koshersalaami

koshersalaami
Birthday
October 01
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Male, Jewish, in my fifties, married with kids (well, at this point I guess that should be "kid"). Thanks to Lezlie for avatar artwork - sort of a translation of my screen name. "Salaam" is peace in Arabic, hence the peace sign. (No, my name doesn't mean "hunk of meat" and yes, the pun is intentional.)

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Salon.com
MAY 4, 2012 2:57AM

A Brief White Person's Guide to Racism

Rate: 19 Flag

I recently ended up for the first time at the blog of someone called Chauncey DeVega and read the following post: http://www.open.salon.com/blog/chauncey_devega/2012/05/01/further_proof_that_racism_is_not_an_opinion#comment_2922172

Having read the post and the comments, I realized that I had a lot to add to what he had to say, so I decided to post on the topic. I've written about this topic before, though most of the ideas I express here I express for the first time. Though I've read a lot on racism, my biggest and most recent influence in this regard is Tim Wise.

Not the easiest topic. Wish me luck.

------------------

Note added after Safe Bet's Amy's comment:

This post is primarily about White on Black racism, though some of what's written here applies to other forms. This is not to minimize other forms, though what I've written about is numerically the most significant and is the most severe in most areas of the country. I'm not qualified to comment on racism involving Native Americans/American Indians because I lack personal experience and familiarity with that area, particularly when adding the dimension of Reservations.

As regards Asian Americans: that group faces more racism than is commonly acknowledged, some of which is masked by a casual reading of statistics. Asians have a higher median income in the US than Whites do but that is because they are geographically concentrated in expensive urban areas - if you control for geography, their median income is actually lower. Also, their educational achievement is relatively higher compared to Whites than their income is, suggesting that they are encountering discrimination in the workplace. If compared directly to Whites in similar positions in similar geographic areas, their income is lower, confirming this.

------------------- 

I'm not exactly sure how to approach this topic, but I've noticed that a lot of people seem to have some form of the following question:

Why does anyone think that my being White means I'm responsible for racism?

Let's start with a distinction: There is a big difference between being racist and being responsible for racism. I know, this distinction is not obvious. I hope it will be more so by the time I finish, so please bear with me. I don't have the space here to make a comprehensive case. That would take books and there have already been many written about this, so I'm going to do what I can to keep the length from getting out of hand, which primarily means I'm not going to talk about a lot of specific cases.

My first assumption: Racism is still extremely prevalent and extremely costly in the US. This doesn't mean we're as bad as we used to be, but we still aren't good. Even without a lot of anecdotal evidence, we know this to be true based on a whole lot of data. Specifically, we know this because strong racial differences still exist after we control for every other factor we can think of, starting with class. This is true in all sorts of areas, not limited to sentencing for crimes (controlling for criminal record), mortgage rates/loan rates (controlling for employment/employment history, income, credit history), employment/promotion (controlling for education and other factors), medical care, etc. There appears to be a prevalent myth out there that significant differences are all due to class, which is among other things how the President approaches the topic, but they aren’t.

Now I’m going to introduce a new concept:  White Privilege.White Privilege consists of advantages that White people can take for granted but that others frequently do not have. White people don’t have to access these advantages intentionally; in fact, most of us aren’t even aware of them most of the time. They take all sorts of forms, such as: preferential hiring, preferential promotions, not having people automatically assume that our hiring or promotions are based on something other than our own merit, the ability to walk into a store without a store detective following us, the ability to be in a wealthy neighborhood without people assuming we don’t belong there, walking into a classroom without a teacher assuming we’re likely to be stupid and/or a discipline problem, being left alone by police when not engaging in a crime or while driving in certain areas, entering an elevator without women reflexively clutching their purses tighter, not being steered away from certain neighborhoods by real estate agents, not being forced to live with the consequences of past racism.

“The consequences of past racism” can be a larger category than most people assume. One of those consequences is a much lower average net worth. Young people starting out often get financial help from their parents but parents’ ability to do this varies significantly by race, the result often being the difference between being able to build equity in a home and renting, meaning that differences in wealth that were originally the direct result of racism can be perpetuated through descendants for generations. That’s one example; another is policies like “last hired, first fired,” which means that people who weren’t hired originally because of racism are now more vulnerable as a direct result of that past racism. Then there are less concrete consequences, like a lack of confidence and a lot of cynicism and bitterness, the direct results of previous racism, that can interfere with current and future advancement.

Does all this mean some of us are at fault for being White? Of course not; I’m not suggesting that any more than I’m suggesting that we should all walk into a store and demand to be followed around by the store detective. Nor am I suggesting that you have to be racist to benefit from White Privilege; in fact, let me be more blatant about that: You don’t have to be racist to benefit from White Privilege.

My problem isn’t with benefitting from White Privilege; my problem is with perpetuating it voluntarily.

There are going to be a lot of people who suggest that we can’t do anything to make up for past racism and that we should simply move on. Even if that were equitable, which it really isn’t, and even if it were good for the country, which it really isn’t, the assumption behind this suggestion is that we are post-racist, which we really aren’t. Not even close.

So, if you want to get rid of racism, the very first thing you have to do is acknowledge that it still exists. If we don’t acknowledge the problem, we can’t fix it. Failing to acknowledge the existence of racism may not make you a racist, but it absolutely makes you responsible for racism. Whether or not you are morally obligated to be part of the solution, you are morally obligated not to be part of the problem.

We have tried to address racism, not only by putting legal obstacles in the way of discrimination but by attempting to give at least a small corrective boost to those who have been artificially held down by racism. That’s what Affirmative Action is (though Affirmative Action also addresses other inequalities, like sexism.) So, if you want to get rid of racism, the second thing you have to do is stop fighting the boosts.

There are various ways to fight the boosts. The big one is claiming that they are so big that they overcorrect for racism. Really? Have you looked at comparative wealth statistics, education statistics, employment statistics, prison population statistics? Who do you know who now believes that Black people are now on average doing better than White people in the United States? If the boosts really overcorrected for racism, that’s what we’d be looking at. Don’t be ridiculous.

There’s another way to fight the boosts – fighting the legitimacy of a phenomenon known as Reverse Discrimination. Reverse Discrimination is the claim that corrective policies are wrong on the grounds that they differentiate. So, if minorities were kept out of certain universities for decades, partially as a result of straight discrimination and partially as a result of those minorities having far more limited primary and secondary educational opportunities, and the result was a severe underrepresentation of those minorities in the university populations relative to the general population, attempting to bring those populations more in line with the general population constitutes discrimination because it involves racial/ethnic distinctions of some kind. This argument might have at least a little credibility if those fighting Reverse Discrimination had a previous history of fighting Traditional Discrimination, indicating that what bothered them really was Discrimination. Unfortunately, that’s not typically the case: Reverse Discrimination isn’t primarily (if at all) about Discrimination; it’s about turf. If you object to Reverse Discrimination but not to White Privilege, you’re responsible for racism.

