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View Diary: Is Race a Problem for the Left? (338 comments)

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  •  I think it is hard (5+ / 0-)

    to move forward in attacking racism because for most white people living  in fairly typical circumstances for whtie people, there are not blatant racist acts happening in front of them on a daily basis.  No separate lunch counters, no legally segregated schools, no neighborhood meetings to consider if it would be ok for a 'different' kind of neighbor to move in before the real estate agent would even show the house, no public use of the 'n' word, black faces appear regularly in sports and on tv as something other than a servant.

    Black population, as a percentage of total population, hasn't varied that much in my lifetime.  But the visibility and mobility of African Americans in public places, jobs, casual social interactions has grown tremendously, less in my small town where I now reside, but even here.  But it is still incredibly restricted compared to where and what white people do and go and restricted even in comparison to where the more recently arrived hispanic population does and where they go.  Job opportunities are still restricted for both groups, creating their own tensions for two demographic groups competing for the same jobs, housing, etc.  surrounded and circumsribed by the still at this point, larger white population.  And make no mistake, the vast majority of the white population is still latently, and frequently blatantly racist.  But there are prejudices and bigotries between the two minority populations as well.

    Compared to the locals who won't let go of their racial prejudices at all, just change their public behavior, liberals here have wiped out a lot of their prejudices from their daily actions.   But it is still more likely a white child will have a hispanic friend accepted by their familly than a black friend.  Few adults have significant cross ethnic group friendships.

    Since I seem to have a knack of getting people to tell me stuff without asking questions, and I don't shut out opportunities based on a person's skin colors, I hear people's points of view a lot more than many people.

    I think the liberals are working on eliminating their presumptions, at recognizing white privilege in institutional and public settings but still by virtue of being white, they also accept all those privileges.  I never walk in the front door of a restaurant and say, treat me like I am black, don't be more polite, more attentive because I am white.  I never walk in a store and say, follow me around like I was black because you automatically believe I came here to steal.   I do tend to go to places where I know black people will be treated well and there are some where any acts or comments are well disguised.

    But I am not unaware that the people of color get to be the bus boys, the cook or prep cook or dishwasher in the back, and the servers are white almost everywhere.   That there are few black retail workers in the mall (which is mostly empty as larger chains and malls have emptied out the local businesses and trade) or any of the higher end retail soft goods stores.

    Blacks and hispanics, by virtue of lack of educational opportunity tend to have the lowest level jobs even at larger employers who have personnel policies that favor more equitable hiring practices.   Minority kids rarely have the opportunity to delay being employed full time or affording tuition at the larger universities for a four year degree in comparison to white kids.   They suffer from the war on drugs,  having convictions more than the white kids for being caught with marijuana and other drugs.  Its a small town, you get to talk to people and name names of whose kid got off.

    White privilege comes in so many shapes and sizes.  And if you are white, you get it whether you seek it or not.  It really isn't about turning down the privilege, it is far too ubiquitous.   What white liberals have to do, is acknowledge that we have a lot of work to do in eliminating it by pushing for better opportunity, more education, more public awareness, cleaning up the hidden but very real racism of our justice system.

    We can't change anybody's color.  We can, over time and with effort, change whether color means long term economic and social depravation.   We aren't doing enough.

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