How to Deal with White Working Class Racism?

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  1. Will Apse profile image89
    Will Apseposted 6 years ago

    I come from a white working class background, so I'm pretty familiar with this issue.

    My parents were not that bad. They colluded with racism without actively promulgating racist views or working up false justifications. They were typical of the low level racists in the UK at the time. The black people they knew personally were fine but that didn't prove a thing, lol.

    Anyway, it always seemed to me that racism was all about excluding competitors from the better jobs and finding excuses for that.

    With Brexit there is plenty of evidence that the more virulent racists have been empowered. White kids in school are telling kids of other cultures to go home. Polish cultural centers are being attacked etc etc

    Given the continuing bitterness around affirmative action in the US, the rise of Trump, comments in these forums and the attitudes of Americans that I know personally, I reckon white working class racism is on the upswing worldwide.

    Is there anything that can be done?

    1. lions44 profile image95
      lions44posted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I disagree; it is not on the rise. Trump is a last gasp of the past.  Like you, I grew up in white working class background (the Bronx).  My parents had views typical of their day.  But I don't see much of a future for these types of beliefs.  The structure of our economy is changing and that scares people here in the States, many from our "rust belt."

      While I sympathize, the changes are inevitable.  I would say 50% or more of Trump's support are baby boomers. In 25 years, that demographic will be greatly diminished.  Trump often talks about getting those "Reagan Democrats" from the 1980s.  Most of them are already gone or retired. 

      Another reason for hope, many Republicans, like myself, reject Trump.  As far as I'm concerned, if you are not for free trade, and limited government , you are not a Republican.  Trump is neither.  While I agree with Trump on the Iraq War, he is a bad messenger.  Hopefully he is just a bump in the road. However, the racial and ethnic hatred he has engendered might last another decade.

      1. Will Apse profile image89
        Will Apseposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Good to meet a decent conservative from the US in these forums. I must admit several of the local Americans in our expat community fit that description too, but we also have mere bigots and they talk a lot louder.

        So we seem to agree that confronting bigots is one approach to dealing with white working class racism. If I am putting words in your mouth, tell me.

        Another day we can disagree on the role of democratic governments, lol.

      2. Credence2 profile image78
        Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

        The fact that so many people support Trump and his vacuous ideas proves that he is more than just a flash in the pan. There are still many, many people that are captivated by Trump's message of 'back to the future'. Obviously, the beliefs of both yours and Will's parents are hardly out of style.

        1. Live to Learn profile image59
          Live to Learnposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          Some people are raised in a manner which creates racist ideas. Many more come to them through observation of society at work.

          I think it would be more productive for us to listen to each other and attempt to understand how, and why, seemingly racist ideas rise. I don't think anyone begrudges a level playing field. It's when things appear to be lopsided that we search out the cause and lash out at it.Sometimes we lash out in the wrong direction.

          Our government has done a poor job of ensuring fairness. Some programs are, rightfully so, labeled reverse discrimination. I've been the victim of a few. I don't begrudge the individuals who benefited. I lament the idiocy of the idea. Attempting to make amends for past wrongs by randomly rewarding individuals who were not, personally, harmed by those acts creates present wrongs. I would think we could understand the angst created when the most qualified is passed over so that the most qualified of the right ethnic group could receive a coveted position.

          It's difficult for me to understand how someone who feels oppressed cannot see how circumstances might make others feel the same. I would think we would work together, collectively, to alleviate the circumstances which create the perception for a need for a <fill in the blank with your preferred ethnicity> power movement and work together as Americans to ensure Americans all have the same opportunities, unfettered by the discussion of race.

          1. Credence2 profile image78
            Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

            I appreciate the concept of listening and having a desire to truly understand.

            I disagree with you only on the point of the desire of most for a level playing field. Over my life and career, I often had to question that basic assumption.

            I was keen on your account of all of the black female managers at the bank, who were clearly not qualified for the positions they held and were nothing more than a quota filled by a commercial enterprise. The bank was engaged in bias promoting the idea among their customers that quotas give Minority candidates undeserved advantages. The bank never really intended to train these people, but parade them around to add to racial resentment.

            These programs were created initially as part of a concept to level a playing that in AMERICAN history had be unlevel for too long. If the bank were seriously attempting to diversify its staff of officers, it would have focused on making sure that all similarly qualified people had the opportunity for a career there, not hire clearly unqualified people over others simply because they are part of a minority group. It sounds simple, but in my career that was not always something that I could take for granted. When being superbly qualified for the positions that I applied for did not mean that I was going to be fairly considered and treated. That is why the 'programs' were necessary in the first place.

