Teapublicans are fond of saying that racism is no longer an issue. Conservatives on the US Supreme Court have echoed that sentiment in decisions that weakened and overturned affirmative action. Indeed, many conservatives cite affirmative action as a form of reverse racism. And whenever a politician or African-American speaks out against discrimination, conservatives are quick to label them as racists.
Some conservatives, especially those in the media, are simply unabashed racists that will never listen to reason. Unfortunately, even the more thoughtful and open-minded conservatives have fallen into the trap of assuming that racism was ended by Martin Luther King, Jr. What they fail to comprehend is that the US is only 3 to 5 generations removed from emancipation and that slavery has left a lasting legacy.
Following the Civil War, the largely uneducated population of African-American slaves (for most slaves, education was forbidden) was freed to fend for themselves. Many of those given 40 acres and a mule had their property stolen by whites. Many were still abused. Most found low-skilled, low-paying jobs and were herded into ghettos with little opportunity for advancement. Their children were sent to substandard schools. Even those who struggled to excel in school were discriminated against and given few job opportunities. In many states, African-Americans were not even allowed to vote until a generation ago. As a result, most laws have been used to bludgeon African-Americans. Police forces have used drug laws to disproportionately incarcerate African-Americans even though African-Americans use drugs at roughly the same rate as whites. Virtually every African-American has been stopped for driving or walking while black. And we’ve all seen the TV “reality” crime shows that focus almost exclusively on minorities. (A producer for one of the shows admitted that no one wanted to watch a show that focused on police busting young, white men for the same crimes.)
In the 1960’s many white families abandoned our cities for the suburbs to enroll their children in white-dominated schools and leaving African-Americans with the burden of paying for the infrastructure of the central cities, for police and fire protection, for luxurious sports venues, and for the freeways used almost exclusively by suburbanites. Cities redistricted their schools along racial and economic lines. So today, on the 60th anniversary of the US Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education which ordered the desegregation of schools, many of our schools are more segregated than they were at the time of the ruling.
Moreover, a Center for American Progress study found that, nationally, we spend $334 less for the education of each black student than for each white student! We may be unwilling to pay for the education of African-Americans. But we sure don’t mind spending millions more to send them to prison. According to The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, there are now as many African-Americans in some stage of our “justice” system as there were African-American slaves at the beginning of the Civil War!
Yet the GOP somehow believes that the playing field has been leveled…that the problems faced by many African-Americans are simply the result of laziness, broken families and a culture of welfare dependency. Some, like Cliven Bundy, even suggest that “the Negro” would be better off as slaves.
Here’s an idea: Why don’t the Teapublicans who believe this nonsense trade places with those they so demean? Let’s see how Rep. Paul Ryan would fare in a ghetto with few prospects for anything beyond a minimum wage job. Let’s see how he fares in landing a job in a suburb with no car and no public transportation to get to that job. Let’s see how Justice Roberts’ children would fare in a school with significantly fewer resources than their peers. Let’s see how white Teapublican suburbanites like standing in line for hours to vote. Let’s see how Cliven Bundy would fare at picking cotton.