Politics, Top Stories

‘Systemic Racism’—An Unhelpful Concept

Is racism an individual or systemic problem? Traditionally, racism was broadly recognized as an interpersonal phenomenon: reflexive antipathy towards an identifiable “other,” supported by the negative cultural tropes and stereotypes used to inflame resentment and justify discrimination. This was the definition used by history’s most prominent anti-racist figures, from Frederick Douglass through W.E.B. Du Bois to James Baldwin, in their scathing critiques of slavery and Jim Crow. In this telling, racism is a disposition informing the beliefs and behavior of the people who operate society’s structures and institutions. It is a bottom-up process and ultimately exacts untold harms on both oppressor and oppressed.

Yet this definition has undergone a phase transition in modern progressive discourse. Rather than an emergent psycho-social phenomenon, racism today is usually understood by theorists, analysts, and activists in structural and institutional terms that don’t require the prevalence of individual racist attitudes to explain recurrent disparities between racial groups. Bestselling author Ibram X Kendi is one of a number of contemporary writers who exemplifies this outlook: “‘Racist policy’ says exactly what the problem is and where the problem is. ‘Institutional racism’ and ‘structural racism’ and ‘systemic racism’ are redundant. Racism itself is institutional, structural, and systemic.” This account is characteristically imprecise, but it suggests that racism is a top-down structural force transmitted from social and political institutions to people, who are somehow beyond the scope of individual agency or intent.

Although individual racist attitudes have been in precipitous decline for half a century, the “racist” epithet is as common as it ever was. Indeed, white liberals now report seeing more racism against blacks than blacks themselves do. This is partly because the definition of “racism” has expanded to include banalities like asking where someone’s family is from, while dubious schools of thought such as Robin DiAngelo’s “white fragility” theory have been popularized in media and academic circles. These developments have seen the concomitant ascendance of implicit association testing and anti-bias training. This discrepancy between the reality of racial progress and the ever-expanding definition of racism in modern life is responsible for much of the confusion in a mainstream debate that routinely conflates racism with racial inequality.

For example, when the term “white supremacy” is employed in public discourse, it implicates persons, institutions, and policies in a vast web of oppression held to be fundamental to the life of the nation itself. Nikole Hannah-Jones, head of the New York Times’s 1619 Project tells us that “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country,” a metaphor that commentators have noted implies permanence. In his 2017 book We Were Eight Years In Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates argued that white supremacy is “a force so fundamental to America that it is difficult to imagine the country without it.” In this rendering, “white supremacy” describes (and purports to explain) the mass privileging of whites at the collective expense of nonwhites in perpetuity.

If we are to make further meaningful progress against racism, there needs to be broad agreement about what it is. There is nothing approaching that at present, and it is difficult to achieve because challenging the prevailing view tends to elicit a startling degree of moralizing invective. But if racism can’t be clearly identified in particular policies or individuals, there isn’t an obvious third place for it to be found.

Crisis in Levittown

The term “institutional racism” was first invoked by Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael (aka Kwame Ture) in his 1967 book Black Power: The Politics Of Liberation:

Racism is both overt and covert. It takes two, closely related forms: individual whites acting against individual blacks, and acts by the total white community against the black community. We call these individual racism and institutional racism… The second type is less overt, far more subtle, less identifiable in terms of specific individuals committing the acts. But it is no less destructive of human life. The second type originates in the operation of established and respected forces in the society.

Carmichael provides an example of each kind: “When a black family moves into a home in a white neighborhood and is stoned, burned, or routed out, they are victims of an overt act of individual racism which many people will condemn—at least in words. But it is institutional racism that keeps black people locked in dilapidated slum tenements, subject to the daily prey of exploitative slumlords, merchants, loan sharks, and discriminatory real estate agents.” Over time, “institutional racism” came to be understood using a “systems theory” framework, in which a system is a conglomeration of interrelated and inter-dependent factors more powerful than the sum of its parts. Here, individual racism isn’t necessary for the recreation of racial inequality. Instead, a systemically racist structure churns out such pervasive inequality that it cannot be explained by the sum total of racist individuals and actions within it.

Carmichael’s example of housing segregation is worth considering, particularly the historic practice of “redlining” whereby black neighborhoods were systematically denied good credit. When black Americans migrated north after the failure of southern Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow, whites feared the property values of their neighborhoods would depreciate upon their arrival. So, they took a number of steps to prevent it—from propagandizing to firebombing to literally paying black people to walk up and down their street to stoke fears of an impending influx. The upshot was that a majority of blacks were made to live in economically deprived and socially blighted communities.

