Re: Is white racism nec. all bad?

Gary Strand (
19 Apr 1995 18:19:25 GMT

jt> Jeffrey Turner
gs> Gary Strand

gs> There is a position between "blacks/minorities/women/&c are entirely to
blame for their predicament" (which is *not* my view) and "blacks/minori-
ties/women/&c are completely victims of society" (which sounds close to
what Jeffrey is saying, IMHO).
I had hoped I had made it clear I *wasn't* talking about the sum total of
all Americans who call themselves blacks/African-Americans/whatever. You
can even prepend "some" to every instance of the word "blacks" I used. I
hope I've made it clear that I do not think that (say) some 13-year-old
gangbanger and Colin Powell are one and the same. They are not, not by a
long shot.

jt> Gary, I don't think you are too far off. The story is not saints v. sin-
ners, however if you look at the numbers, the history and who has the
power and money I think it's hard to maintain that blacks are primarily
to blame for being a statistically larger part of the lower class than of
the population as a whole.

I didn't even say *primarily* - nor do I think being poor, or part of the
underclass, is an excuse for crime, or violence, or abandoning children, or
what-have-you. Would you excuse a man who beats his wife because he's poor?
Or a poor man who molests children? Or a woman who kills hers? Not-poor
people do the same, wrong, things too, so there must be more than simple
poverty at work here.

jt> In the last 20 years the gap between rich and poor has grown in this

As it's grown in every other "rich"/1st-world/industrial country. It is not
a problem unique to the US.

jt> as has the number of poor.

Well, there are more people under the poverty line, but that's a relative,
subjective, and politically-polarized number.

jt> The quality of city public schools has declined, the cost of public col-
leges has skyrocketed.

No argument there, except to note that race- and ethnicity-based scholar-
ships are readily available to those of the "proper" races and ethnicities.

jt> Blue collar workers have taken it on the chin in a country that is de-
creasingly union (though there have been occassional improvements in
democracy in unions it may be too little, too late). The government and
the NLRB (and the courts) have done much to erode the rights and power of
unions and the working people.

Mainly because the "working people" of the glory years of unionism weren't
doing the same kind of work that "working people" do now, and unions are
partly to blame for failing to keep up.

jt> Corporate downsizing, a large pool of surplus labor, farming work out to
countries with cheaper labor, temporary employment, etc., have all con-
spired to erode the standard of living of working people in this country.

"Conspired"? It's not *planned*, insofar as the global economy, to which the
US is inextricably linked, is planned. The days when the US was economy was
protected sufficiently so that US workers could be less efficient than those
elsewhere are gone, and I say, good riddance! As it is, US workers aren't
as pampered as those in other countries, but those other countries have a
number of problems (arising from the same nationalistic instincts) that the
US does not.

jt> Why is there such crime and violence in the inner cities? Because it's
cheaper in taxes for the corporations which pay for our politicians to
support prisons and "police cities" than to pay for real jobs and real

Corporations are not entirely to blame - the politicians, the Democrats in
particular (because blacks vote Democratic in the 80%-90% range) have a
vested interest in such a "captive" votership. And don't forget those who
have an interest in maintaining the Drug War, for various reasons. I'm not
one of those people.

jt> Corporate taxes as a percentage of all taxes, and as a percentage of GDP
have tumbled in the last 40 years. Personal taxes on the richest 5% of
Americans have also declined substantially. Yet the median standard of
living is plummeting. The DOW regularly sets new records, as do the lev-
els of homelessness and welfare.

[Some of these factoids are questionable.]

Yes, the US is in a transition period. Is it stoppable? No.

jt> More than one million New Yorkers are on welfare, 10% are unemployed.

Yet New York city has a *very* generous welfare system, and probably has the
highest per-capita public workforce of major cities in the country, as well
as one the highest tax rates. How come all this wealth redistribution hasn't
worked as it was sold?

jt> The average CEO made 1.8 million dollars last year.

So? The average black pro athlete probably made more than that. Just because
they make a lot doesn't mean you and I make less - the pie that you seem to
want to reslice is not of a fixed size.

jt> And, yes, the FED _is_ manipulating interest rates to keep unemployment
high so that inflation will stay low.

Unemployment is *low* - lower now than it was a year ago (5.5% from 6.5%).
I'd say the FED isn't accomplishing its goal. For comparison, here's some
other countries' unemployment rates: Spain, 23.9%; France, 12.3%, Canada,
9.7%; Denmark, 10.6%; Italy, 11.9%; Germany, 8.2%. In fact, of the 15 "ad-
vanced" countries "The Economist" lists, the US has the 3nd-lowest unem-
ployment rate. Japan, at 2.9%, and Switzerland, at 4.4%, are the only 2

jt> With all that stacked against you, _plus_ racism, how would you feel?

Well, what's the relative weight of all those things compared to racism? If
racism accounts for 1 part in 100, well, it's pretty much irrelevant. If it's
90 parts in 100, those other things aren't as important. What's your guess as
to the relative weight of the factors lined up against the black man when he
tries to make a living for himself.

jt> What would you do?

Well, if I'm a black man, I realize that outside of the racism part (and
noting that I don't have to deal with being female, or gay, or disabled,
necessarily) a lot of other people are in the same boat as I am. Some have
it worse, some have it better. I certainly wouldn't be so paranoid, or con-
spiratorial, as to become paralyzed into inaction, or undertake inappropri-
ate action. I mean, really, compared to folks in Bosnia, or Rwanda, or Al-
geria, or a thousand other places, it could be a *lot* worse.

What I wonder is how listing all these "hits" black men take doesn't just-
ify, in their minds, some of what they do. If you continually point out
that a person just has too much stacked against her to succeed, well, she
just might fulfill that prophecy. Do we improve others by pointing out any
and all barriers to their lives, or do we do something else, more positive

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