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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Quota systems - forced legal racism - do help diversity. They also increase racism and bad feelings in the race(s) being discriminated against.
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.
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.
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.
I'll put it this way. There are many sides to the issue, many opinions on the issue. I'm a member of a biracial family so I hear more sides than some. I work with immigrants also, so I hear more sides than some. I like to think I attempt to see all sides of an issue and take into account the needs of all, while recognizing the wants of all.
I believe you said you are in the UK. You are commenting from a country other than ours. Even if you now live on this side of the pond you are forming opinions about us without the benefit of a lifetime of anecdotal evidence.
Trust me when I say you appear to be uninformed to the point that it would be best to focus on issues close enough to you to understand them fully. We are not the UK and sometimes the news media allows people to form opinions without the benefit of facts.
"If it cannot help those citizens..."
Meaning, of course, to take (job opportunities, college admission, money, etc.) from one that did nothing wrong and give it to another. Good thinking!
But you're right - it is a matter of values and attitudes. "Payment" must be made, and if the evil doers are not available we'll make one out of anyone with white skin.
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.
I get the impression that you are suggesting if your family and friends live in a pile of trash it makes sense to stay there. I disagree. It's a choice. Making the choice to move may be a difficult one, but it is certainly not an impossible one. Are we to hold ourselves responsible because some can't make difficult choices? That, to me, is implying they are incapable. Sounds racist.
There are disparities in employment opportunities. As a woman I know first hand how irritating it is to see someone less qualified gain a position because, from my perspective, they are a man. Times are changing. I'm happy for that but I'm not expecting to be compensated for past times.
Our best solution is to recognize the disparities of the past and resolve ourselves, as a nation, to root out any policies and attitudes which may cause any of us to believe them to still exist. It involves empathy and compassion. It involves a set of very big ears. I don't see it as involving causing pain or suffering to any individual in order to reward another individual for past actions of any.
Are things getting better? Perhaps, as long as the pistol remains at the heads of those that resist the needed changes. That has been the only way progress has been made in America, based on its history.
It is impractical and politically unpalatable to try to undo the wrongs of the past perpetrated by those long dead, I get that. I get irritated with people who continue to insist that thereis no problem and that Minorities just make these things up for political advantage. I want what everybody wants, equal opportunity. Now that that is said, how do we insure that those high sounding concepts are more than just words and are actually practiced?
We do have laws in place ensuring that everyone is aware that our goal, as a nation, is to ensure equality. We, as individuals, have to stand firm and fast and refuse to allow prejudice against others in our sphere of influence. We have to speak out against it when we cross it. I don't know whether you realize this or not but there is still a vast disparity in wages for women vs. men. There is a continuing problem with promotions being fairly divvied out. Basically, life is not always fair at every turn.
I am all for fairness, but there are many, many times where you step up to the plate in support of an ideal for change and then you get broadsided by demands being tacked onto the original complaint which force one side to sigh and step away from the issue. BLM being the most recent occurrence.
You may be able to see where Will is coming from. I do too. I just see where many others are coming from also. The wants of the few do not outweigh the needs of the many and the needs of the few must be juxtaposed to the needs of the many and, the other fews. Wrongs have been done over the course of time. To blacks, to women, to native americans, to the irish, the chinese, the hispanics....the list goes on and on and on when we look at it from the 'what wrongs has the white man committed' perspective. If we chose to change our view we can see wrongs done by others, how those wrongs set the stage for other wrongs, etc, etc.
We are not responsible for the past. We are responsible for ensuring that the lessons from the past are learned.
I will say with an attitude like ' Perhaps, as long as the pistol remains at the heads of those that resist the needed changes. That has been the only way progress has been made in America, based on its history.' I doubt you will understand where I am coming from. That is OK. Your experience has created your prejudices. I can accept that, hope to understand it and learn from it but I strive to ensure that my world view doesn't become tainted by it.
Yes, indeed, I am aware of the disparity between the compensation of men and women for identical work. But, you are not going to resign yourself to acceptance of this, just because 'that's just the way it is'. You can't accept that and you know that that attitudes plays unto the hands of those that desire the maintenance of the status quo. And like gravitation here on terra firma, you actions subconciously or otherwise accomodates that as just part of living.
Real change. Is always the source of discomfort to the status quo and they have a vested interest in keeping things the same. Martin Luther King and Susan B Anthony knew that there had to be limits to the idea of accommodation in dealing with adversaries. To get that omlette made, an egg or two must be broken.
For me, as a Black man, that is the reality of the natural world around me. The concepts of empathy and compassion are used as substitutes to mask the actual intent of inaction.
Oh my goodness. Are you attempting to slap my hands and say 'shame on you for not doing anything'?
You apparently don't know me. I'm the first to step to the plate to demand fairness and equality. I have been, at times, a pariah for standing firm to these ideals. Not by the powers that be, but by those in the rank and file who felt that safety in numbers made them right. I come from a family who stood firm during desegregation in our community; standing with the black families and giving strength to other white families who wanted to do what they knew was right;; in the face of the powers that be.
Times have changed. Things are better. I, honestly, don't have a lot of respect for militant attitudes when we have come so far. Militant attitudes from one side simply create militant attitudes on the other and it impedes forward progress.
No, I am not slapping your hands, and I don't claim to know you. If more families came from theones that you did and were committed to actively resisting racial bigotry in their own lives and example, there would be no need for this conversation, today
You have to admit that the 'powers that be' are a pretty imposing force. How would you like to spend a lifetime fighting them?
