Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Times Are A'Changing: Racial Perceptions in Generation B.C. 

Sadly, I have many friends in the U.S who think like this. Who incredulously view the criminal justice system as proof that blacks and minorities are “predisposed” towards crime. They ignore the cause of a race oppressed into poverty within the baby boomer generation. They ignore the cause of rampant racial bias leading to disproportionate arrests. Instead, despite all their knowledge on the random nature of the human genome, like the Honorable Judge Edith they blame the higher number of arrests on a "predisposition." In their logic, Blacks are arrested more, therefore Blacks are worse. Moreover, Blacks have higher levels of violent crime and gang violence, therefore Blacks are worse. So they see the negative racial  attitudes and institutionalized poverty as an effect of a "predisposition" of blacks towards violence. And often they go the extra mile, then justifying targeted bias on this "predisposition." It wasn't longer than 2 decades ago that this was the official republican platform.

Let's not front. Even in this age of 2013, we all have friends like this. Much more than we'd like to admit. Friends who hint, insinuate, etc., etc., that the high number of black incarceration or black poverty is “of course” attributed to a predisposition or defect in culture. There's the ever so popular, "I'm not saying blacks are blah blah blah, but statistics say x." *wink wink* *nudge nudge.* Heck, we even have minorities who repeat the meme that the unfortunate but politically incorrect truth is there must be something wrong with the black male as proven by "statistics." And if anyone is completely remiss of experiences showing this perception in real life, you don't have to look further than any internet comment board to have caught on.

The fact is black people's brains are no different than a white person's brain. Up until the latter half of the 70s, blacks faced insidious and widespread explicit discrimination limiting their education levels and their economic and social status, and the reminants of this still occur rampantly on an implicit level.

I know this fact is hard to accept; that there was once bad things done to blacks within the baby boomer generation which, along with current implicit bias, are the causes of disproportionate prison rates and not genetic inferiority. This plain truth is somehow not palatable to our sense of nationalism. After-all, we still can't agree on something as simple as slavery being the cause of the civil war. Framing it through a lens of states rights is much easier for us to accept.

Well, America, we have almost reached the tipping point in this argument. Demographic tides are shifting dramatically in favor of the rational in this debate. For too long resisting this rhetoric has been thought offensive, rude, and recently even racist. To say, “Hey I think it’s the past explicit racism and current implicit racial bias that leads to higher arrests and not just blacks being blacks,” gets a response of, “nah brah, slavery ended 200 years ago. Stop being racist.” However, the Styrofoam foundation arguments like this are built upon, just like comparing gay marriage to pedophiles, are starting to fall apart. Not because the falsity of such a perception is any more evident, simply because of demographic changes.
Simply put, those who are the minorities are becoming the majorities, and the baby boomers who were the majority are…dying. I predict that by 2020 American perception of minorities, similar to the gay rights movement, will face a renaissance of enlightenment. At that point minorities will finally be able to quash this “defunct culture” attitude leading to a complacent attitude towards the invidious and widespread discrimination currently existing in the criminal justice system and other far reaching aspects of life.

We must however respond with class. While it will be tempting to berate, belittle, and humiliate those who have supported this viewpoint once demographics have changed, we must instead make them understand. It serves our cause as minorities and as fellow Americans to gain friends as opposed to enemies. Friends are only gained through compassion and through treating others as you would like to be treated. Surely, we ourselves have our moments of discriminatory irrationality. Moments of attributing causes to effects and vice versa that negatively affects others. When we become aware of such prejudices, is it not always more pleasant to be treated with compassion rather than humiliation? The time is ripe for us to push over the Styrofoam foundation of racism through advocacy, but we must do so with dignity and class.

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