When Scott McLeod sent me this tweet, I said, “What?”
No way. I know this was written back in 2008, but it’s worth re-reading because of the recent conversations about race, and specifically, the Trayvon Martin proceedings. The way the conversations have gone, it’s almost as if many people (many of them conservative Whites) have a “race fatigue,” meaning they think we’ve achieved post-racism as we know it. People who argue this want to tell President Barack Obama to shut up about race already. No longer do we have to work within the confines of race dialogue, and, in their arguments, believe everyone falls in one of three categories:
- They hate everybody else, not just people from a specific race / class / gender.
- They don’t see color, just people a.k.a. color-blindness.
- They perpetuate race discussion by continually talking about it.
I’ll address these backwards because the arguments only deserve a few lines.
#3: Talking about class doesn’t actually perpetuate the stratification of the poor and the rich. Our institutions do. Having conversations about class actually help others become well informed, organized around the issue, and feel empowered enough to talk to their representatives to work on that thing. Oh, and occupy Wall Street, but that’s another point altogether.
In the same way, race isn’t just in our minds. It’s at the heart of our Constitution, and our amendments, while helpful, don’t go far enough to create true equity for all. Our institutions are racially flawed, and that’s a huge issue.
#2: Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s Racism without Racists kills this argument rather deftly. It’s a good read. More importantly, the research shows that, when you dig deeper into people whose attitudes sound like #2, you start to dig into behaviors that have been codified towards racism. This works in the form of privileges and perks that society affords Whites. Simple.
#1: By now, you should see that racism isn’t just discrimination, bigotry, or prejudice, three things that any race, class, or gender can be. None of these are racism. Racism works as a power element, a dynamic that exists in any country where the social construct determines that country’s favorite de juris or de facto.
Trayvon Martin’s “innocence” is irrelevant in this. Even if people can make the argument didn’t have anything to do with race – a stretch -, the implications for what happens shortly thereafter does. Racism isn’t going away until we can work towards true equity across all lines. We have to call the institutions that stand in the way of that, and dissuade the ignorance with nuanced dialogue.
Until then, Buchanan’s “silent majority” doesn’t need a voice. Buchanan is to Squealer as Silent Majority is to Napoleon, and for too many of us, these discussions turn us into an animal farm. Let’s Snowball this.
p.s. – I like how Pat thought Blacks were brought here, rather than enslaved.