All Articles Tagged "race politics"
Professor and author Kwasi Konadu discusses identity politics and what it means to be African
One hundred years from now what weight will race and/or ethnicity have on our understanding of identity? Are we moving towards a society where race will become so ambiguous that notions tied into race will become a thing of the past? The concept of a post-racial society seemed to gain further traction during the election of President Barack Obama, but as author Dr. Kwasi Konadu notes, there hasn’t been much of a post-racial anything in the years since President Obama’s election. Dr. Konadu recently shared his thoughts on identity, post-racialism, and what it means to be African.
Ezinne Adibe: How has your identity shaped your work?
Dr. Kwasi Konadu: My work been very personal in that a lot of my research has been shaped by my ancestry. For instance, it was after a number of years of doing my family history through family elders that a dream about my great-great-grandmother led me back to Ghana to find out more. That led to my dissertation in Ghana, which led to a decade of research and partnership in Ghana, another home of mine in the African world. So, indeed, identity shaped by ancestry has been critical to how I choose what I am interested in, how I approach those matters with a kind of passion, and always the quest for getting the story right.
Ezinne Adibe: I come across many conversations about identity, especially with regards to national identity. There are some that feel national identity is more important than racial or ethnic affiliation. What are your thoughts?
Dr. Konadu: If we make the matter of identity an either or question, whether it is the clan or the nation, in terms of how we define nations and nationalism, or it is some other kind of affiliation, I think we miss a very subtle but important point about how Africans, and other humans, have historically identified themselves. Humans tend to have concentric circles of a composite identity. So, at the same time I can be a father, a husband, a professor, a brother to my own biological kin or a brother in a communal sense. And there can be no conflict with either of those circles, because these identities are not in conflict but are expressions of a composite, whole identity. I think they become conflictual because of the historical experiences that brought Africans to whatever side of whatever ocean/sea they now find themselves. Whatever means by which Africans were exported from their homelands, they have endured a certain kind of transformation where blackness became the demonic inverse, that is, it became the opposite of Judeo-Christian whiteness, and blackness also became a synonym for Africaness. And so, it’s not surprising to find that many of our peoples worldwide, but certainly in North America, are offended if called African, because African, in their mind, is shorthand for this package of barbarism, backwardness, idol worshippers, lacking beauty and intelligence. All this is packaged into being African. So, who wants to be African?
Ezinne Adibe: Yes, some take being referred to as African as an affront.
Dr. Konadu: To the heart of your question, the crux of the issue is realizing that where you are and who you are don’t have to be in conflict. That is, I can be an American citizen as a political status, but culturally defined by my ancestry. You can be both African as a cultural identity and still remain a political citizen in whatever nation-state you reside. For instance, in Ghana, you can be Asante, and at the same time you can be a citizen of the Republic of Ghana. You can also be of the Oyoko or Agona or Bretuo clan. And similar familial systems exist among the Yoruba, the Hausa, or the Igbo and so this idea of concentric affiliations and therefore identities is not exclusively a Ghanaian matter. For those Africans in whatever diaspora they find themselves, they can be political citizens of Brazil, Cuba, North America and the like and still culturally self-identify as African. And the cumulative weight of one’s African ancestry, underlying our mannerisms, the way we use language, the ways in which we greet, the subtleness of culture is a critical frame of reference in determining cultural identity.
There’s a game that’s played with the term African, especially in the media and in our school curricular or textbooks. At one point, the term African is homogenized, that is, “you are all Africans.” So, for example, if there is corruption of whatever sort in Zimbabwe or in Nigeria, then it is an “African” problem, where the behavior of specific people becomes homogenized and the integrity and humanity of all Africans come into question. A more common example of homogenization is that “Africans sold other Africans during slavery.” The story is not that simple, nor should it be. All or most Africans were not slavers nor did they engineer the transatlantic slave system. Their humanity should not be undermined by such sound bites that –after a while—becomes an unquestionable truth. The term “African” also fluctuates between its homogenized form and its opposite. Thus, if Africans in the diaspora self-identify as culturally African via their ancestry, claiming, “Well, we too are Africans,” the media or school curricular response is “No, you’re not. You have nothing to do with them.” So, when it suits certain purposes, we get situational and contradictory responses, such as “you’re all the same” and “you’re not same.”
