This is What I’m Talking About When I Say That Modern Discussions on Race Issues are Nonconstructive

The featured image is just delicious soul food. I don’t know. Appreciate its awesomeness.

Yes, it’s another Ferguson post. Well, not really a Ferguson post. It’s a response to this New Republic article by Julia Ioffe that’s about Ferguson, but I’ll be talking about the issue in more generalized terms. Now, I like the New Republic–it’s liberal in slant, but it’s infinitely more moderate than the so-liberal-it’s-hardly-even-a-legitimate-news-source-anymore Huffington Post, to the point where the people who probably love the Huff Post say that it’s a conservative magazine masquerading as a liberal one. That is not the case–it’s just not insanely leftist by default, which I can appreciate. The article I’ll be responding to, however, wouldn’t look out of place on the Huff Post site. To be fair to the New Republic, its coverage of the Ferguson riots and the op-eds about it have typically been varied in content and opinion. Articles like this one aren’t the only ones to be found.

I’m not saying that articles such as this shouldn’t exist. I’m saying that articles like this are indicative of a very harmful way of thinking that no one even acknowledges as harmful. It’s the lack of acknowledgement of the state of an idea that is bad, not the voicing of the idea. Like I said before, the race issue has no middle ground. And because it has no middle ground, I’m going to be called a devil’s advocate just for being fucking reasonable and trying to look at the issue without wearing my set of Slavery Was Bad goggles. Something I’ve already mentioned is that people on the Internet are idiots, and the dissenting comments in this article’s comment section are just as bad as the article itself (no middle ground, remember). The people who disagree with this article are going to be deemed racist by default, and the lowest common denominator Internet comments about how “niggers is just more violent” only go to prove that harmful point, even though one is perfectly able to disagree with this article with something resembling reason and nuance and not just blatant racism. It doesn’t matter though, because even if you are reasoned and nuanced, you’ll still be called a racist.

Let’s start, I guess . . . ugh

“No One Treats African-Americans Worse Than We Treat Each Other”The troubling self-flagellation in Ferguson’s black community

Already, we’re off to a bad start. And that’s the goddamn title. I haven’t even read the article yet. Automatically deeming any negative comments a black person makes about their ethnic community as “self-flagellation” makes no sense. Apply that to anyone else and you’ll see how it makes no sense. Some random white person who has never done anything bad to black people ever and actively works to improve impoverished communities feeling personal white guilt over the state of affairs because slavery is bad is engaging in self-flagellation. But the black person who says, “Hey, we’ve got some problems that are more than just a little bit our fault. Here they are.” is not engaging in self-flagellation. Maybe they are, but the phrase “No one treats African-Americans worse than we treat each other” doesn’t automatically indicate that, especially if the person who says that backs up their point with intelligence. Acknowledging that the group you’re in has its own issues that can’t be universally blamed on the actions of another party isn’t the same as having crippling self-hatred for yourself and your group. It’s called being realistic. And saying that all the bad things they do can’t at all be blamed on personal autonomy and disposition but entirely on being vaguely downtrodden by someone else doesn’t cut it.

Last Thursday, the rapper Nelly went on the air of his hometown hip-hop radio station, St. Louis’s Hot 104.1, to announce a college scholarship fund for local teens in honor of Michael Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old killed by a policeman earlier this month. Nelly also took the opportunity to mock the looters who have flourished since Brown’s death, saying, “We don’t even know how to loot. We get out of the car without a mask, look at the camera, and then put the mask on.” Then he set his sights on black people more broadly. “Every other race I know play chess,” he said. “Black people play checkers.”

“Harsh words for his own community.” If the writer of this article isn’t black, I’d be very surprised. Some weird sentiment that people always have is that you have to stand up for your group no matter what. It’s not just black people, even though it’s typically something minority groups do for obvious reasons. Ideological groups do the same thing. Instead of rightfully chastising and speaking against the people who do wrong they make excuses for them and continue on with their positive opinion of them beyond all reason. The prominent figures in the black community were very intent on excusing OJ Simpson from being imprisoned and letting “his people” deal deal with his transgression, for example. It’s not so much weird–it’s basic human psychology, so it’s in many ways to be expected–but it actively goes against logic and personal judgement of a situation in favor of creating solidarity. I’m sorry, but that is an example of the human mind being dumb. His own community. He said bad things about his own community, how dare he? Doesn’t he know that he should stand by his people no matter fucking what?

