Author Topic: DM22  (Read 11426 times)

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Offline Daen

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« on: February 15, 2022, 07:31:38 AM »
Daen's Musings # 22

In an earlier Musing, I ranted about a preacher who injected politics into his sermon, which I heard during my morning commute. I've been listening to that radio station more intently ever since, and I'm pleased to report that that particular sermon seemed to be a one-off. Ever since, other than in ad breaks, the preachers have kept to a biblical theme, and not a political one.

However, I've also been listening in the evening, to the same station. At night, it's a very different story. There's very little preaching, but a ton of talking about politics. Tonight's topic was abortion, when I turned the radio on, but it rapidly switched to critical race theory.

I've been putting this off for a while now, but I figure it's not something I should avoid any longer. So here it is: this is the race one.

I'm a white person, living in America. That carries with it a whole set of cultural and financial conditions, over which I have virtually no control. It also puts blinders on me, as to just what is experienced by black people. Especially when they deal with overt racism from authority figures. I fully recognize that. I might as well be a desert turtle trying to understand what it feels like to swim. I just needed to get that out there, right from the start.

On the radio, two people were talking about CRT as if it was invented by the devil himself. They spoke about how schoolkids are being taught to hate themselves, and America itself by extension, because of critical race theory.

I wanted to shout at the radio at that point. CRT isn't being taught to little kids! It's a college curriculum, at the earliest! The people putting it forward understand that kids might not be able to separate their own identities from the identity of their society. I mean the radio personalities sounded fully adult, and they certainly couldn't.

Recognizing the massive influence that slavery and then systemic racism has had on our history, our culture, and our attitude, is not the same as hating America. And yes, I'm aware that I mentioned my feelings towards America and all other nations in a previous Musing. This isn't about that. Studying our racial history critically is about improving our country, not dismantling it. Understanding how people with my skin color have benefitted, and are still benefitting from, the centuries-old oppression of people with a different skin color, is not the same as hating myself, or people who look like me. Those radio personalities, along with a ton of other people, are confusing understanding our history, with undermining our history. Basically, like the fictional kids they're so intent on protecting, they've tied their own identities into the history of this country.

It's easy to understand why that is. We practically worship America here in America. We have huge swaths of our population who think of denigrating the Founding Fathers, or the documents they wrote, or the military that protects the nation they founded, or the ideals of that nation- any of it- as straight up blasphemy. Because we naturally want to think the best of ourselves, and because we're raised to think the best of our country, it's only natural that many of us would start to conflate the two. I am myself, but I am also my country. If you insult my country, you're insulting me.

That's so childish, though! One of the hardest parts about growing up is recognizing that the things we thought of as infallible, or unequaled in virtue, or timeless in the extreme, aren't quite as wonderful as we assumed. Even the worst parent is still adored by very young children. It takes them growing up a little to recognize the faults in that parent, and even then it's a difficult process.

America is like a parent to us. When we're little, we are taught about how America broke away from its own 'father', and moved out, so to speak. Just so that everyone living in America could be free and independent. We're taught about how those first Pilgrims broke bread with the Wampanoag people, in friendship and cooperation. We're taught about the intrepid Columbus risked his life and those of his people in an exploratory mission across an assumedly infinite sea.

It's not until later, if at all, that we learn the whole truth. That America won its freedom, but only for some of its people, and that those same people denied freedom to others just because it benefited them. That the modern-day Wampanoags think of Thanksgiving as a day of mourning, and not thanks. That Columbus claimed the land he found, and took the locals as slaves to send back to Europe. If we taught these full truths to kids at the same time, we might end up with wiser adults.

Those radio people were talking about systemic racism as if it doesn't exist. They describe 'leftists' and the 'woke mob' and 'cultural Marxists' like literal demons who are trying to destroy our very way of life. And the thing is, some of them actually believe that! Not because it makes sense- actually following evidence means nothing anymore, it seems. No, they believe these terrible things because to admit that there really are these problems in American society would be to admit... that they were wrong.

