Americans need a new understanding of race to help them properly see how mainstream society is expanding and diversifying.
Don Lemon asked Morgan Freeman what he thought could be done to improve race relations in this country. Freeman said: "Stop talking about it. Stop calling me an you a black man. We are just a man."
Civil rights 2.0 was exactly this... that nothing matters at all except the content of a person's character, and their ability to be a productive member of society. We were supposed to advance to a color, race, gender, sexual-orientation blind meritocracy. However, the left would have none of it. Group conflict has powered the Democrat party and fed the immoral media... what would they do if all of that went away?
Americans need to understand that everything materially wrong with racial conflict today is because powerful people want it that way.
So let me get this straight…
It is completely understandably and reasonably for “people of color” to demand not to live in a “white” world where it is perceived that whites have taken all the “power” and people of color have been given none; and yet it is completely irrational and, in fact racist, for whites to object to the idea of living in a “world of color” where people of color take all the power and whites are given none (because, as we’ve come to understand allowing whites to have any power at all will only serve to perpetuate a systemically racist system - a desire inherent in whiteness that whites are powerless to recognize, let alone change (BTW, that sounds a lot like the explanation of gayness and contrast how that is viewed)).
Do I have that right? Is this really the new “len”?
Let’s be honest. Racism is the center piece of power for the American political left. If WHITES ever started voting as a monolithic block, just like people of color do currently, the use of the race card (which is used to divide whites and hold people of color in place) would be counter-productive as a tool of progressive politics…. Then a different card would be needed. I don’t see that happening, but if it did, race would stop being a focus.
This all speaks to the real reason “race” is in such sharp focus today: it works politically.
The political “right” gets blamed for hyping racism, but it’s not the political right constantly reminding people of color that they’re different and need the political right for comfort and protection. In fact, the political left will go so far as to challenge the identity of a person of color (eg, Joe Biden) if they dare to question any part of their political dogma.
Racism is an effective political tool for the left. The Left simply can not win elections (I.e., power) without it. And it seems that racism is all the political left has left to retain political power and they are increasingly shrill as they see its effectiveness slipping away.
I hope Richard does not get attacked and cancelled for saying the “a” word, assimilation (a process I know he spent decades researching and writing about). As I understand it, in the new anti-racist orthodoxy processes of assimilation (the gradual evaporation of hard tribal boundaries) is merely another element of white supremacy and systemic racism, just like individualism and politeness. That is, racial essentialism is a crucial weapon (I guess part of a hammer in Richard’s metaphor) of the new orthodoxy, and threatening racial essentialism threatens the racist anti-racist project.
This is fighting fire with fire. Or perhaps more accurately it is like a British anthropologist going into West Africa to study the habits of not just one black tribe, but filling a dictionary with more tribes than the British world has ever known. It won't help any of the new reified tribes attain modern sensibilities or anything resembling national identity.
We went through this circus officially when the Census Bureau allowed people to self-identify with as many checkmarks as they desired. That didn't and will not change the obsession of black vs white. Nor has it changed the reporting of any substance. When have you last seen something published that describes the relationships between blacks in LA and Koreans in LA? The LA Riots, of course. Nothing else. How about between Japanese and Chinese in LA? How about between the various Asians in Houston?
It doesn't help the cause of individuality in the modern, non-tribal sense to explode a new racial intersectionality cluster bomb. It just gives names to more fragments that will accelerate tribal identification. This is a fundamental problem with the soft social sciences and will make reviews of single standards for all that much more complicated to adjudicate. Our actual real history shows that Multiculturalism was a failure, and it has devolved to the exact same black vs white framing of 100 years ago, with blacks being the canary in America's coalmine. Now we endure rants against 'cultural appropriation' of all sorts.
Americans will want to reduce it down to racism. But already we are entertaining questions like 'Is it racist for Japanese Americans to not like Mexican food?' and 'How come all biracial blacks don't look like Steph Curry?'
The problem with today's multiculturalism is that it is different than pluralism. Pluralism is the proper ethos for America, multiculturalism is not. The difference can be explained simply by assuming Americans can be divided into two tribes:
Ideological Tribe A
We believe that America is at its best when its mainstream is maintained without regard to race, creed, color, sexual preference, etc..
Ideological Tribe B
We believe that America is at its best when its mainstream is maintained with special regard to race, creed, color, sexual preference, etc.
Don't give Tribe B more ammunition.
It seems that academics will never get it thru their heads that the rest of us do not care to be lectured -- as happens in the main stream newspapers, NPR (National Public Racio) and sometimes on Persuasion -- that Americans really are racists/sexists/genderists. Most of us are sick of constant accusations of unwarranted**, systemic racism across America. Thanks for the gratuitous 'while it's not as bad as some might think' ("increasing ethnic and racial diversity" and "the social distance between many whites and nonwhites diminishes sharply"). But your insistence on pushing the 'racism' agenda that the "white-dominated mainstream, racial inequalities remain very prominent" makes me want to puke.
