Saturday, March 14, 2009

Today’s racism and the effects of yesteryear



Too often we mistake dealing with today’s racism, or racists, as the same thing as dealing with the affects of our country’s racist past.

There is a real disparity between the races in terms of family structure, income, education, and general quality of life (healthcare etc.) that can trace its roots to a set of laws and practices espoused by those in power and upheld by the general populace, 40 years ago. The civil rights movement fought against this system and won the legal and legislative war.
With unjust laws and systems swept aside, government and society is/was left with the affects those policies left behind. Attempts were and are being made to not simply integrate those who had been separated but also repair centuries worth of damage.
That is the purpose of Affirmative action, civil rights litigation, the black national congress, NAACP, and any myriad of other groups, associations, or policies. They are aimed to repair the damage done to those who do or have fallen victim to racist policy, not to erase racism.

It seems that most black people understand this, most white people don’t.

This difference in understanding is at the heart of the modern race problem. Black people, despite winning legal protection, see little to no progress in the hearts and minds of the general population. The racist laws are mostly gone but the racists remain.
White people mostly believe both were destroyed together.

Reality is that the civil rights movement and the moral authority it exerted did a far better job at condemning and ostracizing racism than most black s realize, but far less than whites assume.

So now we have two sets of people speaking the same language but working from two diametrically opposed bases. Black people speak of today’s issues as if they are a continuation of the same battle from 40 years ago, lumping problems with today’s racists, be they police or business owners, and the affects of old policy, i.e. achievement and economic gaps, together. White people feel attacked personally by the general or sweeping nature of the complaints and think all the problems are self inflicted (a tendency formed with the exaggerated idea that the REAL problems were solved decades ago).

How much more productive would the efforts for progress be, if those acting as voice would separate the individuals of today from the legacies of yesterday?

Acknowledge that there are still racists; call them out individually when they show themselves, without the assumption that they represent the whole.

Explain how disadvantaged communities still feel real affects from yesterday’s policy and couch today’s proposals as a condemnation of the past, not a slap to the face of the present.

If we don’t, we will not only keep repeating our mistakes, but things will get worse. Misunderstanding, if left to fester, can grow into an inoperable terminal cancer.

13 comments:

uglyblackjohn said...

Nice post.
(I can't add anything to what you've said.)

Jake said...

Copmlete agreement.

KM said...

Wow- great post. Great insight. I think you said it all.

Chris and I just checked out your flicker photos and especially dig the one of Marley in her Utah sweatshirt boxing things up. That is awesome.

Corbie said...

Nice post - I particularly liked this part:

Acknowledge that there are still racists; call them out individually when they show themselves, without the assumption that they represent the whole.

Anonymous said...

Effects, Dalyn. And I agree, and I do call out racists when I see them, which here is much more frequently than I would wish. And I think that the way to fix the problem is what you've stated from the beginning, that there is not enough individual interaction between the races, and that goes both ways. Larger cities don't have this problem so much, but in a somewhat rural area like I live in, someone of a different race draws much more attention and therefore can automatically be targeted for specialized behavior one way or another. I think it would help if you and KK moved here. Yeah, that would fix it.
Lindsey ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm ready to move to Montana to do my part.
-Kay

lyric said...

NO WAY!!!! You could do your part MUCH better here in NC Kay!

Jenna said...

My vote is for NC too - that would be close enough to come & visit.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you wrote.

SIMONE

Anonymous said...

There is a dichotomy between the author's premise and ongoing reality.Today's racists are operating within a systemically-racist reality.Yes the legacy is of yesterday but many policies have morphed into new legacies which leave many driving cabs with university degrees.That said there may be a better relaity as time proceeds but with a war that was many a white's wet-dream,you need to re-evaluate your premise.

Anonymous said...

why have you been talking about race so much lately?

brohammas said...

why not? its something worth talking about.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, Anonymous is this your first time on this blog? Do you even know this guy?
HIlarious.
-K.