Racial Inequality is Real



“It doesn’t make any difference
what your skin pigmentation is.”
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala)


Now infamous for positing a “war on Whites,” Rep. Mo Brooks asserts, “In America, this is the land of opportunity. You can excel provided you’re willing to study hard, work hard, take advantage of the opportunities that are presented in our country.”

This is demonstrably false.

Proclaim this Pollyanna precept to the millions of Blacks, Latinos and even Whites attempting to survive the many misfortunes of inner-city life. Traumatized by gun violence, children attend schools woefully lacking resources. Many families languish in agonizing poverty.

Yes, Brooks can find some people who escape these inhumane conditions. His false conclusion, however, is that if one can do it, anybody and everybody can do it. This is absurd. How can everyone get a job, for example, when there are six applicants for every opening?

Brooks ignores that racism often limits available opportunities–and racially biased policies and programs are built into the very structure of our nation. This structural inequality would be present even if all racial bias were suddenly eradicated.

Consider income inequality. MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry observes persistent prejudice based on census data: “For the last 30 years White families, on average, earned about $2 for every $1 earned by African-American and Latino families.”

Opportunities for most Whites are far greater than for minorities. The alternative explanation is these minorities have half the income of Whites because their cognitive abilities and emotional intelligence are inferior. This is scientifically invalid–and utterly repugnant.

We gain understanding when considering accumulated wealth by race. Median household wealth in 2010 for Blacks was $4955; for Latinos, $7424; and for Whites–get this–a whopping $110,729! It takes 15 Latinos or 22 Blacks to match the wealth of one White.

While not overt racists, my typical suburban parents maintained 40 years ago that Blacks should “get over slavery.” This was the distant past, they insisted, and slavery no longer affects Blacks. They were wrong. Even today, the economic gap between Blacks and Whites is measured in trillions of dollars. Indeed, estimates for slavery reparations also measure in the trillions. So, despite economic gains for many Blacks, wealth inequality persists despite the abolition of slavery 150 years ago.

What about Latinos? Are they inferior? Obviously not. Again, we must examine social causes of inequality present in the structures of our society.

Unlike their Anglo brothers and sisters, they did not benefit from centuries of a slave-based economy. Latinos also experienced decades of discrimination in housing and jobs. These huge impacts pilfered many thousands of dollars from most U.S. Latino families–and the exploitation of Latino immigrants working on farms is scandalous.

U.S. government discrimination includes the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This hemispheric accord promoting “free trade” prompted U.S. dumping of cheap subsidized corn in Mexico. This action alone unemployed and uprooted millions of Mexican farmers from land worked for generations. Many Mexican families cross our border precisely because NAFTA stole their livelihoods.

Moreover, our gluttony for illegal drugs galvanizes Latin America’s drug cartels, destroying millions of families through civil wars, assassinations, widespread crime and unemployment. Illegal drug users and our government bear much responsibility for these unconscionable consequences.

Our nation’s militant ‘war on drugs,’ is catastrophic for Mexico and Columbia. Blood-soaked corpses are strewn across their cities and countrysides. In Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, militarized drug zones compel children to flee to the U.S. So this is not an immigration problem; this is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis we instigated, requiring us to welcome persecuted refugees.

Racism is real. Structural racism still has dire impacts on Blacks and Latinos. A ‘war on Whites’ is not credible. Contrary to Brooks’ White tribalism, there is another reality: With many military and economic fronts, a war is being waged against our brothers and sisters of color.

©2014 Harry Rix. All rights reserved.

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