Not a Racist Society?

CHARLES UPHAUS

Well, maybe. But credit Dave Stegmaier for looking on the bright side of life. Yes, it’s true that de jure segregation may no longer exist. But that in no way begins to address issues of institutional racism, from the prevailing corporate culture to health care to housing to voting rights. I’m not sure how Dave defines a “racist” society, but actions do speak louder than words, and we’ve surely acted like one from the very beginning of our history, and continuing through 250 years of slavery, the eradication and forced removal of native Americans, another 100 years of segregation and Jim Crow, “redlining” and covenants that enforced segregated housing, to the current restrictions on immigration and voter suppression. It’s telling that only now is the broader population beginning to learn about Juneteenth and Tulsa and Wilmington. (And no, credit is not due to Donald Trump. Rather, credit is due to the technology that has made it possible to remove the veil and reveal, in heart-rending detail, how widespread and brutal racism can be.) The removal of monuments, rather than “erasing history,” is providing an incentive for many of us to learn it, at last. (And I include myself in that category.)

And with regard to “paternalistic social programs,” nothing can top the “culture of dependency” on the part of big corporate interests (energy, defense, finance, health care) with their snouts deep in the federal trough and the lobbyists and money to keep the system going. But the Trump party seems to have no problem with that.

Yes, there has been progress over the past 50 years, but starting from an abysmally low base. And by all means, let’s work to improve educational outcomes, expand opportunities, increase mentorship and apprenticeship programs, and encourage stable families. All of these will help. But let’s also not be naïve. Lower unemployment and greater HS completion rates would not have saved Ahmaud Arbery’s or George Floyd’s lives, nor would they have ended the necessity for parents to have “the talk” with their children. This country has never really confronted the darker pages of its history of racism and white privilege. And the Trump party seems to be okay with that as well. 

But it’s not okay. In fact, it’s way past time for change. Dave (“Pollyanna”) Stegmaier would have you believe the system just needs a little tweaking. The facts show something different.

Bill Fuller

Bill Fuller

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