It is no surprise that former President Reagan’s son, conservative political consultant Michael Reagan would add his unabashed and wildly inaccurate historical revisionism about Reagan with his absolutely ridiculous assertion in a Fox News op-ed piece that dad, Reagan was a “better friend of blacks” than President Obama. Normally that would be the cause for hysterical laughter except that that fits in with the inevitable sanitizing of former President Reagan’s image and legacy as the nation approaches the centennial commemoration of Reagan’s birth in February.
Race is exactly the one issue that Mike can make absolutely no claim to truth about Reagan on. Reagan and Reagan officials waged a by now well-documented open war against civil rights leaders and did everything politically possible to roll back civil rights gains during his eight years in office. That war began months before he took office. At his now infamous presidential kick-off campaign rally at Neshoba, Mississippi in 1980, held virtually a stone throw from where the three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964, Reagan shouted to a lily white crowd that “I believe in states’ rights.” He laced his campaign speech with stock racial code words and phrases, blasting welfare, big government, federal intrusion in state affairs, and rampant federal spending. The message was that if elected he’d not only say and do as little as possible to offend the white South, but actively undermine civil rights. At his first press conference the week after his inauguration, Reagan lashed out at affirmative action programs. He told reporters, “I’m old enough to remember when quotas existed in the United States for purposes of discrimination and I don’t want to see that again.”
That was just the start. During the 1980 presidential campaign, he publicly branded the voting rights act “humiliating to the South.” The implication was that he would not back an extension of the Voting Rights Act when it came up for renewal in 1982. He backed away from that only in the face of strong support from Congressional democrats (and many Republicans).
The checklist of Reagan anti-civil rights initiatives however soon grew to be telephone book thick. They included his gut of the Civil Rights Commission, his attempt to eliminate and slash and burn of an array of federally funded job and training programs, his borderline racist depiction of welfare recipients as “queens,” his stack of the federal judiciary with strict constructionist, states’ rights leaning judges, the wave of Reagan approved Justice Department indictments, prosecutions and harassment of black elected officials, his foot drag on imposing congressional mandated sanctions on then apartheid South Africa, and his repeated mock of civil rights leaders.
The Reagan assault on civil rights was so intense that the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights in 1982 issued a lengthy report that meticulously documented the measures the Reagan Administration Justice Department and especially its Civil Rights Division did to stymie and obstruct enforcement of civil rights laws. Then there was his dogged fight to prod the IRS to reverse its decision to deny a tax exemption to all white Bob Jones University in South Carolina in 1982. Reagan backed away from this only after a firestorm of congressional and public outrage at his naked effort to prop up a blatantly segregated institution.
The one civil rights act that Reagan is praised for as an example of his racial enlightenment, the signing of the King Holiday Bill, was anything but that. Reagan staunchly opposed the King Holiday bill. And he did not oppose it as later historical revisionists claim solely for cost reasons, that is that the federal government couldn’t afford to give federal employees another day off. This is the politically palatable cover.
At a press conference October 19 two weeks before he grudgingly signed the bill he quipped that he’d sign it only “since Congress seemed bent on making it a national holiday.” It took every ounce of the congressional bent that Reagan ridiculed to get him to put his signature on the bill. Congress passed the bill with an overwhelming veto-proof majority (338 to 90 in the House of Representatives and 78 to 22 in the Senate).
Reagan didn’t stop at simply voicing reservations about Congress’s action in passing the bill. At the same press conference he also added with a wink and a nod that the jury was still out on whether King was a communist sympathizer or not. Reagan revealed even more of his true thinking about King in a letter to ultra-conservative former New Hampshire governor Meldrim Thompson. He unapologetically told Thompson that the public’s view of King was “based on image, not reality.” Reagan was roundly criticized for besmirching King, and he subsequently publicly apologized to King’s widow, Coretta Scott King. In assailing King, Reagan simply followed the well-worn ultra-conservative and racist script that King was a radical, racial agitator, and a closet communist.