In his groundbreaking essay for the Atlantic entitled “The Case For Reparations,” Ta-Nehisi Coates unpacks the systemic element of this practice. Along with individual acts of racism such as “blockbusting” and selective price raising, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) adopted a system of maps by which neighborhoods were rated according to their potential value. This allowed them to determine whether mortgages would be insured and loans distributed. This is how the word redlining was coined:

On the maps, green areas, rated “A,” indicated “in demand” neighborhoods that, as one appraiser put it, “lacked a single foreigner or negro.” These neighborhoods were considered excellent prospects for insurance. Neighborhoods where black people lived were rated “D” and were usually considered ineligible for FHA backing. They were colored in red. Neither the percentage of black people living there nor their social class mattered. Black people were viewed as a contagion.

Image from “The Case for Reparations” in the Atlantic.

Levittown, Pennsylvania, was a planned community in the metropolitan area built during the 1950s. FHA financing was only made available to those of “the Caucasian race,” as stipulated in sales agreements and deed covenants. William J. Levitt, the real estate developer behind the various Levittown projects, didn’t consider himself racist despite these appalling policies, believing that housing and race relations were entirely separate matters. This seems to provide a clear illustration of an autonomous racist system, able to generate racially disparate results without necessitating individual racist attitudes to reproduce itself.

But this analysis misplaces responsibility for the more direct forms of racism that allowed such historical injuries to occur in the first place. It was true that when blacks moved into a neighborhood, property values often declined, but this had everything to do with northern whites’ racist perceptions of blacks, which, at the time, were so commonplace as to be banal. Without these perceptions, it is unlikely that the laws and institutional practices Coates describes would have existed at all. Conversely, it is likely that racial segregation would result without the role of federal government if predominant anti-black attitudes and norms remained.

There was certainly an institutional incentive to keep neighborhoods white, but redlining was an outgrowth of interpersonal racist dynamics, emanating from culturally enshrined perceptions, and executed by individual agents—loan officers, realtors, sellers, federal housing administrators, and citizens—without whom, housing segregation couldn’t have occurred. Rare footage from a short documentary on Levittown made in the 1950s shows the degree to which racist beliefs motivated white homeowners in the northern states. It was filmed in the wake of the infamous integration experience of Bill and Daisy Myers which culminated in violent riots. Although not every resident interviewed was virulently anti-black, many were, and conspiratorial rumors about the Myers couple rapidly proliferated through the community:

What unfolded in Levittown and across the country was a product of racist attitudes held by individuals, not a subtle consequence of an implicit bias or structural imbalance. The racial divisions engendered by redlining practices were not more than the sum of their parts, but what we would expect from people with the views they held.

Systemic racism vs. racial inequality

Distinguishing the structural from the interpersonal roots of racial inequality is crucial to understanding the obstacles to self-realization experienced by historically injured groups. And that understanding can help mitigate the polarization that makes it difficult to address those inequalities that persist. Racism and racial inequality are separate problems, and the assumption that the former always explains the latter disrupts our ability to develop solutions to the complex social problems that disproportionately impact minority communities.

The problem is that many of the examples of systemic racism commonly offered by progressive analysts are poorly conceived and defined, and possess little predictive power. For instance, an infamous study in which black “looking” names received fewer call-backs from job recruiters provides prima facie evidence of discrimination on the part of the recruiters but no evidence that this is systemic. Furthermore, replications of the study have found similar results for Asian names. Given the astounding success of East Asian and Indian Americans, the original study’s findings can explain very little about the causes of the nationwide achievement gaps between blacks and whites.

“Systemic racism” is a term often used to explain the social and economic legacy of historical injustice and white supremacy, its cultural heritage, and the ongoing consequences of each. Indeed, Coates’s entire argument for reparations is based on the compounding impacts of redlining practices, even though the 1968 Fair Housing Act made them illegal. This concern is no doubt sincere and substantiated with reference to black/white differentials in intergenerational transfers of wealth, disproportionate rates of single parent homes in the black community, or demographic differences in sentencing irrespective of past criminality (which likely has to do with the kinds of neighborhoods many black boys are brought up in through no fault of their own). There is an undeniable weight to our history, and although its impact may sometimes be overstated, it is a moral and an analytical mistake to dismiss its lingering effects altogether.

