Tuesday, August 19, 2014

American Apartheid

Not really having a conversation.
Why should white people care about racism?

Trust me, most white people never consciously ask themselves that question, because they already are pretty sure they personally are not oppressing anyone. They feel that if they personally are not racist, then racism is not their problem.

Whenever a racially charged incident occurs in the U.S., lots of pundits start talking about how we "really need to have a serious conversation about race in this country."

That's not what we need.

I've been present at many such discussions, and what usually happens is that five or six white people dressed in J.Crew khakis and polo shirts suck all the air out the room whining that they personally are not racist and they don't like feeling accused.

Usually some excruciatingly tactful and patient black professional takes the time at this point to carefully explain racism as an institution (not a personality trait), at which point the same white people just keep on whining about how no one is showing them any respect.

Right about there, I want to slap one or more them. Hard.

Understand, nothing has been done to me. I have nothing to complain about and I'm not insulted. I'm just embarrassed--no, mortified--that these assholes are the whites who are 'representing', and I begin to feel like it is my job to somehow blow them up so they will stop talking.

So enough of the talking about race nonsense. We talk too much as it is.

Instead, how about we agree, as a society, to fix some stuff.

For instance, because most white people don't think about racism outside stereotypes, ugly remarks, and their own raging narcissism, it has been possible to quietly corral all the poor people of color into huge urban deserts, where nothing is. No schools, no stores, and no cops most of the time.

Integration as a concept for peace has been largely abandoned in favor of something like "just keep it out of my face and out of my kids' school."

So basically we have de facto segregation in most of American society today. It may be a different kind of segregation and a different atmosphere than the Jim Crow days of the pre-Civil Rights Act South, but the effects are every bit as oppressive.

If the recent events in Ferguson have not laid to rest the idea that Americans live in a post-racial society just because Barack Obama is President, I don't know what will.

I keep thinking of the line from that song Crosby, Stills, and Nash song about the Ohio State Vietnam protests that goes, "...what if you knew her and found her dead on the ground? How can you run when you know?"

We can't pretend like we don't know anymore. Some of us have known for a long time.

But now, even those J.Crew idiots need to STFU.

Enough talk.

Time to get to work.