A recent issue of an alumni magazine contained an article on a ‘listening session’ organized by the university where the university President and other senior administrators met with African-American students to hear grievances pertaining to alleged racism. The complaints ran the by-now-familiar gamut: I was the only non-White in my class, non-White students treat me differently, people stop talking when I approach. The article goes on to include the usual mea culpas from the administration with promises to do ‘better’ in relationships with the aggrieved.
I’ve noted that I’m very skeptical of self-reported racial incidents, because usually there’s only the complainants word to go on, and in nearly all investigated cases, the alleged wounds turn out to be self-inflicted. Driven by misplaced White guilt, Western society has become a victim-centric culture, and the race to the bottom (I’m more of a victim than you) severely hurts those who may in fact be genuinely hurt. One can only cry ‘wolf’ so many times.
My first response to those alleging racism was ‘What a sorry lot of spoiled, whiny children’. These folks grandparents were subject to real, actual, institutionalized racism, and endured beatings, fire hoses, and police dogs to ensure that their descendants would have the opportunities other Americans took for granted. Now that they have the opportunities, it seems all they can do is complain.
But I realized that there’s something far more sinister going on. These young African-Americans have been told all their lives that in order to succeed, they must fail. This is not only counter-intuitive and at odds with the observed realities of other ethnic groups, it’s completely irrational. Yet they’ve been conditioned to swallow this poison pill without question.
In order for the self-appointed Black leadership and their Progressive White enablers to stay in power, there must be a permanent underclass that will put them in power and to which they can dole out favors. A very effective way to do this is to 1) tell their constituents that their problems are caused by those different from them, and 2) set themselves up as outsiders. While the practice of the first part is duplicitous and malevolent, it’s the second part more than the first which has created the current racial tension.
Landmark civil rights legislation was enacted into law in 1964, but centuries of oppression can’t be whisked away with the stroke of a pen. There was a lot of pent-up rage, some of which was expressed in the riots and formation of Black terrorist groups in the late 60’s. As American society struggled to integrate the former oppressors with the formerly oppressed, civil rights leaders realized that if that integration did occur, they’d lose their power base. And so while mouthing the platitudes of conciliation, they worked to ensure that African-Americans would identify as ‘other’ in relation to mainstream society.
One way to promote ‘otherness’ is to equate the things that make the majority culture successful with a betrayal of ones people. In US African-American culture, any young person attempting to do the things necessary to advance up the economic ladder is met with the derisive ‘acting White’, as if the time-proven methods of hard work and study are a betrayal. George Orwell would be proud. In the Black community, success is failure. Failure is success.
This closure of the traditional avenues for success gave rise in the 80’s and 90’s to thug culture. If people can’t find success one way, they’ll find another, and you already self-identify as ‘other’, what better way to accentuate the point than to operate outside the law? ‘Whitey won’t accept me, so I’ll make him afraid of me’. If thug culture wasn’t actively encouraged by Black leadership, neither was it discouraged. And why should it be? It drives another wedge between African-Americans and others. I don’t really feel sorry for young Black folks complaining about scrutiny from others. Decades of separating yourself from the rest of society will have that effect.
Other cultures don’t seem to have this problem. Commodore Perry forcibly opened Japan to the Western world in 1854. The Japanese, perhaps not wanting to experience another force majeure, had by the outbreak of WW II developed some technology exceeding the West. The British came to India in 1858 and weren’t kicked out until 1947. India today is the world’s largest democracy and home to a robust space program. Asked to describe the average Indian, the words ‘smart’, ‘industrious’, and ‘polite’ would come to most people’s minds.
One might reasonably point out that the Indians and Japanese weren’t slaves. No, but neither were the Caribbean natives and sub-Saharan Africans coming to America and succeeding. The difference is they weren’t raised in the culture of mediocrity pervasive in African-American society. A culture perpetuated by a very small minority as a way to gain power.
So now we’ve come to a time where the culture of failure is self-perpetuating, even to the point that the best and brightest African-American society has to offer believe they are victims. They’ve been so indoctrinated into the culture of ‘other’ that when they’re treated as everyone else, it’s seen as a slight. The sound of ‘listening sessions’ isn’t so much the sound of racism as a bubble bursting.