I’m not saying that to object to Affirmative Action or Reverse Discrimination is to automatically be racist. Affirmative Action is not perfect. However, come up with a better idea, then, as long as it addresses the actual problem – what’s not acceptable is coming up with a solution that’s strictly based on class and ignores race, because the data indicates that racism is a problem in and of itself, class aside.

This leads me to another point: Black/White symmetry is a corrosive myth. There are a couple of obvious reasons for this assumption of symmetry: the color imagery and the fact that both are races. However, the fact that they’re both races isn’t really relevant in the US because the White population is much larger, much more powerful, and much more varied in terms of ethnicity. Black was, for a long time, mainly a single ethnic group here; now it’s really two: American slave descendants and Caribbean immigrants and their descendants. White, however, is so many ethnic groups that the term White is basically useless as an ethnic term; it’s really an umbrella term. A term like “Black Power” is far more analogous to a term like “Irish Power” than to “White Power.” Talking about “White Power” is nearly as silly as giving to a charity called the United Gentile Appeal would be, for basically analogous reasons. In short, at least in America, Black can be used as an ethnic designation (or a designation for a pair of ethnicities), but White can’t.

Being asymmetrical, their needs are not analogous. When Black people do things to promote Black identity, that doesn’t mean it makes sense for us to do things to promote White identity and, more importantly, promoting Black identity is not any more of a threat to us than drinking green beer on St. Patrick Day is. And yet, because of the myth of symmetry, we tend to view it as threatening. Whites don’t need to be safeguarded from Blacks specifically but Blacks do need to be safeguarded from Whites because we’re the majority and we hold the overwhelming balance of wealth and power. Blacks do not have a long history of persecuting Whites in America, but Whites certainly have a long history of persecuting Blacks.

Let me give you an example of an asymmetrical need: You’ve doubtless noted that minority populations, most conspicuously Black kids, tend to hang out together in school, sitting together at lunch, etc. To White kids (and, at that age, I was one of these), it looks like self-segregation, like we’re somehow being rejected. What we fail to realize is that if there’s one Black kid in a group, he or she serves as their (more convenient to write than “his/her”) ethnic group’s unofficial local representative, having a lot of what they say viewed through that lens, fielding cracks, stereotypes, awkward attempts at hipness, etc. Representing all the time can be tiring, particularly when you belong to an ethnic group that has a lot of negative stereotypes attached to it - well, really, particularly when you belong to an ethnic group that has suffered (and continues to suffer) such a profound long-term lack of respect. When you’re with your own, you don’t have to – paradoxically, hanging out with one’s ethnic group takes ethnicity off the table as a variable and you get to just be an individual, a privilege the majority enjoys normally. Even if ethnicity is a frequent subject of discussion among one’s own, in a group that becomes more of a group characteristic and less of an individual characteristic. Self-segregation isn’t so much about rejection as it is about self-preservation. We as Whites aren’t comfortable thinking in terms of minorities needing any kind of protection from us, particularly when we don’t deliberately mean them any harm, but they do.

And so, the third thing is to avoid perpetuating myths. I’ve already listed the most important ones: that racism no longer exists, that Affirmative Action has resulted in a functional overcorrection, that we automatically owe the same things to a traditionally persecuting majority as we do to a traditionally persecuted minority.

I’ll give you another: the fourth thing is to acknowledge racism and its supporting assumptions when you see them and be willing to discuss them. The more racism is allowed to hide, particularly in plain sight, the longer it will survive.

Here's yet another, alluded to earlier: the fifth thing is to show and support respect, which includes eliminating or at least reducing your tolerance for disrespectful behavior in that direction.

There's a question I haven't asked which maybe I need to:

Why bother?

Or, more particularly, Why is this issue your problem?

I can think of two answers. The first one is:

Because racism is wrong.

I'm assuming I don't have to explain to you why it's wrong, but I understand that the fact that it's wrong doesn't intrinsically make it your problem. So, I'll give you an answer that doesn't moralize and shove liberal guilt at you - believe it or not, there is one:

Because racism is expensive, and here I don't mean to its victims.

Really. This is a post in itself (actually, one I've already written), but I'll at least skim through the case here.

Having a permanent underclass is expensive. (This clearly isn't true of the whole Black population but it is true of too much of it.)  Such a population uses a lot of money in social services and provides an insufficient amount of money in tax revenues and business purchases. We'd all be richer if we could make that population more productive.

When a population sees its government as unsupportive and adversarial, and when the most available ways to make a decent living are illegal, the end result is going to be a lot of crime and a huge prison population. Crime is absurdly expensive once you include government expenses associated with it, such as court costs and incarceration. Plus of course the fact that every inmate is someone who can't at that point be either a taxpayer or a legitimate business' good customer and so help to create jobs. In other words, we face huge actual expenses added to huge opportunity costs.

Incidentally, these are some reasons why it makes sense to focus resources on single populations rather than just ignoring ethnicity in policy. Diagnosis of social problems can get somewhat subjective but diagnosis of economic problems is a lot more cut and dried. (Not completely, but a lot more.)

If there's one point I need to get across when talking about economics here, it is that pulling up a permanent underclass is not a zero-sum game - in other words, it's not strictly about "if I allocate money for him, that's money you don't get." Allocating money in that direction will come back to save the rest of us money. 

There is, of course, one enormous advantage to making this economc argument against racism:

Saving money isn't an ideological issue.  

 

 

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A truly excellent post, Kosh. Great points, well stated.

The only thing I might imaginatively add would be to expand the word "racist" to not only blacks, but to encompass all people of color. Although this might not be the correct "textbook" usage of the term, virtually ALL minority groups are discriminated against, some even more so than Blacks. (Driving while Mexican anyplace in AZ is at least as dangerous as driving while Black in Skokie, for example).
What I love most abt your writing is how fluidly you draw important distinctions and nuances.

r.
Amy,
Thank you. I really appreciate it.
After I posted, I realized that I'd concentrated primarily on racism as it applies to one minority, though some of the analysis can apply to others. In the Mexican case, you're right about my out - that's bigotry but not racism. However, there are other cases where racism does apply: to Native Americans/American Indians, though that's not a conspicuous issue anywhere I've lived so I don't have experience with it, and to Asians, and though I've been surprised at how much my adopted Chinese daughter has encountered, its severity isn't anything like what I've described. Oahusurfer may set me straight when it comes to what he's encountered on the Islands.
I guess I should have lengthened the title, though I'm not sure how to word it.
I might edit and add a note at the beginning. If I do, I'll leave a comment stating what I did.

Jonathan,
Thank you.
I agree with a lot of this, well written. But, I think there's more to the idea that "if you look at the statistics of wealth and income" then that's proof racism still exists. I still believe, that in PART this is true, but I also believe it goes back to the sweat and hard work someone puts in to succeeding. If you don't put in the hard work and the mental brain power and commit to getting an education, then a community that is not big on pushing education to its fullest will perpetuate itself. Many ethnic groups have come to the U.S. and in one generation turned things around, worked hard, sent their kids to college therefore making it possible to become a part of that American dream, that "white" world. I just find it sad that the very same statistics used to say there's unfair and unjust treatment in the crime and punishment sector and in salaries/education means that there's absolute definite proof of racism. It happens, but overall I personally believe that it can be attributed to a community that needs to do what MLK said, or a community that needs to band together and stop gangs in their own families (which is a whole nuther topic because I know the Latin community that gangs ARE your family, it' almost tribal in some cases.)
This needs a lot more contemplation than I have time to give it right now- but

some thoughts:

My (methodist) church had an outreach drive this easter, to try to make more homeless and poor in our community aware of the resources available to them at our church, not as members of our church, but as fellow human beings.

