Home > Race > The Inflated Race Card and the New Era of Racial Inequality

The Inflated Race Card and the New Era of Racial Inequality

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments
Image from cheezburger.com

During the past few weeks, my husband and I have had discussions on and off about race in America, specifically brought on by my awareness of Black History Month.

I have been consistently debating with him on a variety of topics related to black culture in America, ie, the current need for Black History Month, affirmative action, racial quotas in the workplace, scholarships based on race rather than merit, the double standard for whites and other minorities, etc. Usually by the end of these discussions, I am frustrated and downright near livid that he can’t seem to understand my position and I cannot understand his only because we do not share the same skin color.

Then I go online and read blog posts on sites like AOL’s Black Voices and TheRoot.com and get annoyed and angry because I’m reminded that I do not share the opinions of most black people and the majority of them would not share mine.

I recently read an article in which the author went on a rant about how Michael Vick, OJ Simpson, and Barack Obama are prime examples about how America is still trying to keep the black man down. The author uses the most extreme examples he can find to illustrate his points. (Bill O’Reilly? Puh-leeze.)

The author cites an example in which Tucker Carlson (on Fox News because it’s popular to hate!) called for the death penalty for Vick. Because he’s black? Not likely. Why then? Because Vick engaged in an illegal and animal-degrading sport. (And indeed, Carlson went too far.)

Next up is OJ Simpson who was acquitted for the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. People aren’t hating on OJ because he’s a black man and black men are popular to hate; people think he is a murderer who has gotten away with a crime. (Note: the Goldmans winning the civil suit against OJ and the fact that no other suspect has been found increase the suspicion against OJ.)

Finally, we have President Barack Obama who in 2008 metaphorically rode in to the Oval Office on a mule promising that jobs would be a top priority and a turnaround in a sluggish economy. Did his approval numbers drop because American voters suddenly turned racist? No. American voters are unhappy because they can’t find a job at all, they can’t find a job that pays enough to cover the bills, and employers are either slow to hire or are not hiring at all. A similar thing happened to President George H. W. Bush in the early 90s. American voters rejected him in 1992 for reasons other than his race.

Then take this other post about Michelle Obama’s wardrobe. The author complains that the American fashion industry has no right to be furious with the First Lady wearing whatever the hell she wants to wear overseas—who cares if the designer is British or the clothes are made in China?! Screw a longstanding tradition of First Ladies defining fashion (most popularized by Jackie Kennedy)! First Lady Michelle is a trailblazer and the fashion industry to should bow to her leadership and respect what she does! The author mentions that Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton did not have to—sigh—deal with what First Lady Michelle has had to deal with. Maybe it’s not because Ms. Bush and Ms. Clinton were white women but rather that they didn’t flip the bird to American designers.

I really grow tired of black Americans playing the race card for every little thing. Is playing the race card a lot like printing government money—always backed by the full faith and credit of someone with a dark skin color? Is it just me or has the race card become too inflated? Is it not possible to criticize a black person’s performance without invoking allegations of racism? It’s okay to call President George W. Bush a racist man who wants black people in New Orleans to drown, but it’s not okay to say President Obama has virtually shunned his white heritage to the point of ignoring (the predominantly white) Nashville’s flood? (Google results on Obama’s performance addressing the Nashville flood are poor.) White people can be criticized; black people cannot; we have entered a new era of racial inequality—the Era of Hating the White Man. This was never part of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream.

Does racism against black people still exist? Absolutely. Are there still significant disparities leftover from the segregation era? Without a doubt. But rectifying these issues should not include a shift to reverse racism in which white people can be criticized on nearly everything and black people are exempt from criticism on anything. We are all sinners. We all screw up. And at many points in our life, we are deserving of criticism (hopefully in a kind way).

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on this eventually, but reading some of these black blog posts remind me how far out of the black mainstream my opinions are. And perhaps, it also points to why I struggle to gain acceptance within the black community. Don’t look to me to be a leading black voice.

Ever.

 

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  1. Ren
    February 17, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    Honestly, I do kind of understand the black side of things with reference to the Obamas. It takes about three comments on a news story or blog post (particularly if it’s a conservative site–I can’t even read through conservative blog site comments anymore) for someone to refer to either President or Mrs. Obama as some form of “monkey” while referencing their race. It’s very, very ugly.

    Now, I’ll honestly admit that I’m not sure what to do about racial inequalities and discrimination. A couple of years ago, I would have said that active rectification maybe wasn’t so necessary anymore. Now? Well, I’ve seen where I live and amongst some of those around me a marked rise in racial animosity. Perhaps not always explicit, but the veil of euphemism is very transparent. I don’t like “reverse racism” at all, yet I can understand why some feel it is still necessary. I can understand why it is difficult to separate straightforward criticism from racial bias and attack. I don’t really know what the answer is. I do know that I see attitudes and behaviors improving. Just as our generation has views far beyond out grandparents’, our grandchildren’s may not wrestle with the question at all.

    I do think that when black writers/bloggers/leaders use cases like Michael Vick’s it’s counter-productive. Vick was obviously guilty. Now, had he received a harsher sentence than a white man who did the same thing, that would be worthy of decrying. But to decry Vick’s punishment just because does a disservice to the many black men serving harsher sentences than their white counterparts currently. If dealing with actual racial injustice is the goal, high-profile cases aren’t the topic that should be center of attention. Of course, Americans tend to feel that attending to high-profile cases will make the way for dealing with everything else, but that’s so rarely the case. And when said high-profile person is guilty and serves the just punishment (Vick), or is likely guilty and the case is blatantly bungled (OJ), it’s not really a good banner to carry around.

    I think I might be meandering. haha. I guess the thing is: I don’t know what to think about it all anymore. And that’s all a bit more difficult because I’m white, if that makes sense. I do feel the weight of cultural sins, and I don’t want to inadvertently perpetuate. Thus, I’m always careful about what I say on the matter and how I say it. And I usually end up wishing the whole issue were much more cut and dried.

    • Kass
      February 17, 2011 at 1:17 PM

      The entire issue is complicated but I don’t want black people crying racism every time something does not go their way. Conversely, I don’t want to create a hostile society for white Americans who aren’t racist.

      Some difficult issues to grapple with.

  2. Ren
    February 18, 2011 at 12:35 AM

    Yes, indeed. Also, I didn’t realize how long and rambly my comment was. haha I guess I was doing some grappling as I commented.

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