The Color of Character

What Is Keeping So Many Back?

It’s Complicated

Racism is real. It has shadowed humanity over the ages. Blatant racism that seems to dominate or repress exists. It is deplorable and should continue to be pointed out, shamed, disavowed, and stamped out. Systemic racism is a more difficult concept to grasp, including to this writer. I can understand its existence in the past more clearly than I can see it today. Legal segregation, redlining, and other institutional means that had the force of law behind them – or the lack of prosecution of the laws when they existed were indeed systemic.

Overt or Systemic. Legal or Illegal.

These racist enabling laws have been off the books for decades, and the prosecution of violators has been intense. Ask any real estate agent who tried to steer a client to a particular neighborhood in the past 30 years; or a proprietor of an establishment of accommodation who attempted to deny someone service based on race. Yet to follow the media, and to be alerted to any story on racism, as I am, the take away is that we are a nation drowning in blatant and systemic racism the likes of which we have never seen. We are told that the 2016 election apparently not only allowed racists to come out in the open, but by the numbers, it would appear they have multiplied. Based on what this increase in racists is based, other than the visibility of some groups that have always existed, I am unclear.

And the result of racism, both past and current we are told, is the collapse of black communities due to the concerted effort to keep black America down via the use of white privilege. According to the published articles in mainstream and fringe writings, if you are white – especially male – you are privileged. Even if you decry racism and actively participate in ways to improve the lot of individuals or struggling communities, you are still racist by virtue of American history and your birthright. Apologies given are appreciated but not accepted.

You of course have your own thoughts on whether or not some or all of this view on racism is accurate. Everyone does, but not everyone feels comfortable or safe talking about it. My guess – and only a guess – is that the majority of people not comfortable weighing in on this subject are white and probably male, such as my friend John Q. Whiteman who has participated in my blogposts.

Walter E. Williams Makes a Point

Here is someone else weighing in on the difficulties facing black communities in America. His name is Walter E. Williams. Here is Wikipedia’s shortened biography of Mr. Williams:

Walter Edward Williams is an American economist, commentator, and academic. He is the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, as well as a syndicated columnist and author known for his classical liberal and libertarian conservative views.

I will also add to this description, because I think it is relevant, that Mr. Williams is black.

Here is a recent article he wrote that I think reflects what I wrote last week. He looks at what has and has not been of service to the black community over the decades, and recommends we focus on means to successfully lift blacks out of poverty. And he doesn’t think it has much to do with statues.

Please read.

Excuse Me As I Become Didactic

As someone who has felt the sting of bigotry of two kinds, I can tell you it does exist and it hurts. Yet I can also tell you that to get past it took, and continues to take effort on my part, with the support of community and family. I was kept on track by that support with the tools they gave to me via an emphasis on applying myself in school, and working my butt off at whatever task I faced. Everyday we are faced with choices. One is always better than the other, although it might only be the lessor of two evils. Some are obvious (to commit a crime or not). Some are not. But you have the power to make the right choice – no matter your skin color, religion, gender, sex, ethnicity…

If you follow the rules of the game of life, whether fair or not, which includes not only doing certain things (ex: staying in school) but also not doing certain things such as turning to anti-social, violent, belligerent behavior,  you will increase your chances of attaining some modicum of success exponentially. Smashing a statue might be the right thing to do, but it won’t eliminate racism, change minds, or get you the job you always wanted. It’s certainly easier to succeed with a support network – and they are out there working in every community, but it can be done with the aid of only one person who keeps you in line. And although it is the most difficult to do without any help, there are those who do it every day.

I can also tell you that if you reach the pinnacle of success by any measure, and win any number of humanitarian, scientific, and economic rewards, there will always be someone who doesn’t want you living next door to them for one reason or another. If it is because of your race, then be assured you have met a real racist. Do I think that person represents any sizeable part of America? No.




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