Our church is in Xenia Ohio, a small town by most definitions, yet large enough to have a "black" section.

It was interesting to realize, in inviting people to the Easter service, how much suspicion of motive there can be between groups.

Xenia is the county seat of Greene county, which contains both Central State and Wilberforce Universities- Traditionally Black, and Antioch University ( Traditionally Hippie (nb- artists rather than "Liberal" per se )

Central State and Wilberforce are Methodist colleges, but they have their own black community of worship, and their own membership.

In short, we had a little bit of a misunderstanding about "turf" with some of the people I talked to.

The question was, why are we "recruiting" blacks, presumably at the expense of the black methodist congregation.

There really wasn't any friction about this at a "Church" level but almost every black I invited expressed some level of skepticism and suspicion.

Our congregation is composed of older people , many retired and well off, many of the "academic hippie" White people who are looking for ways to help, as a Christian duty, and as a way of being involved in a community of faith and love.

One way that they talked about being able to help the community is to "daycare" the kids of the working poor, and feed and tend the kids ( and believe me- with all the school teachers and liberals involved, no kid would get taught "Christianity" by anything except example)

The friction was a suspicion that may be summed up as "Why are you trying to "steal" members from our black church?"

I need to get back to scoring papers, but I would like to hear your thoughts on the problem of trying to help those in a different "gang" ? Tribe? ethnic group? and the problem of mistaking individual compassion for some sort of "group agenda" - which causes it's own sort of backlash ( I reached out, and they slapped my hand--)

As I've indicated,and as you know if you know about Antioch and Wilberforce, this was a hotbed of abolitionists in the 1800's- yet there is still suspicion between the races.

I would like to link any post you might do on this issue to the Chautauqua- the topic being how "Collective" justice and "individual" perceptions affect Reason

Interesting and well thought out perceptions here
Peeling an Orange,
Firstly, thank you.
Secondly, not all minority groups face the same obstacles. The second post I wrote after coming to OS addressed exactly this question when comparing Jews and Blacks. It's short and it addresses some of your points:

http://open.salon.com/blog/koshersalaami/2010/05/18/race_question_from_1969

Tim Wise has written that recent data indicates that assumptions we've been making for years about how Black students in the aggregate take education less seriously than other students may not be true, at least when controlling for class. Yet another obstacle.

There's one other point to understand about immigrant minorities: Their position at the bottom of the economic ladder is a function of generation. By the time you get to the second or third generation, English is their primary language and most deviations from the economic and educational norms are pretty much gone. This includes Hispanic immigrant populations, a phenomenon which is masked by continued immigration; in other words, we keep focusing on the recent arrivals without looking at the populations who have been here longer. There are a couple of populations, particularly Black and Native American, whose status has remained impaired over much longer periods because greater obstacles have been placed in their paths and continue to be.
HRdR,
You have my permission to link anything you want of mine.

The answer is a simple one:
Members of some minorities have encountered so much hostility and have been taken advantage of so many times that defensiveness becomes necessary for survival. In this case, individuals weren't threatened but an internal and valued institution inadvertently was. If there is an obvious potentially ulterior motive, even an unintended one, it's going to be examined. It has to be in that you're dealing with what can best be described as an abused population. I'm afraid getting around that phenomenon takes both sensitivity and patience - trust has to be earned. If I were to offer you institutional advice, I'd tell you that if you were interested in helping out that community with services like daycare, you might try institution to institution outreach rather than individual outreach.
Kosher

that's the point- there was no Institutional misunderstanding
What I encountered ( and I wasn't surprised by it- I understand the process) was a resistance to being helped by someone who has been traditionally thought of as an enemy/opponent/competitor for resources. It took ME a very long time to accept that I could take help from my community of faith ( this same church, when I was new) without incurring any other obligation than to become part of a community that looks out for each individual as an individual and not as some "statistic". That is the thing that "hurts" those who offer an individual help, and are turned away because they are of the wrong group, and gives an excuse to not offer help again.

People must not only be willing to give love in a community, they must be willing to accept it-

I'm not trying to say that there is something wrong with someone whose been kicked around being suspicious. I liken it to my efforts by times to feed feral cats- they have a right to be suspicious, but I have a need/desire to help them- and it is something worth thinking about, as to how to get those two needs together

does it seem suspicious to you that an "individualist" could care about other people?- that's what true Christianity is about- "Individual Caring". People need to realize that "True Christianity" is no more "Rush Limbaugh" than true "black Pride' is Louis Farrakhan
Thoroughly thought out and well said, Kosh.

I live where there is a significant Indian population and, though it is less conspicuous and I'm not involved on more than a casual level (I have Indian next door neighbors in a mostly white neighborhood,) from many years here I can say that racism directed at them is strong, entrenched, widespread and oppressive.

I have given up trying to use the term"Native American" in any but very specific instances because 1) it's too non-specific & open to argument (e.g., born in California I can claim to be native American) and 2) the Indians I know use "Indian." Identification as Ojibwe (Chippewa), Lakota and Dakota (Sioux) seems to be coming into more common use and while my neighbors and their children have conventional English names: Joe, Brenda, Erica, Marcus, Tara; some of their grandchildren have Ojibwe names (that I couldn't begin to spell.) It's a start.
Thanks, nerd cred. We need that perspective. Frankly, I don't know what form that sort of racism takes because I don't know what stereotypes are applied to American Indians.
Oops, missed HRdH's answer.
Why would individualists be immune from caring about other people?

Individualists might be immune from caring about people who got into their positions through gross irresponsibility, but not presumably from those who have had to deal with extra obstacles they didn't bring on themselves.

I don't think individualists or, for that matter, real conservatives are by nature immoral. The phonies who pass for conservatives in Congress these days and a lot of the pundits who do? Yes, I think they're immoral, because their beliefs are based far more on convenience than on consistency.
As always, Kosh, you get to the heart of the matter without haranguing the reader.

On the front page of my local paper this morning is a story about an African-American man - an ex-Marine and retired corrections officer - who was shot and killed in his apartment by police officers a few months ago. The man's medical alert bracelet had gone off, apparently by mistake, and officers arrived at his door and knocked. The man told the officers he was fine, didn't need assistance, and asked them to leave. They refused to leave and insisted on entering. When he continued to tell them to leave, they broke down the door and a confrontation ensued. A recording device connected to an officer's taser picked up an officer using a racial slur. The story reminded me of the Trayvon Martin case, because it involved a confrontation that didn't need to occur involving someone who had not been bothering anyone. Oh yeah, the headline in the paper this morning was that a grand jury declined to indict the officers.