Nelly isn’t the only prominent black figure with harsh words for his own community since the unrest began in Ferguson. James Clark, the head of Better Family Lives, a local organization that works with black youth, says the black middle class is largely responsible. “They turned their back on the community,” he told me. “We have African-Americans with law degrees, that are lawyers and judges, but they’re not looking out for the black boys in the prison pipeline, they’re not sharing their knowledge.”

Clark went even further. “No one treats African-Americans worse than we treat each other,” he said. “We were outraged when George Zimmerman killed a black boy, but Zimmerman was taught by watching black people kill black people. He learned it from us. We planted the seed.” 

James Clark has an idiotic idea, but he’s still not engaging in self-flagellation. He’s engaging in typical borderline-SJW thinking that’s actually very prominent in Ethnic Studies academia. It’s the idea that lower-class blacks are doing so poorly because they lack proper black role models, i. e., the black middle class. I’m not a fan of that idea either because it’s essentially calling the black people who dared to move out of the ghetto once they could afford it race traitors. What does this guy expect from people? He’s asking them to go and live in dangerous neighborhoods that they most likely could not do anything to change significantly just by merely being there and being seen getting up to go to work in the office every weekday morning for the sake of a comforting illusion of being helpful and “tight” with the rest of their race. If someone moves out of the ghetto, it’s supposed to be a good thing because their life will be better. They’re living the safe and comfortable life that the Civil Rights leaders wanted for them, fought for them to be able to pursue and attain. But apparently, they should be miserable along with everyone else even if they don’t have to all in the name of racial solidarity. It’s a harmful idea in of itself, but it’s very firmly rooted in the idea that black people should stick together. It makes no sense under any amount of scrutiny, but it’s about kinship. The black people who move away are bad because they “turned their backs” on their race–believing this is the exact opposite sentiment of hating one’s race to levels of self-flagellation. But apparently even that is too much for this writer because it still says bad things about some black people somewhere.

 I don’t even get the part about Zimmerman. Did he live around mostly black people? I don’t know. James Clark has some wonky ideas that shouldn’t be used in any article about anything other than crazy race activists. That being said, black people are typically killed by other black people, even in places where they don’t live in the immediate vicinity to each other. So it’s not just living in close proximity to each other that causes it. You could say that black-on-black violence is caused by white racism and nothing else, but that totally discounts the personal decision made by individual human beings to take a gun and shoot someone else to death for minor or even nonexistent transgressions. The existence of successful black people without criminal records who all the same grew up in the ghetto is proof in of itself that just living in a place affected by “institutionalized racism” like black poor neighborhoods doesn’t automatically mean that one must engage in that kind of behavior or that one is doomed to live of life of violence. Environment is a factor, but it’s definitely not the only one, and it’s not even the most important one seeing as how personal disposition determines how one reacts to their environment–whether they conform to the norms or work against them. So Clark has some bad ideas of his own, but i’s working against the point this article is trying to make.

It was a sentiment I heard again and again in Ferguson: Yes, the largely white police force acted egregiously. Yes, the systemin segregated St. Louis more than in most citiesis stacked against them. But there’s something rotten inside the black community, too. “I feel like the race needs to get the infection out of itself,” Dellena, the owner of the 911 Hair Salon, a block away from the burned-out QT, told me. “People are not educated. You need to think, what is the image that you’re giving off? You need to have all your business together if you know you’re ten times more likely to get pulled over.” Or as Mark L. Rose, a late-middle-age black man I met at a protest, put it, “When the cops see these boys walking around with their pants down, of course they have no respect for them.” 

