There are many individuals in this country who subscribe to the school of thought that the issues surrounding race in America are not so much about the color of a given person’s skin as they are about the details of their tax bracket. In other words, what they believe is this: The divisions or lines that are drawn between various groups of people are directly related to economics or class. And, while there is some credence to this notion – I would argue that if one were to follow the long trail of social issues we face today in America back to its origin – that trail would lead directly to one thing…RACE.
It’s true…economics certainly play a role in the divisions we see in current day America. Without the requisite resources at hand it is hard to progress on both a micro and macro level. Whether speaking of the vicious cycle of poverty in a specific family tree – the social ills facing a specific community – or the centuries worth of battles a specific race has endured – basic economics (and resources or a lack thereof) play a critical role. Furthermore, the sectors of America that wield the most power and therefore are in possession of the lion’s share of capital – are not too keen on the idea of relinquishing their position on the economic totem pole. Accordingly, they exercise their influence over every facet of society in order to maintain the status quo. This systematic approach to exacting power means that the most vulnerable among us – those who have the least amount of resources at their disposal – face the greatest difficulties in transcending their given circumstances, collectively. And all of these factors inevitably help to forge the social divisions that many people point to as being a derivative of a “class-divide”.
However, the individual or individuals who believe that the racial division in America at its core – is primarily due to class – are in my opinion a bit naive. Pointing to “class” as the issue is a convenient means of masking what are very real and unsettling racist or prejudiced beliefs harbored in the hearts of far too many men and women across America. It stops short of telling the whole story. Maybe…just maybe…we could buy what some are selling if divisions of class did not just so happen to also be “coincidentally” drawn along the same arc that divides people according to the color of their skin.
Add to that, the fact that historically public policies also happen to favor one race and not “the other”. Those who craft our laws understand that they can surreptitiously veil their true intentions by engaging in methods that undermine the well-being of particular communities by engaging in things like: budget cuts to publicly funded programs, gerrymandering, or school zoning. And they know full well that these types of actions primarily effect people of color. The “class-divide” in America did not form by way of an organic process in which everyone started towards the “American Dream” on equal footing. It was the result of a systematic disenfranchisement of people of color dating back to the Native Americans. From the word “go”, harsh treatment, coupled with inequitable laws that were put in place, unquestionably led to a scenario in which people of color got the short-end of the stick (and still do to this very day as the examples I listed above would indicate).
So, yes, let’s all take a look at the class-divide that many people point to when discussing inequality. But, in doing so, an honest assessment of the specific reason for that divide is absolutely critical. While there have been improvements socially speaking over time and although racist acts are not nearly so overt as the crack of a slave whip across the back of an undeserved victim – many are still experiencing the after effects of that “lashing”. Whether it is those who enjoy privileges that are a result of centuries of subjugation – or those who live in communities undermined by that very same subjugation that continues to this day in various forms – conspicuously distinct lines have been drawn along boundaries of not just class but race. The question is: will Americans muster the courage to speak the truth about that which ails our failing communities at the very core from both a historical and current day perspective? And will we all then be willing to provide a healing balm or effective remedy to those who are in need.
Oreos to go: A discussion concerning what truly divides us in America is long overdue.
More than a blog. It’s a movement.
Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.
And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.