My Open Letter to Conservatives
Conservative Black Man

I understand how your story represents your view of the situation. Allow me to alter it slightly to represent how I see the situation. I’m not looking for agreement here; I’m looking for understanding.

Same mountain, but really only a hill; same two people; but they’re not throwing rocks at each other. There is a crowd of people off to the side throwing rocks at them both. And because of gravity, the man at the bottom is getting creamed, while the man at the top is getting hit now and then.

You see, I don’t see myself (the one at the top in your story) as throwing rocks down, and I don’t see you as throwing rocks up. I’m living my life and so are you. The rocks that are smashing down on the guy at the bottom (and some fewer at the guy at the top) are coming from a crowd of people (and institutions) whose actions (policies, laws, regulations, prejudices (and yes, a smattering of outright racism), vices, class distinctions, etc. etc. etc.) cumulatively and most strongly burden people at the bottom of society. And not all of them are black; a lot of poor whites suffer many of those rocks as well. But blacks undeniably more so. And also burden a lot of people in the middle of society, admittedly less so but it still pisses us off a lot.

In my view, many of the things that lock blacks (and inner city whites) into poverty and despair have combined into a Gordian knot that seems nearly hopeless to undo. Bad schools, broken homes, unsafe streets, gangs and drugs, over-regulation of new businesses, inadequate local credit for small businesses, inadequate public services, redlining, abandonment of the neighborhood at the first opportunity by those better off, lack of outside investment, closed factories, the occasional riot, the flash mob now and then…I could go on.

I see no improvement unless and until those at the bottom and the top of the hill unite against those throwing rocks at the rest of us. In my opinion, most of them are in government, from local to federal, and a lot of them run big corporations and big unions.

I don’t think you get there by those at the bottom of the hill yelling “racist” at those at the top of the hill. You get there by yelling “hey, those people are hurting us both. Let’s all go after them.” Just my opinion.

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