Why is it wrong to acknowledge the outside forces against you whilst simultaneously saying that you have your own issues caused by your own faults as well? I’m a poor person, so I’ll use that as an example. Poor people are egregiously abused by police and often don’t fair well in the court system either because their lack of legal know-how. Poor people have a tough time getting a good enough education to improve their finances and rise up to middle class, which often leads to a cycle of poverty being created simply by the impoverished’s inability to change their circumstances. Many poor people, though, actively engage in criminal behavior despite it not being their only option (remember, guys, selling crack is more dignified than working at the Pizza Hut that’s had a Help Wanted sign for months and will hire literally anyone with hands). They take advantage of the loopholes in their government assistance programs. Many even actively discourage people from trying to change their life because trying to not be poor means that you think you’re better than everyone else, what, this place ain’t good enough for ya? People are flawed, and communities are flawed. And sometimes you’ve got to own up to that and stop blaming it on other people. The poor mother who just shrugs when her kid brings home an all-F report card from their remedial classes and who does nothing to help them and tells them not to stay after school to ask for help because it takes to much time has to be held accountable for her actions. Being in a poor community that probably couldn’t send people to college doesn’t excuse the fact that she knows that some education is more helpful in determining future life success than none at all. She knows better.

How about those specific examples? Dellena is a black business owner, so good for her–she’s accomplished something notable. Could she be a role model, Mr. Clark? I guess not. What she has to say is true. She’s essentially just telling people to engage in common sense–get your shit together since you know this happens a lot. The fact that it happens a lot isn’t fair, but life isn’t fair and that’s the reality of their situation. Once again, just because in a perfect world I should be able to wear the color blue wherever I want and have no problem, the world isn’t perfect, and common sense dictates that only an idiot wears blue in Blood territory. Lamenting a lack of a perfect world where survival instincts aren’t needed because everything is hunky dory does nothing to help the actual real world. Is this writer saying that suggesting that black people go through the effort of being more read-up on their legal rights is bad?

How dare you suggest that people should take personal initiative in preventing their abuse? Don’t you know that you’re just supposed to be sad that you’re being abused and do nothing about it but complain because it’s fucked up that you have to deal with it to begin with? Mark Rose seems more like an old guy who just doesn’t get what’s happened to the kids today with their baggy jeans and their piercings and their hippity-hop music, which is a mentality that you find in all people of all races. He’s also pretty accurate with the idea that dressing in an “urban” fashion–which definitely isn’t something that only black people do since it is indeed a fashion and not an aspect of any particular ethnic culture–will make the cops think you’re up to something. “Urban” fashion is associated with less than legal things, that idea being heavily influenced by gangsta rappers who dressed that way and talked about shooting people and dealing drugs. You can’t really blame white people 100% for buying into a stereotype created by the most prominent black people in entertainment media. Shouldn’t you be more mad at them for perpetuating that stereotype, then? Wait, that would be saying something not utterly positive about someone with a dark skin tone, so of course you won’t be mad at them.

This self-criticismor self-flagellationis nothing new. It’s the return of a phenomenon that is referred to by African-American historians as the “politics of respectability.” “During times of unrest, black writers going back to the early 20th century have argued that the reason blacks are facing discrimination or police brutality is because they have not been acting properly in publicparticularly young, poor people,” says Michael Dawson, a political scientist and director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago. “In the last 20 years, it’s been a criticism of baggy pants, rap music, hair styles. Back in my generation, it was Afros. I remember my grandparents telling me, ‘you should cut your hair.’” 

Self-criticism and self-flagellation are not the same thing. You can’t just use dramatic dash punctuation and expect the fact that those two terms are quite obviously not the same thing to elude people. I can do that with anything, it doesn’t make me deep and it doesn’t indicate any piercing insight into the situation: “This self proclaimed happiness–or denial–is nothing new.” Well, clearly that person must be in denial, it was in a dramatic grammatical aside! This is an attempt to shape the readers’ opinion using grammar. I know it’s a weird thing to focus on, but it was so obvious that I had to rant about it.

