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(22,336 posts)
Sun Jun 21, 2015, 07:27 AM Jun 2015

White America’s racial illiteracy: Why our national conversation is poisoned from the start


Mainstream dictionary definitions reduce racism to individual racial prejudice and the intentional actions that result. The people that commit these intentional acts are deemed bad, and those that don’t are good. If we are against racism and unaware of committing racist acts, we can’t be racist; racism and being a good person have become mutually exclusive. But this definition does little to explain how racial hierarchies are consistently reproduced.

Social scientists understand racism as a multidimensional and highly adaptive system—a system that ensures an unequal distribution of resources between racial groups. Because whites built and dominate all significant institutions, (often at the expense of and on the uncompensated labor of other groups), their interests are embedded in the foundation of U.S. society.

While individual whites may be against racism, they still benefit from the distribution of resources controlled by their group. Yes, an individual person of color can sit at the tables of power, but the overwhelming majority of decision-makers will be white. Yes, white people can have problems and face barriers, but systematic racism won’t be one of them. This distinction—between individual prejudice and a system of unequal institutionalized racial power—is fundamental. One cannot understand how racism functions in the U.S. today if one ignores group power relations.

This systemic and institutional control allows those of us who are white in North America to live in a social environment that protects and insulates us from race-based stress. We have organized society to reproduce and reinforce our racial interests and perspectives. Further, we are centered in all matters deemed normal, universal, benign, neutral and good. Thus, we move through a wholly racialized world with an unracialized identity (e.g. white people can represent all of humanity, people of color can only represent their racial selves).
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White America’s racial illiteracy: Why our national conversation is poisoned from the start (Original Post) gollygee Jun 2015 OP
K&R marym625 Jun 2015 #1
K&R TexasProgresive Jun 2015 #2
I remember the first day of boot camp.. Flying Squirrel Jun 2015 #4
kick gollygee Jun 2015 #3


(12,206 posts)
2. K&R
Sun Jun 21, 2015, 09:46 AM
Jun 2015

As a white male I will be the first to admit that I benefited from being white and male in the advantages I received in school and career. This was a result of institutionalized racism and sexism. There can be no doubt that the young black men and women I knew, and all women for that matter, were treated unfairly. The one place I saw less of that was in the U.S. Air Force. I don't know how it is now but NCO promotions seemed to be as color blind as possible. I served with competent men of every race who did better than me in the promotion dept. (because I have and attitude, OK!). About women in the Air Force I can't really say because during my time of service they tended to be relegated to clerk jobs, air traffic controllers and nurses. I didn't have a lot of contact with them, except socially.


Flying Squirrel

(3,041 posts)
4. I remember the first day of boot camp..
Mon Jun 22, 2015, 01:15 AM
Jun 2015

They specifally mentioned race, and I had to inwardly laugh at the drill sergeant's exact words:

"Here, you are all equally worthless!"

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