Conservative whites who consider themselves respectable typically do not use the explicitly racist causal explanations behind higher rates of black poverty, violent crime, academic struggle, and so on. Ideas of blacks being naturally lazier, more aggressive or deviant, and less intelligent than white people are largely unspeakable today. Instead, these things are simply implied, wrapped in more palatable or comfortable language so one can go about the day guilt-free. This isn’t always conscious. It’s startling to realize that such whites, probably in most cases from what this writer has observed, do not realize their beliefs imply racist things. This is simply cognitive dissonance; it’s people believing with every fiber of their being that they are not racist, and therefore any explanation they believe cannot be racist, no matter how obviously it actually is to observers.
A few examples:
The problem is black culture. You don’t want to say there’s something wrong with black people. Instead, say there’s something wrong with black culture! This black culture is one of violence and revenge, of getting hooked on welfare instead of looking for work, of fathers abandoning mothers and children to create broken, single-parent homes, and so on. But obviously, to say there’s something wrong with black culture is to say there is something wrong with black people. Where, after all, did this “culture” come from? To respectable conservative whites, who should always be asked that very question immediately, it comes from black people themselves. Such whites won’t include an educated explanation of how history, environment/social conditions, and public policies produce “culture” — how recent American history birthed disproportionate poverty, how poverty breeds violence and necessitates welfare use, how a government’s racist War on Drugs and the crimes and violent deaths bred by that very poverty might mean more families without fathers. They surely won’t point out, as a nice comparison, that the white American culture of yesteryear that placed the age of sexual consent for girls at 10 years old, or a white European culture of executing those who questioned the Christian faith, obviously did not stem from whiteness itself, having nothing to do with caucasian ethnicity — so what does “black culture” have to do with blackness? Are these not human beings behaving in predictable ways to the poverty of the place or the theology of the time? People who think in such rational ways wouldn’t use the “problem is black culture” line in the first place. Nay, it is black folk themselves that create this culture, meaning something is terribly wrong with the race, with blacks as people, something linked to biology and genetics — as uncomfortable as that will be for some whites to hear, it is the corner they have readily backed themselves into. After all, white people do not have this “culture.” Why? Are whites superior?
It’s all about personal choice. Another popular one. The problem is black people are making the wrong choices. They have free will, why don’t they choose peace over violence, choose to look harder for a job or a higher-paying gig, study harder in school, just go to college? The response is again painfully obvious. If racial discrepancies all just boil down to personal choices, this is simply to say that blacks make worse personal choices than white people. This is so self-evident that the temptation to throw this article right in the garbage is overwhelming. To whites, blacks are making choices they wouldn’t personally make. There is no consideration of how environment can affect you. Take whether or not you flunk out of college. You hardly choose where or the family into which you are born, and growing up in a poor home affects your mental and physical development, typically resulting in worse academic performance than if you’d been born into a wealthy family; likewise, children don’t choose where they are educated: wealthy families can afford the best private schools and SAT tutoring, black public schools are more poorly funded than white public schools, and so on. Such things affect your ability to graduate college, or even gain admission. Nor is it considered how environment impacts your decisions themselves. For instance, witnessing violence as a child makes you more likely to engage in it, to choose to engage in it. Nor is there a thought to how social settings affect the choices you’ll even face in your life — if you live in a wealthy area without much crime, for instance, you are less likely to experience peer pressure from a friend to commit an illegal act (just as you’re less likely to see violence and thus engage in it later). One can be more successful in life with fewer opportunities to make bad choices in the first place! But none of that can be envisioned. For respectable conservative whites, there is something wrong with black people, something defective about their decision-making or moral character. White people, in contrast, make better choices, the right choices, and are thus wealthier, safer, better educated, families intact. Again, the implication of inferiority is front and center.
Good parenting is really the key. It all comes down to parenting. If black parents stuck together, emphasized to their kids the importance of education, a hard work ethic, the family unit, and turning the other cheek, all these racial disparities could come to an end. The disgusting implications are no doubt clear to the reader already, meaning we need not tarry here. To pin social problems on poor parenting, without any consideration of outside factors, is to simply say black humans are inherently worse parents than white humans. Whatever the problem with black moms and dads, white ones are happily immune.
These implications must be exposed whenever one hears them, and the conversation turned away from race and biology and toward history and socio-economics. Toward the truth.
The racial wealth gap in the United States was birthed by the horrors done to blacks: slavery meant black people, apart from some freemen, started with nothing in 1865, whereas whites began wealth accumulation centuries before, a colossal wealth gap; Jim Crow oppression meant another century of being paid lower wages, denied even menial employment and certainly high-paying jobs, hired last and fired first, kept out of universities, denied home loans or offered worse terms, taught in poorly funded schools, kept out of high-value neighborhoods through violence and racial covenants, and more; studies show that even today racism still affects wealth accumulation in significant ways. By studying history in a serious manner, we begin to understand why the racial wealth gap exists and why it has not yet closed — not because there’s something defective about black people, but because, beyond today’s challenges with racism, there simply has not been enough time for it to close. People who lived through the Jim Crow era, some mere grandchildren of slaves, are still alive today. This is hardly ancient history; it’s two or three generations.
The poverty that persists does to blacks what it does to human beings of all races. It exacerbates crime (not only theft or the drug trade as ways of earning more income, but from the stress in puts on the brain, equivalent to sleep deprivation, causing people to act in ways they simply would not have had they been in more affluent settings), it hurts the performance of students, it leads to more men confined to the cell or the coffin and thus not at home, and other challenges. Bad public policies, from city underinvestment in the black parts of town to the War on Drugs, make things worse. It is right to be a good parent, to make wise choices, and to value a positive culture — but for whites to imagine that some abandonment of these things by our black neighbors is the root cause of racial disparities, with no discussion of history and social conditions and how they persist and affect human beings, is racist and rotten to the core. Respectable conservative whites (and some black conservatives who focus exclusively on parenting, choices, and culture) may not notice or be conscious of such implications, but this can be made temporary.
If we consider ourselves to be moral creatures, it is our responsibility to give these rosier modern framings of old racist ideas no quarter.