Having critical things to say about people’s behavior is not commensurate with self-hatred. Once again, not appreciating someone making you look bad is not a “black thing.” No one likes someone in whatever particular group they subscribe to doing questionable things because it makes the entire group look bad to idiots who don’t know what the flaw of representativeness is. Not wanting to look bad to idiots who aren’t smart enough to know any better but who say mean things about us is also an unfortunate aspect of human psychology–we don’t like having mean things said about us, after all, even if the rational part of our brain knows that the idiots’ comments are dumb.

If someone uses the isolated actions of one person in order to say, “See, all Zs are bad! You can tell because this one person did something once and proved that they all act that way!” they’re an idiot just trying to justify their own pre-existing bigotry. But it gets a little more complicated when large numbers of Zs behave in a certain way with frequency. It’s extremely unfortunate because pointing that out makes you seem like the aforementioned bigoted idiot even when you’re not and you’re just acknowledging the situation (blacks commit crime disproportionate to their representation in society, for example, but you can’t acknowledge that without someone getting pissed off about you being racist and implying that black people must be more violent) . But pointing out negative patterns of behavior that actually are happening isn’t bad, it’s just . . . unfortunate that said patterns of behavior sometimes fall in line with a bigoted stereotype that already exists. It would be like finding out that Jewish people are actually sent to prison disproportionately for stealing money. It being really, really unfortunate doesn’t mean that that isn’t the reality of that particular hypothetical situation. If that happened, Jewish people as a group would look really bad simply because it was a big enough issue that enough of them were engaging in to be deemed a problem.

To avoid race, let’s talk about the cops. Police officers engage in overly violent and militarized behavior on many an occasion–with instances of it being so frequent and/or involving  large enough numbers of cops in any given single situation for police in general to look bad because of their actions. The police in Ferguson are making police as a group look bad, just like the NYPD makes cops as a group look bad, just like the LAPD makes cops as a group look bad. The overwhelming amount of d-bag hipsters make underground music scenes in general look bad. All those pedo priests in the Catholic church molesting choir boys and getting their crimes covered up make all Catholic churches look bad. If you belong to any group whatsoever and significant numbers of people in that group go out and do something questionable, they make you look bad. The fact that these black people happen to be talking about other black people who got together in a group and decided to riot has no bearing on the fact that feeling like someone makes you look bad isn’t a racial issue. For another look, many a black person trying to make it in the rap world thinks lots of current popular rappers make rappers look bad–that’s a situation of a black person criticizing another black person for making them look bad that has nothing to do with race. And while I’m against the mentality of the actions of one sub-group coloring the status of the entire group, I can understand the sentiment when these people complain about something sullying their race’s reputation. I prefer to think that Ferguson makes activists and cops look bad and leave race out of it.

What are some of those examples, though? Baggy pants are a style, and style that’s popular among people other than just blacks and that really make teenagers look worse than any ethnic group–and you can’t help being someone between the ages of thirteen and nineteen any more than you can help being dark skinned. Rap music actually has some really problematic elements that it would benefit you to acknowledge, if only for the sake of getting rid of these constant “money, gangbanging, cars, and hoes” anthems that people are still fucking making. Gangsta rap started out as an actual reflection of the culture, with the rappers analyzing their lives and themselves from multiple standpoints, oftentimes critical ones, but eventually it devolved into people bragging about going to jail because it made them “real.” That’s a problem.

No doubt this mentality can lead to a slippery slope. I don’t think Afros are indicative of anything, or inherently disrespectful for instance. I’m sure many black people are overly sensitive about not only doing their best but doing their best to prove that they can be just as good as white people. That’s a dangerously insecure mentality to have and can lead to self-destruction and yes, self-flagellation, especially when that insecurity is connected so firmly to an aspect of that person’s identity that they find personally very important–in this case, their race. It’s bad, and I wouldn’t argue with someone taking that mentality to task. If this was the problem that the writer of the article talked about, I would have nothing negative to say about it. The problem though, is that she is labeling legitimate criticisms as examples of this.  She’s acting like someone decrying black gang culture as something that makes their race backpedal both internally and in the public eye is decrying their race in general–not only decrying their race, but decrying it for no reason. And that’s just not the case. It seems like these people–the one’s not engaging in the harmful mentality discussed above–actually care more about their race because they want to see it overcome these internal issues, not just languish in them and blame the white man for not helping. 