But does the term “racism” usefully illuminate these phenomena? I don’t think so. When most people hear that word, they aren’t thinking about the complex system of interactions between groups in society that advantages some and disadvantages others, nor the present inequalities produced by historical racism, but rather interpersonal and individual forms of racial resentment and hatred, traditionally understood. Expanding the concept to incorporate any inequality in outcome or undesirable policy is a category error with a potentially heavy cost. Labeling policy preferences we dislike racist can increase support for those policies among certain demographics and make skeptics more receptive to populist arguments. And by waging a cultural war against an intangible and all-pervasive structural force, we fail to identify and shame specific acts of racism, and shroud legitimate claims in uncertainty, confusion, and doubt.

“Systemic racism” is a profoundly unhelpful idea that refuses to acknowledge the progress made in stigmatizing prejudice and promoting norms of mutual respect and tolerance. Contra Ibram X Kendi, racism in America today is not systemic, beyond the fact that some people are racist and people exist in social systems. The term “racial inequality” more accurately describes ongoing disparities in outcome, but it does not ascribe blame a priori. We are therefore more likely to be encouraged to investigate the causes of these disparities rather than to be deterred by accusatory terms like “systemic racism” and “white supremacy” that purport to explain everything but in fact explain nothing. Conflating the universal human propensity for racial bias with the bloody history of discarded systems and structures such as slavery and Jim Crow is a way of taking neither seriously. We can address continuing racial inequality in our society while acknowledging that racism no longer defines our cultural and political landscape.

 

Samuel Kronen is an independent writer interested in culture, politics, and identity. You can follow him on Twitter @SalmonKromeDome

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

Comments

  1. Systemic racism is pretty near the perfect excuse for failure. You don’t have to prove it exists.

  2. Yeah, imagine any other non-white majority country having to “justify” wanting to remain a majority? Is that “racist”? Nope. Yet it is in the USA. How did we get here? Where are we going? No-one knows.

  3. Redlining was a perfectly legitimate procedure easily defended by mathematics. What determined a redlined neighborhood was the likelihood of profitable repayment. If making a loan was likely to be unprofitable, it wasn’t made. If making loans in a particular neighborhood wasn’t profitable, few were made.

    That blacks lower property values isn’t due to “racist attitudes”. It’s due to the behavior of blacks. High crime and bad schools make real estate worth less, if the local white people gouged out their eyes to avoid the sin of noticing it wouldn’t change anything.

    One side of a street in my city has real estate worth 10x the other side. Why? The school zoning on one side is majority white and the other side is majority black. Both census tracts voted 9/10 for Hillary and are full of the progressive whites that would faint if you called them racist. Racism didn’t make one side of the street less valuable, blacks did.

  4. Although not all systemic and structural racism may be confined to the ambitions of a stable family and a school that maintains a strict system of low-level discipline (such as detentions), any rough estimate of the disparities will come to the conclusion that at least 80% of any systemic difference must be down to family and school.

    The Michaela Community School in London employs a similar approach to school discipline and family participation (although their education model is didactic and traditional), but waits until after the lottery process to tell parents of the home support for schooling that they’ve just signed up for. Their results are similarly exemplary.

    Once one understands the importance of discipline in the school and the home (whether the latter is administered within a single parent family, or a stable couple), it is then important to address the role of productive fathers in communities as social enforcers. The research of Dr Raj Chetty on social mobility is highly informative in this regard, showing a clear causative relationship between the percentage of fathers in a community and migration from the bottom 20% of the income spectrum to the top 20%.

    What makes fathers even more important within a neighbourhood, is the immunisation they collectively provide teenage boys from the predatory influences of grooming by gang elders.

    This document shows the disparities between rates of incarceration and victimisation by homicide, with victims almost always murdered by their own ethnic group.

    https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/race-report-statistics

    To understand the roots of almost all disparities it’s as though we need a new (or old) set of lenses, rather like the Quantum Venn Diagram Paradox- because without the crucial understanding of the role of strict schools, educationally active parents, responsible fathers and truant boys, any attempts to come to grips with the real roots of disparity is creating heat, without shedding light.

