Friday, July 10, 2015

If racism is the irrational fear of another race then rational fear cannot be racism

“I would never trade the [Confederate] flag for a single job,”
Benny Huang quotes Andrew Young as saying, as the nation’s first black ambassador to the United Nations "urged his fellow blacks to get some perspective on the symbol and to turn their attention to more pressing matters."
“The problems we face don’t have anything to do with the flag. The fact is that 93% of black people killed are killed by other black people. So black lives matter. Let us start believing that we matter.”

It’s become something of a cliché on the Right, in the wake of the many black deaths involving police, to point out that far more black people are killed each year by other black people than by cops of any color or by racist terrorists like Dylann Roof. It’s a valid point, and one that I think most blacks understand, even if they’d prefer not to hear it from conservative white people. That’s unfortunate because the arcane rules of who’s allowed to say what are truly counterproductive, not to mention racist. Truth is truth, regardless of the speaker.

The facts are shocking and undeniable. FBI crime statistics reveal that 2,491 black people were murdered in this country in 2013, the latest year for which statistics are available. A full 90% (2,245) were murdered by other black people. That statistic is not an anomaly. A study of murder statistics in the thirty years between 1976 and 2005 found that 90% of black murder victims were killed by other blacks. Furthermore, blacks are eight times more likely to be murdered than whites. Black people murdered by other black people represented about 39% of all murders in the United States in 2013, despite the fact that blacks represent only about 13% of the population.

And black people know this. Even the pompous “Reverend” Jesse Jackson has admitted his fear of blacks. Said Jackson in 1993: “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery—then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”

 … But don’t make the mistake of assuming that anyone can discuss black-on-black violence just because blacks themselves do. It’ still racist when you do it. It’s important to punish any white (or non-black) person who speaks out of turn. Otherwise, people might start to get the idea that associating black people with violence is rational.

If racism is the irrational fear of another race then rational fear cannot be racism. This is important to keep in mind when discussing, for example, the “white flight” phenomenon of the 1960’s and 1970’s. According to popular mythology, white people couldn’t tolerate living in “diverse” neighborhoods because of an irrational fear of The Other so they fled to the suburbs. That’s a deliberate distortion of what really happened. Yes, middle class white families sold their homes in droves, to the detriment of the cities they left behind, but those people wanted to stay in their neighborhoods. They were driven out. Urban America’s white refugees just didn’t want to spend their lives in an endlessly looping scene from “Boyz N the Hood.” Who can blame them?

Plenty of people, actually. Some of them are even white liberals who themselves live in the poshest of suburbs, but many are black. If you don’t want to be a white minority in a violent black neighborhood, you are an insufferable bigot, or so they say.

Black-on-black violence is no secret among blacks. It’s white people who feel the most uncomfortable discussing it, always looking over their shoulders to see who’s listening. There is a stiff social penalty to pay for white people (or non-black people) who engage in candid discussions about race and violence. Afraid of being called a racist, people pretend that violence is a commodity evenly distributed among the population. It’s a coercive mass delusion that demands all non-black people join in.