On a day where we celebrate the legacy of a man who dedicated himself to equality, I thought it would be appropriate to offer some of my views on the progress we’ve made, but also, the massive hurdles we have yet to overcome. It seems as if race will always be an intricate part of how we define ourselves and our society as a whole.
I envy people who are able to look past ignorant opinions and avoid controversial topics, because that’s certainly not something I’ve ever been capable of. Recently I was reading the comments on a news article and not surprisingly, race became a prominent fixture in the conversation. As is the case, allowing people to spew their opinions with the comfort of anonymity leads to disastrous results and I honestly believe the greatest detriment of the Internet is the prominent voice it gives to so many people who truly shouldn’t be heard.
I’m not talking about petty political arguments, or basic ideological differences. Healthy arguments are the foundation of productive discussion and in many cases ultimately lead to discovery of the ideal solution. This is the entire reason we have a system of checks and balances, so we can analyze each and every aspect and come to a conclusion based on the overall consensus.
You can never realize how great an idea is until you’ve run it through a gauntlet of dissent.
That’s just how humans act; think of how many times you’ve argued a viewpoint, only to realize your opponent is actually correct. The civil, mature and productive thing to do is admit you’re wrong and give credit to your opposition. Unfortunately, most people opt to dig themselves into a hole. Much like the Captain of the Titanic, these people have already staked their reputation to a prior commitment and are willing to down with the ship.
The idea that Barack Obama was going to transform our race-obsessed society into a Utopia of equality was naïve.
If anything, his election has only made our political atmosphere more volatile. We’re still generations away from a “post racial” society because so many Americans are still effected; socially, morally, emotionally, etc… by the remnants of racism.
I know we like to pretend institutionalized racism is some distant memory, but it isn’t. In the past 50 years we’ve made tremendous strides and there’s no doubt we will continue to progress towards equality, but a flurry of problems still remain and I would like to address these perceived problems from a “white perspective.”
The most difficult aspect is that many arguments you might initially dismiss do in fact have some underlining elements of truth.
“Barack Obama was only elected because he was black.”
This is a preposterous notion. For starters, Barack Obama received more total votes from white people than he did from black people. Furthermore, the most substantial evidence against this claim is that Obama was not the first black candidate, so if being black were his only appealing quality, he most certainly would have been easily defeated like every other black presidential candidate before him. However, as I previously stated, you can’t overlook the fact that a great deal of people probably did cast their vote based ENTIRELY on race.
But that’s irrelevant because:
A) It’s impossible to determine the motivations behind a decision as personal as voting.
B) There is no incentive for a white person to vote for a black candidate just because he’s black.
C) The amount of black people who probably voted based solely on race is matched, if not overshadowed, by the amount of white people who probably voted AGAINST Obama based on solely on race.
Bottom Line: Obama was democratically elected in adherence to the Constitution. There is no need to justify his victory, because like every other election, both candidates had a fair chance and the American people made their choice.
“How come blacks and minorities receive special scholarships that exclude white people? There aren’t any “white” scholarships! That’s racism.”
For starters, the majority of scholarships are privately funded, allowing a private party to create the specific requirements of THEIR scholarship. Second, a scholarship created specifically for minorities does not negate scholarships for white people, it’s not like they take the money for a “black scholarship” out of some white kids savings account. Any person or organization is free to set up a scholarship, so it’s only common sense that specific groups like the NAACP would create scholarships aimed at the people their organization appeals too.
Anybody who claims to be “conservative” should not only accept these scholarships, but welcome them with open arms because they’re a great example of private parties fulfilling the needs determined by a free market. If there weren’t a NEED for minority scholarships, they wouldn’t exist. What some people fail to realize is these scholarships are not created for minorities to exclude white people; they are simply a reaction to combat decades of racial EXCLUSION. Societal behavior created the need for minority scholarships; they are not intended to give any group an advantage, but simply to level the playing field. Additionally, there ARE “white” scholarships at various schools around the country! In fact, two traditionally black schools: Alabama State & Alabama A&M created a program that allowed white people admission with 2.0 GPA vs. the 2.7 GPA required for black students.