This was the third shooting by a police officer in our county in the last few years. In each case, the victim was black. Was race a significant factor in each case? Maybe, maybe not. But I'm firm in my belief that if those three cases had instead involved white citizens, none of them would have resulted in a funeral.

I've told this story before but 30 years ago, when my opinion on homosexuality was still evolving, I walked through the Castro district in San Francisco. I was very much aware that I was different than everyone around me, and it was a shock to my system to feel like a minority for the first time in my life. I've tried to keep that revelation in the front of my mind.

One last thing: I've had many people be rude to me over the years. Not once have I had to consider that the other person was rude to me because of the color of my skin. That's an example of my benefitting from White Privilege.
Thank you, Mr. Cuss

It's not that I don't feel like haranguing, it's that haranguing doesn't work.

I'd rather say "I'm listening, I understand your viewpoint, I understand your reasoning, I understand your fears, I understand your priorities and, most of all, I respect you, but, even taking all that into account, what you're doing/advocating makes no sense." As in "you would be better off with this population paying taxes than eating your tax dollars in prison" or "with marriage getting less and less support, the best way to build it is to bring an eager new population into the institution, not to keep that population out," or... you get the idea. I have never seen someone say "You called me a moron, so now I'll agree with you." Have you?

I'm glad you remember feeling like a minority.
This is impressive!
Kosh, in the case of Native Americans/American Indians (and First Nations in Canada as well as the Indigenous people of Australia) part of the problem is "Legislative Racism." Legislative Racism is something which, as far as I have been able to determine, has only been used with those groups which pre-date the arrival of Europeans in the Americas and Australia. If there is another ethnic group which has been made literal "wards of the federal government" for in excess of 150 years based ONLY on their ethnic makeup I have never heard mention of it and would be interested in knowing about it.

Examples of Legislative Racism are everywhere but I will give you a couple of examples: Prior to 1994 it was illegal for Native Americans/American Indians to receive Medicaid, Food Stamps, WIC, Medicare and Social Security. There is still a group of Native Americans/American Indians which (by law) can never receive Medicare or Social Security because we fall in a kind of "doughnut hole" where those older than us qualify and those younger than us qualify but we do not qualify simply due to our race and the year we were born. Despite this legislative racism we have paid into Social Security since the inception of it when we have had employment. On the other hand, Native Americans/American Indians have always qualified for military benefits specifically because the "code talkers" made it a condition to teaching the language to the military for use as a cypher.

Another example of Legislative Racism - I have personally, with the assistance of a GREAT group of Mixed Race (by that I mean we are ALL more than one ethnicity) friends, spent 18 months setting up a 501(c) which is designed to provide learning opportunities, scholarship and educational assistance to disadvantaged children. MY name cannot, legally, appear on the paperwork. Why? Because under current federal law I AM A WARD OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT and putting my name on the paperwork would require (by law) either the Bureau of Indian Affairs to approve OR Congressional Approval - either one of which would take several YEARS to obtain IF they didn't "lose the paperwork" umpteen times between when it was submitted and when it finally got approved (assuming it DID get approved). Additionally, we would be limited to providing the educational opportunities, scholarship and educational assistance to Native American/American Indian children and that's NOT what we are aiming for here. We WANT to have a positive impact on children without their ethnic background being part of the equation because disadvantaged children come from EVERY ethnic group.

Those are just a couple of examples of Legislative Racism... But there is another, more sinister, side. Today there are literally millions of people in the United States who loudly BLAME Native Americans/American Indians for the conditions in which most are forced to live due SPECIFICALLY to Legislative Racism. Sadly, we have reached the LAST stage of successful genocide in the United States - blaming the victim of genocide FOR their extermination.
Kosh, Ms. Raptor is the expert and what she comments makes my head hurt and raises a lot of questions - first, whether the conditions she delineates applies specifically to residents of reservations or all Indians.

As a not that well informed white person, the stereotypes I see applied are the usual ones - dumb, dirty, lazy, drunk, violent, on welfare. I think those attributes are applied to most groups by other groups (or individuals) who want to hate them.

There is also resentment of certain rights Indians have to fish and gather wild rice. I think those apply to tribal members but again, I only know from the standpoint of complaining white people who think it matters that "none of them are purebred anymore anyway." I think that is like the president being "half white." i.e. if he wasn't president it wouldn't be an issue, he'd be just another black man. By the same token, that Indians are not "pure" matters in the case of access to resources. Otherwise, if they look Indian, they're Indian. I find it confusing, too.
Beautifully done, Kosh. It is all common sense. And I love how you point out that if you do want to address racism on moral grounds, you are hurting our economy if you do not do it simply for economic reasons. Very true, and I hope people can put aside their conditioning to at least knowledge that.
Thank you!
r./
White America in general is behind most of the civilized world in tolerance, because the mainstream culture is superficial, ignorant and greedy. Everywhere I go in Europe people of different ethnic groups make fun of each other and tease each other in a very friendly way. Even though there are laws against discrimination in the work place, social discrimination seems to have disappeared.

Let us not forget what the Marines say: "The white man cannot be denied." Excellent post, Kosh. R
Except that in a comparative politics and economics sense, there is a limit to that too. If you look across countries, what you see is similar to things here as to differences among where you come from influencing where you end up, and among whites.
Jews for example in America, are they white? If they are, then at 1.7 times median family income, they are doing things not quite the same as that as Irish, at 1.00 average family income more or less, or Germans at about I believe 1.2, or Indians and Japanese, back at 1.7 times average family income. That's also one could argue not all the same as average Indians, Chinese, Japanese or Koreans here either, but, as to White Privilege, they earn more on average than whites, who themselves vary a good bit among themselves because of where in Europe they come from.
Being white isn't so simple either.
Very insightful and well-reasoned post, kosher salami. I'm sorry it took me so long to find you and read your work. Rated for sanity.
(My apologies for the hi-jack Kosh)

Nerd, your head is going to hurt even MORE - because it's far more complicated than simply "on res" or "off res"... Part of it is legislative and part of it is whether you are a member of the tribe, which is based on straight percentages.

Nerd asked: "do these rules apply "specifically to residents of reservations or all Indians?" From a legal perspective, if you are a legal member of a tribe you are a ward of the federal government. Period. Regardless of where you live. I could live in BumFuk, Egypt (a nice little oasis out in the desert, might I add) and so long as I am legally a member of the tribe I am a ward of the US government and specifically under the "care and control" of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Sucks to be me but I have lived with this particular reality my entire life and frankly I'm used to the headaches (and boy are there headaches at times).

Straight percentages - in order to qualify as a member of most tribes in the US one must have documented proof of ancestry which adds up to 1/8th. I am slightly more than 1/4 (Lakota from my mother's father, Chippewa [from Canada] from my mother's mother) Native American/First Nations. My husband is 1/2. Our children therefore are "more Indian" (slightly more than 3/8) than I am however; unless my children/grandchildren produce children which are registered with the tribe on both sides (mother and father) my grandchildren will be the LAST generation to be able to LEGALLY be called Native American/American Indian. Unless of course the laws change - again.