Michael Reagan can absurdly twist history decades later to make his father a paragon of civil rights. But the Reagan record of hostility, obstructionism, and outright opposition to civil rights gains and civil rights leaders stands. This is hardly the action of a “best friend” of blacks.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk shows on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles. This post was republished, with his permission.
In a recent talk show, right-wing commentator Rush Limbaugh accused Democratic leaders of racism for attempting to put Congressman Jim Clyburn to the “back of the bus.” Initially, the comment from Limbaugh struck me as being extremely odd, especially from someone who is widely known for making inflammatory, ignorant and racist comments to incite the negative emotions of his listeners. Now, Limbaugh who has historically made incendiary statements such as, “They’re 12 percent of the population- who the hell cares,” “We need segregated buses…this is Obama’s America,” “Obama’s entire economic program is reparations,” and “The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons,” appeared to be repenting and accusing others of his past sin. To be sure, it didn’t take long before the whole truth relative to the “back of the bus” sound bite became apparent.
Somewhat similar to the case of Mrs. Shirley Sherrod, many media outlets only played a truncated snippet of what Limbaugh discussed on his controversial radio show. Actually, Limbaugh actually went on further to state that Clyburn’s sole motive for a leadership position (i.e., Minority Whip) was the associated perks such as a car. The right-wing commentator went on to discuss that the only way Clyburn would be able to keep a car would be to drive around the party’s white leader. Specifically, Limbaugh stated, “Clyburn’s new position: driving Ms. Nancy.
He’s not in the back of the bus; he’s in the driver’s seat. And, she’s in the back of the car being chauffeured.” This is clearly an extremely malevolent statement about the highest ranking African-American congressman in history! But, one has to wonder whether the controversial talk show host, who makes a significant amount of money by inciting fear and anger in his listeners, was actually telling the truth. Is there truly racism amongst the leaders of the Democratic Party? And, will Congressman Clyburn’s new position be confined to driving around Mrs. Nancy?
First, is there truly racism amongst the current leaders of the Democratic Party? Without objective evidence, it is difficult to proclaim this type of statement as it would represent an unsubstantiated generalization. But, certainly, the fact that Mrs. Pelosi has asked her Democratic colleagues to accept her creation of a number three House Democratic position for Clyburn leaves one contemplating on whether it is a case of blatant tokenism and the need to show diversity. What is the role of this newly created “Assistant Leader?” And, is it needed? Historically, this position has not been required, and there are no proposed roles or responsibilities that would warrant the need for it now. This “Assistant Leader” position is completely unheard of.
Without equivocation, the creation of this so-called No. 3 spot bespeaks of a certain level of xenophobia amongst Democratic leaders relative to promoting Clyburn to a “real” position of leadership. It is relatively safe to state that this new position exhibits a certain need to appease African-American voters within the party. With Pelosi’s favorability ratings being below 30% for the most part of the year, according to non-partisan polls, and the recent takeover of the House by the Republicans, one would think that the Democratic Party would contemplate new leadership- exclusive of race. Interestingly, Pelosi still found a way to position herself as the voice of leadership for the Democratic Party, despite the fact that a plethora of members of the Democratic caucus have expressed their sentiments that she should not remain the party leader in the House.
On the whole, will Congressman Clyburn’s new position be confined to driving around Mrs. Nancy? Resoundingly no! But, with a “fake” position with no current roles, responsibilities or need, one has to consider what the “Assistant Leader” position will really entail. In the No. 3 spot, hopefully, Clyburn will be able to exercise at least a modicum of the outstanding leadership that he has consistently shown over the years, as Congressional Republican leaders such as Jim Boehner and Mitch McConnell will try their best to ensure that President Obama is a one-term President.
