Walter Rhett

How Denial and Blame Support Racism

In Perlo on September 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm

An NYT reply. /wr

I am infuriated that you think crime explains racism. My Dartmouth-graduated daughter, her friends from Ivy schools, her peers in the corporate workplace would vehemently disagree–and point out you are ignoring their experiences with discrimination and institutional deck stacking in pursuing the American Promise.

A black student at Harvard isn’t like to confront (or commit!) crime, but will see and experience racism as attitudes and decisions that limit his or her options–from jobs and work assignments to promotions and opportunities.

Quit equating racism with poverty! Look at how it pervades the system of success by freezing highly skilled black faces in a second tier. Expand that tier to high schools, to student discipline reports that have become a school-to-prison pipeline, to part-time work within black neighborhoods–in other words focus away from crime to measure of fault and blame and stop denying the evidence encountered everyday by blacks–including the disrespect of the President.

During the last election, homeowners hung empty chairs from trees in their yards with nooses–that’s not racist? Avoid the sweeping generalities (who thinks of stats when they react to shoot black teenagers in a car?) and look at the provision of services from grocery stores to library hours to fees for rec teams to wages and new restrictions on voting–which “just grew.” Those differences are rooted in and supported by more than crime.
And it should be obvious why blacks don’t match the experience of other groups; think: slavery. Its legal restrictions resulted in other restrictions until the 1960s.

St. Helena Island, SC. 1936. LOC.

St. Helena Island, SC. 1936. LOC.


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