That's what it all really boils down to, isn't it? Our stubbornness. We're raised to be right. Always, without fail. We're raised to be strong. Always, without fail. We're raised to be uncompromising. Always... you get the picture. If one white guy can't admit that some of his prosperity is the result of his ancestors owning black people, it might be because he just doesn't want to admit that he was wrong. If one older lady can't admit that her choice for president turned out to be a corrupt, womanizing, thin-skinned, narcissistic, childish, foolish-

huff huff huff

I got off topic again there, but at least I caught it early this time. If she can't admit that her choice was wrong, maybe it's because she feels that her choice was reflective of her very person. If she chose wrong, then maybe there's something wrong with her, she fears.

Systemic racism is still everywhere, despite a constant push towards ending it. I could cite the statistics, but as I said before, evidence doesn't seem to matter much. The most important thing to realize is the difference between fault and responsibility.

"I didn't enslave anyone," some white folks might say. "I'm not to blame for the actions of those slave owners, and I never will be."

And they're right. I can't hold anyone accountable for the actions of dead people. But just because slavery and the resultant remaining racism isn't their fault directly, doesn't mean it isn't their responsibility. As it is my responsibility. ALL of our responsibilities.

Black people are treated worse here, there is no debate on that. The only controversy is over how widespread it is. Whether it's the result of a few individuals, or an entire system. That matters of course, but in principle, it's the same:

Either you think that treating people differently based on skin color is wrong (and therefore you have a responsibility to fix that), or you don't. It's that simple.

Maybe I'm being uncharacteristically optimistic here, but I think that most of us think that it is wrong, and are just debating over how to fix it. From affirmative action, to social safety net improvements, to reparations.

Now we really tie this Musing into earlier ones. One of the main reasons the black 13% of our country is so much poorer than the rest, is because of what happened just after the Civil War ended. Or rather, what didn't happen. Sure, we freed the slaves, but they had, literally, just the clothes on their backs. We didn't take a national census of American wealth, take the average wealth for each individual, and then raise all these newly freed slaves up to that level. We didn't even ask if we should! In fact from what I've read, we paid the former slave owners reparations for taking away their property!! I mean, damn! We'd just fought a war over the idea that they weren't property, and after it was over, we tacitly admitted that they were!

Ok, getting off topic again. This is about the present, not the past. So, because those black people had nothing to start off with, and had to work their way up to current levels, it's not surprising in the least that they have less than white people. Home ownership especially, aggregates wealth, and these people didn't have any homes! Redlining made sure of that for a vast majority.

The way I see it, there are really only two solutions to actually ending racial inequality here in the States. Financial inequality, anyway. The social stigma associated with being black will, in my opinion, slowly fade away if we can put them on the same financial footing as the average non-black American.

Option 1: we can do that national census. We can take the race question from the last census, and get the average wealth of every American who didn't identify as African American. Then, using taxes provided by everyone who can actually afford it (see the super-rich who have more money than they could ever spend in a thousand lifetimes), we raise them up to that level. That won't fix racist hiring practices, or racist housing loan discrimination, or stop cops from shooting black people just for being black, but at least it will give them the chance their ancestors should have gotten just after the Civil War ended.

Option 2, and this one is my favorite, obviously: we enact a fundamental change in how we treat need and supply. We, as a whole, give up this idea of selfish accumulation of wealth, and recognize that every single human being deserves to have a roof over their head and food in their belly, free of charge. At the very, very least. They also deserve basic and higher education, reliable health care, and, oh yes, to be treated with respect. This option would require dismantling about 98 percent of our government, because that's all the parts based on or controlled by capitalism, but it would definitely fix the racism problem.

Black people are well aware of this inequity. They know all about this, far better than I ever could. There's a reason there were global protests over this. Not all of them would go for Option 2, but if we as white people don't actually start with Option 1, we're no better than our ancestors who owned slaves. We'd be consciously benefitting from oppression, just like they did.

The hardest part about growing up is admitting the faults in our parents. In the systems we trusted as children. Our system took 13 percent of us, and treated them like dirt. It has continued to do the same for centuries now. It's not necessarily our fault, but it is definitely our responsibility to change that. We have to force our system to treat them the same way it treats us. And if it still refuses, we have to destroy that system, and start a new one that will.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2022, 05:34:47 AM by Daen »