Re: Is white racism nec. all bad?

Gary Strand (
18 Apr 1995 17:34:03 GMT

jo> John Otteson
gs> Gary Strand

gs> Besides, the history of blacks in the US is not one of 400 years of unre-
lenting, virulent, widespread, violent racism on the part of whites. Do
you agree or disagree?

jo> I think Ken Burns said it best when he said that one of the key definitions
of what America (USA) *is*, was the issue of Racism vs. Civil Rights.

I'd expand that and say that racism vs. civil rights is a specific instance
of individual rights vs. collective rights. The US set very high standards
for itself, which is part of the reason it's so often attacked, because it
did set an ideal, which few other nations have done. Those ideals were not
followed enough, nor have they been achieved. The second-class status of
non-whites and/or non-males is in the process of being changed. Attempting
to ameliorate white racism is part of this process.

jo> America (including "White" America) has never been just racist. The pro-
gress that has been made in this country on Race since the 1940s is re-
markable (given how painfully slow human progress has been throughout his-
tory). All Americans (including "whites") should be most proud of what
progress has been made.

This is the first positive comment of yours I've read in this thread.

jo> However, There have been 400 years of continuous racial oppression in this

Nope. Racism has increased and decreased at various times and various places.
It has not changed in the same direction all the time and everywhere. Take
a look at the 1920s, for example. In a number of states, the KKK controlled
either the governorship, the state legislature, or both. That is no longer
the case, by a long shot.

jo> Slavery, sharecropping, and segregation.

Slavery is gone. Sharecropping is gone. Attempts to end legalized segrega-
tion has more-or-less succeeded (no more overt "White Only" signs) but some
integration has been reversed, sometimes by blacks themselves.

jo> There is more work to be done on racism.

Yes, but at what cost? Have we reached diminishing returns yet? Will that
point be reached? Is that concept even part of the anti-racism universe?

The current issue of "The Economist" has a lead editorial on racism, and
governmental racial preference policies (in the US and South Africa as ex-
amples) as well as a lead article in the American survey section on Affirm-
ative Action, in Atlanta. Their view is generally the same as my own.

jo> You have not answered the question as to why the communities were so fra-

gs> You made that claim, not me. It's up to you to prove their fragility.

jo> You made up a list of problems in the black community

"Made up"? Were they lies?

jo> and then blamed them all on Welfare.

No, I did not. Find proof that I said something like "and all this is the
fault of welfare".

jo> It is reasonable, I think, to ask you why the black community would be so
severely affected by such a historically brief period of federal generosi-

If society can change for the good more in the last 30 years than in the
previous 300, does it stand to reason that more decay can take place in a
given period of time than before? That is, if the good goes faster, then
why not the bad too?

jo> You compared the black community to the Japanese-American community since
WW2. This was, I think, implying some problem with the black community.
What *did* you mean to imply with this comparison?

That near-complete destruction in a short period of time doesn't preclude
a similarly-rapid ascendance. In short, the Japanese-American community re-
covered very quickly and now often surpasses whites in various economic and
educational achievement measures. How did they accomplish that, *without*
the same kind of assistance minorities and the poor often receive? Is there
something about their culture that makes it more adaptable to stress and
crisis? What's your view of the comparison?

jo> Is it possible that the effects of 400 years of systematic racism might
linger? It seems ridiculous to assume that the effects would just disap-
pear over night.

gs> I've made no such claim.

jo> You certainly implied it:
jo> has been systematically trying to break down the strength of the black
family and community for 400 years through slavery, sharecropping, seg-
regation, etc.

gs> The black family collapsed *after* those things ceased to exist.

If it's the case that 400 years of white racism caused the collapse of the
black family structure, then why are the statistics of collapse worse now
than when white racism was much more overt and virulent? That is, say, the
1920s, black families were more intact overall then they are in 1995?

jo> You then went on to blame everything on the damn liberals.

"Everything"? No, but more than zero, which is what the liberals think. I've
yet to see you admit to anything more than a "possibility" that welfare has
not been all peaces-n-cream for its recipients. I've said that racism, wel-
fare dependency, and other factors are at the roots of the black situation
in the US, whereas you have yet to say anything other than white racism is
at fault. Why?

jo> [M]aybe someday, we can get to the point where we can discuss white racism
without just harping on liberals and minorities.

So, what do you want to discuss about white racism, anyway? That it exists?
I've never said it didn't. That (all? some? a few?) whites are subliminally
racists? "All" - nope. "Some" - yes. That white racism has changed from the
overt KKK-type to more-subtle forms? Yes. That white liberals have their own
brand of "benign racism" that can be as damaging to blacks as the old kind?
Yes. That blacks bear some degree of responsibility for themselves and their
own lives? Yes.

What (if any of the above) are close to the mark? Or is everything I've said
completely bogus?

jo> If, for 400 years, fathers are thwarted in their efforts to provide for
and to protect their families, it is going to have an effect.

No. Black men didn't use to abandon their children in the same numbers that
they do now. It is *not* the same as it used to be.

jo> We have it now.

But we didn't, to the same extent, 30-40-50 years ago. Why? What has changed
since then?

gs> ....Is it better to break a spine or believe someone doesn't have one?

jo> A worthwhile philosophical question from the right!

I suppose - I'm not from the "right".

gs> [E]ducation is the key to progress in this post-industrial age. Too bad
some people think getting an education is a white thang.

jo> Why does that unhealthy attitude exist? How did it develop?

gs> I don't know, ask those who believe it.

jo> You just said "some people think getting an education is a white thang",
now you want to deny that this attitude exists. Reconcile this for me,
will ya? And answer the question, please.

The answer you want to hear - that blacks *know* that American society and
business, and the avenues of power, are white and always will be. So what's
the point of expending any effort at all when The Man will always slap you
down? Yep, education is a white thang - because only whites get the rewards
of engaging in it. So screw it. Besides, who wants their self-esteem and
cultural self-esteemed passed over in favor of "white culture"? Why should
I go to school and read about all the white icons and nary a one of my own?
Why should I participate in the dismissal of my own culture?

The answer you don't want to hear - that the black family has disintegrated
to the point that children grow up with so many self-perpetuating disadvan-
tages that the prophecy of hopelessness and despair is truly self-fulfilling.
They believe they have no hope, so they won't even try. Not all blacks, cer-
tainly, but too many. And this view is reinforced by those who gain from
portraying blacks as victims, always in need of a helping hand, not realiz-
ing that treating people as children results in childish people. Add in the
orgy of self-destruction exacerbated by this lack of family, identity, com-
munity, and a degree of knee-jerk reaction to those who believe differently,
and the future of many blacks looks very depressing.

There's lots more that I could write, but I'll wait for now. Besides, I'm
a white guy - what do I know about being black?

Gary Strand WWW: PO Box 3000 Boulder CO 80307-3000 (303) 497-1336
Opinions stated here are mine alone and are not those of NCAR, UCAR, or the NSF