Bottom Line: Black AND White people have racially specific scholarships because private parties have the freedom to create whatever scholarship they choose, as long it doesn’t break any laws. Native Americans, Mormons, Jews, etc.. all have specific scholarships aimed at people with a specific background or racial makeup. Minority scholarships are a reactionary fulfillment of a need; they don’t prohibit a white person from receiving any scholarship they might qualify for and if it weren’t for generations of rampant educational segregation, they wouldn’t even exist. Finally, if the person receiving the scholarship isn’t deserving, than they will eventually squander the opportunity presented and natural selection will run it’s course. Anybody who truly doesn’t DESERVE to be somewhere will eventually get a dose of reality.
“Slavery happened far too long ago to have any social relevance today.”
This is Ignorance 101, the ground zero of people who have absolutely no understanding of economics, sociology or history in general. First, common sense tells us that creating such an explicit and uniformed class disparity is obviously going to have long term effects. Regardless of the progress are society has made, we still forced an entire group of people to essentially start with nothing. What’s worse is we abused these people and enslaved them for the sole purpose of creating a more affluent society for a different group of people. If you allow one contestant to begin the marathon at the very beginning and have the other contestant begin at the halfway point in the race, it doesn’t matter how fast the first contestant is, he’s not going to catch up with the person who received the tremendous head start. Sadly, the only way to level this playing field is to allow the rules and regulations of the race to slowly implement changes that will create a “fair” competition. Finally, saying anything in the past doesn’t directly effect present society is just uniformly false. Saying that a person whose ancestors were slaves aren’t effected today would be similar to saying people who inherit billions of dollars aren’t effected by their ancestors becoming billionaires. Your grandpa was a slave, my grandpa invented Wal-Mart, but neither of those things effects our current situations.
Bottom Line: There’s a reason we keep tabs on history, and it’s because it has an immense effect on current events. Yes, slavery happened a long time ago and there are probably many people who would have failed or succeeded regardless of their families history. But to disregard the past completely is irresponsible and inherently detrimental.
“Black people always focus on race, they’re the ones who are actually racist.”
I don’t subscribe to this “eye-for-an-eye” type of ideology, but even if this were true, could you blame them? We desecrated generations of their ancestors, fought a civil war to keep them as property, begrudgingly granted them basic human rights and now we have the audacity to complain about some black people who might be bitter about the overwhelmingly negative history of treatment towards their people? Look, I hate the “race card” as much as the next person, but in a lot of instances it is warranted. I’m not suggesting that black people get a free pass from racism, nor am I encouraging divisive behavior, but imagine if the tables were turned. How easy it would it be for you to “just get over” centuries of hatred and unwarranted violence? We throw the term “racist” around far too much in our society. In actuality, very few people are genuinely racist, meaning they feel other races are inferior. The more proper term would be prejudice. Everyone is prejudice in some manner and it would be vastly more effective to have open, truthful conversations than to try and force everything into a politically correct box.
The vast majority of white people in America are not racist, they simply don’t want sympathy to be abused. They don’t want to be labeled “racist” for disagreeing with a black point of view and they don’t want their people treated unfairly as some sort of racial compensation, or “reverse racism.” Can you blame a white person simply because they want to avoid a double standard?
Likewise, a vast majority of black people aren’t racist either. They don’t want special treatment or a “hand out,” they simply want to be granted the same opportunities as everybody else.
Bottom Line: STOP calling everyone “racist.” When you use a word enough, you diminish its meaning (a strategy black people have effectively implemented to combat the negative connotations of the word “nigger”) until it becomes completely inconsequential. Save the word for situations in which it’s actually justified (which in the case of the n-word, is never), otherwise it only initiates a trivial argument of which race hates the other race less.
