Black Prejudice and White Insensitivity
Being prejudice is a natural condition of being human. We all have inherit likes and dislikes that come from the environment we grow up in as well as our instinctive, natural proclivity. We all have inherited attractions that we enjoy and repulsions that we suffer. Our preferences extend to perceptions of skin color, gender, size, and shape.
If I find myself trapped in a burning building and helpless I would hope the firefighter that finds me is a man to carry me out. A lot of people will say that’s common sense. But it is common sense for a specific gender preference. As a black male who grew up in a black family that lived in a black neighborhood, I have developed a natural preference to seek and cultivate a relationship with black women. As a black man, with my personal experiences and relationship with white dominated American culture, I have a predisposition to sympathize with issues of the black community. I have prejudices.
However, what I don’t have is the propensity to allow my prejudice to overwhelm my ability to make rational decisions. My prejudice doesn’t entice me to hinder another gender, skin color, belief system, sexual orientation, or anyone else from having the ability to exist comfortably and equitably.
In a perfect world with an equal distribution of wealth, land, property, housing, government, the ability to generate income, educational resources, media production, media outlets, and other valuable resources that have become virtually inescapable because they are so interwoven into our lives, the ability of one culture to dominate, control, and/or manipulate another would be mitigated by each culture’s ability to provide for its self. Unfortunately, we live in anything but a perfect world.
The American corporate culture is overwhelmingly controlled by conservative white people or people who are extremely sensitive to white people’s need to dominate and control other cultures. Consequently, the American corporate philosophy is inherently insensitive at best, or hostile at worst, to the needs and wants of other cultures. Even the seemingly philanthropic efforts of corporations who donate a relative pittance of their profits to the development of the minority communities do so with an agenda to profit on their investment while developing minorities into toms ready to support and defend the white corporate culture.
The American legal culture is overwhelmingly dominated by a white culture that fears blacks to the point that they are quick to prosecute black people to the fullest extent of the law while white people are given the benefit of a doubt in similar cases. The disparity between black and white justice is evident time and time again simply by watching any nationally syndicated television news program. Unarmed blacks killed in a hail of bullets from several police officers. Black men are constantly the victim of abuse by police officers and guards. Judges will sentence blacks more harshly than their white counterparts for virtually the same crime. And instead of people actually taking a careful examination of this issue we hear comments that run along the line of, I’m not racist but I’m sick of hearing about all this racism.
The neo-conservatism movement running rampant through the Republican right is so insensitive to black culture it isn’t even funny. George Allen calls a minority man tracking his campaigning for the senate race macaca in front of an audience of his constituents and says he didn’t mean anything by it. Rush Limbaugh plays a parody portraying presidential candidate Barack Obama as the Magic Negro. The President’s mother refers to the overwhelmingly black victims of hurricane Katrina staying in Houston’s Astrodome arena as “much better off” now that they’ve lost everything but the clothes on their person. The President himself was too busy playing guitar in California and the national security advisor was buying shoes.
Blacks who are sensitive to black issues can be prejudice. We see our own in a conflict with a white person and we support our brothers and sisters because we have been there and we are tired of being railroaded by the many systems managed to be insensitive to our needs. But whites are quick to do the same. How many white people defended George Allen, Don Imus, George Bush, Barbara “Oatmeal Box” Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bradley Schlozman, and whoever else made simplistic characterizations at the expense of people who exist outside their culture club. The only difference is we don’t control the wealth, corporations, the media, the government, the courts, and every last one of the other institutions that are part of our daily lives. Each one of these entities is controlled by the insensitive white corporate culture.