Respectability, in essence, is about policing the behavior in your community to make sure people are behaving “properly,” so as to not attract unwelcome attention from whites“with ‘properly’ being a normatively white middle class presentation,” says Dawson. In feminist discourse, a similar phenomenon among women is described as internalizing the patriarchal gaze. That is, women see themselves as the men in charge want to see themfeminine, sexy, pliantand then behave and dress accordingly. Respectability is the same thing, but with blacks internalizing the white gaze.

Once again, I’m sure there are some really insecure black people who take the policing too far. But I want to restate that no one you have mentioned seems to be doing that. No one seems to be saying, “Don’t act this way because you look bad to white people.” They seem to be saying, “Don’t act this way, because you look bad to your own people.” They seem to be fairly reasonable–if not reasonable, than harmless. You have an old guy who doesn’t get modern fashion and a woman telling people to educate themselves on their legal rights. Neither of those are particularly culture police-esque things. I’m apparently a self-flagellating black person, according to the writer of this article. The only “proper behavior” I want to enforce is not being a goddamn criminal and being able to engage in in civil actions and discussions when things go badly as opposed to escalating situations even more. Does that put me in the wrong? Am I stifling the people? Am I stifling people by saying that rap oftentimes gives impressionable black youth, many of whom don’t have mentors to help them out, some really bad ideas because many rappers make being a “real nigga” sound like the most important thing you can be–a “real nigga” of course being someone who kills people and goes to jail and gives no fucks about women or basic human decency. What the fuck is the “white gaze?” If looking down upon overtly criminal behavior is internalizing the ideals of the white man, I’m okay with that. Being an asshole is not the same thing as being a rebel. Wanting people to act decently doesn’t mean you just want to impress the white man. I don’t think the writer of this article knows that. And, once again, there’s that strangely racist notion that black people are just naturally dicks and should be allowed to act that way without anyone judging them by the standards applied to everyone else.

Today, the argument is that acting “properly” helps one avoid not lynchings, but policeharassment and job discriminationthus Dellena’s admonition to “have all your business together” in case police do pull you over. One man I spoke to in Ferguson, Ronnie Houston, Jr., told me that he dictates where his 19-year-old son goes, and with whom; the son’s plan to drive to the movies with four black friends was nixed because Houston felt it was inviting trouble. This also explains why some older and more affluent blacks disdain the baggy clothing and music of younger, poorer blacks: They’re afraid it makes whites think all young black men are trouble. “They already view us as criminals,” said one caller to the “Russ Parr Morning Show,” broadcast on a hip-hop station in the Baltimore-Washington area“why are you gonna go and confirm their suspicions?” 

Well, acting properly does help one avoid getting harassed, and it does help one out in the workplace. Those aren’t novel ideas, and they’re not racist ones either. It does everyone of every background good to be “proper.” “Proper” doesn’t translate to “as white as you can be.” A black person can speak in a typical dialect and wear casual clothes and like rap and engage in all the things black culture has and still be “proper.” Being “proper” just means being a person who can hold an intelligent conversation every now and again and who follows laws and generally doesn’t act like a jackass all the time. Lupe Fiasco is a rapper and very connected to his ethnicity as a black man, and he seems like a “proper” person. Chris Rock has the black dialect and is also proud of being African American, and he’s a “proper” person. Bill Cosby is respectable. All the characters from Fresh Prince of Bel Air–Will and his mother from inner city Philly included–were respectable. The characters from A Raisin in the Sun were all proper. Being proper just means behaving like you’ve got a brain in your head and basic socialization skills.

