July 04, 2013

America's "colorblind racism"

Don’t call it “Independence Day”

I love July 4. But what is “independence,” if full freedom still doesn't exist for everyone in this country?

By Edward Wyckoff Williams
Comedian Chris Rock sparked a debate a year ago today, when he tweeted: “Happy white people’s independence day! The slaves weren’t free but I’m sure they enjoyed fireworks.” The sentiment expressed in Rock’s comments reflect the profundity of racial inequalities by challenging Americans to remember the stark realities of the past.

Recently, liberals and conservatives alike were outraged by the revelation that the National Security Agency, under the auspices of the Patriot Act, were collecting phone records and data on millions of citizens. The thought of the government recording their intimate calls outraged their sensibilities and sparked a national debate. Likewise, following an outcry from angry travelers, changes have been introduced to curb post-9/11 Transportation Security Administration practices that allow airport security to aggressively search, screen and frisk flight passengers.

This is what one may call “white people problems.”

For, you see, young black boys and black men in the Bronx and Brooklyn are stopped and frisked by police while walking to McDonald’s. They are criminalized and stigmatized—seen as suspicious and treated without respect. This culture is so deeply embedded that both police and citizens alike regard Skittles as a deadly weapon when held in a black boy’s hand.
And:Let me be clear, Bloomberg is not a Ku Klux Klan member. He may not harbor ill will or intentional dislike for racial minorities, and blacks in particular. But he’s a racist nonetheless. His actions, attitude and statements reflect the essence of what sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva termed “colorblind racism.” In his book “Racism Without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States,” Bonilla-Silva explains that the “post-racial” form of racism is one that disavows individual racism, yet serves to perpetuate a hierarchy of white privilege in our society.

The author identifies four central frames at the core of colorblind racism: 1) abstract liberalism, 2) naturalization, 3) cultural racism and 4) minimization of racism.

In the Age of Obama, each has become more prevalent in America’s sociopolitical debates.

“Abstract liberalism” reflects the libertarian philosophy that social policy should not be engineered to achieve equal outcomes. “Naturalization” follows by allowing whites to justify inequitable outcomes as being the result of natural occurrences. “Cultural racism” uses loosely based facts and social phenomena to dismiss racial disparities. (e.g., “Mexicans do not put much emphasis on education” or “Blacks have too many babies”). “Minimization of racism” suggests discrimination is no longer a major problem by emphasizing the progress made. (The minimization theory can most recently be seen in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision invalidating Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, in which Chief Justice Roberts admitted that though racism still exists in the South, the very safeguards that achieved progress were no longer necessary.)
Comment:  For more on July 4th, see Why Indians Celebrate July 4th and No Independence Day Without Indians.


Rotfl-Stalin said...

" 'Abstract liberalism' reflects the libertarian philosophy that social policy should not be engineered to achieve equal outcomes." (end quote)

He's saying blacks can't be competitive with whites by themselves, and need the social engineering lift-up of affirmative action? Bravo, the slime molds of Stormfront are in full agreement!

Anonymous said...

Er good point I think. The idea that nonwhites are inferior somehow and can't compete in on a level playing field is a MAJOR fellow-traveler of the idea that we need Affirmative Action to tip the playing field in their advantage.