the left to divide and conqueor us. in advertising its called,,market segmentation…..cup of tea anyone?

  • Dee

    Aaron B wrote: “To put it simply, I’m more related in general to other people in my racial group than I am to people in other racial groups. If I’m white, I’m more likely to share a great-great-great-great-great-grandparent with another white person than with a black person.”

    This would seem to be true, but it isn’t. And it doesn’t matter anyway. Europeans are a combination of many Barbarian tribes who intermingled over time, btw. White and black are not only inaccurate terms for skin color, but they are not universal. African Americans may share African ancestors, but they have little in common with Africans. And Africa is a huge continent, with many peoples and cultures. In fact, it is the most diverse continent on the planet. More so than Europe.

    It is normal for people to be “tribal” in their associations. But race is one of the few associations that actually means nothing in reality. As long as we keep pretending it does, we are part of the problem.

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