  5. It is late in the evening, the bartender is flashing the lights, it is last call. This is the state of racism in the west. Voting barriers have been abolished, public accommodations are open to all, minorities in the U.S. occupy high places in government, industry and business. The racism of the past is subject to penalties and redress. Yet some can’t let go. They can’t admit it is last call. They have no place else to go when the lights go out and the bar closes. They are scared. What will they do next? How can the party end? They will do anything, claim anything even fake things to keep the party going. It is time western countries said good night to this chapter of its history.

  6. If the US is “systemically racist”, how can you explain why millions, if not ten or hundreds of millions, of Africans would jump at the opportunity to live here?

    And how do you explain the fact that the Africans who do make it here generally do quite well economically, on par with Asians and Indians?

    No, the problem is that we have a black underclass whose “leadership” constantly tells them that their problems are all due to somebody else (which is true to some extent), but far worse, that they themselves don’t need to do anything about it because somebody else will fix it for them. And when–surprise, surprise–when nobody fixes those problems, the black “leadership” gets to scream “racism” (and maintain their “leadership” positions), and the white liberals get to feel virtuous wallowing in their guilt.

  7. If you wanted to create dissension in a society, it would make sense to tell one group that they were systematically oppressed by another. Everything they do at every turn is hampered by the other group, and it’s hopeless to overcome it.

    If you wanted to heal divisions in a society, you would downplay existing problems. Not pretend they don’t exist, but emphasize in every case how an oppressed group could overcome their disadvantages, and call attention to every instance of progress in relations between groups.

    In short, I can’t help but feel that people who emphasize racial grievances are not trying to make things better. Instead of focussing on individual behaviour that can change and improve, they have staked their case for an amorphous “systemic racism” and “white privilege” that affects everyone unconsciously and inescapably. There is no solution that I can see. Even if blacks had all the political power for a century, they could still be said to be oppressed by the racist mindset that America had in the past. People who hawk this view of society just want to watch the world burn.

  8. That the US and most other white majority democracies are systemically anti-white is beyond question. As a group, paradoxically, blacks suffer more under this anti-white status quo than whites do:

    (1) Ceaseless claims of ubiquitous anti-black racism encourage victim mentality and discourage self sufficiency in blacks.

    (2) Affirmative action programs admit unqualified black students into universities, almost guaranteeing a higher rate of failure. Non-black students likely think black students didn’t earn their way in, even if many would have gained admission without affirmative action. Black students probably feel insecure about the perception other students have of their academic ability.

    (3) Laws aimed at penalizing companies for firing black employees make them reluctant to hire black candidates in the first place.

    (4) Welfare programs, while not inherently anti-white, disproportionately impact black recipients with their pernicious discouraging of work and encouraging of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

  9. That’s because race is the most predictive trait that one might need to be stopped, and a black cop is as likely as a white cop to stop a young black male because they can’t help but know what they know regarding criminality. Instinctive in-group out-group racism is built-in to the nature of humans but, tho it is the height of incorrectness to say it, if you prove your worth whitey will eventually give you a pass. At the end of the day whitey is actually the fairest guy on the planet, he will even give a black guy the keys to the White House. He was giving a gay guy serious consideration for the same. My own favorite Rat candidate was a woman. Know what? Whitey isn’t nearly as bad as he is made out to be. That’s why Asians are now fully accepted by whitey but actively discriminated against by the woke – because they are self-propelled successes and they don’t break the law very often.

  10. I don’t see this. Systemic racism would mean the government and the white majority are acting to keep minorities down. Indian-Americans, Jews and East Asian Americans are all outperforming white Americans. How come systemic racism isn’t keeping them down?

    If you are going to say slavery only applied to blacks in the US then perhaps you can point to successful black countries where whites didn’t enslave blacks? Any African country will do.

    If oppression is an excuse for under-performance, how do you explain Israel? Jews are the most persecuted people in history culminating in their attempted extermination less than 100 years ago yet many of those who founded Israel and made it the country it is today actually suffered in Europe through real persecution, and did so while under several attacks by their Arab neighbors.

    Your example of foreign names not getting callbacks is more than offset by affirmative action and the millions, if not billions, black Americans have received through welfare and housing over the decades.

    If systemic racism is pervasive, how do you explain the dozens of blacks made millionaires every year through sports, music and films, the majority of the money which comes from white fans?

    In light of the success of Indian-Americans, Jews and East Asian Americans I think it’s incredulous to talk about systemic racism. Rather, what people who use the loaded phrase mean is we need an excuse for the poverty and crime in the BLACK community.

    “…a reasonably clear description of the core issue under consideration and consistent predictive power.” Does this extend to what plagues the black populations around the world, and what can be done to bring their standard of living to many advanced countries?

    Edited to add: How did a black man become president of a systemically racist country?

  11. While I hate all the “white man is the devil” crap being pushed by the social justice mob, I am not too sure if the reported IQ differences between races are “fact”. For example, the average IQ of Equitorial Guinea is 59. If that is really true then the people of that country would be unable to operate virtually any kind of machine, or cook, or learn a route from home to work. So I do think external factors can play a role. It is often noted that Asians score high on IQ tests, but in Asian culture math skills are taught early as are the importance of tests, which in late life determine what schools you can get into and what jobs will you get. An Asian child will often be severely scolded for performing poorly on a test. In African, including African~American, culture, there is far less importance attached to education. Doing well on an IQ test demands intelligence, obviously, but also patience, a willingness to try and solve the problem presented. I think an IQ test is just an annoying scrap of paper to a black person. There is no impetus to try. In other words, I don’t think the racial differences in IQ scores necessarily point to a genetic deficiency, but more likely a cultural deficiency. To be honest, I think black people currently endure more oppression from their own race, than from whites.

  12. The problem with all discussions like this is that it is impossible to separate what I would call normal, awful everyday human behavior from racism. People normally treat each other pretty badly. Maybe not everyone, and maybe not all the time, but life is full of unpleasant interactions. I am sure I am not the only person who has ever felt the sting of being treated badly. Whenever this occurs between two persons with different skin colors, then shabby behavior is always going to be attributed to the difference in race. This is why “racism” is never going to go away. People will always feel being treated badly has something to do with their group. It is especially true that people will treat others badly when money is on the line. Businesses will treat potential costumers with few financial resources much different from those with many resources. One customer gets the red carpet, the other gets put on hold. It has nothing to do with skin color and everything to do with money.

  13. Absolutely, but all the problems you list can only be fixed by the community itself. It is because their parents got pregnant out of wedlock that they live in single-parent homes. It’s because their neighbours join gangs and act up at school that they live in rough neighbourhoods with horrible schools. It’s because their parents make irresponsible choices that they have no role models or health insurance. The government can incentivize behaviour to a degree, but ultimately everyone chooses for themselves what path they walk down.

    Racism plays a minor role in life outcomes, which is why black women achieve similar results as white women when the socioeconomic status of the parents is accounted for. Yes, people with “ethnic” names get called back less, but that’s more likely to be a proxy for culture than race.

    As I believe @AsenathWaite suggested, if you want people to think better of black people, particularly on an unconscious level, they have to first have more positive experiences with black people. Prejudice exists because the brain identifies patterns. There’s no avoiding prejudice, only encouraging better prejudices by changing the pattern.

    The only black people I knew as a child were my friend Kayla and her family. They were the wealthiest people I knew. The father was a lawyer, the mother a homemaker, and they lived in a mansion with a beautiful winding staircase. Kayla’s little sister was gentle and kind as a princess. Between my absent ex-convict alcoholic father, my mum bagging groceries, and living in my grandparents’ basement with a violent, cocaine-addicted uncle, I couldn’t help but long for the beautiful happy life I observed at Kayla’s house. I thus grew up with exceedingly positive impressions of black people.

    Contrast this with the situation in many black American communities. When I was in your neck of the woods, San Francisco, the black people I saw were obese, abusive, and stupid. In one short week I observed two violent attacks on elderly Asian people in broad daylight. They all walked around with gigantic chips on their shoulders. My only positive experience was with a security guard, a kind, hard-working single mum from Alabama, who claimed San Francisco was far more racist than back home.

    If I had grown up in such an environment, I am certain I would harbour terrible prejudices against black people. How could I not, seeing so many behave terribly with my own eyes? Until black people as individuals chose to do their best to transcend their circumstances, not only will there be no change in their outcomes, negative prejudices will persist.

  14. One of my most influential teachers was a black man. Ironically, he bravely helped me out of a habit of grievance thinking. This was back in the early 90’s. Forced by proxy to think of race far more than I would like to, I notice that the stuff they’re spinning these days is mostly myth designed to make the white savior continue along his supremacist path. Because the very notion that racism is “systemic” or “institutionalized” elevates the progressive pushing that narrative. For example, a friend years ago posted on Facebook that his parents read to him, gave him an advanced vocabulary, instilled in him a love of education and ideas…blah blah…" Well you know he wouldn’t have had it any other way, but THAT’S white supremacy. Teaching your kids a love of education – rather than telling them that the educational system itself is “white supremacy.”

