CL Response: Race

 

1996

 

The class status of innocent children as a marker of whether their right to life will be respected leads immediately to the question of racial violence against people of color. Racism in this form is domination; it is power over another. Its manifestation goes beyond social stereotyping and one-on-one prejudice. It is discrimination held in place by political and economic power.

Much of the federally funded population control policy internationally and within the United States is directed toward population reduction of people of color. 

 

As Graciela Olivarez says, "Our people cry out for justice, and the United States offers us abortions."

 

More African-American males are in our prisons today than in our colleges. The probability that a black-on-white killing will result in the death penalty are enormous compared to the miniscule probability that a white-on-black killing will result in the death penalty.

Police brutality and the mostly African-American church burnings are signposts that racism is more than a pretense of violence, but violence incarnate.

 

The United States has always prided itself on equality of opportunity -- on leveling the playing field so that only merit and human endeavor can determine destiny in life. That promise has not only been broken with respect to the African-American community in our nation, but all efforts to rectify past damage are being questioned in current public policy. Recent Supreme Court decisions have overturned past affirmative action policies. Federal and state law is further eroding the efforts of recent decades to level the playing field in the face of continuing racism in our society.

 

The effects are already showing. A study released in early 1997 shows that our school systems are almost as segregated as they were on the eve of Brown v. Board of Education, most especially since the Supreme Court decisions of the early 1990's which cut back on integration policies. Recent racial incidents around the country show only solidifying conflict and stereotyping.

 

Once again, this public debate could proceed along the lines of abstract rights dialogue: Whose rights and how are they being violated? As we see in current legislative initiatives, that quickly turns into competition over who has more power to assert their rights against another in a society that has a long history of giving more power to those with lighter skin -- politically, economically, and socially. The effect has not been some abstract loss of rights for African-Americans. It has been the deprivation of the most basic hman life necessities: self-respect and self-esteem, education, health care, life expectancy, living environment, job opportunity, etc.

 

Who did what to whom and whose rights will or will not get priority is not the debate that will help undermine and undo two centuries of U.S. racism. Of course no one now alive owned slaves. However, every white child born in this nation will benefit in some way from being white. But not everyone now alive in the U.S. wants to build a nation of solidarity, a community of caring and concern, a public order that bends over backwards to undo racism. If not Affirmative Action or whatever other program title, then how else will we undo 200 years of racism?

Doing nothing under the guise of protecting rights of non-minorities is an empty conversation that will literally do violence to the African-American community among us.

 

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