Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Racism in the Katrina Aftermath

In correspondence with Republicans...

The society is racist, but that does not mean, as a society, we are conceptually committed to racism; on the contrary, we are explicitly opposed to it. The racism that exists in our communities and institutions is mainly a function of unequal power relationships based on race, which most of us tend to deny or ignore, or at any rate fail to actively resist. It does not help that whatever (perhaps imperfect) attempts to address racism in this country are met with accusations of "racism" or "playing the race card" (as in the case of race-specific policies like affirmative action, or, in the case of Katrina, even acknowledging that race was a factor) by the very privileged sectors who have stood to gain the most from its legacy. In my view the question is not whether one is "racist" since most of us fall into the same boat: we oppose racism in principle while contributing to it in practice. The question really is, "are we doing anything to confront racism?" In the case of our current leadership, I think the answer is clearly no, since confronting racism presupposes the acknowledgement that racism is a problem that 1) exists and 2) warrants confronting.

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