Two Stories About Race
So the Supreme Court avoided a definitive ruling on affirmative action this week. Several of the justices made it clear though that things need to change. What seems to be in the tea leaves is a slow move away from race-based affirmative action towards a class-based system, which honestly makes a lot more sense. What I am curious about though is how blacks feel about this.
If we acknowledge that a disproportional number of blacks live in poverty then it seems like on the surface a class-based strategy should be appealing. The sticking point though is that many do not believe that lack of success for their race is based simply in class. If discrimination is a real and common factor, then class-based affirmative action is not going to fix that. What I wish we were hearing more of here is tales of blacks that moved upwards from the class of their birth to a more successful group. How much of that was a class struggle and how much was based in race?
And at the end of the day, regardless of the effects of race, we still have a lot of poor white people (and other minorities) that could make a strong argument for a leg up as well.
My tweet the other day was a bit of a stereotype, but that seems to be going around these days. If I hear one more blogger mention how they ‘don’t understand the South’ I’m going to declare a renewal of hostilities in the War Between the States. So Paula Deen used the N-word. Shame, shame. She will obviously suffer greatly for this and hey, that’s the price of celebrity. Yes, this kind of racism IS a feature of the South. And also everywhere else.
In recent years I’ve become more and more uncomfortable with the notion that we give certain words such power. Yes, we all have words that make us uncomfortable and a few words are really extreme, however what we’re really afraid of is the ideas behind them. But those ideas transcend a few verboten words. For example, Chris Rock was really good in his stand-up specials at talking about the worst cultural traits of his own race. He was given a pass because of the color of his skin, but if we hear the same ideas expressed by someone of a different race and encapsulated in a single word, we lose our shit.
Where Deen hurt the Southern cause was when she implied that her previous slips were simply a feature of her Southern upbringing. But that ignores the reality of a country where racism exists everywhere. She threw her home region under the bus to save her own reputation. As many have pointed out, she has had plenty of time as a successful and well-traveled adult to change any attitudes she grew up with.
As a proud southerner who refrains from dropping N-bombs…is it wrong that I am rooting for a non-Southerner to say something incredibly racist sometime in the near future? Paging Michael Richards.