    Which brings me to the two black women I overheard at the bus stop talking about the black kids they’re teaching. How they don’t even know how to color a picture. Because their parents don’t engage them in these commonplace “white supremacist” activities. Yet somehow, the black kids’ lackluster performance in school is due to “white supremacy” or “institutionalized racism.” What this means is that when white parents read to their kids, and teach them to color – they are teaching their kids to be ‘racist.’

    Institutionalized racism is figuring out how to pay your bills on time. Robbing Peter to pay Paul if you have to. It’s “white supremacy” that you have to have good credit to get an apartment in an American city. I have observed online blacks seeing their landlords as inhuman entities forcing them to do things they shouldn’t have to do – like pay their rent on time. That’s institutional racism. Don’t these landlords know that blacks don’t have to play by the same rules as everyone else? Anyone insisting that they have to meet deadlines is …racist.

    Get good grades? Racist. Publish an original paper in one’s academic field? (a job that one got more through skin color than merit? Then again – if merit were imposed --racist!) If an academic is black, they need not publish papers on the actual discipline. No --they write about RACISM. Expecting an African-American Classicist to write about CLASSICS is…racist!

    There are now POC writing workshops. To keep the precious POC’s safe from the elitists who love them.

    White people move into what you think is a “black” neighborhood? Genocide! Racism! They’re trying to annihilate the precious black people! If a white person isn’t concerned, first and foremost, with the well being of a black person – that’s racist! But the black person can hate the white person with impunity. Anything else would be racist.

    All this said, ‘institutional racism’ is the expectation that black Americans should follow the same rules as everyone else. Those…white rules.

    I end my rant with this quote:
    “The upshot was that a majority of blacks were made to live in economically deprived and socially blighted communities.”

    They were not “made to live in economically deprived…blighted communities.” They create them. No one MAKES people live that way. You CAN be poor and be civil at the same time. If you can’t be civil, THEN you have blight.

    In other words, “white supremacy” is the ability to maintain decency even when poor. And by the logic above, white people are the cruel stepparents of blacks, “forcing” them to live in “blight.” As if the white cart it into the “community” and set it down on the porch.

    Blacks, like any other ‘race’ – have the ability to figure out how to support themselves. They can create their own businesses and live separate from whites – that seems to be what pleases most of them. Those that want to do things 'the white way" get the red carpet rolled out for them. Those that don’t can find their own way.

    Whites have been doing that for centuries.

  15. I lived and worked in Africa for 23 years, mostly in southern Africa (Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia), but also in Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Ghana, and Guinea Conakry. During all those years and in all my travels, I consistently experienced goodness and decency wherever I went. There was brutality at times, to be sure, and there was heartbreaking poverty and disease (I had a front row seat during the emergence of HIV), but the grace and hospitality I experienced remains a cherished memory. My friends and colleagues from those years remain close, and during a recent visit to a small college in Zimbabwe where I once worked, the former maintenance director saw me, started crying, and bear-hugged me for long minutes. I can never forget those wonderful people. What color were they? They were human color.

    But I do not understand these Negroists, like Ta-Nehisi Coates, and what it is they want. During an interim between Africa jobs, I worked in Maryland in an office where I collaborated frequently with a Ghanaian colleague and an Ethiopian colleague, both PhDs. One morning, I interrupted a conversation they were having about the attitudes and culture of “African” Americans, and why it was that they remained so impoverished and miserable with their lives in what one of my colleagues referred to as the World’s Candy Store, where opportunity was there for the taking and where every African child dreamed of living. They were both at loss to explain it. Another time, my Ghanaian colleague and I drove past a neighborhood protest of some kind and barbeque in northeast Washington D.C. My colleague appraised the scene and finally snorted, “Those people have time for barbeque and feckless protests, but never have time to take their children to the library.” He didn’t understand the Negroists either.

    Maybe it all boils down to culture, and especially, failed culture. In my thinking, I’m going to leave it at that, because I refuse to hate people for something they can’t change, such as the color of their skin, but I’m happy to give them hell for their stupid ideas and failed culture.

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