Maxwell Anderson

I was reading this post and was derailed by a phrase:

“rather than emphasize either their strength or inner worth, the aggrieved emphasize their oppression and social marginalization.”

To me this statement has a particular lack of perspective.

These ‘new racial protesters’ are from a generation where the lessons of the past have not only been forgotten but are dismissed completely by larger and larger segments of the public.

Racial inequality pervades every level of American society while being denied by “passersby”, what I call the person that doesn’t have to deal with racism, and has never had to deal with it in any aspect of their lives.

“Post racial” is a phrase concocted by a passerby with a wish that we simply didn’t have to think about racial problems.

So take for example, a person with the background you stated at the top. I’m not saying “you” so much as using your background for an example person, as it seems pretty standard.

That person is generally ‘racially ambivalent’ and may even readily admit to such. Race means nothing to them on a daily basis. That person typically works in a commonly diverse environment, has a couple of friends of color, maybe even has had interracial dates. They simply don’t care about race and they don’t think about it. And if asked, they generally don’t understand how anyone cares about it. They’re not ignorant of racism, they know it’s out there and historically how it’s supposed to work, they understand all of that. They’re simply unaware of how it applies in their daily life.

That person is a passerby. That person doesn’t understand racist people, they don’t perceive it, and have never considered propagating it. It never occurs to the passerby why they were promoted over Jamaal. And if asked, they would probably deny it in a “you can’t be serious” style… which is ambivalent and dismissive. It is a reaction neuters the importance of the issue at large and is simply disrespectful of the person’s concerns.

Take this common professional situation and factor in that Jamaal has seen how hard it was that he was even considered for a position in his field of study, let alone the relative income, level of advancement and overall % of black college students. He’s seen the extra hoops he needs to jump thru to just get a place to live in certain areas of town. He’s tried very hard to just be a normal, productive citizen where he is seen by others based on either his strength or inner worth, but is instead denied for arbitrary reasons. And all of this while being surrounded by passersby.

On the other hand, he’s seen the black president with high opposition from people that blindly supported the exact same concepts for his predecessor; seen the statistics and charts and graphs about the breakdown of prison populations; seen murders, especially by those sworn to protect, go unpunished.

And he concludes that not only is no one is listening, but that the system and society at large is increasingly rigging itself against him, and the vast majority of the population are worse than against him . . . they simply don’t care.

The problems are not new and they didn’t just… appear. The point is that they never went away, and they’ve been going on since forever. Whether the incidents are becoming more frequent, or simply becoming more visible thanks to technology, is largely irrelevant. Representative marginalization leading to legislated oppression is the foundation of everything from the murders (the deaths of Medgar Evers and Laquan McDonald are not so different), to the defunding of social programs like Head Start, to the inability of Jamaal to get a deserved promoted.

This generation has tried to rely on strength of character and body of work, but they are stomped at every turn. Not by a person, but by entrenched rules and societal ambivalence. A passerby, the writer of that phrase, seem plainly unaware of how hard it is for Jamaal to get a drivers license that would eventually allow him to vote. (That’s a metaphor tying today with 50 years ago)

Now that these symptoms have started to become more visible, this generation of black youth has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by making noise. They are making all the noise they can in order to be noticed. Perhaps, as was Kings tactic 50 years ago, that noise will turn passersby, like that writer, into listeners.