Discover more from In My Tribe
Why are race relations worse?
I don't have the answer
Glenn Loury and John McWhorter look back at where they thought race relations were headed in 2007. McWhorter suggests that the Tea Party reaction against President Obama was interpreted by his supporters as a reaction to his race, not to his policies.
I think the first problem was that the left took that as an indication that Barack Obama's election didn't really mean anything significant in terms of racism, which was not true. And then after that, in 2012 and 2013, was Trayvon Martin and then Mike Brown. And for better or for worse, neither one of those cases would have become national news if it weren't for social media. If there were no social media, if Barack Obama had been elected in a context where everything was the same as it is now but social media hadn't happened, I do believe that we would have turned a major corner based not only on what he symbolized but on things that he tried to do.
But social media, it reinforced tribalist feelings, and I'm sorry to say that it was on the left, so that the left came to cherish pretending racism hasn't changed as a sign of moral worth and we're stuck with it now. That's what I think.
I think that the hopes for race relations were highest around 1964 or 1965. My best guess as to what happened is that the end of legal segregation in the South exposed the bad state of race relations in the North. There, rich liberal whites put the burden on working-class whites to have black children in their schools, including by busing.
Both black activists and white politicians were able to get attention and money by stirring up racial animosity. This opportunity to exploit people’s fears and animosity persists to this day.
During my working years, I never felt any discomfort with Black people. When I was at Freddie Mac in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I only had a staff of more than five people. Some of the people I hired were Black, but I never considered it affirmative action. I hired for technical skills, conscientiousness (although I would not have been able to articulate that), and a positive attitude. I also interacted with Black executives that were at higher levels in the company, and those interactions were positive. I know that in the world of professionals Blacks still experienced slights in those days, but I did not notice that happening among the people I knew.
I think that if I were in a similar position today, I would feel less comfortable. The amount of attention that is paid to race nowadays must make it awkward for both whites and Blacks in the workplace. I never had to sit in a meeting and hear the words “As a Black woman, . . .” spoken in a threatening tone. I know that if I were in a work environment where people devalued me for being a white male, I would find it demoralizing.
My daughters attended public schools where non-Hispanic whites were in the minority. I thought that this went fine. But that was years before Critical Race Theory became embedded in the teaching profession. If I were a parent today, I would be trying to avoid CRT, which would make the challenge of choosing a school more difficult.
If race relations appear to be worse today than they were fifteen years ago, I think it is probably because fear-mongering has become so much more profitable with digital communications. I think that we have lost whatever ability we had to remain reasonable. This shows up not just on racial issues but also on other issues as well, notably the pandemic.
substacks referenced above: