Land of Opportunity is a Case Closed
“If you live in the United States you have an opportunity to make it…its that simple case closed.” – James Ramos.
So were the words of wisdom from a visitor to my post entitled Black White. Because we have instances of black people and other minorities managing to become financially successful then we shouldn’t worry about instances of racism. In the opinion of Mr. Ramos all I am doing is looking to throw a pity party.
I would like to take just a second to apply this shortsighted logic to instances of murder. What if someone promoted the attitude that if you live in the Untied States you have an opportunity to live you life to its natural conclusion. It is that simple. So if anyone is calling the police because someone was stabbed or shot then they must be looking for some kind of sympathy. They must be looking for a handout or something. Why doesn’t the person who may have been shot just pull their self up by their bandage straps or something? So what if we have a killer running around without facing justice. Would it really be so bad? Chances are it wouldn’t affect me directly.
No one would take such a narrow and totally foolish point of view on murder or attempted murder. We realize that the community at large would be at risk if we started to condone instances of people indiscriminately killing other people. Societies make damn sure they take a hard and uncompromising stand on certain standards of ethics and principles. Thankfully, no murdering is one of these principles. Unfortunately, no racism is not.
Racism in America is not only condoned it has been institutionalized. The twentieth century saw racism reach a point so bad that the country responded with laws to try and counter it. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was supposed to eliminate blatant and obvious forms of racism, but it could not outlaw the sentiment. No law was going to undo centuries of near exclusive white only privilege. Blatant racism was outlawed but the idea of trying to reverse years of white exclusivity by reserving a small fraction of opportunities for minorities is just too racist a concept and smacks of blatant reverse discrimination. That would be the same logic as incarcerating someone who illegally incarcerated someone else and having somebody point out the fact that it would be reverse incarceration. The fairest thing to do at this point is not do anything and leave the privileged, which happen to be mostly white, with their status and leave the hindered, where many from the minority communities wound up, with theirs. We now have a system of white money dictating the rules to the rest of the players in the field.
And since white people make the rules and since white people don’t suffer from an institution designed to keep them subjugated, racial discrimination is hardly a problem for the white dominated American community at large. In the eyes of the white dominants racism is not the problem because racism is dead. Those instances of racism found in a memo or on a camera or in Jena, Louisiana are the believed to be rare but in reality the very often exceptions that pop up every now and then because there is hard, undeniable evidence to prove it beyond the shadow of a self induced denial fueled doubt. Lord knows if there is nothing to prove it then racism doesn’t exist.
Now America is a land of opportunity especially if you are willing to play by white people’s rules. Go to the school and get good grades, work hard and be diligent, keep a good work ethic and you too will get ahead. That all sounds good. But the reality is that some of us are working very hard and getting no where. Some of us have good grades and graduated from school with honors and letters of recommendation only to be rejected for appearing too ethnic (see Ghetto Dudes Need Jobs Too). There is a natural assumption that black people need more on the job experience. There is an assumption of suspicion with black people. A black person’s resume says one thing but how does an employer know that it is accurate or that the references are honest? Some employers just can’t run that risk of hiring a minority that doesn’t work out. It’s safer and more comfortable to hire white people who are more trustworthy. And if a white person isn’t exactly what his/her resume claims he/she can be more easily educated or trained to be what the company is looking for.
Since it is the white perspective that is the yardstick for human behavior we are programmed to see the black people who complain about situations of racism as the problem. People who are unable or unwilling to do the work on their own are quick to point a finger and accuse someone of discrimination. The idea is that if someone who is willing to play by the rules will always manage to do what is necessary to get ahead. No one who plays by the rules needs to fall back on some lame excuse that racism is keeping them down. Even if racism was the case other minorities make it here in America. You can too if you’d quit crying about it.
The problem isn’t racism. The problem is people who insist that racism is still a problem here in America. That kind of thinking ranks right up there with the same narrow minded philosophy as the problem isn’t murderers but the people who say that being murdered is the problem. All we need to do is dodge the bullets and the knives or whatever and we will all do just fine. If you live here in America you have an opportunity to live your life without it coming to an abrupt end. So quit your belly aching. Case closed.