Racial issues have made a comeback in the national dialogue since we elected our first black president. The Tea Party’s overt hatred of President Obama has added fuel to the flames. But are they really racist, or do they just really hate the left?
One would have to believe that Obama was really left to believe it’s just about ideology. Most political observers say Obama has consistently been center to center right. So is there something more to this hatred of Obama then?
Conservatives often go crazy when anyone brings up race. They have used their typical methods of trying to make it taboo for anyone to play what they have labeled the “race card.” There is certainly a potential abuse that could or may have come into play on occasion. In general, however, I think it’s underplayed. Conservatives have been successful in scaring people away from this. There are many black people who virtually stay away from the race issue at all costs.
Many conservatives call for a colorblind approach to government. This, they claim, is the only true way not to be racist. For acknowledging race in policy is just a form of racism itself, they say. They certainly fight against things like affirmative action, but it goes much further than that. They refuse to acknowledge issues that affect racial minorities differently than whites, and by doing so are engaging in a much more subtle form of racism in their colorblindness.
There are many examples we can cite from. The most horrific issue is the mass incarceration of young black men in our prison system for non-violent drug crimes (mostly involving marijuana). Michelle Alexander writes about this subject in her book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” She describes how these crimes are enforced and prosecuted disproportionately on racial minorities, despite the evidence that drug use and crimes are just as prevalent in the white community.
The massive inequity in the prison system is ample proof that this is true. Meanwhile, America has SEVEN TIMES the percentage of its population in its prison system than any of the other post industrial democracies. Our country has 5 percent of the world’s people, 25 percent of the world’s people in prison. We spend more on our prisons than we do on education!
The way we draw our political districts must consider race, and being colorblind in that instance can be said to be nothing more than racist. How we divvy up diversity in our school districts is equally important, which clearly requires we not be colorblind. Sadly, school boards taken over by Tea Party candidates (bankrolled by Koch Brothers) have attempted to re-segregate schools in the south. How can we NOT see the Tea Party movement as having an inherently racist theme, given these circumstances?
Again, conservatives will deny any racist aspect of this, but building in requirements for photo i.d.s to vote will have a very significantly inequitable and disproportionate effect on racial minorities, especially when you are closing DMVs in their neighborhoods. How can you see acting in such a colorblind way as being anything other than racist?
I’ll make an important distinction. There is a difference between overt and malicious racism, and this more subtle form of racism which often is the outcome of negligence as opposed to malice. That’s not to say there isn’t any malice, as clearly those who are the architect of these policies and propagate them often do so knowing how they will affect racial minorities, and even do so intentionally. But I know that many of the rank and file supporters of these policies do not have that malice.
This video from the Onion News uses humor to get this message across. Humor is one of the best ways to broach difficult subjects.
Justin is the publisher The Nevada View, which has earned the recognition in the Washington Post’s “Best State-Based Political Blogs,” as well as being awarded the “Most Valuable Blogger Award” by the local CBS affiliate in 2011. Follow him on Twitter @McAffee