Racism Part 2 -What Are You Willing to Give Up?

GoldenRule

Painting by Norman Rockwell

OK, so you say “This is it”.  You have been angry in the past and have voiced strong opinion, but the death of George Floyd just switched something on.  You have talked more about racism in America and have written the words “Black Lives Matter” on your blog and Facebook pages.  Hell, maybe you even posted a sign in front of your nice suburban home.

Good.

And you’ve gone farther.

You have looked in the mirror and seen the dark side and want to fix it.  Great. You know that racism has deep roots in America and you want to weed it out.  Fine.

But how far are you willing to go?

This isn’t the first time that white folk around the country have risen up and said they are going to fight against systemic racism.

So why has so little changed?

Well, let’s go back and rephrase my first question: What are you willing to give up?

Racism wears many hats, and to fix any, we must fix all, and the fixes aren’t easy.

So, we have people who bypass people of color when hiring or looking at giving promotions.  Sometimes they don’t realize their biases, but too often the do.  Study after study has proven it.  Back in the 1970s laws were created to try to “level the playing field”, but people, including liberals, complained.  And then many companies hired to meet quotas, obeying the letter of the law while completely ignoring the intent.  And, of course, blacks are often paid much less for the same work as whites.

Are you willing to give up your next raise to help?  Are you willing to accept that your son, who just graduated with a degree in software engineering, will have a hard time finding a job as companies try to hire more blacks and other people of color?  Will you feel ill-used when your daughter is passed up for that manager’s position she so wanted, and instead it was given to a person of color? Will you even be willing to take a cut in pay and benefits as your company equals out its pay structure, since it was only staying profitable by paying its black employees 65% of what it was paying its white employees?

Our criminal justice system is so biased, but I will save that for another day…  Yeah, and sacrifices there as well….

A huge part of the systemic racism comes from where people live and go to school. The environment in a lot of places is often unhealthy, with high levels of heavy metal poisoning, etc.  Things many of us take for granted are not available to many people, like good grocery stores with low cost, healthy food.  And there are the ideas of opportunity, the availability of positive role models, emotionally healthy environments, etc.  And that is before we even think about education.

We have tried to fix these in the past, just as we did with employment, and white people have screamed bloody murder.  Not just “racist” or southerners, but northerners and liberals.

“We can’t do that here because it will lower our property values!  No low-income housing in my upper-middle class, 97% white, suburb where I proudly have my ‘Black Lives Matters’ sign in front of my $350,000 house.  I don’t want to lower the standards of my kid’s education by having those inner-city kids come in.  Yeah, I know they need good schools too, but I paid a lot of money to live here so my kids could attend this school!  We have a 90% college bound rate and over half of the class goes to Ivy League schools.  Do I want to bring that down so my kids will have a harder time getting into the college they want, so they won’t be able to get hired by the right company and won’t have the income they deserve?”

Even where it is still enforced by law, it rarely works.

I once visited a nice suburb where 100% of the people were white, but 100% of the people in the elementary school were black, including the teachers.  Every child in town went to a private school.  Every Single White Child.  The school was an inner-city school, but displaced to the rich suburbs. This is that “letter of the law, not intent” thing again.  This is also almost a crime against humanity, all of that time, money and energy wasted for false hope.

Racism seeps into all aspects of life.

We have 400 years of systemic, institutionalized racism to fight.  We have a country whose initial wealth was created by slaves.  We have a country where the descendants of these same slaves have had the law turned against them so that they could not get a fair piece of the pie.  What would you say to a 5% tax on all income over $50,000 and an extra 5% on income over $500,000 and then add still another 5% on income over $1,000,000 to help give everyone a livable income, good healthcare, healthy food to eat, a safe place to live with a healthy environment, high quality education?  To really and truly level the playing field?  Studies have shown that plans like this would lower crime, improve the economy and help many lives that seem stuck in a rut.  You say 5% is OK, since you earn less than $500K?  Great, lets make it 10%.  15%.  Are you still willing to help?

OK, I have no idea how we can make any of it work.  My examples are what we tried in the past, tried and failed because people, all sorts of people, not just “racists”, resisted, plus some suggestions I’ve heard about the future.  Who knows what we can actually do?  I don’t.  The only thing I do know is that whatever we do won’t be easy and everyone will have to make sacrifices.  Everyone.

And I know it is needed.

What are you willing to give up to make it happen?

***

A few quick notes.

This is obviously written by a white American for white Americans.