**for example, the approval of intermarriage has climbed continuously from near zero in the 1960s to 94% today? Do progressives keep up their accusations to re-educate the last 6% of racists? Or, perhaps the progressives are wrong? If so, they are doing a damned good job of instigating racial animosity. https://news.gallup.com/poll/354638/approval-interracial-marriage-new-high.aspx
Welcome and wholesome corrective!
Contemporary lunacy would insist race is binary and sex is not…
Is America (the United States) systematically racist? There are a number of ways of looking at this, but they all yield the same answer. No.
1. The US and Canada have very different racial histories. However, the black/white income gap is remarkably similar. See “Black Canadians and Black Americans: Racial income inequality in comparative perspective” (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233008532_Black_Canadians_and_Black_Americans_Racial_income_inequality_in_comparative_perspective).
2. One clue is to look at societies where ‘racism’ (the white kind) hasn’t existed for a very long time. The Haitian Revolution was 217 years ago. If ‘white racism’ was really such a powerful force, then Haiti should be highly successful. That does not seem to be the case.
3. The per-capita GDP of Singapore is only 34X of Haiti. The US/white role in each country has been quite small. Both countries are removed from the USA and yet show disparities even larger than found in the USA.
4. In World War II, Japanese-Americans were interned in various camps and typically lost everything. Yet, by the middle 1960s, they were more successful than whites in America. Back then, racism towards Japanese-Americans wasn’t hypothetical or limited to the internment camps. See “ALIEN LAND LAWS IN CALIFORNIA (1913 & 1920)” (https://immigrationhistory.org/item/alien-land-laws-in-california-1913-1920/).
It should be noted that the Japanese-Americans in question were hardly elite. They were brought to America as farm laborers. However, even after the Word War II camps, they were highly successful. See “"Success Story, Japanese-American Style” (New York Times (1923-Current File); Jan 9, 1966)
5. It turns out that all of the most successful ethnic groups in America are non-white. Some are wildly more successful than white. Some statistics. Median Household income for Indian Americans ($107,390), Jews ($97,500), Taiwanese ($85,566), all Asians ($74,245) is greater than Whites ($59,698). As can you see, non-white ethnic groups are at the top and Jews earn (far) more than non-Jewish whites.
These numbers are real, but have two major problems. First, Asian households tend to be larger than non-Asian households. Using personal income provides a better measure than household income. Asian personal income is also higher than non-Asian personal income. However, the positive gap is not as large as the household income gap. The second problem is the nature of the 1965 Immigration Act. The 1965 Act favored (rightfully so) highly educated immigrants over less educated immigrants. The cliché Indian-American immigrant to the US is a doctor. Of course, that is a cliché. However, it is a cliché because it has some element of truth to it.
6. It turns out the school funding is not equal across the United Sates. New York state spends the most (over $24K per-student, per-year) and Utah spends the least (around $7K per-student, per-year). However, the results almost exactly the opposite of what ‘white racism’ theory predicts. Utah has higher test scores that New York state. Of course, ‘white racism’ theory would predict the Utah would spend more than New York state. That isn’t even remotely true.
7. Police fatalities are not equally distributed by race. In 2019, just 17 Asians were killed by the police. For whites the number was 406, and blacks 259. ‘White racism’ can not possibly explain the amazingly low number of Asians shot by police. For a typical factoid, in one year, two Japanese-Americans were arrested for murder. Not 200, or 200,000. Just two.
8. The Asian incarceration rate is 74.5% lower than the white incarceration rate and 95% below the black incarceration rate. ‘White racism’ can not possibly explain these astounding differences.
9. It turns out that schools discipline rates are tracked by race. See Figure 15.3 of “Indicator 15: Retention, Suspension, and Expulsion” (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/raceindicators/indicator_rda.asp). ‘White racism’ can not possibly explain these astounding differences.
10. That statistics for SAT scores, college enrollment/completion, arrests, etc. are all readily available by race. You can even find COVID-19 vaccination statistics by race. Invariably, you will find racial disparities and invariably Asians will be on top. So much for the mythology of ‘white racism’.
11. It turns out that other groups are almost as unsuccessful in American life as blacks. Of course, these groups have no history of slavery, Red-Lining, Jim Crow, etc. Why are these groups almost as unsuccessful as blacks? The traditional excuses don’t come close to explaining the disparities. For example, according to Pew median family income for the Hmong (in 2015) was just $48,000 vs. $71,300 for white (Pew, 2014). The rather large differences in family income amount Asians are used to claim that the “model minority” status is a “myth”. Its not a myth, but what people sometimes call a fact. Pew (2014) found that average household for Asians was $77,900.