(CNN)– In the grand scheme of things, LeBron James’s answer to CNN’s Soledad O’Brien regarding whether race played a role in the backlash to his “The Decision” special — “I think so, at times. It’s always, you know, a race factor.” — wasn’t much.This wasn’t Isiah Thomas supporting then-teammate Dennis Rodman’s assertion that, if Larry Bird was black, “he’d be just another good guy.” Yet here we are. For those of you who may have missed it, James chose to announce he was leaving his home state Cleveland Cavaliers via “The Decision,” an hourlong, prime-time special aired on ESPN. This was not the best decision anyone has ever made. In fact, in the annals of NBA-related TV decisions, it may rank just above Magic Johnson’s deciding he’d make a good late-night talk show host and just below everything else.
Former Philadelphia Mayor John Street might have been channeling the lyric from Public Enemy’s “Welcome to the Terrordome”: “Every brother ain’t a brother.”
Recently, Street made some unflattering remarks about current Philadelphia city Mayor Michael Nutter, who will be up for re-election next year. In an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Street, who was investigated for corruption by the FBI in 2005, made the comment that Mayor Nutter is not “a black mayor” but rather “a mayor with dark skin.”
Well, for those unfamiliar with term, the meaning “not black enough” has little to do with your skin tone and much more to do with your politics and social standings. Take for instance, Huey Newton and Malcolm X both who were both as red-boned as they come, yet no one would mistake either men for not being “black enough,” because their focus had always been on the benefit of the black community.
So what has Mayor Nutter done or not done to warrant such accusations?
In a city which is majority colored, Mayor Nutter, who was elected in 2007 mostly by the white liberal vote (the black vote had been split by two other black candidates in the race), hasn’t been faring well among the black democratic base. According to a Pew poll, the mayor continues to get far higher ratings on questions of job approval from white residents than from blacks; blacks are evenly divided on him—with 43 percent approving his performance and 43 percent disapproving—while whites voice a positive view by 65 percent to 21 percent.
Some in the Black Philadelphian community have charged that Mayor Nutter, who ran as a reformist mayor, has been reluctant, if not dismissive of the issues affecting the community. Much in the same vain as President Obama, Mayor Nutter has refuses to be pigeon-holed as the black politician and has taken a more universal view on dealing with issues of crime, education and even the economy.
When he was elected to represent Philadelphia, some in the black community asserted that Mayor Nutter’s approach to governing took the black vote, which makes up a large percentage of city’s democratic vote, for granted.
The same could be said for Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, who also ran as a reformist candidate and saw his own political aspirations as Mayor dashed by his inability to respond effectively to the black community. Despite being in a city, whose black population still remained the majority, Fenty had given too many appointments to non-blacks and shunned the black elite of the city.
While I don’t agree with necessarily demonizing either mayor for their failure to draw tribal lines in politics, there is something to be said for the ability of some black politicians to take the black vote as a given. Like any other constituency we want our issues respected and addressed by whoever – regardless of color – is representing us.
The idea that some black politicians are willing to denounce their political blackness to get elected means ultimately that these same politicians will be willing to take positions that are diametrically opposed to our best interest.
And at a time when unemployment for black males is in double digits, the quality of the public schools in predominately black neighborhoods remain subpar at best and the spread of HIV/AIDs is killing our folks across gender and sexuality lines, it is not enough for black politicians and candidates for office to remain silent or indifferent to these issues.
The Washington Post published a poetic and insightful piece by a doctoral student, Anmol Chaddha, and sociology professor William Julius Wilson, about the didactic value of HBO’s landmark show “The Wire.” In a course on urban inequality, the teachers are using the show to examine and analyze the motives and institutions that fuel poverty and crime in the”inner city” cores of cities across America. The Wire successfully broke down the complexities of a fictionalized Baltimore and conveyed to its viewers how the proliferation of drug dealers is not isolated; indeed, it is connected to failing public schools, the greed of politicians, and misguided policies, etc.
