Thursday, February 17, 2011

Race Relations

I see a lot of interesting debates on Facebook. This one's about race relations, which is always an interesting and controversial topic.

Controversial Person: For every race, tribe, color, and religious person, his/her fate starts and ends with jobs, the economy, adequate purchasing power, and a way to earn that purchasing power without being dependent on the kindness of persons who are of a different tribe, race, religion, or color. If a black man has to be dependent on a white man or welfare for his income, how far removed is he from slavery?

Cool Blue-Collar White Guy:
This race subject has always bewildered me--shoot, most of the black people I know are more successful than I. I do not know what it is like to be a minority, however I grew up dirt poor and under-educated, and like most I did not go to the ends of the earth to get an education my point is, it is up to the individual.

The Philosopher:
I think it is a mistake to look at the African-American issue as a separate entity in the way Malcolm X makes it sound; it would be natural for him to mount his argument in the tone and rhetoric that he has - he is/was, after all, a black man himself. But the problem is a larger one – one that ‘I grew up dirt poor, under educated…’ comment of the comrade above illustrates rather well: it’s a problem of social construction as a whole. No doubt about it – race does matter, especially in a heterogeneous society like ours. But if you read books by intellectuals like Cornel West and/or Michael Eric Dyson, you’ll see how Malcolm’s message is put in perspective: we must (society at large, dominated by rich, white establishment) stop promoting the myth that a black man is either distant to a gang, or music or sports lifestyle. One may say those are merely stereotypes, but stereotypes, too, are constructed and have purpose. It’s the view of an African-American, permeating as a stereotype, that needs to be demolished (left behind – choose your own metaphor), which in turn will have the constructive and positive effect of better financial understanding, home ownership etc, etc… though not much mentioned, America very much operates on the basis of an unspoken caste system, and that unfortunately is true not just for African Americans, but whites and other races.

I also reject that success in a society is entirely dependent on the individual, but then I also disagree with a society that is merely concerned with equality of opportunity (and not equality of condition).

Cool Blue Collar White Guy:
Books and scholars will not solve the problem. Friendships, Strong morals and family will. Furthermore I honestly believe the younger generations are doing this at a much greater rate than anytime in human history. I am 47 and can look you in the eye and honestly say that race or religion has not mattered to me.

Controversial Guy: @
Philosopher: one reason African-Americans are stereotyped as athletes is because it is one area where they have been successful on their own and against the majority race.

@Blue Collar Guy: the last Fed Reserve study I read indicated that the only racial group (tracked by the Fed) that had a negative savings/wealth rate were African-Americans. Why is that? African immigrants from Africa tend to do very well in America and save money, so it's not a racial issue. One answer might be that African-Americans in this country have not found their niche outside of sports, which means that in every other category, they compete at a disadvantage with the majority race. As I've said before, never in the history of mankind (outside of apartheid or dictatorships) has the majority race ever allowed minority races to do well to an extent where they displace the majority race. The only way the minority races are able to succeed is by finding a place where they can outperform, based on merit, the majority race. For example, Christians wouldn't or couldn't handle money/interest in the old days, allowing others to handle that area for them. Muslims and Middle Easterners in America have done well because native born majority Americans have been unable to excel in math and science to the same extent as foreign Muslims, Hindus, Indians, Iranians, etc.

As a member of the majority race, Blue Collar Guy, you don't get to be automatically successful--but you get a default head start over racial minorities b/c the number of potentially available jobs is based on your skill set, not the color of your skin. With minority races, as I've posited here, the majority will never allow them to rise too high up in the ranks of government or union jobs and will defer charges of racism by hiring a few visible, compliant and perhaps not very exceptionally smart people (like Michael Steele, etc.). Having said that, so what? We can never dissolve all jobs based on political connections and limited accountability, i.e., union and government jobs, so all we can do is understand certain dynamics and work within those dynamics.

One contention is that political solutions to resolve racial wealth imbalances don't work (see President Johnson's War on Poverty), so we should look at solutions that allow minorities to gain independence and financial stability without relying on the kindness of the majority race. Assuming we want to assist minority communities specifically (rather than assisting all poor people regardless of race), any aid should come in the form of direct money into minority/poor communities, small business grants with someone vetting business plans, and assistance with teaching marketable skills (i.e., almost nothing that is taught in public schools today by unionized teachers).

There's another issue involved here. By attaching their fate to the majority race, minority races might be restricting women's mating choices. This is because only a limited percentage of minority men are allowed to get a part of the majority pie--in other words, the majority's pie will always be at least 51% in terms of gov and union jobs, and anything else that allows the majority to pass laws protecting themselves. This usually means the majority of minority men, at least those who cannot open their own businesses or find a niche, are unable to fully integrate into society on the same level as the majority race. It also means that the successful minority women who do successfully integrate and get a piece of the majority pie end up with fewer same-race men to marry who are on the same level, academically, financially, and geographically.

Cool Blue Collar White Guy:
you know this feed is above my simple mind...I will just say that I have many "minority" friends and I am the minority in my neighborhood. I am cool with that...I know most my neighbors have my back, as I do them. I don't need my goverment to tell me whom to hire or to be friends with. That decision is best left with me. I have made the right choices. My "friends" list is a smorgasbord of personalities....all with their own qualities, and I dine there often :)

If our government is a reflection of the people why the disparity ? Or perceived disparity ? Shoot you have to be an attorney just to understand the tax code, let alone the civil rights stuff...and with 2300 pages of healthcare reform with more pork than a Jerry Springer show, I am definitely confused.

Controversial Guy:
I totally agree with you when it comes to the ever-increasing laws and complexity of our political process. This phenomena makes it difficult for the average person/voter to stay interested. It has also led to dangerous apathy that will one day mutant into contempt, not just ridicule, name-calling, and Nazi references. We are not there yet, thank goodness. But if we do not move the debate back to realistic, fact-based, and data-driven solutions, we will get there soon enough.

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