wtf is “post racial”?!

English: No racism Lietuvių: Ne rasizmui

Being asked to describe what “post-racial” means is a bit like being asked to describe a leprechaun, cold fusion or unicorns: we know  what is meant, but, if we are willing to be honest, we also know that none of the four describe something real, something tangible, something true.

To me, “post-racial” is little more than a nonsense term devised by people (mostly white, frankly), who would simply rather not deal with the ever-present reality of racism and ongoing racial discrimination.

It is a diversion, intended to paper over the divisions that have long roiled our nation, and continue to do so today.

Though some sincerely believe this describes America’s reality– especially since a man of color was elected president – the illogic of believing this signals the veritable death of racism should be apparent: after all, we certainly wouldn’t claim that sexism and patriarchy had been smashed in Pakistan, India, Great Britain, Israel or the Philippines just because they all have elected women as heads of state.

Perceptions of discrimination a black and white story

To believe that the United States is post-racial requires an almost incomprehensible inability or unwillingness to stare truth in the face.

How can we be post-racial, after all, when the typical white family has 20 times the net worth of the typical black family, and 18 times that of the typical Latino family?

How can we be post-racial when studies find that even white men with criminal records are more likely to be called back for job interviews than black men without them, even when all other credentials and personal characteristics are indistinguishable?

How can we be post-racial when evidence suggests that the lightest-skinned immigrants earn roughly 17% more than the darkest-skinned immigrants, even when qualifications and levels of productivity are the same?

How can we be post-racial when Asian Americans, Latinos and blacks with college degrees are anywhere from one-third more likely to nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts? When schools serving mostly students of color are more than ten times as likely to be places of concentrated poverty, and far more likely to have the least experienced teachers?

How can we be post-racial when people of color continue to be so disproportionately targeted by our nation’s drug laws?

Although whites use drugs just as often as blacks (and more often than Latinos), it is people of color who comprise nearly 90% of persons incarcerated for a drug possession offense. And it is people of color who are disproportionately stopped and searched for drugs and other illegal contraband, even though they are no more likely (and sometimes less likely) to be in possession of such items than whites are.

How can we be post-racial, when presidential candidates are either too afraid to raise these issues publicly, for fear of voter backlash (as with the Democratic incumbent), or willing to shamelessly exploit racial anxieties and resentments (as with at least one of the primary Republican challengers) by calling President Obama the “food stamp” president, or suggesting that poor black kids have “no habits of work” and should be made to clean their own schools as janitors?

This, despite the fact that most people in poor communities do work, and black teenage unemployment rates (now well over 40 percent) reflect only those black teens who are searching for jobs, and thus, by definition already have a solid work ethic, lacking only the opportunities to put that ethic into practice.

Sadly, the claims of America’s equanimity and post-raciality are not really new.

Even in the early 1960s, before the passage of civil rights legislation, at a time when we were still a formal apartheid state, polls found that a vast majority percent of whites already believed that blacks had just as good a chance to obtain a good job, housing or a good education as we or our children did.

In other words, white denial – one might say, delusion – on the matter of the nation’s racial reality has been longstanding.

It’s hard to say when or if we will actually arrive at that place called “post-racial”, or, better yet, post-racism.

But until whites begin naming streets in our neighborhoods after Martin Luther King, and naming the schools that our children attend after him (rather than fearing that such a designation might signify that our kids attend a “ghetto school”), I know for certain we are not “post-racial” yet.

thx tim


8 thoughts on “wtf is “post racial”?!

  1. Thank you for this piece. I’ve moved from a big city to a smaller mid-western city and I am astonished by the racial ignorance here, but what i’ve also realized is that for the most part, big city people are just smarter in how they outwardly express their racial judgements and misconceptions. We still have a long way to go.
    The question is, how do we fix it?

    • always taryn!

      thats the question of the day! there is a duality (generally speaking):

      1. black people need to continue to fight the fight, speak up and push back as hard as we can. additionally, we need to override the generational de-valuing of our culture and stop subscribing to those previous notions. doing so only keeps us oppressed by no one but ourselves!

      2. white people need to pay closer attention to what fair means. “passive fairness” doesn’t count. you know, the kind where you think your company is being “fair” because you have that one or two black employee(s). in “our” govt we do have those white advocates that “try” to fight for fairness but ironically none of them offer their seats up for a black/brown person thats just as qualified. <– thats an entirely different rant though!

      lets do this TOGETHER for HUMANS!

      humandkind <– be both.

  2. Thinking that we are “post racial” is like thinking that if one country in the world “got rid of” one atomic bomb we would be “post nuclear”.
    It feels like we are more divide, that people are being more racist, sexist, agist, etc. For as many wonderful things there are in the world, there is a side that is filled with hate, anger, and fear and it is growing just as fast (if not more) than the positive things.
    I too, find myself in the midwest, and am shocked at the difference from the coasts to the midwest on a number of different issues. I’ve had to walk away from my next door neighbor on more than one occasion for referring to people of color as “them coloreds”. I’ve told him that I cannot hold a conversation that involves that kind of ignorance and aggressive hate. The last time we spoke, he mentioned the upcoming election and stated that he was not racist because he liked the “black guy”. Cain was new to the election circus at that time but I knew enough about him to ask, “Do you mean the guy who ran the pizza empire?” as I shook my head in wonder.
    And I don’t understand the “immgration problem” in this country that was founded on immigrants. Who raised this kind of hatred and condemnation when people from Ireland, Greece, Italy, Sweden, etc came to this country? There is so much fear and sarcity mentality that we are all suffering instead of trying to work on making our family, community, region, and country better places for all of us to live.
    I really appreciate you blog!

    • wow, what an ignorant neighbor. to think that that level of mental distain can still exist in 2012 is perplexing. makes you wonder if there is a bit of devolution…lol

      america is a good country, one of the best in the world, but man it could be muuuuuch better! we need to briskly move away from being governed by fear.

      thank you jennifer for sharing your energy!

  3. As someone hailing from London, England, one of the main things I see is a lack of cohesiveness with black people. The community, business and moral support could definitely be stronger. When I study black history, I discovered that when this was done, great strides were made and the communities could demand change. There is strength in numbers. Organized numbers! Just my thoughts 🙂 Great post!

  4. Pingback: POST-RACIAL SOCIETY-GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!!!!!!!! «

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous :)

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