“A core theme of “The Wire” is that various institutions work together to limit opportunities for the urban poor. In its first season, the show focuses on the war on drugs, which it convincingly depicts as an ill-conceived undertaking whose outcome has been the mass jailing of nonviolent offenders. Cops such as Carver and Herc patrol the neighborhood and repeatedly arrest dealers on the corner; Wee-Bey, Avon and Cutty are in and out of prison throughout the series. But the community does not seem safer, and the drug trade has hardly been curtailed.”
Chaddha and Wilson contend that The Wire succeeds as a teaching source because “those kinds of connections are very difficult to illustrate in academic works.” Indeed, The Wire, broke major ground in portraying the plight of so many who live in neighborhoods riddled with crime and although the show did not make it past 5 seasons, HBO’s commitment to supporting a program that did not command huge ratings but that which offered a rare level of quality African-American focused art is commendable. And, obviously, The Wire’s legacy will continue to live on as an important historical piece.
To read more about Harvard’s course, go to The Washington Post
Last week, the city of Philadelphia was rocked by accusations of police brutality and misconduct.
The victim, Askia Shabur, was a well-known community activist. On the night of Friday, September 3rd, he found himself at the wrong end of a police baton. His crime? Waiting for his food outside of a Chinese take-out restaurant.
The entire incident had been caught on a camera phone, taken by one of the dozens of witnesses, who happened to be out that night. The nearly 3 minute video shows three officers – two females and one male – holding down and wrestling with Shabur on the ground while a fourth male officer beat him repeatedly upon the head and back. At one point in the video, one officer is seen pulling out his firearm and waving it aggressively at the crowd of onlookers, who begged mercifully for the officer to stop his brutal beating.
Sabur, who would be charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest, was left with a fractured arm, a sore back and a severe gash across his head, which required stitches. The officers involved in the incident remain on active duty.
After much public outcry, the police department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs announced that it would be investigating. Needless to say, the incident has sparked outrage both within and outside the West Philly community, who have taken to the street in a series of marches and rallies, which seek to demand justice not only for Shabur but for the countless other nameless victims of alleged police brutality, who didn’t have the benefit of dozens of eyewitnesses or video camera.
Reading and watching the video of the Shabur beating by police reinforces my notion that that these incidents of alleged police brutality – or at the very least misconduct – are neither isolated or unusual. And while some of the incidents make national headlines, most barely scratch the folds of local news media.
Moreover, rarely are there any thoughts given to the possibility that these reports of police misconduct and abuse could reflect a larger pattern being played out on the national level.
Time and time again, we witness incidents of police using excessive force against not only the resisting alleged offender but also those who offer little resistance. From the elderly grandmother to students, blacks and whites – no one is spared. Of course, the vast majority of interactions between Joe-citizens and law enforcement do not lead to brutality and/or misconduct. But when it does, those incidents are disturbing enough that many folks, from all walks of life, have come to view law enforcement officials as no different than the criminals that they are suppose to serve and protect us from.
Some of these incidents of police misconduct result in wrongful convictions. According to a study on prisoner exonerations, police misconduct was a factor in half of all convictions, which had eventually been overturned using DNA evidence. Moreover, a Justice Department study had revealed that out of the more than 2,000 criminal suspects who have died in police custody between 2003 and 2005, 55 percent were due to homicide by state and local law enforcement officers.
While more extreme incidences of police brutality have resulted in death such as the much publicized January 1, 2009 murder of Oscar Grant, who was unarmed and had laid non-resistant face-down on the ground and was fatally shot in the back and killed by a transit officer.
And shall we not forget the murder of little Alana Jones, the nine-year old who made the tragic mistake of falling asleep on her couch during a police raid, which resulted in her being burned by tear gas and shot in the head.
According to Injustice Everywhere, a website founded by the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project between April 2009 and December 2009, there were 4,012 law enforcement officers alleged to have engaged in misconduct- however these statistics come with a disclaimer as many, if not most, of these instances are never reported due to fear of reprisal.