            I hear you, racism is a rather distasteful attitude from a lesser evolved society and people. But, so much of itis human nature, protecting your tribe over the others. Survival into future for us all will require civility and vigilance. As Capt. Kirk once described the 20th century as a primitive and paranoid culture, he needed to extend that to the early 21st century, as well. Let's hope that we can learn to control our petty passions and reflexes to witness a human race that can evolve beyond its infancy. (Capt. Jean-luc Piccard)

            Perhaps, I was born 200 years too early.

            1. Live to Learn profile image59
              Live to Learnposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              I believe you on the not yet a level playing field. My daughter in law has a friend whose name implies that she is black. (She is) She couldn't get a call back on an application for a job. She changed from writing her name out to abbreviating and going by her first two initials. She started getting call backs immediately. Most interviewers told her they had assumed she was a guy from the name. She soon landed a good job. It would be hard to attribute the initial silence from prospective employers as anything other than suspicious, from either angle.

              1. Credence2 profile image78
                Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

                Great observation, at least you are willing to take the effort and open your eyes and actually critically look, I wish that more could do the same.

              2. profile image0
                jonnycomelatelyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                Good dialogue here.

                Can it be that fear is the basic emotion driving racial prejudice?  Fear fed by ignorance?
                I wonder how that woman's new colleagues adjusted their assessment of her, once they got to know her. 
                This whole subject points to insular living, where individuals don't get to mix with people of other cultures, religions, ethnic groups.  It's the fear that "they" will infiltrate "our" world and disturb out way of life.  "They" might come and lower the real estate value in "our" neighbourhood, and my house will not be worth much.  Or "they" smell of garlic; don't want that sort of stink around here. 

                How much of this action/reaction is animal instinct, lurking below our humanity?

          2. Will Apse profile image89
            Will Apseposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            I don't think the aim was to randomly reward a few individuals. It was designed to impact at the community level. Black people in positions of authority or in high status jobs encourages black kids to aspire.

            It was also designed to help create a core middle class which would have rippling benefits for entire communities.

            Of course, as Solarsis pointed out in another thread, black middle class families flee poor neighborhoods as fast as white middle class families.

            Social experiments often have unintended consequences.

            I still think that quota systems to reflect an area's ethnic diversity help, but don't expect a rapid result. These things work out over generations.

            1. wilderness profile image96
              wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              Quota systems - forced legal racism - do help diversity.  They also increase racism and bad feelings in the race(s) being discriminated against.

              1. Will Apse profile image89
                Will Apseposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                Those who previously approved (or did not challenge) the exclusion of competitors from the job market on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity or gender would no doubt be aggrieved by any kind of attempt to redress the balance.

                Anyway, in a country like the US, there should be plenty to go round.

                Irish Protestants and Catholics soon gave up their differences when they reached the New World. I reckon whites can make some room for minorities.

                1. Live to Learn profile image59
                  Live to Learnposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                  LOL. You are truly missing the point. You are assuming that the people you are accusing of racism somehow approved or did not challenge. As if these 'working class' people were somehow responsible for disparities in the system. You seem to think the average white in America has a whole lot of power.

                  And, 'a country like the U.S.' Unlike say, Great Britain who exported their racism throughout the world.

                  It fascinates me how people in other countries can make such judgments about us which are not based in any truth that I am aware of. They appear to take a clip of something like a KKK rally and somehow think that is America.

                  1. Will Apse profile image89
                    Will Apseposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                    Put it this way. The US is the richest country in the world. If it cannot help those citizens who have been deliberately excluded for so long it is not a resource issue. It is a question of values and attitudes.

                  2. Credence2 profile image78
                    Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

                    L to L, you just told me that you saw the effects of discrimination against a Black friend of your family. People don't just choose to live in the inner city if they had they a choice. Availability of employment, having the resources and support systems to move has to be factored in. It is more involved then just resigning yourself to live there. While the average white person may not have been the instigator of America's heritage of racial inequity, most, while being aware, chose to sit and acquiesce in it. It was only a handful of courageous ones that dared to challenge the hypocrisy that was at the foundation of Equal Opportunity Employment in America for so long.

