Home > Race > The Problem Isn’t Just in Ferguson

The Problem Isn’t Just in Ferguson

April 10th, 2015

If you or someone you know believe that public and police reactions to white and black people are not distorted, this is an excellent example of how that’s simply not the case. Disproportionate attention means disproportionate response. In the video below, a white man tries to break into a car for half an hour: nobody notices, not even a cop who drives right past him, even as the patrol car is slowed by traffic right in front of him, as the guy is jiggering the door lock and the car alarm is blaring loudly. No reaction. Then his black cohort begins doing the exact same thing, and people immediately begin to react. In just two minutes, a police officer, gun drawn and instantly hurling profanity, arrests him, as more police converge on the scene. Because, coincidence, right?

Check out this video of two young men, one white and one black, trying to steal a bike, even openly admitting to passers-by that that the bike is “technically” not theirs. Predictably, the white guy is left to his business and no one calls the police, while the black guy is instantly surrounded by a group of people who get in his face and call the police. These are just social-experiment videos, but they are not isolated. There’s no end to evidence you can find, if the daily march of videos of white policemen killing unarmed black men isn’t convincing enough for you.

The core problem is how we react to race. Having a name that sounds black on your resume, for example, will make it harder for you to find a job. Are so many employers white supremacists? No.

The thing we don’t hear enough about is the fact that pretty much everyone is part of the problem. Including people who will swear up and down that they never would do anything like this. Our reaction is usually, “Not me!” Guess again. You don’t have to be a “racist” to be part of the problem.

This is a systemic problem in our society, not just with police, but with ALL of us, that must be addressed. The reaction amongst conservatives is to deny and demonize the victims, and the reaction on the left is all too often, “Hey, it’s not me, so what are you going to do?”

The first step is to admit that anyone can have this issue, regardless of color, including people who hate racism, and to understand that this does not mean you’re a dyed-in-the-wool epithet-hurling hate-monger. But you CAN do this, you probably HAVE done this, and you have to acknowledge that before you can begin to deal with it. Awareness is a good first step.

Demanding justice at the societal level isn’t a bad second step. It shouldn’t be hard to be outraged at how this is manifesting today—though a huge segment of our society is trying its damnedest to stay in denial. We should all be demanding a radical change. But if that’s just not in your DNA, then at least stop getting in the way—I guarantee you, history will not be on your side.

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  1. kensensei
    April 11th, 2015 at 14:36 | #1

    The “White Privilege” phenomenon is so elusive to most Caucasians because we tend to filter it out. Society treats us better well and therefore it treats us all well, except for the ‘bad guys’.

    It’s only when one poses the question, “Would you consider switching your ethnicity with a Black person?” that one confronts the difference. Try this with your friends who deny that racism or white privilege exist.

    “Why not? I thought all races are equal. What could you possible lose by switching to the black race?”

    Then the reality of racial inequality sets in… It’s an “a-ha” moment.


  2. Anonymous
    April 12th, 2015 at 16:57 | #2

    “There isn’t one white person here who would trade places with me, and I’m rich and famous.” – Chris Rock to a sold out audience.

  3. Troy
    April 13th, 2015 at 02:11 | #3

    Just another area where the conservative worldview is both screwed up inside the brain and also screwing things up outside, in the real world.

    People pretend racism ended 150 years ago, but as late as the mid-1960s we had Reagan in California speechifying that discriminating against black people was a right:

    “If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so.”

    Conservatives screw things up and then blame the liberals when we try to fix their damage.

    Another thing how I feel about this, is that it is probably true in this country that if you’re exceptionally talented in some area you can succeed, regardless of skin color.

    Conservatives like to wheel out Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice to demonstrate how great our color-blind meritocracy is.

    While that is mostly bullshit of course, the more important point is that if you’re just average or g-d forbid below average, and a minority, you’re pretty much f-ed in this country now, thanks to the war on jobs we’ve been waging since the 1980s.


    shows how since the 1960s manufacturing, construction, and information sector jobs have fallen from 20% of the working-age population to 10%.

    Real game of Musical Chairs we got going now.

  4. Troy
    April 13th, 2015 at 03:43 | #4

    In other news, I’m totally Macless, first time since 1989!

    My 2008 MBP died in December after 6 years of daily service (probably high humidity zapped something) and trying to run 10.10 on my unsupported 2006 Mac Pro apparently bricked it good.

    So I’m now running Windows 10 preview on an old but decent Core2Duo (with ATI 5770). Not quite a Mac but I’ll give it a go. Hey, it’s free at least!

    The 13″ Macbook Pro line looks like a good deal, but I want to see what the 15″ upgrade looks like this year before pulling the trigger on that. Not having Skylake is probably OK if the top-end MBP has a good “Maxwell” Nvidia GPU option.

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