Have the last 60 years been a waste of time, energy and money for the advancement of Black Americans' civil rights? Recently, some local elected leaders have asserted that we need to declare a second “public health hazard” because they hypothesize there is an epidemic of “white racism” based upon the often repeated allegation that we suffer from generations of widespread white “systemic and institutional racism” against Black Americans.

This is propaganda and untrue. Constant repetition of these false and defamatory racist slurs does not make them fact. The words insult the legacy of those white Americans who gave their lives on the battlefield and struggled in the legislative and judicial arenas for the past 150 years to help black Americans become equal partners in the most diverse and free society the world has ever known. They strived to create a society where success is based upon ability and equality under the law rather than race, identity, nepotism and favoritism. We are not a racist community or nation merely because the journey toward a democratic meritocracy is unfinished.

There are those who argue the system of norms and standards for upward mobility and achievement are racist because they were made by privileged white people, and are therefore inadequate to solve the problems of Black Americans. For proof, they offer evidence that among the black population there is proportionately poorer health, less academic achievement, more single-parent families, higher crime rates, less employment and economic opportunity, and lower income. Excluding poor whites and middle class Blacks, these racial disparities are true. But this does not prove they result from the mores and rules of a white racist society.

Instead of first addressing the real root causes of these longtime disparities, many of our elected and institutional leaders believe the solution is to base opportunity and outcomes in part on race and identity by placing in our institutions and places of business an appropriate number of minorities. This “diversity and inclusion” remedy is necessary to transcend measurable standards of qualification and achievement such as skills and performance. We remain a white racist society until this is done.

This is pure, unadulterated racist ideology based upon the moral relativism of social justice and equity rather than fixed standards that avoid arbitrary and discriminatory decision making; sometimes by the loudest and most threatening voices in the room. If society wants black Americans to be equal partners, we need to ask them to look inward and accept some responsibility for the lack of upward mobility of those persons still at the bottom of the social order before racism does become a public health emergency.

(19) comments

petersamuel

We have so many crises. At the global level of course there's the Climate Crisis, and global warming and rising sea levels and ever more destructive hurricanes represent impending crises. There's also the endangered species Extinction Crisis and a crisis in loss of habitat. More locally we hear of a Housing Crisis, a crisis of crumbling infrastructure, a crisis of unfunded pensions, a crisis of sprawl. Some crises seem to fade away. When I was in my 20s there was a Population Crisis. The world's population was such a crisis it was akin to a 'Bomb' which threatened via exponential human breeding to produce mass famine and global scale impoverishment. At the same time there was an Energy Crisis evidenced by experts who calculated when we were going to run out of oil by the year 2000 at the latest. Coal too. Not to mention crises of nuclear armaments. The arms race was a crisis. Declaring a problem a crisis is a legitimate way to draw attention to a problem but it has the downside of encouraging hyperbole, and exaggeration. It tends to focus on a single factor as the source of a problem when in the real world big problems usually have multiple causes. The 'Racism as a Public Health Crisis Resolution' bering considered by the City Board of Aldermen posits 'racism' here in Frederick as so severe that it is the primary factor in disparate health outcomes, disparate rates of arrest, different rates of unemployment, unequal wealth, on and on. Of course the term racism -- I think of it as demeaning people on the basis of their race -- is being used more loosely nowadays and its meaning blurred by attaching vague adjectives to it (implicit racism, systemic racism, institutional racism.) Its meaning stretched we now have a Racism Crisis. It's enough to give anyone crisis fatigue.

phydeaux994

Racism is a public health emergency only if you are a victim of Racism. Which is pretty much everybody who isn’t White. Upward mobility for minorities is difficult even for those who have met the “same standards” as White people. I’ve seen it my whole life and so has everybody else.

DickD

phy, racism is bad for non Whites, but there are times Whites are discriminated against too. As I have stated here before, we had Affirmative Action at A.T. & T., which proved to be a disaster because the overrides were not qualified. Someone put into a job they cannot successfully perform is not happy and management is not happy.  Racial discrimination for any reason is wrong.

Greg F

Racism hides until given an enabler where they no longer feel shunned enough to crawl back under their rocks. Go to any Maryland hunting blog or most across the US I’ve seen. There is rampant and open racism on those blogs. Real vitriol being spewed. Some, of course, are good people....to paraphrase a moron that is today’s enabler.

PurplePickles

I like how white Caucasian's, or should I say white people, write letters telling us that there is no more racism and racism is just all in our heads, just to make themselves feel better, now that is Caucasian privilege if I ever saw Caucasian privilege. LOL [rolleyes][rolleyes][rolleyes][rolleyes][rolleyes][rolleyes][rolleyes][rolleyes] If there was a face palm emoji I would have used it numerous times too

Dwasserba

Oh, good, we're done then.

eak1969123

Excellent letter. Thank you for having the courage to write and publish it. I suspect you have helped people coalesce their thoughts and better understand their intuitive reactions to this situation.

tonyc51

Racism is evident in almost all societies. So it is true that there exists racism in the US, but it does not run in a single direction, I feel that the more relevant point is if there are efforts being made to address it. In the case of the US the answer is, and has been since the 60's YES, unequivocally YES.

terryandkenny

Very well put. Instances of systemic racism absolutely positively need to be addressed regardless of which direction they happen to go. Unfortunately this has devolved into a situation where “crying wolf” outnumbers legitimate complaints exponentially, and the movement’s credibility suffers. No one seems to want to ask for accountability in that respect.

shiftless88

Here is the money quote: "But this does not prove they result from the mores and rules of a white racist society." No, it does not prove it unequivocally but if we use history as our guide we can trace how this situation came to be and pretty much all the evidence points to systemic inequities that have created this situation disproportionately for people of color. Redlining and such. If you think this is not true, what is your hypothesis?

MD1756

It doesn't hold true for Asians (btw all of us have color and, based on science, can trace roots back to Africa). See: https://www.povertyusa.org/facts for a breakdown of poverty and race. I suspect a significant portion to the difference (whether or not it is a majority of the difference) is based on culture not racism at least for Blacks and Hispanics (who are not of any particular race but a different culture). Now since a good number of American Indians live on reservations (22% according to https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb12-ff22.html) and often times those Indian lands are not prime lands, there is an additional reason for Indians to have a higher percentage of poverty (i.e., the Federal government kept screwing them over long after the slaves were freed) not related to racism (at least current racism). It would be interesting to know what percentage of American Indians living on tribal lands live in poverty. Old data from NIH show that in 1989 the percentage living on Indian lands living in poverty was greater than 50% (see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK233100/). If wikipedia (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reservation_poverty) can be believed (Census data is referenced) more current numbers puts the poverty rate for the ten largest reservations at: (20.2% to 53.5% for individuals compared to 12.4% nationally and 22.6% to 58.5% for those with children compared to the national average of 9.2%). American Indians can clearly point to federal policies that have adversely impacted them. That's not to say Blacks and Hispanics have some difficult problems to overcome, but all of their problems do not stem from racism overt or covert.

shiftless88

So by "culture" you think the culture of blacks and hispanics is such that they cannot succeed? Hmmmm...that makes no sense. You are doing the typical thing; put it back on the people who are being discriminated against. And yes, Native Americans are in a similar boat.

Greg F

What do you mean doesn't apply to Asians? I'm married to one and see blatant racism all the time towards her. Every time that idiot says "kung flu" or "Chinese Virus" it just exacerbates the issue. Trump is a gigantic racist as are enough of his followers you could fill hundreds if not thousands of the biggest stadiums with them. Even his idiot daughter is now into the mix and is violating ethics rules by her Goya disgrace she just pulled off https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/15/politics/ivanka-trump-goya-beans-ethics/index.html

Berryman

Nicely elucidated column. Well considered. At some point - now - the claims of racism themselves become racist and divisive.

bosco

When all you have is a hammer, every issue looks like a nail.

Maybe it's time to take off the racist goggles and look at people's character - and some of them are real characters!

[ninja]

jsklinelga

A very interesting letter that should be read carefully.

"We are not a racist community or nation merely because the journey toward a democratic meritocracy is unfinished." (Democratic meritocracy echoes the dream of MLK where people are judged by the content of their character not the color of their skin.)

No, Mr. Bridgeford we are a racist country because the institution of slavery was allowed and the succeeding generations after its abolishment clung to the Darwinism that the white man was superior.."Some" of the white men.

But your observations are very revealing and of note. We are not totally a racist society. And yes many have died and/or worked vigorously to eradicate racism. And yes, as implied, many are offended to be called racist in the oft heard obscene generalization that all whites are supremacist.That is racist. And yes many feel that the pendulum often swings too far and that the members of the Black community must accept some responsibility for their current situation.

But we are a country with a racist heritage. The journey you mentioned is critical and it is the foundation of the American dream. But it is a journey not complete and the path often riddled with hatred and violence is difficult. But unless we keep marching forward towards Dr. King's dream everything we ever stood for will be lost. Then that would be a public health emergency.

phydeaux994

Who has ever generalized that all Whites are Supremacists? A person of any race that professes to be genetically “better” than another race is a Racist. And they’re pretty easy to identify by how they talk about the “quality” of people of other races.

public-redux

“Who has ever generalized that all Whites are Supremacists?“

Um....white supremacists?

Pisces

No, racism is not a public health emergency!!

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