The site, which chronicles daily reports of police misconduct through the mass media, showed that on Monday, September 13th alone, there were 15 reports of police misconduct and/or abuse including a case of a Pennsylvania officer accused of punching a store clerk in the face for carding him; two California officers fatally shooting an unarmed 15 year old and a Texas police officer, whom has been sentencde to 90 days in jail after a plea agreement for 3 counts of indecency with a child.
The results of these incidents are depressingly predictable. The code of silence, from the street cop up to the court system, means that more often than not, officers accused of brutality are treated with kid gloves and other considerations not given to average citizens [tag: hrw.org link].
And the stunning lack of changes we see after each incident of brutality and misconduct suggests more needs to be done than organizing protests. We have to seek out change, not just on an individual basis but systemically as well. We need to prioritize the issue of police brutality and misconduct on the same level nationally as we do healthcare, jobs and education.
We need our activists, victims of brutality and our politicians to demand better police training on alternatives to excessive force when a “suspect” is unarmed. We need better documentation of all incidences by the Department of Justice and fair and equal treatment through the court system for those officers accused and convicted of civil rights violations.
Another Obama address, another failed attempt at messaging by the White House communications team. Instead of using his address from the Oval Office to remind us that he displayed true leadership by going against the tide and opposing the Iraq war when everyone else was for it, Obama proudly asserted that he’d made a call to George W. Bush to inform him that the war was over. Obama had the opportunity to be nostalgic, and remind his base that the candidate of 2008 is still alive in the President of 2010, but he didn’t. To the contrary, Obama listened to Republicans who’d been chiding him all week to give at least a modicum of credit to the one man who deserves all the blame – George W. Bush. And since Obama was ill-prepared for a skirmish with the Right, he gave in once more.
The issue is not just that President Obama is unprepared for the present fight that he’s engaged in, but that he’s unprepared for all fights – period. Obama doesn’t use the bully pulpit because he’s not a bully. This is a hard pill for most African Americans to swallow.
White liberals want Obama to fight because it’s the right thing to do. While African-American liberals agree with that premise, we are also goading President Obama to do battle with Republicans because we’ve collectively adopted clashing with despotic regimes as our solemn oath. The spirit of David and Goliath is alive in the African-American experience.
When Obama declared himself African-American, and not mixed race or biracial as some had hoped, the African American community celebrated with jubilee. To us, Obama’s bold assertion meant that he identified with the African-American experience. It was proof that he’d accepted the chivalrous invitation of the African-American community and would soon glide into our open arms to meet our soft far embrace. So far, much to our dismay, he’s proven to be a bit of a playboy.
In classic Obama style, he’s adorned the costume which we’ve come to associate with all rebellious agitators. Unlike some who’ve compared his speaking style to MLK, I see more of Malcolm than Martin in Obama’s mettle performance. Short, decisive, snappy comments, which linger with the listener by virtue of their verbosity and in your face intellectualism. This was Malcolm’s marker. In 21st century America, Obama is Malcolm’s emulator, but not his heir apparent.
While African-Americans were busily working for change during Obama’s 2008 campaign, we absentmindedly forget that history often foretells future events.
Born to a white mother and a Kenyan father, young Obama’s world view was fashioned in Indonesia and Hawaii through the prism of his mother. There is nothing unseemly about Obama’s upbringing, but it does belie the difficulty inherent in labeling President Obama as African-American.
Even if President Obama’s Kenyan father had been in his life, that wouldn’t have been enough to link Obama to an African-American experience which is uniquely different from that of Africans in the great vastness of the Diaspora. And to say that Obama is connected to the African-American experience by virtue of his Kenyan father is alarmingly simplistic.
The African-American experience is unique in the level of insight which it imprinted upon its members as well as the relative level of equality bestowed upon a previously enslaved minority group. We view life through a dual lens whereas for Obama, the lens is singular.
Truth be told, our collective defiance has negatively impacted us in a variety of scenarios. The mythology of the African American attitude heralds a people unafraid to speak truth to power. Even in our day to day individual dealings, we are more apt than most groups to betray our own self interest by confronting our employer, government, or whomever else we feel may be engaged in double dealing. History has made us rebels.
