March 24th, 2008

corset & bougainvillea

The respectable face of racism in America.

In the inevitable discussions of race that take place in our country one defense routinely brought up by the Right is that America has given up its racist ways, and except for the occasional aberration, such as dragging a black man to death in Texas, or telling blacks in New Orleans that they pretty much deserve to die for being too poor to fly out of the city and check into a hotel, things are pretty good for blacks in America.

Like all conservative viewpoints, this one is completely wrong. While some may argue that the decline in popularity of the Klan and the lack of recent lynchings means White America has mended its race-hating ways, it has really just moved onto different, more socially acceptable tactics. Thus, while police turning fire hoses and German shepherds on blacks is now officially frowned upon, the police now routinely stop black drivers for alleged driving infractions, allowing them to harass, search and if they are lucky, provoke them into some indiscretion that can lead to an arrest, with a tasering and/or beating on the side.

White financial institutions can no longer openly discriminate against black consumers in loans, but they can, and do, build huge numbers of payday loan centers in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods so they can legally rob them blind.

While corporations can no longer run "white only" hospitals, they can, and do, provide substandard medical care for blacks and other minorities.

Blacks are paid 72 cents for each dollar a white man is paid (Hispanics have it worse though, at 58 cents), businesses are more likely to hire a white ex-con, than a black man with a clean record, and it is far harder for blacks to rent an apartment than whites.

Understandably, blacks and other minorities are rather vexed at this treatment, and as such are vocally hostile to those they see as their oppressors. They are very skeptical of claims that racism is a thing of the past, when they live it every day. It is also very hard to view racism as a bygone practice when you read prominent Americans, people whom news programs routinely call upon for comment, writing things like this:

Barack says we need to have a conversation about race in America.

Fair enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation. White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to.

This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard. And among them are these:

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.

Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.

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