I’ve already talked about how I’m sure that plenty of those Missouri cops are actually racist. Why wouldn’t they be–it’s Missouri. I’m sure many a cop is racist, and I’m sure that factors into who they stop. And I want to get it out of the way right now that I’m not implying that all black people act like this–this applies to everyone who has every been unjustly treated by a cop–but it typically takes two to tango. Even if a cop pulls a car over because that cop is engaging in racial profiling, which is wrong, not cooperating with that cop doesn’t help your case. Maybe if people were more aware of their legal rights–thank you Dellena–they’d be able to use the law to back up their dissent, which they rightfully and easily could. But more often than not, it’s people acting like jackasses to a cop whose already biased against them, which is just asking for trouble. You can sue a cop for mistreating you even if you cooperated with them, but you can throw legal ramifications out the window if a cop mistreated you while you were being as ass, because people are prone to siding with police officers. It’s not fair, but that’s how it is for everyone who isn’t a rich teen in Beverly Hills.

What’s with the idea that only young and/or poor people like rap? I like rap. Granted, I’m young and poor, but I tend to dislike the typical sub-genres of rap associated with young, poor people like gangsta rap and party rap. I like indie rap, does that count? I also am typically surrounded by more affluent people while I’m at school with most people assuming that I’m more affluent as well, and I probably will be at least middle class if another recession doesn’t happen, and I still openly like many a “black thing.” I really like rap despite acknowledging the prevalent flaws of its particular sub-genres (Why do “bad” and “retarded” and “ham”–fucking HAM–mean “good?!” WHY?). I’m pretty sure older and affluent blacks dislike those kinds of things because the age gap and the wealth gap–pretty much everything except race in that case. Once again, there’s many an insecure black person who only dislikes certain things because they’re stuck in the 1960s and are still trying to do everything they can to garner favor with the white people who no longer care at this point, like the man who called into the radio show. That doesn’t apply to everyone who has anything negative to say, though. Thats a false dichotomy that you’ve created there: Any black person not totally a-okay with or at least willing to justify every bad thing other black people do has internalized the ideals of whitey and therefore has no valid opinions or intelligent points to make because they’re brainwashed. Black people can do no wrong–if they do something bad it’s because slavery was a thing and therefore the white man is to blame, no other reason. End of conversation.

Most frequently, preaching respectability reflects a class and generational fear, by black people who feel they have escaped the fate of poor and disenfranchised blacks, and have entered respectable society. “Everything white people don’t like about black people, black people really don’t like about black people,” Chris Rock said in his infamous comedy routine, “Black People vs. Niggas.” “Every time black people want to have a good time, ignorant-ass niggas fuck it up.” By putting distance between themselves and less affluent blacks, or those wearing baggy pants, there’s a hope that they won’t be treated like them. “The distance that older generation may feel is because they are no longer the enemy, the other, so they internalize that same fear, those same suspicions as whites,” says Shedd.

That is indeed a hilarious comedy routine. It’s sad that idiot white racists quote it all the time simply because they want to say the word “nigger” and have it be justified because they’re talking about “niggas” not black people, but it truly is an awesome routine. It’s not “infamous,” it’s normal, positive-connotation having “famous.” Comedy is often misconstrued by the dumb, the dumb on both sides. That’s actually most black people, by the way. Most black people have “escaped the fate of poor and disenfranchised” blacks–more black people are middle class than poor at this point. What is with this stigma against black people who have lives that don’t suck? How dare they!? They haven’t “entered respectable society,” they’ve entered a neighborhood where they don’t have to worry about getting shot. It’s people “moving on up” in the most basic of ways. You’re acting like middle class blacks look down their noses at poor ones when that’s not the case. Some of them do, but you can’t say that about all of them. They typically don’t walk around thinking that their life is better and they should be treated with more respect because they’re not “one of those” blacks. Have race issues gotten so stilted and one-sided that we’ve taken to demonizing not only white people but the ethnic people who dare to do well? They put distance between themselves and “less affluent blacks” because a.) they tend not to live within close vicinity to each other, and b.) no one in their right mind would say, “I want to be treated worse! Because solidarity. I’m going to move to the terrible part of town where I’ll have to move in at three in the morning so people don’t see that I have expensive furniture and steal it! Because solidarity.”