12. The Jussie Smollett case provides yet another proof that ‘systematic racism’ doesn’t exist (at least in the US). If ‘systematic racism’ was real, criminals such as Jussie Smollett wouldn’t need to go around inventing hate crimes, because they would have plenty of actual material to use. The fact that people like Jussie Smollett invent hate crimes is one indication of how rare such things are. Of course, some types of hate crimes do occur. No one talks about them because they aren’t PC.
The best comment I have seen regarding race comes from the new coach of the Miami Dolphins, Mike McDaniel who is mixed Black and White, that he identifies himself a human being.
With tools such as ancestry.com and 23andme on the genetic side and computer aided analysis of linguistics and cultural strands, it seems long overdue to throw out the 1920s era pseudo-science of "race". However, all too often, the government will make a disaster of things (as it has with race) and then create another disaster in the name of "fixing" its first disaster. Sinister policy failures like segregation and red-lining and restrictive covenants will never be fixed by hauling out the old useless categories and trying over-compensate decades if not centuries after the fact. Students of history can find for example that restrictive covenants often excluded not only blacks (negroids) but Jews and Mongloids (whatever those are). These redress efforts invariably devolve into highly political and cynical efforts to buy votes with a victim Olympics competition.
Something that most of the commenters here are forgetting is that racial disparities *do* exist, and they are still fairly stark on the whole. For those of us who sit at a remove from these realities, it is easy to comfort ourselves with smug assurances that this is merely the legacy of past racism and not the result of a racist miasma that floats in the air like a poisonous gas - a perspective with which I largely agree and often vociferously defend.
But now imagine that you grow up with the reality of those disparities in your face *every day*. Imagine being black and raised in a place like modern-day Baltimore. All your life you're exposed to poverty, crime, drugs, and urban deterioration, in a place where almost everyone is black. The people in power - politicians, cops, wealthy Americans, are overwhelmingly white. When you see white folks who aren't policemen, it's mostly in the downtown touristy areas. And you know all about your country's shameful past on race.
You think you wouldn't be susceptible to being told that your station in life is *because* you're black? You think you wouldn't perhaps come to that conclusion on your own, and maintain it as an "obvious" lifelong belief? You think you'd be amenable to people like us asking you to appreciate the nuances of the distinction between the legacy of historical racism vs. persistent and active racism?
Maybe you would, but you'd be going against basic human nature. Especially since many of "us", let's be honest, are reacting mostly to our own white guilt fatigue. I often argue that people waging "woke" culture war are largely doing the same, but whatever their motivations, they're at least giving lip service to the idea that they actually care about the people they claim to benefit. As opposed to the impression that "we" often give (not always, but often enough) - that we simply wish they'd go away and stop bothering us.
The principles of individualism are precious, valuable, and worth fighting for. But thinking that we can resolve the cultural friction induced by racial disparities by simply arguing away identitarianism is unrealistic. It will be just as effective as trying to tell poor whites that their real problems aren't the coastal "elites" who look down on them, but the right-wing culture warriors who exploited them by convincing them to vote against their economic interests in exchange for promises to criminalize abortion, get prayer back in schools, and deregulate gun ownership.
If you want America to start acting like a united people with a strong sense of national identity, where the black/white divide doesn't so strongly resonate for many, it's going to require us to work to resolve socioeconomic disparities along racial lines. To not just give lip service to the promise of opportunity, but recognize that there is a fine line between opportunity and insecurity, and there is too much of the latter in the world's wealthiest nation. Left-wing culture warriors won't be defeated by taking up arms with right-wing culture warriors - they can only be defeated together, by cutting off their supply lines of outrage and lessening the realities which fuel their conflict.
Isn't it ironic that in an increasingly digital (binary) world we are compelled to recognize that so many factors in humanity - and nature - are far more diverse and nuanced than simplistic binary thinking permits. Race, ethnicity, sexual identity, marriage, religion, politics, even justice and morality - all of these and more we were taught to consider as inherently binary. People who identify as "conservative" tend to hold onto those very dualities, and, in fact, distinguish themselves from liberals by their unwillingness to part with those beliefs. But we live in an ever-broadening world where "being on the right side of history" means recognizing, accepting, accommodating, and striving to thrive with those non-binary realities. Fortunately, our binary digital technologies are capable of infinitely expansive and granular nuance as long as we are prudent enough to use them intelligently.
I just learned an interesting historical incidence which appears to have contributed to the state of race relations in this country in its early beginnings as a colony.
In the aftermath of Bacon's Rebellion in which, along with some wealth Virginia planters, large numbers of White Indentures and Black slaves participated, laws and codes were developed to segregate Black and White servants and slaves, and elevate the Whites above the Blacks. This clearly set the stage for race relations leading up to, and after the Civil War.
The use of race as a marker of status and privilege is a purely social construct that has had tremendous consequences. It is encouraging to get some indication that the construct is evolving through the behavior of real people. Many decades ago there were people preaching fear of the "mongrelization of the races". Somehow they never viewed that from the standpoint of individual freedom of choice.