Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Yes, There is Still Racism in America

(or: Why Pat Buchanan is an idiot).

I can't let this go. Read it. Then all who are in favor of dumping Pat Buchanan into a violent neighborhood with polluted air, no grocery stores, bad schools, and falling down housing projects, please raise your hand.

Where to start?

I'm not even going to talk about Rev. Wright. Except to say that Obama is absolutely right when he says that we need to take into account the fact that there is the baggage of 350 years of segregation and slavery that he (and many black people) are dealing with.

No, let's focus on what Buchanan said. He says that we need to have a two-way conversation about race. That white America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to. Two problems come up already. 1. Anyone who can deny that white America is heard from has absolutely no idea what it is like to not be white in America. White America is heard from and has been heard from since there has been an America. 2. Anyone who thinks that Obama was lecturing did not actually watch his speech. There was no lecturing that I noticed.

Next, Buchanan says that
"America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.

Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American."

I actually had to leave the room and come back because that made me so angry. Was it OK to enslave and kill people because they got to become Christians? Now, I'm a Christian, and I love Jesus, but I don't believe for a second that he would have condoned the African slave trade or how slaveowners treated their slaves in America. Black people in this country may have reached great levels of freedom and prosperity in that they live in the richest nation ever, but that doesn't mean that they don't face racism every day, or that the legacy of slavery, lynchings and segregation doesn't affect them - yes, even still.

I don't have the stomach to go through all of this. Buchanan continues on to say that
"no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans... Churches, foundations, civic groups, schools and individuals all over America have donated time and money to support soup kitchens, adult education, day care, retirement and nursing homes for blacks."

"We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?"
Gratitude? Gratitude for doing the least we can do - and I do mean the least - to right the many, many wrongs over the last 400 years? The black communities should be getting down on their knees thanking white America for feeding them at soup kitchens?

Buchanan is not the only conservative to argue that the black community is failing, as evidenced by violence, school drop-outs, incarceration, and broken families. After teaching in a mostly black school for 8 years, I have seen all of these problems. And, fair or not, it is primarily up to the black community to change and solve these problems. However, let's be careful with our blame. Think about the effect that slavery (selling family members away from each other!) had on black families. Or the effect that lynchings had on young black men. It does not surprise me that, generations later, families are still struggling to be made whole and young black men are still angry enough to use violence. I am not saying that it is a good way to deal with things, just that we need to have some compassion and be slower to blame, when white America had a large part to do with breaking the black family.

"As for racism, its ugliest manifestation is in interracial crime, and especially interracial crimes of violence. " He then goes on to say that since black people assault whites more than the reverse, they are obviously to blame.

Wow.

I think the ugliest manifestation of racism is in children still, in 2008, believing that they aren't as good as white people. Why are they not as good? Because the TV tells them so, the police treat them differently, their schools are still largely separate but unequal, they are more likely to be convicted and get harsher sentences than white people, and are blamed, overlooked, or forgotten in our society.

It's entirely possible that if any of us were treated that way (oh, and they understand the difference between their schools and white schools. They know that if there was an attempted kidnapping at a white school, the police wouldn't take almost an hour to get there, like they did at our school), we would become violent and resentful. I'm pretty sure I would. Although many are, plenty of people in the black community aren't, and I think that makes them the better people.


1 comment:

Jessamyn Harris said...

argh, so many things wrong with that man!!

I liked Obama's speech alright, but I did kind of find it B.S. that he had to apologize for it at all. It is pretty plain to anyone with eyeballs and a brain that white people do control this country/ the world, and that is oppresses others. Why not say it? I hate how much Rev. Wright is being vilified.

I have a tough time being self employed and growing up in an expensive part of a rich country, and feel like I struggle constantly just to keep my head above water... but sometimes I imagine what it would've been like if I had been a little poorer, had less access to nutrition and education, ended up with a smaller picture of the world presented to me growing up, etc... Basically had fewer opportunities, like MANY of the people in this country do. The answer is never pretty.

(although, reading back over that, I realized that a lot of those things are still true about growing up female in a sexist nation, but that's for another day. And modern sexism tends to be a bit less extreme, but another obstacle for non-white women)

What makes me really madder is that this jerk uses the term "Black Folks"... typically a term that Black Folks use themselves. Not a term that Pat Buchanan should be using. You feel me?