Contemporary American racial politics have got to be more complicated than any other kind of politics. In fact, they have got to be more complicated than astrophysics and neural brain surgery.
Even Americans for whom their country’s racial politics have become like a first language to them still have great difficulty in mastering it. Outsiders aspiring to achieve fluency in America’s racial politics have nearly insuperable obstacles to surmount.
With an eye toward making “the text” of our racial politics at least somewhat less convoluted, I offer the following “cliff notes.”
First things first: “racism” is the worst thing with which to charge a white person. To repeat, there is no conceivable catalogue of evils in which “racism” does not rank at the top (or bottom) of the list—for white people. To put this point another way, although every American, of every race, loudly and proudly repudiates “racism,” by the latter they almost always mean white racism.
This brings us to the next note.
There is endless hand wringing over “equality,” “fairness,” and “justice,” it is true. And “color blindness” is extolled as the premiere virtue. In reality, though, whites and non-whites—especially blacks—are not regarded equally in America. All talk of “white privilege” clashes violently with the fact that non-whites, especially blacks, just simply are not judged by the same standards as their white counterparts. And, as this one example of “racism” illustrates, the double standards are glaring.
Not infrequently, at least nowadays, calls on the part of racial activists and their followers for justice or equality are ideological smokescreens designed to advance their own interests and/or the interests of the groups that they represent. Such activists, regardless of their color, shout from the rooftops for “justice” for blacks and Hispanics, say. However, for whites, particularly those whites who have been aggrieved in some way by non-whites, they are nowhere to be found.
Third, though it sounds counterintuitive, race in America is less a matter of skin tone and more a matter of ideology. Actually, race is as much an ideological concept as any.
There is a narrative concerning American race relations that has become the official history. As it has achieved the status of dogma, it tolerates no competitors. According to this narrative, for all practical purposes, “racism” begins in the United State with the enslavement of African blacks. Notwithstanding their tireless attempts to repent of the oppression to which they’ve subjected blacks throughout the centuries, whites continue to fall prey to their delusions of racial “supremacy;” they cannot do enough to make amends.
Now, this narrative is false not entirely for what it says as for what it neglects to say. Blacks had been enslaving one another for eons before the first white man stepped foot on the African continent—and they resisted European efforts to end the slave trade. Had it not been for Africans there would have been no Trans-Atlantic slave trade, for it was Africans who sold their fellow Africans to the Europeans. And what is true of Africans is no less true of America’s aboriginals who had been enslaving one another long before whites reached the Western hemisphere.
Of course, there are other critical facts that the official creed omits. Blacks enslaved blacks in the antebellum South and blacks fought for the Confederacy. Blacks have a far higher standard of living in modern America than most people, black white, or other, have living in any other place on Earth. From their emancipation from the bonds of slavery to the destruction of Jim Crow and everything since then—including the election and reelection of a black president—blacks’ gains in America would never have been possible had it not been for the blood, sweat, and tears of whites.
Today, blacks are murdered and victimized by blacks to a vastly greater extent than they are victimized by whites (or the members of any other racial group). And the overwhelming majority of interracial crime is black-on-white—not the other way round.
Still, those blacks like, say, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who resist the orthodox narrative are deemed “inauthentic”: Thomas and other blacks, you see, aren’t really black.
That race is ideological in contemporary America is as well borne out by the fact that the Hispanic-looking George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch member in Sanford, Florida who shot to death black teenager Trayvon Martin, is treated as an honorary white man—in spite of being a mixture of black, white, and Hispanic.
For over 20 years, Hispanic gangbangers in Los Angeles have been conducting what the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a “campaign” of “ethnic cleansing” in black neighborhoods. This outrage has been met with deafening silence by the national media and the racial activists. Thus, it is difficult not to think that had Zimmerman his mother’s Spanish surname, or had he been a gangbanger, as opposed to a community activist, we would never have heard of either him or Martin.
Racial politics in America is tricky business indeed.