Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Rant: Race Relations Part 1 of 2

This could be my most controversial post yet but I've got to get this off my chest:
  I am 36 years old and have never seen race relations this bad during my lifetime.  That includes during the LA riots and the OJ trial.  What really made me sad was the open hatred of white people that has exploded on social media since the election of Donald Trump.  Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXpi3F0E5ro (WARNING: VERY BAD LANGUAGE).  Ironically, Trump actually did marginally better than Romney among minority voters.  IMHO, BOTH SIDES need to make changes to work out these problems once and for all. More on that in Part 2.   Here are my thoughts:

Many on the Left tend to view everything through the prism of race and make false accusations of racism where it does not really exist.  That is divisive and needs to stop.  Here are some examples:
- Bush 43 was criticized for calling Obama "impressive and articulate." If he had added "for a black man," then yes it would be offensive.  As it is, I'd say that's a compliment to one individual.

-Michelle Obama went to a store incognito and was upset that a woman of short stature asked her to reach for item on the top shelf "as if she was a store employee" .  Could that be because she is nearly 6 feet tall?  Ridiculous!

-A FB friend (who has since been unfollowed) called Evangelical church services "gatherings of white supremacists" and I've been accused of racism just because I have a southern accent.  Assuming that an entire group of people hold racist views is in itself a bigoted viewpoint.

-Any criticism of a minority, even if it is fair and accurate is slammed as "racist"

While it is true that actual white supremacists voted overwhelmingly for Trump, the vast majority of his supporters cast their vote for other reasons as I explained on my last political post.  Ask the radical Islamists, rioters and gang bangers about their presidential preference.  Yes, some of Clinton supporters were deplorable as well but I would never say that it's half or even a significant percentage.  Has Clinton ever disavowed her unsavory supporters?

Now at the other end of the spectrum, many on the Right wish to ignore racial issues altogether which can come across as insensitive.
- I have little-no idea about life in a predominantly black community especially one that is a high crime neighborhood so I say we need to show more empathy for people who were born into these difficult circumstances.  Birmingham's largest church has teamed with Prayer Force United to perform outreach in those communities.

-Did police who shot the black suspects have a legitimate reason to fear for their lives?  I'll leave that for others to debate.  What is unquestionable is that any person whose life is cut short in his teens and 20s is a tragedy.  I express my condolences to the family of Michael Brown and the others.

-Profiling does exist and I acknowledge that the War on Drugs has disproportionately impacted the black community.  If any readers have been watched or harassed just for being black, I share your outrage and I am on your side.

Now let's shift gears.  I've watched several YouTube videos in which Trump supporters debate Black Lives Matter or similar groups.  Typically, the Trump supporters remain calm and civil while the other side reacts with anger and name calling.  Let's break it down.
First, I dislike the term "privileged" as it relates to skin color.  I've faced hard times and much of it was due to genetic defects and I really don't consider myself to be all that fortunate even though I grew up middle class with above average intelligence.  If you explain that, they will usually say that I am still "privileged" because the "system" is "set up" for me to succeed while minorities are "set up" to fail.  I strongly disagree with that assessment.  Let's look at 2 cases.  The first is real.

-A man who works in my office rose to the rank of Division Manager.  He and his wife, who also works in my building earn a combined salary of approximately $200K/year.  The couple lives in Helena with their young son.  Helena is located about 30 minutes south of Birmingham and was recently ranked among the 100 best places to live in America.  The community is virtually crime free and has a school system consistently ranked among the best in the state.  This is a black family.
FYI- Alabama has changed in the last 60 years.  In 2016, upper-middle class Southern whites are VERY RARELY racist.

-A child was born in the Heart of Appalachia.  His parents divorced when he was a toddler and earn a combined salary of only $40K/year.  The local economy is stagnant with a high poverty and unemployment rate and the school system is poor and underfunded.  This is a white family.

Which person would you say is privileged and "set up to succeed?"  Almost everyone would say the former.  If you bring that up. they will say that the latter case will likely have a good relationship with law enforcement and can loiter around in high end shops and rich neighborhoods.  I say that's not necessarily true.  If you walk into a high end clothing store dressed like a bum, you'll be watched because you appear out of place.  I have not had many encounters with law enforcement myself but have usually been treated with courtesy.  I did have to submit to a full body pat down and bag search when I set off a metal detector at the airport.  Of course, I didn't like it but complied with orders and was on my way in 5-10 minutes.  Up to this point in the discussion, it's still pretty civil.

What tends to set BLM off is being accused of racism themselves and the reminder that we have a black president and a black attorney general. Their point of view is that only whites can be racist because they have the power to systematically oppress minorities. Minorities can only be "prejudiced" and even that is only grudgingly admitted. Same difference if you ask me.  More on that in the next post.  I will NOT downplay the horrors of slavery and segregation and acknowledge that impacts are still felt today.  However, IMO in 2016, there is little to no unavoidable systematic oppression with the possible exception of police profiling.  Despite our past sins, Western culture today is by far the world's most tolerant place toward ethnic and religious minorities.  White racism still exists but it is not strong enough to preclude success in life.  What I would like to know is the following:  What laws need to be enacted today to help minority communities?  Tell me.  I am open minded and will consider supporting your proposals.  Here's what I do support:

-Ending abortion, which disproportionately affects black babies.
-School vouchers to improve education in the inner cities.
-Secure borders to reduce competition for jobs.
-Criminal justice reform including decriminalized marijuana.
-Cameras on police to investigate profiling and brutality.

I welcome your comments but anything abusive will be deleted.

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