Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bad-faith attempts at minimizing racism in America

On Andrew Sullivan:

A reader writes:

The next person that tells me that the American people will not elect a black person to the Presidency will be asked to name five specific people - family, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers, you name it - who will not vote for Obama because he is black. I will then volunteer to contact those people to give them an opportunity to defend themselves against this tired, old, self-aggrandizing libel.

I seem to have more faith in the American people than some Democrats.

You also have a self-serving belief that racism is an issue of the past, still defend your promotion of The Bell Curve, and conveniently happen to be of an economic class, gender, and race that is shared by the overwhelming majority of "haves" in this country.

I don't know that it's true that Americans won't elect a black man President. I like to think it's not. I do know that 11% of Americans freely say they would not vote for a woman - any woman - to be President, and that 5% say they would not vote for any black person. I know that Department of Homeland Security officials think that blackface is hilarious. I know that most of America's leaders are white.

And I think there's a big difference between having faith in the American people and acknowledging the inequities in our country, especially the ones from which I benefit. A person cannot look at the white-dominated country we live in and in good faith believe that Americans are past the whole racism thing. Most especially, a person who is never on the receiving end of racial discrimination can't trust their own experience to convey to them the picture of race relations in America.
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