Nerd said: "There is also resentment of certain rights Indians have to fish and gather wild rice. I think those apply to tribal members but again, I only know from the standpoint of complaining white people who think it matters that "none of them are purebred anymore anyway.""

This one is a bit more difficult. Native American/American Indian hunting and fishing rights are NOT based on legislation - they are based, almost exclusively, on the 1864 Treaty of Fort Laramie AND on Supreme Court rulings which affirmed the legality of the treaty in question. That is, they are rights specifically negotiated by treaties between governments.

That said: One must be a member of the tribe on a tribally owned or licensed vessel in order to LEGALLY harvest fish, game or wild rice while using that particular recognized right. My own problem with that particular negotiated right could fill volumes BUT I will condense it down to a couple of sentences. First: the original intent was *subsistence* fishing/hunting/harvesting - that is, the rights were negotiated specifically so that tribal members could eat, clothe themselves, etc... as an alternative to starving to death or freezing to death. Second: (and more important from MY perspective) There is nothing in any of the record which shows it was ever intended to be for any purpose other than subsistence. Today, in many instances, these rights are NOT used for subsistence but rather as a means of commercial commerce. I have a problem with that - and it is one which I have debated with dozens of other Native Americans/American Indians to no avail. MY feeling is that if it is going to be used for a COMMERCIAL purpose then the people using it NEED to obtain a commercial fishing license and engage in sustainable harvesting. Unfortunately, for many, the feeling is that the loophole is present and so long as it IS present (and it *can't* be taken away legislatively because it's part of a TREATY between governments) it will be used. From MY perspective commercial harvesting using that particular loophole is unethical - it is (effectively) "speaking with forked tongue"... "wasicun."

Nerd said: "that Indians are not "pure" matters in the case of access to resources. Otherwise, if they look Indian, they're Indian."

A very wise man, circa 1864, made the statement that so long as one possessed ONE DROP of Indian AND they LIVED their lives as Indians... they ARE Indians. Regardless of "how much" ancestry they could count. He was a shaman - a holy man. He was also part white which makes his being both a shaman and a great hero to "the people" even more remarkable. You know him by the name "Crazy Horse"... We call him Tȟašúŋke Witkó (English spelling: Thasunjke Witko).

I believe he was correct. I believe so long as one believes that everything between "Mother Earth" and "Father Sky" belongs to ALL of the inhabitants (collectively), one lives their lives caring for ALL of those inhabitants *AND* one is "ONE DROP" they qualify as an Indian. I don't care about percentages - I care about whether or not we are (a) taking care of one another and our fellow, non-human, travelers on this ball of dust and (b) whether we are doing so in a manner which ensures the survival of Mother Earth and Father Sky. Seems pretty simple to me.

Nerd said: "I find it confusing, too."

You aren't the ONLY one... I have to live with all of the rules and stupidity and it confuses ME at times too!
All I'm going to say here, Ms. Raptor is holy shit. That and you should blog more about what it means to be an Indian. (and I just assume my neighbors are 100% because they look it and all their family looks it and grandma spoke Ojibwe and so on ... and I have less and less tolerance for hair splitting as I age ...) back to you, Kosh. ;-)
When an ethnically diverse, polyglot country continues to stew in the dirty excrement of ethnic tension, bad things invariably happen.

Good articles in the NY Times today about Bosnia and the Former Yugoslavia.

What upsets me the most, is that the America's diversity, and the discord it often causes, is often used by the elite to divide us, such that we have a very hard time finding common ground on economic and social issues.

The quickest way to destroy the Occupy movement would be to get everybody divided on the basis of race and religion and to start fighting each-other.

Are there any examples in history that we can learn from, in terms of diverse countries overcoming these tensions and getting their people to unite in order to advance the common good?
This is so brilliant it makes me want to cry. There are a number of people here in Atlanta who have been offering training classes on racism for corporations (at least that was true back when corporations pretended to care about race relations in the workplace and such.) These trainers were always black. Whenever I sat in such a class, a fight would break out because a white person in the group would feel as if s/he was being blamed. Retorts like "why am I having to pay for the things my ancesters did? I've never done anything like that!" would then create a similar boisterous response from some of the black members of the group. I always felt that if someone who is NOT black could grasp the concepts of the differences between racism and racial prejudice, for example, and he or she could say it with as much conviction as the black trainers did, we might be able to get somewhere. This is what you have done here.

The problem is that no one who is inclined to resist the truth about racism in the world is going to be inclined to read this post, at least not after they figure where you are heading with the premise. How do we stop preaching to the choir? By making a difference, one bigot at a time, through our own individual behavior and a boatload of pure patience.

We all have to remember that those who are racist are just as firm in their beliefs as we are in ours. I don't think the majority of them see themselves as anything but rational and sane. They think of themselves as just as "correct" as we do. So, the only way to break through the haze is through the last portion of this great essay. Speak to them in a language they can hear. The continuation of systemic racism in America is too costly to continue.

WHY THIS ISN'T AN EP IS BEYOND ME!

Lezlie
ONL, Thank you

Mrs. Raptor (with questioning assistance from nerd cred),
Thank you both. Mrs. R in particular, thank you for the education, in both comments.

Blaming the victim is a normal part of racism. I'm afraid it isn't remotely exclusive to American Indians. Legislative Racism, on the other hand, I think is exclusive to American Indians at this point in our history, and I don't know how to untangle it because it's based on treaties, putting your minority in a very different position from others. Of course, how Black people got to their current targeted status was from an initial dose of Legislative Racism that made all others pale in comparison - slavery. They faced some forms of it until the 1960's in the the form of limited voting, Jim Crow laws/American apartheid, and legal restrictions on marrying Whites that lasted longer than the other examples. It was a different form of Legislative Racism and there isn't any of that blatantly left, but it was there. Now the main minority other than yours that faces Legislative Racism isn't a racial minority or even an ethnic minority: Gays. This is not to minimize persecution of American Indians; it's just to say that some of the tools in the toolbox weren't only applied to your project, though the Ward of the State aspect certainly was.

Onislandtime, Thank you

Thoth,
Don't kid yourself about Europeans and ethnic tolerance. They are in many respects worse than we are. It's easy to be tolerant when minorities are tiny, far more difficult when those minorities are big enough to constitute real competition for employment. Also keep in mind that Europeans often view their national identities in ethnic terms - they don't always consider immigrants to be real nationals. We actually do a better job of integrating immigrants here because we don't have a connection between ethnicity and national identity, aside from American Indians, who unfortunately are extremely marginalized and so don't qualify from the standpoint of influencing the integration of immigrants. Also, when Europeans get serious about ethnic intolerance, they get really serious, as demonstrated by what the Serbs did to the Bosnians during the Clinton administration or, if you want to go back a few extra decades, what the Nazis did to us among others.

Don,
I make the point that Whites are very far from monolithic, though frankly I think Black median income is probably lower than any White ethnic population. In this case, however, I should draw the distinction between two Black ethnic groups in the US, because the smaller of the two, those of Caribbean ancestry, actually do better than White median in income and education.