 “There’s good empowerment and false empowerment,” says Cobb. “But if you think that the problem is within us, then at least it gives you the idea that you have the capacity to change it.” It also sidesteps the issue of institutionalized racism, the real reason for the fact that, in Chicago, blacks and Latinos were four times more likely to be stopped by the police than whites. “Really, what we’re dealing with is racism that is entrenched, and that we have limited capacity to determine how much of it we’re exposed to in our lives,” says Cobb.

Empowerment is an abstract, wholly subjective concept. It’s not like “freedom” where feeling free has no bearing on whether or not you actually are from an objective, definitional standpoint. If you feel empowered, you’re empowered. People can disagree with your reasoning, but that doesn’t make you personally feel any less subjectively empowered. It’s like feminists debating over whether or not wearing revealing clothing is a sign of empowerment or a sign of internalized sexism. It’s subjective at that point. What Cobb says is “false empowerment” may suit someone else just fucking fine.

No one is saying that the black community faces no external problems. No one is saying that. They’re just saying that African American culture has it’s own internal problems caused by internal forces, just like every other community and every other culture there is. Black people are not excused from that. South Koreans are treated like shit by the more powerful Japanese, but that doesn’t change the fact that South Koreans decided on their own that beating your kids was okay. Black culture has it’s own internal problems that cannot and should not just be blamed on white people being mean. That’s not to say that white people aren’t mean to you. It just means that white people being mean to you is not the cause of every single one of your problems, and white people shouldn’t be charged with fixing it. Black people act, they are not just acted upon. And sometimes, black people act badly, just like everyone else.

What are some issues of black culture that can’t be blamed on whitey thinking slavery was okay once? How about anti-intellectualism? You can’t blame white people for that, especially not in places where schools go out of their way to cater toward their black students. They bring in black teachers, have black guidance counselors specifically to talk about race issues, start up after school tutoring programs for free, have standardized tests given by black teachers in rooms full of nothing but other black students, offer extended help to black students, and pay more mind to black students’ educational needs in the classroom than students of other races (you’re taught to do that in Intro Ed classes, btdubs–Asian kids get flat out ignored by teachers for that same reason). If a black kid who goes to one of those schools–many of those types of schools being in the inner city after being educationally renovated to boost test scores–they have no excuse to not do at least passingly okay. If the Mexican immigrant kid who doesn’t even speak fluent English can do okay in an environment not tailor made to their specific needs, a black kid who has grown up in America and dealt with the American school system all of their life should do okay too. But even doing passingly okay is something worth being ridiculed over in many black communities, because being smart isn’t “black,” and where that Mexican immigrant kid’s parents encourage them to do their very best and ask for help, the black kid’s parents don’t pretend to care. That’s not the white man’s fault, guys. It’s not.

For the last time, I’m not saying that racism doesn’t exist, but blaming it for each and every one of the black communities’ shortcomings isn’t helpful. It doesn’t address the actual problems. If it does address them, it acts like black people don’t need to undergo any kind of self-improvement because the problem is in no way their fault and they should go through no effort to solve it on their own terms. It’s like seeing a couple of kids burning ants with a magnifying glass even though they’ve been told constantly not to do that and only getting mad at the person who should have been watching them and not saying anything to the kids themselves. It discourages the mentality of self-improvement in favor of mindless abasement of another group, even people in that group who don’t deserve such treatment. Like this writer said, black people shouldn’t make the attempt to learn about their legal rights, they should just complain about being treated poorly, do nothing about it, and hope that the white man gets it eventually.

Really helpful. I’m sure that mentality will get us to some good places. But not places that are too good, of course.


3 thoughts on “This is What I’m Talking About When I Say That Modern Discussions on Race Issues are Nonconstructive

  1. The author of the New Republic piece is not only white, but she is a sanctimonious, upper-middle class, ivory tower yupster bitch. This is how they think. Nothing you should be surprised by.

    As for your own comments, I largely agree with your analysis.

  2. jpw says:

    One of the commenters on the article about which you are complaining linked here. All i can say is thank you for talking sense.

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