glennds wrote: ↑
Tue Jul 28, 2020 4:26 pm
Maybe the example put forth by African American Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) could be illustrative. He has been mostly quiet on the subject of his personal experiences with race, but recently after the George Floyd killing, he shared on the Senate floor that in his lifetime he has been routinely stopped by police, most of the time for driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood, or something similarly trivial. The frequency of such incidences were as high as seven times in one year.
Even on Capitol Hill he reports having been stopped by police and asked to produce ID, despite wearing his Senate pin on his suit lapel, and having served in the Senate for five years by this time. He asked for a show among his white fellow Senators for anyone who had experienced the same interrogation, and got none.
My (white, South Dakota native) co-worker told me a story about her cousin's black husband. Nicest guy, whom they see at least 3-4 times/year at family gatherings and holidays. She thought he was a non-drinker because he always politely passes on alcohol. Then last Thanksgiving she asked him about it and he told her he only drinks at home because odds are he'll be stopped by a police officer on the drive home and can't even take the chance of having any alcohol on his breath, legal limit or no legal limit.
It's my observation that the vast majority of people in the US (consciously or unconsciously) attribute reflexive stereotypes to blacks, from a distance. These stereotypes include criminality, laziness, substance abuse, lack of intelligence, mostly negative descriptors. I stop short of saying this is happens with malicious intent. Rather, the human brain seeks patterns and will attribute generalizations to groups naturally. Tribalism is part of our evolutionary biology going back to when we were hunter-gatherer cavemen and cavewomen.
I do happen to think the vast majority of white people will override these generalizations as they get to know a given black person personally and conclude for themselves that the generalizations don't apply, at least in this case.
The problem is that it can be a serious handicap for a person to have to perpetually overcome the levy of a negative stereotype right out of the gate, especially if the stereotype causes their disqualification from opportunities before they've had a chance to disqualify themselves (or not) on merit alone. What I describe here as unconscious bias, might be what others would call a form of racism, or racial discrimination.
I happen to think that racism is a very broad and abused term that covers a continuum ranging from obviously overt and kinetic events like torch bearing white supremacist marches, to less obvious more passive forms of bias like Tim Scott's story. IMO, the passive forms are the more pervasive ones, but mostly only visible to those on the receiving end.
As an experiment, a black journalism student took a walk through a very upscale white neighborhood in Houston to see if his presence there would raise any questions. It took about 15 minutes before two of the homeowners called the police to report a suspicious black man in their neighborhood. A cruiser pulled up and questioned him, requiring him to produce ID, and ran a background check on him, before letting him go. These kinds of incidents are remarkably common, but also remarkably invisible to most non-blacks who don't experience them firsthand. I sometimes wonder what long term self-esteem effects it must have on a young black person to be in a constant guilty-until-proven-innocent situation.
So long story short, I happen to believe there are widespread cultural pre-dispositions in our society that are not particularly favorable toward black people and must be overcome on a case by case basis for individual black people to advance. Add to this the long history of cruelty in the South and the open racism of Presidents such as Woodrow Wilson who called black people "an ignorant and inferior race" and pushed for re-segregation, though he admitted that if you look hard enough you can find the occasional "good one".
If you want more specifics, we can talk about heir title and the property dispossession laws currently on the books of many southern states that were uniquely crafted to legally take property away from multi-generation black farming families once random lynching and terror tactics were no longer acceptable after the 60s.
Anyway, you asked an honest "where is the racism" question, and I'm giving you one person's honest answer.