In terms of Asians, I address part of that in the italics section at the top, specifically in the part I wrote due to Safe Bet's Amy's influence. Asians actually do encounter economic discrimination here and I explain that there.

Erica,
Glad you found me but finding people on OS is frequently an accident. This post was written because I accidentally found Chauncey DeVega a few days ago.

Mrs Raptor Take Two:
I don't consider it a hijacking. We need the education desperately.

Rw,
It's been done but I don't know how long it's been done for successfully. In the US, we've actually gotten better about this over time. Canada has done it but at times moved backward; the same I think is true of Belgium. Switzerland I think has held it together longest, being as they consist of four language groups. In the pre-European Americas, the Iroquois did it.

Lezlie,
Thank you. I got the concept of White Privilege and a lot of the data I source my assumptions from, plus the statistical explanation about racism toward Asians, from Tim Wise, which is why I credit him at the beginning of the post. Most of the analysis and all of the way it's organized is my own - the steps just occurred to me as I wrote this; they weren't preplanned at all.

In terms of EP's: As a rule, I don't get them. I don't know why but I don't bitch about that because I have a free place to blog and the editors don't owe me anything, nor in truth do I write to please them. Since I've been on OS, which I think is now a little over two years, I've gotten two EP's, one for a piece I'm proud of (about the Ground Zero Mosque) and the other for what was in essence a single catchy concept, I think the piece was called Restocking The Lake. I have no way of figuring that particular mystery out and I'm not going to worry about it. I have zero complaints about the amount of respect I get from my peers here, which is what I actually value.

"Speak to them in a language they can hear" is pretty much how I approach everything political or economic I write. It is exactly my premise. My posts are meant primarily as conceptual tools when talking to the opposition; preaching to the choir isn't sufficiently useful and, frankly, isn't sufficiently challenging either.

Seer,
Thank you. Yes, people believe really weird stuff. ("Stuff" is not the word I'd use interpersonally.) Some of it is based on a lack of information or, perhaps more accurately, the presence of inaccurate information; some of it is based on a failure to think issues through. This post has one example of that: When people say that Affirmative Action has gone too far and that Black people find it easier to get jobs than White people do, it would take so little observation and analysis to realize that that couldn't possibly be true but, because the belief is so convenient to hold, they don't bother with the tiny extra effort it would take to realize just how idiotic that contention is. It's one of those contentions like "homosexuality is a choice." Tell that to the kid who's about to commit suicide because of his. (Damn, I wish I'd come up with that line sooner!)

Anyway, glad not to disappoint, and thank you.
Kosh, I honestly believe, in the case of Native Americans/American Indians it would be easier from a societal perspective if there was an across the board "in order to be considered an Indian you must be X%." Unfortunately there isn't and it has led to much confusion on the part of both the general public and those of us who are Indians as well. For instance: there ARE variations on what is considered to be a member of the tribes from a legal perspective. The "average" is 1/8 however there are tribes which do not consider you to be a member of the tribe if you are less than 1/4 (Such as the Sault Saint Marie Band of Chippewa Indians in Northern Michigan) and others which consider you to be a member of the tribe at 1/32 (such as the Cherokee of Oklahoma).

Some require you to have a direct ancestor listed on the Dawes Rolls (such as the Sault Saint Marie Band of Chippewa) whilst others do not. In fact, until recently, because of a treaty between the Cherokee and the US Government, one did not need to be Cherokee at all in order to be a member of the tribe legally. Called the "Cherokee Freedmen," they could be a member of the tribe if they were direct descendants of the slaves which the Cherokee possessed at the time of the end of the Civil War and not have a single drop of Cherokee ancestry.

A bit of historical fact is that Pocahontas and her (white) husband (whose name escapes me) had one child. Their child had one child. Their grandchild had six children. And so it goes until there are roughly a million people in the United States today who are able to state factually they are direct lineal descendants of Pocahontas. The same can be said for Sacajawea, though more than a century separates the two women. However; in both cases, today it amounts to the statistical equivalent of being descended from Charlemagne.

The confusion, both without the Native American/American Indian community as to what gives an individual the ability to legally be called an "Indian" only adds to the difficulties caused by both treaties AND legislative racism. Sadly, I cannot see a solution although I do have to say that IF the United States (the ONLY "hold out" at this point) would ratify UNDRIP (the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People) it would go a LONG way to rectifying the Legislative Discrimination Native Americans/American Indians have faced. Unfortunately, the US has "issues" with some of what is in UNDRIP because part of what is there is there specifically BECAUSE of things BY the US government TO Native Americans/Americans Indians, such as the Dawes Act.
What's the Dawes Act ?
Oh my Wiccan Goddesses, how I despise you liberals. I read your essay and the comments and all I can say is...thank Bibi and the Likud in Zion that the probability of the Israeli military strike on the Iranian nuke facilities continues to go UP, and that the economic fallout will 'starve the beast' in the US, meaning that the resulting accelerating public sector budget deficits here will finally force some dimantling of the Great Society entitlements still extant, such as Medicaid. Finally! Thank you Bibi! And so all this maturbatory prattling about racism and white privilege, etc. will finally be asphyxiated by the overpowering exigencies of the New Economic Reality, once Israel attacks. Many conservatives are on their knees, praying to whatever Pig Gods we believe in, to usher in this New Era. You should read my post on 'What Israel Is Afraid Of', if you haven't already...wink
The Dawes Act was passed in 1887 and it provided the basis of the legal relationship between the Federal Government and the Tribes until fairly recently.

The purpose of the Dawes Act was to remove "sovereign nation" status from the Indians. It ordered a census be taken of the Indians and assigned an arbitrary amount of land to each individual. It also removed the vast majority of lands guaranteed to Indians by treaty and opened them for settlement by whites. The mechanism for doing this was called an "allotment" and for people who believed land was owned by "all the people" rather than by individuals it was an absolute disaster. What made it far worse though was that the federal government retained the mineral rights "in perpetuity" to ALL Reservation lands - allegedly for the purpose of "offsetting" (as we call it today) the cost to the public of "civilizing the savages."

The last thing the Dawes Act did is, in my opinion, the most heinous - it authorized the removal of all "Indian" children over a specific age from the tribes and placed them in what were called "Indian Boarding Schools" with the specific intent of "killing the Indian without killing the man". Between 1887 when the Dawes Act was passed and 1978 when the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed (ICWA [though rarely followed by the states] specifically prohibits removal of Native American children from their homes UNLESS the foster home they are being sent to is ALSO Native American) more than a million children were removed from the reservations, stripped of their cultural identity and their language, forced to take "white" names, allowed no contact with their families of origin (and in MOST cases were informed weeks after they arrived at the boarding schools that their families had died of "the fever"),etc... Of those children more than 10% were killed while in the custody of the (primarily Catholic) church. Most of those children are either buried in unmarked graves or are buried in mass graves - without their families ever being informed they had died.

Reparations FOR that particular Act are *required* under UNDRIP - which is WHY the US will never be a signatory to UNDRIP. At least not so long as most of the United States remains woefully ignorant of the history involved.
JP,
Read your post. Interesting advertisement you wrote here for it.