Of course I know not all black people are “inner city”, or poor, or any of those other stereotypes.  Yes, there are black people in all professionals at all levels.  Great, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t forces working against people.  We need to level the playing filed at all levels, of course, but life for poorer people in general is much worse.  Society preys on them in so many terrible ways, and then makes them out to be the bad guys!  So a lot of that “leveling” to help heal those 400 years needs to start there, inner city and poor.  I will say “black, white, Asian, Hispanic, etc.,” but this post is about racism, so I wills start there – we need to level the playing field for black people.

Here is a link to my first post on racism: (Part 1) – Admitting That There is a Problem.

Here are links to a few articles that go into more depth about how systematic racism shows up in America:

Reuters
Business Week
BBC

There is a lot more out there – I will let you search it out.

19 thoughts on “Racism Part 2 -What Are You Willing to Give Up?

  1. Pingback: Racism Part 2 -What Are You Willing to Give Up? — Trent’s World (the Blog) | A Fine Test You've Gotten Us Into!

  2. FineTest

    Agreed. I really like this take – it can’t just be lip service, it has to be more, and there is a very strong possibility that something will need to be given up for all of us to gain something.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Hate and prejudice know no national borders. The hatred of “other” seems to be built into humans. There are few people who aren’t hated somewhere in the world, few who there isn’t some spot that would be dangerous to let people know their nationality or religion. Right now terrible things are happening to people around the world because they are part of some minority, say Uighurs. In the US there are many people facing discrimination daily, who are objects of hate. Muslims, Latinos, gays, Asians and Native Americans are just some of the groups. But the people here who have always taken the brunt of the hatred and systemic racism here are the blacks. In a country that prides itself for freedom for all, we are still keeping these people in shackles…

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Piglet in Portugal

        I think it is harder for a white person in the UK to understand the situation in the USA because we have an initiative called positive discrimination. For example, some companies have to recruit a % of ethnic minorities etc. which can work against them. For example if they have two applicants for a job and even though the white applicant has better qualifications they will not get the job. I am not saying this applies to all companies but I have come across it.

        Maybe the US is worse because of the deep-rooted hatred of slaves.

        I read to ‘Kill a Mockingbird’ a few years ago .. and well it helped me understand a little.

        And racism does not stop white on black. In the UK it is rife within the black community.

        Liked by 1 person

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          Back in the 1970s the US put in place laws to get people to hire more black workers. What ended up happening, though, is that it turned into a quota system where they were supposed to have a specific number of blacks, so they filled that number with the lowest level jobs and pay the people less. Of course, a lot of white people ended up not getting those jobs, which caused resentment and deepened the racism but didn’t help the root problem.

          back in the slave days, blacks were dehumanized to help justify the inhuman treatment. They were said to not be real people, that they were stupid and lazy. If you killed one, it wasn’t really murder, because they were quite human. A person’s horse had more rights. After slavery, laws where put in place to make sure they were still non-citizens. Although some were done away with during WW2 because the Nazis used them as propaganda, most were on the books until 1965. Even today, our criminal justice system is still tilted against black people.

          Anyway, all of that is for my next rant ;)

          Liked by 1 person

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  3. msjadeli

    Very well-researched and articulated post, Trent. Bernie Sanders had and has a plan for all of that and has the leadership qualities that could have led us at least in the right direction. You see what the DNC did about that. If someone like Bernie is driven out with all of his connections, history, etc., I don’t see much hope for a brighter way for all without extreme measures. As you showed in your post, throwing money at a problem isn’t the answer. If I knew that the funds would go towards genuine change, I would have no problem paying another 5% in taxes from my pension for it. I just don’t see, in today’s climate, how that would be possible. There is too much administrative fat in any “program.” There needs to be a change of heart by us little folks, where we unify and tell the overlords we are sick of their sh*t.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks. There does need to be change. I hope a lot of younger people, yes, the core of the Bernie fans, do make their voices heard on the different social issues. And you are right, it does need to be done in a way that it helps more than hurts, that it is done fairly and really helps the people who need it the most. We’ll see. A lot of people have a very short memory, and there is something else always coming up. And, of course, climate change is still looming…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Unfortunately racism is a worldwide problem. I have read quite a bit about Canadian’s issues with the the First Nations people, but I think even there you Canadians have done better than us south of the boarder, though we both can improve greatly! I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the end of racism, but I hope we see improvement in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. rts - Facing the Challenges of Mental Health

        Canada does have a black stain in it’s history.
        During the sixties they “scooped” children away from their homes. Placed them with white families, thinking they could change their culture.
        It was horrible the things that happened to the children. Cut their hair, placed them in “religious” schools, and so much more.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply

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