                    When I lived in Montana a member of the Crow Tribe once told me ' of course we cannot blame those whites living today for the carnage experienced by my people over a century ago, but if you were so sincere  and apologetic, why not return the land that your ancestors had stolen? That possession of stolen property that whites today use to their advantage and our detriment.' So, you may not have stolen the horse, but it is still mine, why are you using it? What disadvantages do I live with because I do not have the horse, that stolen property that you claimed was not your fault.  Give it back.

                    I think that our ENGLISH friend is closer to the mark on much more of this than we would like to admit.
                    I certainly do live here and have lived here and have personally experienced much of the problems being discussed, first hand.

            2. Live to Learn profile image59
              Live to Learnposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              We are all aware of what the aim was. We are also aware of what the outcome was. It does not work the way we hope it will primarily because the people who are affected by the attempt at a solution were not part of the system which created the problem. It's what I would refer to as a public school mentality.

              Think of it this way. Say your father's father's uncle's brother-in-law took a horse from your great grandfather. Does that give someone the right to now take your car, in an attempt to correct the injustice?  That is what we are looking at today. You are pondering how I, as a white person, am supposed to deal with another person's assumptions and actions. I'm sure it makes you feel good to attempt to empathize with the plight of people you consider to have been historically mistreated; however my neighbor is not that person, is not treated in that manner, and has the full force of the law to attest to that.

              We cannot correct past wrongs without current wrongs done in an attempt to achieve it. If you feel this way, what do you think should be done to the German people to atone for the sins of WWII?  What should be done to the British for the sins committed during the days of the Empire?  Or, what should be done to the British to atone for their actions in Ireland and the African Continent? What about Turkey and its treatment of the Armenians?

              I am aware of what the programs hope to accomplish. I am not anti affirmative action I am simply a realist. The majority of blacks in America do the same as every other American. They struggle to achieve the American dream. I can understand how any individual will take advantage of any program available in order to achieve that. However, when you have some individuals being given advantages that others are not, then those others who are on the same path and feel thwarted in their effort to keep astride of the Joneses will look to the reasons why? Someone who might have previously been color blind is no more. And we set the stage for the cycle of animosity to begin again.

              Of course they do. No one bothers to think about those prior to starting the experiment. However, I will say that a white person ignoring the effects of these social experiments displays as high a degree of racism (in my mind) as those who react negatively.

              We shall see. If the goal is to have a color blind society, these quota systems will continue to set us back.

              Edit. I'd like to add one thing. You commented that black middle class families flee the inner cities as quickly as do whites. There is no seat belt on any individual in any location in America. People choose to live in crime ridden areas. People choose to raise their children where gang activity is prevalent. People choose and their children are victims of those choices, more so than a victim of society, at large. I should not have to feel guilty and somehow pay for those choices.

    2. profile image0
      ahorsebackposted 6 years agoin reply to this



  2. Live to Learn profile image59
    Live to Learnposted 6 years ago

    You stand firmly against it. I suppose as a white person you feel somehow tainted by white racism. But I see black racism on a daily basis. Indian and Pakistani racism on a daily basis and have been exposed to racism by other ethnicities. It's all the same to me.

    Just because one ethnic group might be larger, or more powerful, doesn't imply that their racism is any worse than another. Feeling tainted by the behavior of one group and not similar behavior by another somehow implies that racism is ok as long as it doesn't create an economic disadvantage to the people you hate.

  3. profile image0
    jonnycomelatelyposted 6 years ago

    Thanks for contributions to date.  Worthwhile and important discussion
      I don't know the full answer...but the more we get intimate and friendly exposure to other people/culture/backgrounds, and get to acknowledge/accept/live with difference, the better this world will become - IMHO.

  4. Tracey Henton profile image58
    Tracey Hentonposted 6 years ago

    I feel the same way

  5. Will Apse profile image89
    Will Apseposted 6 years ago

    I'm pretty good at reading texts of any kind.

    I just looked back through this thread and what I see is a great sense of disapointment and fear of being left behind among many of the contributers.

    It is hard to extend a helping hand to anyone when you feel hard done by and there is the constant anxiety that tommorrow will be worse.

    Optimism and a sense that things could be better are in short supply.

    Anger, envy and blame are the easiest options.

    I don't see much difference in the UK. In London where I lived for thity years, I rarely heard a racist comment. But London is full of opertunity.

    In other areas, where things have not gone so well, social attitudes have hardly changed since I was a kid.

    Anyway best of luck. Try to imagine a better tommorow.


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