Yesterday, I spent the day deep within a rightwing chat group that was in the midst of discussing the Trayvon Martin case. Trayvon’s death has created vitriol on both sides of the political divide and once again displays America’s ongoing racial tensions for the entire world. To get a pulse on the extreme right’s 2013 views regarding America’s racism, I engaged the group.
Not wanting sugar coated, political correctness, I stirred the hornet’s nest a bit knowing that angry bees usually sting with conviction. The raw opinions expressed were startling but real. No more startling than those on the left, the right extreme of America sees racism, however, in a vastly different light. Before America can come together to solve our nation’s enduring problems of race, we must first understand that a huge gap does exist, and more importantly, why it exists. Only then can we resolve our differences.
As you will see by the comments, some on the right deny that racism even exists. And when agreeing that it does exist, some say it doesn’t rise to the level of many other problems facing America. I contend, however, that racism is a major cause of many of our other critical issues and that none of these can be solved without reducing the impacts of racism.
Not only does racism tear down the dignity of its victims, but racism also harms its perpetrators. It retards everyone’s prosperity, slows our economy, forfeits jobs, destroys communities, and steals hope and happiness from millions of Americans. Reducing racism’s impact should be is a top priority that demands the attention of our generation.
If racism actually does so much harm, why then do so many think as this group I visited? And if their beliefs are so deeply ingrained, can progress really be made without trying to understand their views? With that question in mind, I share the thoughts expressed yesterday from this right-wing group. The comments have been altered to protect the privacy of the commenters. I caution that you may be dismayed by these comments, yet they are deeply held beliefs of a sizable segment of America.
DOES RACISM EXIST IN AMERICA?
“Racism does not exist today. Racists are long gone and dead.”
“Slavery has been gone for 150 years. How long does it take to heal the wounds?”
“Racism would be nonexistent if the political class and media didn’t get power and money from it.”
“We have no racism in America. Everyone has the same freedoms. Personal responsibility means we each must take advantage of our freedoms.”
“Racism is from older generations, not my generation and younger. We do not know racism.”
“Racism is a blame game that is fostered by the people who profit from the enslaved remaining enslaved.”
“Racism is more with blacks against whites than with whites against blacks.”
“We live in a post racist society”
“Most often it is those that call whites racist that are the racists themselves.”
“Racists are bigots of low expectations for blacks. “
WHAT PROBLEMS DOES RACISM CAUSE?
“Rather than racism, inner city families major issue is poor education caused by drugs gangs, welfare, and broken families.”
“The root causes of racism are bad education, dependency on welfare and denial of God”
“When we pay mothers to have illegitimate babies, they have more. Paying for illegitimate babies destroyed families, and destroyed a worthwhile black culture.”
“High black unemployment is not due to racism. It is due to jail, police records, single parent families, gangs, drugs, and high school dropouts. These problems have nothing to do with racism.”
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO SOLVE RACISM?
“Racism is not my problem.”
“Blacks need to take responsibility for their lives.”
“It is time for Black America to clean up their own communities. It is their responsibility to fix their schools, their drugs, and their gangs.”
“There is nothing more that white America can do to fix black problems of unwed mothers, or black’s disdain for education and jobs.”
“The black community is the only one that can fix their own culture.”
“Stop trying to convince us that there is huge racism in this country. People who do that promote racism.”
“Constantly talking about racism and using it to blame others fosters more racism.”
“Blacks need to grow up, get off entitlements and work like all other minorities have done in America.”
“Blacks need to stop following race baiting leaders like Sharpton and Jackson that flame the race issue.”
“Blacks need to stop harboring hatred and racism towards whites for what happened over 100 years ago. This attitude corrupts America.”
“Racism was not caused by my relatives. We immigrated after the Civil War.”
“Quit manufacturing the issue of institutional racism.”
“All that can be done through Congress has been done. In fact, Congress has over legislated to the point of causing reverse racism.”
“Labeling everything as racist is irritating. Let’s stop labeling ourselves racists and instead just label ourselves American.”
“Stop giving people what they should earn. Giving destroys pride and self worth and that destroys drive and hope.”
“Shoving trillions of dollars into the black community did not fix overwhelming poverty and is not the answer.”
“Whites do not make blacks behave badly. Blacks must reduce their crime, illegitimate births, dependence on welfare, offensive behaviors and speech, and their antipathy to education. They must get serious about assimilating into mainstream American culture.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH LIBERALS REGARDING RACISM
“Liberals believe that blacks cannot succeed without their superior kindness and care. They don’t believe that blacks are their equal. Calling them victims feeds their self-serving benevolence.”
“Liberals would rather provoke race wars that cause deaths of f thousands than admit that blacks bear responsibility for their failures.”
“It is easier for liberals to tell blacks that their problem is caused by hateful whites than that to tell them it is because of their own sloth, dishonesty and lack of moral standards.”
There you have it. At one extreme, American whites are frustrated by the existence of racism and deny responsibility for it. They believe that America has done more than any other country to make up for our sins of the past and that blacks must now do for themselves to eradicate irresponsible behavior and join the rest of society.
At the end of the Civil War, Black leaders asked that Lincoln provide freedmen forty acres of farmable land and a mule. They didn’t ask to be fed and clothed and kept in housing without contributing to society. They were asking to be given a hand up to economic freedom with the ability to work their land and to provide for their families through their own labors. Forty acres and a mule represented a living wage at the end of the Civil War. It was a path to America’s recovery.
America has done much to recover from the sins of our past. The impacts of racism are not nearly as great for many as they were at the end of the Civil War. Yet, in all that has been accomplished in past 145 years, the one thing that was asked of Lincoln in 1864 has never been accomplished. Achieving the equivalent of 40 acres and a mule, a living wage by today’s standard, has yet to be accomplished for millions of blacks in America’s inner cities.
What is needed is a level start and a living wage. Until we pair economic freedom with political freedom, America will not have reached closure with our past. The comments above suggest that one segment of our society believes we have more than surpassed that point. Their visceral responses suggest that much more understanding must be sought between America’s extremes.