Mrs. Raptor,
Thank you. I've got to get my education from somewhere.
I have never understood racism. I was raised in a very racist area. in fact, in an area (my zip code) almost entirely Democratic, more people voted for McCain last election because they didn't want to vote for Obama because he is half black. It just never made any sense to me. And, I am glad it didn't. One thing is to stand up and say something when people make racist comments - don't just let it slide. I have de-friended people on facebook for posting stuff about Obama that is technically political, but actually racist. Thanks for posting on this delicate subject.
Wren Dancer,
No problem. I didn't expect to be writing this. I accidentally saw a post by a guy I'd never read before and realized I had things to add.
Kosher writes: "If you object to Reverse Discrimination but not to White Privilege, you’re responsible for racism."

How, pray tell, does one "object" to White Privilege? If I get a job, is that evidence of White Privilege? If I shop at a store without incident, is that evidence of White Privilege? How does one detect White Privilege?

What I find most astonishing about this post and the comments is the total lack of any mention of personal responsibility. The idea that people should study hard? That they should work hard? That they should not break laws? Totally absent from this post and comments.

Kosher: " . . . what’s not acceptable is coming up with a solution that’s strictly based on class and ignores race, because the data indicates that racism is a problem in and of itself, class aside."

Affirmative Action is a "solution" that ignores class and is based only on race. The result is that the children of a black doctor and president Obama's daughters are given preference over the children of a white janitor.
Mishima,
I don't like repeating myself, but OK. You said:

" How, pray tell, does one "object" to White Privilege? If I get a job, is that evidence of White Privilege? If I shop at a store without incident, is that evidence of White Privilege?"

I said in the post:

"Does all this mean some of us are at fault for being White? Of course not; I’m not suggesting that any more than I’m suggesting that we should all walk into a store and demand to be followed around by the store detective. Nor am I suggesting that you have to be racist to benefit from White Privilege; in fact, let me be more blatant about that: You don’t have to be racist to benefit from White Privilege."

I thought this point was sort of obvious but it might not have been, so I'll be a little more blatant about it:

The problem isn't who benefits from White Privilege, the problem is who doesn't. The problem is that these privileges can be classified as privileges at all.

What do I suggest you do about that? I actually numbered my suggestions. I came up with five of them. In case you have any trouble finding them, I put them all in bold print.

So Affirmative Action bothers you because, while addressing a problem, it isn't completely equitable. Agreed. Actually, I stated that it wasn't perfect in my post. However, you haven't answered the question posed there, which is: If you don't like Affirmative Action, what do you suggest that will address the negative effects of racism? If you're going to come up with a solution that is 100% class-based, I get to ask you a mirror of the same question you asked me, which is: How do you address the issue of Blacks and Whites of the same class, with the same income, and with equivalent credit histories getting unequal access to loans and different interest rates when they get access? Addressing the problem imperfectly does us more good than not addressing the problem at all. If the argument is that we have to get it perfect, that's like saying that we should let poor kids starve because someone might game the system. I'm not married to Affirmative Action but we need a solution that actually addresses racism. (Let me know if you hear of any Affirmative Action programs that the President's kids take advantage of.)

Affirmative Action may not address class, but Affirmative Action isn't the only program out there. There are others that take income into account.

Personal responsibility? Actually, 100% of this post is about personal responsibility. Is your point that the minority in question finds itself in its current position through an extraordinary lack of effort on the part of its members to change it? Just make sure you've really, really made yourself aware of the whole obstacle set before you reach that conclusion, and that you've actually examined data that leads to that conclusion as opposed to anecdotal evidence. However, that being said, I'll try to address your point more directly:

I am not saying that the population in question should sit back and wait for us to fix their problems; nor, in all fairness, are they. I am not saying that, for example, Black criminals are innocent due to the racism they face. I am not saying that their behavior is justifiable; it is, however, predictable. If a set of factors leads to a predictable result and you don't like that result, either work on eliminating the factors or don't complain about the result. Not every obstacle encountered by this minority is necessarily external but enough of them are, and enough of those are either exclusive to this minority or close to it, that responsibility is at the very least a two-way street. I actually addressed this point also in the post, giving two reasons why it is worth our while to shoulder a portion of that responsibility.
Thanks for the clarification. It seemed to me that you were addressing two different topics -- "if you want to get rid of racism" (detailed in the numbered list) and "objecting to white privilege (which appeared to me to be a separate but related issue).

Where to start . . . . Affirmative action can take many forms, some of which I object to and some of which I agree with. When affirmative action involves giving racial minorities an absolute preference over white applicants, I object to that. I think that degrades everyone involved -- both the people who are passed over and the people who are selected merely because of their race.

But if we're taking about AA in terms of outreach to minority applicants, such as advertising job opportunities in publications widely read by minority applicants, I think that's a great idea and something we should do. If we're talking about educating hiring managers and monitoring hiring practices to ensure that qualified minority applicants are not being passed over because of race, I approve of that too. There are all sorts of things that can be done that don't involve racial preferences, but affirmative action is typically associated with racial preference.

I don't like the idea of "white privilege" because it's often demeaning and insulting to the individuals to which it is applied. For example, my father had to drop out of school when he was 15 years old to help support the family when his father was murdered, leading to a life of low-paying jobs as a cook and bartender. By the time he retired my father was so crippled up from having his foot run over by a food cart that he had difficulty walking, and then he died, used up and worn out, less than a year after retiring. But the label "white privilege" gets pinned on him as if he were George Bush or Mitt Romney.

No doubt my father did not face the same obstacles and suffering that black men of that era faced, but he had HIS OWN obstacles and suffering. The concept of "white privilege" in effect ranks the suffering of individuals, and asks us to conclude that the suffering of people in certain racial groups is more significant and debilitating than the suffering of white people. "White privilege" presumes that what is true of the group must be true of the individual, and it is at the level of the individual that affirmative action operates (in its incarnation as racial preference), as some individuals must be held back so that others can move forward.

We can improve the lives of people in so many ways that don't require racial preference, and were we to do those things we would have a much better society -- not a perfect society but a better society, and perhaps even a good society.
Mishima,
There is no implication contained in White Privilege that all Whites are better off than all Blacks. There is also no implication that White Privilege encompasses the totality of economic advantages. I think you're generalizing the issue into something it's not.

White Privilege means, in the instance you discuss, that racism was not among the obstacles your father faced. Given what you've said, I'd say that's a fair assessment.

Let's say, for example, that your father was due to certain preferential treatment as a result of an injury-related disability because of his foot. (I don't know if this is true - I'm using a hypothetical.) That would have made sense. Better yet, let's flip this and say that there were people who wouldn't have hired your father because of how he looked when he walked, even if the job wasn't dependent on walking in functional terms. There are certainly issues about hiring the handicapped. (I'm familiar with how such things work at younger ages because my recently deceased son had cerebral palsy.) In comparison, that would mean that I was able to take advantage of Typically Abled Privilege.