I don't consider myself militant, but I am aware of the price paid for what civil liberties we have today, and the powerful hands from which we had to wrestle for those things. None of us can afford to be complacent to this. We, as the underdog, must continually agitate to remind those holding reins of economic and political power of its obligation to make sure that society actively lives up to its creed. Nobody gets to rest easy, until everbody can.
I hope you don't mind my butting in. I think there is a lot of truth in what you said, especially the part about not being complacent, but there is one glaring point that detracts from the parts I do agree with.
"...If more families came from theones that you did and were committed to actively resisting racial bigotry in their own lives and example, there would be no need for this conversation, today..."
If more families weren't doing just what you ask, then wouldn't we still have the racial attitudes of most of last century? Of course that assumes that you do not think we are in the same place racially as we were pre-1965. Do you?
There will always be idiots, racists, and bigots among us, but if I were to quantify that relative to pre-1965, I would say that the tables have been turned. Back then, I think Live to Learn's mixed family and attitudes would have been the exception rather than the norm, today I think it is the reverse.
ps. I think this part was really well put;
"You have to admit that the 'powers that be' are a pretty imposing force. How would you like to spend a lifetime fighting them?
I don't consider myself militant, but I am aware of the price paid for what civil liberties we have today, and the powerful hands from which we had to wrestle for those things. "
GA, you are most certainly welcome with a great question. We are all here to learn and hopefully attempt to iron some of these things out.
1965 is a good reference point. I was just a kid, but cognizant and aware. What if everyone had the 'right attitudes' from the beginning, the vestiges that still remain today would be even less or virtually non existent. Would that have been possible in 1965 or today, I doubt it. Why did it take a century after the Civil War's conclusion for President Kennedy to have to admit in 1963, that the promises that were expected from the time of Emancipation Proclamation for the freemen, were still yet to be realized? That would have make so many of the confrontations we're currently having today be even less.
I agree that more progress have been made in the last 50 years than during the previous 100.
My point is that thereis still work to be done, to continue to improve upon that progress. And while perfect harmony may never be obtained, itis a goal that should guide us continually.
"People don't just choose to live in the inner city if they had they a choice."
While fishing a few days ago I found a man who had spread his bedroll under a local bridge. He was perhaps in his late 50's, of German ancestory. Had a bicycle with a little trailer that carried his campstove, a little food and his dog.
He had been living in the middle of Houston (found him in Idaho) in a park, and was headed for Seattle, where he thinks he has a job offer. Said he had been on the road for 3 months now. Said he pushed his bike over the the Grand Teton mountains and it took 8 hours to get up one long grade. He has ridden that bike for some 2700 miles and has perhaps 1000 left to go.
Remember the homeless teen who biked to a college, figuring on living in a tent until it opened? http://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/homeles … /401160413
Tell me again how the youth of the inner cities are tied there and can't get out?
That is most courageous, and it is like L to L had said, while moving from an impoverished situation is difficult, nothing is impossible.
These cases are on the boundaries of the superlative and while it makes good human interst news stories, I don't know how applicable it is for most people? If I were young or even a bit older, yet in good health, as a single man I could do that as well. But, most of those trapped in the inner lifestyle are single women with children. How easy is it to just move around under that circumstance? I will have to investigate as to how the German fed himself during his long journey.
No, they're not single women with children - the inner cities are full of gangs composed primarily of gangs of teens and young males.
But are you saying that the women there don't know where babies come from? Or that society is responsible for correcting their carelessness and continued mistakes?
The German - I gathered he had accumulated a little money because he had the bike, trailer, a little camping gear and some spare wheels and tires. I think he also did some odd jobs as he went, but don't know for sure - the point is that he came from living in a park to leaving. Anything he did accumulate he did while homeless in the park.
But was not the topic whether or not anybody could leave the ghetto if they wanted to?
The ghetto or other very poor living conditions. Like being homeless and sleeping in a park.
Although you DID bring up women that pile up babies and making it much harder to leave.
What is with adverb 'piling up'? This touches on the attitude problem found with most conservative reasoning. How many of these women were in regular relationships? Perhaps their husbands or boyfriends just left. Areyou as critical of those in Appalachia, who are poor and afflicted with the same problems? It is just a rightwing stereotype to assume that these womwn are just popping out babies because they have nothing better to do. Hindsight is always 20/20, Wilderness, how many mistakes do teen white girls make, but avoid the consequences because their relative wealth and that of their families protects them?
What does having a regular relationship have to do with having so many children you can never support them all? What does a boyfriend (relatively few were married) leaving, just like all the others in the neighborhood, have to do with anything?
Not sure what teen white girls have to do with it, either - there are a bunch of them as well as blacks. Or do only the black women deserve a lifetime of support after making the same stupid mistakes time after time? One day you will come to understand that it isn't about skin color: it's about poverty and the unwillingness to either prevent or change it. It's about not having any family values whatsoever. It's about an almost complete abrogation of responsibility (male OR female) and a desire to shove the costs of your actions onto someone else. It's about an increasing propensity for violence. It's about ignorance and a lack of schooling. The problems in our inner cities are many things, but skin color is not one of them.
And yes, I'm as critical of those in Appalachia, family or single parent, that have so many kids they cannot support them and require that someone else do it for them. Or the bayous of Louisiana. Or anywhere else people are trying to live as they did 100 years ago while expecting a modern standard of living.
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.
YES THERE IS SOMETHING THAT "CAN BE DONE ", HOWEVER , RACISM THAT COMES FROM ALL SIDES IS FAR WORSE THAN RACISM JUST FROM WHITES !
CULTURAL APPOLOGISTS ARE IN EXTREME DENIAL OF THAT.
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.
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.
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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