Our expectation was that Obama would display some of the steeliness so overtly recognizable in the African American persona. But President Obama’s perspective is international, not African American. It is time that the African-American community stops looking for its reflection in President Obama. He may be the first black President, but he’s certainly not the first African-American President.
Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill Staffer turned political blogger. She currently publishes two blogs, Spatterblog.com and GoGirlGuide.com.
(Washington Post) — The overarching question in the District’s mayoral race is how on Earth incumbent Adrian Fenty could be at risk of losing, when a majority of voters believe that conditions in the city are getting better. There are two answers — one of style and one of substance.
by Charing Ball
Democratic Senator James Webb penned an op-ed in the Washington Post last week entitled, “Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege,” which basically argues against government entitlement programs because of their ability to disenfranchise white people. Yeah, you heard me right.
Webb is upping up the race baiting war being played out in the media by arguing that affirmative action has resulted in preferences for groups, particularly Hispanic, Asians and Africans, that cannot claim to be victims of massive, systematic injustices inflicted in the United States. Well that is arguable to say the least, considering that the U.S. has historically not been so welcoming to any of those groups. Ok, but for the sake of argument, I’ll bite.
Webb, a proud Scot-Irish and former Republican, is known for playing the oppressed white male card and has penned a few books including “Born Fighting: How the Scot-Irish has Shaped America,” which claims, among other things, that the WASPs (White Anglo Saxon Protestants) have systematically kept the Scot-Irish oppressed in America.
This sentiment is not new or unheard of. A recent New York Times piece pretty much echoes Webb’s assertions and points out that a “upper-middle-class white applicant was three-times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications.”
I would be inclined to agree with Webb as well as the New York Times piece about the varying levels of class distinctions in society, but if the heart of this white angst is the entitlement given to upper class white folks over poor white folks, why then is all this anxiety and angst over entitlements being directed at the “others?”
What’s really at the heart of Webb’s, and others, perfectly-timed, white angst is two folds combined into one: 1).a dog whistle approach to gain votes by 2) using the old Southern Strategy to manipulate fearful white folks, who are unable to accept that white privilege has and does exist. Webb, in his editorial, points out that it is unfair to lump White America into one large entitlement pot and makes the point of arguing that only 5 percent of whites in the south actually owned slaves.
What he fails to admit, even to himself, is that even if a white person, whether they were around during slavery or immigrated from Ireland or some other European country post-slavery, those immigrants were still able to benefit from jobs and other opportunities legally denied to those of African descent – regardless of what part of the Diaspora they originated. That benefit meant a step-ahead in education, employment and other opportunities, making it easier for white-skinned immigrants to assimilate into society and leaving those of the darker persuasion to struggle on the fringes.
Let’s lay out the hard facts: there are about 29.6 million small businesses in this country generating about $9 trillion in revenues. Only 7 percent are minority-owned and only 1.4 million (5 percent) of them are black owned [tag: business week]. Another 1.7 million (6.5 percent) are Hispanic owned. They (all minority owned businesses) account for $694 billion or 7.7 percent of the overall revenues.
And what about the other facts, which Webb ignores, that shows that 73% of all college students in the US are non-Hispanic non-Jewish whites compared to the 27 percent combined college student representatives of all other races [tag: chronicle article]. And while 48 percent of all poor people in America are white, that percentage only accounts for 11 percent of the total white population. Compare that with the 34 percent of American blacks, the 31 percent of Hispanics and 13 percent of Asians, who are living below the poverty line. And shall we mention that
I can certainly sympathize with Webb about the misdirected application of government entitlement programs [i.e. affirmative action], which have historically benefited White women the most (cough), but I cannot support his mischaracterization and virtual whitewashing of certain historical essentials. While poor whites may not have had a hand in creating this racial division in society, enough of them certainly held no qualms about partaking in these divisions including through segregation, racial intimidation (i.e. the Klu Klux Klan) and various other Jim Crow laws.