“I’m not racist, BUT…”
If you have to preface your statements with this phrase, you’re probably racist. If you constantly have to defend yourself against accusations of racism, you’re probably racist.
Bottom Line: I’m not a pedophile, so if somebody refers to me as such, I’m not offended and feel no obligation to prove them wrong because I know I’m not a pedophile. Actions speak louder then words, if you have to “prove” you’re not a racist by citing your black friends or mentioning that you love the NBA, it’s a pretty distinct signal that you put a substantial amount of emphasis on race.
“Why isn’t there a White Entertainment Television/White History Month?”
While this might be one of the more timid racial statements, I also find it to be one of the most ignorant because it displays the explicit lack of intellect and understanding required for intelligent conversation about controversial topics. Much like the scholarship quote, private companies can choose their own endeavors. It’s called BET because they want to appeal to a specific group, and black people are more aware and loyal to their culture than other groups of people. As with almost everything in America, television programming is predominately white, so when black people are looking for something to watch they can relate to a station that is made for “THEM.” White people could start a White Entertainment Television, BUT, all that would do is create controversy and alienate a tremendous group of people. Unlike most black people, (reasonable) white people don’t generally identify with race because “white culture” in America is simply “culture.” The reason this quote is so fundamentally ignorant is because it exhibits a tremendous lack of sympathy and comprehension.
White people are the majority, so labeling things specifically for “whites” isn’t necessary and simply proliferates an atmosphere of segregation and disparity. White people have never been excluded from mainstream society, so taking actions to specifically include white people doesn’t achieve anything. We don’t refer to people as “The First White ______” because in most cases its always been the norm. If the first two Presidents were Native American, George Washington would forever be labeled as The First White President. The only reason society labels thing as “black,” whether it be a month, television station, or president, is because it’s a new and different experience.
Bottom Line: If I were elected as the President of Iraq, they would certainly mention that I was the nation’s first white President. These labels have nothing to do with race, they’re created to signify a societal norm being altered. The majority of American history is dominated by white people, white business and white accomplishments and when something becomes a dominant force, it’s only natural for the “underdog” to take pride in transcending struggles from the past.
“I don’t even think about race, I’m color blind.”
This is complete bullshit. This relies on the theory that “ignorance is bliss” and it is extremely dangerous to the progression of racial relations. You don’t resolve problems by pretending they don’t exist, you’ve never met a hero who kept their mouth shut when witnessing adversity. By pretending that philosophical and cultural differences don’t exist, you are simply displaying pretentious and patronizing behavior. These people fail to see the significance of our differences; they are blind to the fact that our unique cultures are what define us as Americans. America is based on a melting pot of equality, not pretending that everybody acts or behaves the same way. We don’t need to put our head in the sand, we need to work towards racial understanding and cultural prosperity. It’s no secret that ignorance stems from a lack of comprehension, if you don’t take the time to recognize the unique qualities of certain cultures, you just negate their importance. Stating that you are “color blind” is essentially the same as saying “I’m far too ignorant to educate myself, so instead I’ll create an alternate universe that in no way reflects the reality of my feelings.” What people need to realize is that recognizing these differences doesn’t make you a bad person, a problem that stems from the accusatory atmosphere I mentioned above. Nobody wants to be labeled as a racist so they bite their tongue or hide their feelings, neglecting to realize that people respect honesty. Trust me, people would prefer you announce yourself as a hateful bigot instead of expressing these feelings subliminally.
Bottom Line: Pointing out the truth doesn’t make you a villain. You can pretend you don’t notice the difference in specific cultures, but that doesn’t negate its existence. You can make an observation about black people without being racist, much like a gay man could tell a woman she has giant breasts without being Charlie Sheen. Acceptance and understanding is the solution to racism, otherwise you’re just advocating and encouraging ignorance.
Happy Martin Luther King Day. I hope we continue to honor this man’s tremendous legacy for decades to come.