"Privilege" in this case is not a reference to some sort of elite status. Actually, because Privilege in both these cases applies to the majority of the population, it can't, because the problem is upside down - the real issue is that various populations have what I might refer to under these circumstances as Anti-Elite Status, but that concept isn't useful enough because it doesn't address our status.

As I go through this, I think I see your objection. White Privilege doesn't mean that your father was Privileged in a Romney sense; it's just a way of expressing that there were certain difficulties he didn't have to put up with that others did for no other reason than having been born Black. That bears correcting. It's a far bigger and more intense set of difficulties than most people acknowledge; it's costly to America in general in all sorts of ways, many of which I didn't get into; and it's fundamentally unjust. I'm saying it's necessary to address it - not attempt to address it by addressing a somewhat related issue that isn't as related as people generallly give it credit for, but to address it directly. I don't care how; I care that whatever approach we take is effective at addressing this particular problem.
White Privilege - You make some sound arguments Kosher but if I was rwnutjob I would ask you about Affirmative Action negating those arguments. Hell Kosher we have an Affirmative Action President. It has hardly resulted in a “functional overcorrection” unless you consider it a function to propagate White racism as a defense compensation.

I just need to say that the following around the store thing came up just the other day when a Pakistani attendant followed around my friend. I don’t think you would have approved of the way my friend handled it. Even I didn’t.

You keep citing prison statistics Kosher, and rightfully so. But I was in prison and I can tell you most of the Blacks (and Hispanics and Whites) that were in there were there because of Americas demented drug laws. Ron Paul wanted to abolish those laws or at least head in that direction. How many Black people supported him?

“I’m not saying that to object to Affirmative Action or Reverse Discrimination is to automatically be racist.”

I hope not because I do and I must. Racism is racism no matter how you would like to package it. There are far better ways to amalgamate the Black Man into mainstream American culture than “functional overcorrection”. Lets start by improving the urban cesspools which “our” treasonous politicians euphemistically call schools. They are the real terrorist training camps. Everybody in America should have read ‘Push’ by now. How many have? We could then seal our borders and stop giving their jobs to foreigners because those foreigners require less compensation.

I have three simple solutions toward eliminating what you rightfully call a “permanent underclass”.

Eliminate the drug laws!

Give them a real education!

Seal the borders!

Try those, no pandering liberal artificial guilt necessary.
Jack,
Actually, the first two of those would take a huge chunk out of the problem and I happen to favor both, for a whole lot of reasons. I don't think the third is anywhere near as significant, but that's another discussion. (See later in the comment.)

I don't think Affirmative Action is "functional overcorrection;" if anything, I think it's functional undercorrection, but at least it's correction. Still, at this point I think I'd go so far as to say that the first two steps you describe would accomplish more, a lot more, than Affirmative Action currently is, though I don't view it as an either/or proposition.

The problem with schools is that they're locally funded. Even George F. Will has come around to realizing that they needed to be funded on a State level to solve the problem because of radically unequal tax bases. In terms of drug laws, legalizing drugs, regulating them, and treating drug use as a disease rather than a crime would shift things for the better so radically I can't begin to estimate it. We spend a fortune on enforcement and give organized crime a vehicle to make a fortune. The other way, we'd have a fraction of the prison population, we'd actually make money on what are now illegal drugs, and we'd cut off all that funding from organized crime, saving us even more in law enforcement costs. We'd address racism in two respects:

1. When you live in a slum and don't have an available way to make a legal living, you often turn to an illegal one, and those living in slums are disproportionately funneled by financial circumstances into the trade that lands them in prison.

2. Laws that look race neutral really aren't, particularly the differences in penalties between crack cocaine and other forms - crack is more prevalent among some minority populations and crack's penalties are something like triple other forms.

You might consider this a third or part of the first: Black people make up a hugely disproportionate percentage of the prison population, and drug laws are the biggest reason why.

Why not Ron Paul? Because Ron Paul has too much of a racist history and is off the wall in too many other directions. I respect one thing about him, though: The Libertarians are at least consistent. If they believe in a principle, they'll follow that principle wherever it leads. That's really where mainstream conservativism has fallen down: they've gotten way too subjective. If you want the Government out of our lives, that would lead you to reducing drug laws and also to permitting gay marriage, but these guys aren't driven by logic. I think there are factual things Ron Paul gets wrong, particularly when it comes to money, but he at least tries to make sense, which is why I think the followers he has are loyal.

Buckley's gone. The GOP of fifteen years ago is mostly gone, back when guys like Bob Dole and John McCain were in their prime, wanted to make things work, and worked with the other side. Hell, I'd have been tempted to vote for Jack Kemp. I'm still sorry that a still green Hillary Clinton didn't have enough sense to compromise on health care with Dole or we'd have had a solution nearly 20 years ago.

Illegal immigration isn't a function of open borders; it's a function of our chasing the immigrants themselves instead of the people employing them. It's like having a leaky basement: the solution isn't to seal the walls, it's to grade the water away from your house, because if your walls encounter unequal pressure, leaks are pretty much a matter of time, so reduce the pressure. If you have a starving population on one side of a border and available employment on the other, people will get across. The solution is to reduce the available employment so they aren't desperate to cross the border in the first place, not to shoot at poor people trying to make a living. We're trying to have our cake and eat it by complaining about illegal immigration while not wanting to alienate the influential people employing them. If we were serious, we'd go after employers, and the problem would stop.
Mishima and Jack,
Further comments to both of you:

Mishima,
Your statement that ' "White privilege" presumes that what is true of the group must be true of the individual' is accurate and is exactly the problem with Affirmative Action. The trouble is that what is true of the group is too major to ignore. To use a really odd metaphor: AA is a little like chemotherapy - in order to take out cancer cells, you poison the whole body because the cancer cells are that big a problem. (AA's consequences aren't nearly as systemically wide as chemo's.) I'd rather have a more accurate weapon. If you come up with one, let me know.

Jack,
Your solution actually has a major advantage I didn't mention: A more educated Black population and a much smaller Black prison population would presumably reduce racism by reducing the cues leading to stereotypes. That effect might be substantial. Not comprehensive, but substantial.
Hey Kosher I don’t know about “racism” but Ron Paul’s ideas certainly are crackpot. Timinglogic just wrote a good short essay pointing out why

http://open.salon.com/blog/timinglogic/2012/05/02/dallas_federal_reserve_doesnt_relent_bust_up_too_big_to_fail

All that said. He should have been supported for his stance on the drug laws alone, let alone his vow to rein in the Imperial armies.
Jack,
That may have been enough in terms of policy if:
1. We trust the guy to handle the office, and
2. We think he had a chance in Hell of getting that through Congress
"Having a permanent underclass is expensive." One reason that the white majority should worry about this issue is that the percentage of whites in the underclass is growing steadily which should concern the increasingly threatened middle class. Also, as the underclass grows the truly privileged wealthy white elite will have no one to pay the bills. This appears to be the real reason behind the attack on "entitlements".
Prisons have increasingly been privatized creating great wealth for those who own and run them, but as the underclass grows there will be no one to pay for the incarcerations.
Nicely done piece that succeeded in pulling a lot of things together into a coherent case. R