Sunday, March 23, 2008

The game of racism in America

There's a discussion at Dean's World about racism in general and the Obama/Wright issue in particular. Here is my contribution:
A poster wrote: We’re still a nation in denial - to a large extent we’ve accepted the sins of our past but continue to be wilfully blind about how that past continues to shape the present and constrains all our futures.

To which I replied: You say “nation,” but what you mean is white people, and in that context, I disagree. Whites have been acknowledging and accepting the sins of the past for years. They have expunged racism from the law. They’ve gone further and rewritten the law to impose racism against Whites into the law. They’ve poured billions of dollars into the Black community and continue to do so.

It’s no longer fair to say Whites are blind to the past, the present, or the future. There’s only so much they can do about the past, and they have done it — mostly without receiving credit. Fair enough. Having done what they can, Whites have mostly moved on.

Whites just don’t have the incentives to hate Blacks the way they used to, and by and large most don’t. People act in their own self interests, which means that White business owners, consumers, and employers are happy to do business with Blacks, because it improves their bottom line. There’s just no profit in racism anymore.

A large portion of Blacks have moved on also, for the same reasons. Their interests are also best served when they simply move on and work to improve their lives. That’s why we’re seeing the number of Black millionaires skyrocket, why we’re seeing Black CEOs in charge of large corporations, why the Black middle class is growing like crazy, and why Black home ownership is at an all time high.

On the other hand, there is a large group of Blacks who haven’t moved on. They see everything through the lens of racism. This is a choice they make, and there is little that Whites or other enlightened Blacks can do about it. They can’t heal those who wallow in racism, because they don’t want to be healed.

And it is these “wallowers” that, as you put it, are “wilfully (sic) blind about how that past continues to shape the present and constrains all our futures. They don’t see how they continue to poison themselves and hold themselves, and the country, down.

And they don’t want to see, because the truth is that they act on incentives too. They have learned that there is money and power in racism — whether it be people who sell it, like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, or people who buy it, like the congregants in these “black liberation theology” churches. By preying on White guilt, they keep a constant stream of money coming into their communities, going to programs which the years have shown us do not work. But it makes heroes of these Black leaders, and makes others, Black and White, feel like they are doing something to solve the problem and fight injustice.

They’ve even done a fine job of rigging this game they play, where they claim a “conversation” about racism is needed. But it’s not a real conversation. Someone like Jeremiah Wright can say anything he pleases and be excused for it and praised as a great Black leader. Meanwhile, Whites sit in silence because they will be called racist for any utterance in response. So, Whites shut up — allowing the “wallowers” to claim that Whites don’t want an open discussion — and Whites go back to living their lives.

One day, Obama gives a speech proclaiming that it’s time to have an open discussion about racism in America. The very next day, Obama and his staff squelch that conversation by saying it’s a distraction and we need to be talking about the “real” issues in this campaign. He isn’t interested in a conversation about race. He never was. He’s been campaigning for a year and never chose to broach subject — not until the world caught the stench of his preacher/mentor/father figure.

And the game continues…

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