Tuesday, May 8, 2012

BET is "Reverse Racism": Millennials Drink the Kool-aidr by Alex Snider

An article on The Nation by Jamelle Bouie looks at the survey results on how Millennials (ages 18-24) view race in America:
All of this is lead in for a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, which polled adults aged 18 to 24 on everything from religion and morality to economic issues and the 2012 election. They also posed questions on race and ethnicity: Does government pay too much attention to the problems of blacks and other minorities? Is “reverse discrimination” a problem in today’s society? Is demographic change a good thing for American society?
The results weren’t heartening. Overall, 46 percent of Millennials agree that the government pays too much attention to the problems of minorities, with 49 percent who disagree. 48 percent also agree that discrimination against whites is a genuine problem. When you disaggregate by race and count only white Millennials, the picture is much worse.
A solid majority of white Millennials, 56 percent, say that government has paid too much attention to the problems of blacks and other minorities. An even larger majority, 58 percent, say that “discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.”
Seriously? I can't say I'm really that surprised given how much eye rolling/foot stomping occurs in discussions of race and that people regularly engage in "fake" racism (still have to figure out what makes it fake...) but "discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities"?? For real? That is an opinion voiced by the entertainment show, Fox News. Be better than those racists, Millennials!

After dismantling college Affirmative Action myths, Bouie puts the onus on the education system:
...we live in a culture where honest conversation about race is rare, especially among white people, where it’s surrounded by fear and anxiety. For many white kids, if not most, racial conversations are limited to a few units in elementary and middle school. Otherwise, they’re left to fend for themselves, which either leads to a sense of privileged obliviousness—i.e., you live and act as if this were a “colorblind” world, despite the fact that color matters for many people—or confusion and resentment.
Indeed, at the end of the day, Americans do a terrible job of teaching our history, and an even worse job of teaching our awful racial history. By and large, slavery is treated with appropriate horror, but everything after that is passed over and ignored. In my experience, students—white or otherwise—are ignorant of the violence and economic oppression that characterized much of the black experience for the better part of a century. Racism is morphed into a personal force—represented by Bull Connor or George Wallace—and there’s no attempt to show the economic and social effects of Jim Crow and segregation.
For a lot of young white people, I think, racism has become completely untethered from history. They’ve been taught “colorblindness” sans a sense of what it means to grow up in a country where white supremacy was once the ruling ideology. “Reverse discrimination,” then, is a catch-all for frustration at rules they don’t understand (white people can’t say the “N-word”), and double standards that seem unfair (e.g., “Why can’t we have White History Month and a White Entertainment Channel?"). It’s understandable, but also a little depressing.
The education system is ruled by White supremacy (that goes for Canada, too. The ugly truth of colonization's legacy and its impacts on Aboriginal–Crown–non-Aboriginal relationships is completely erased from our history books) but when we reach adulthood we have the responsibility of educating ourselves. As adults we continue to learn and teach ourselves about tonnes that the education system either missed or not applicable. Learning about privilege and the systemic discrimination stacked against PoC is an uncomfortable journey, it can be downright painful, but what is the alternative? To be racist? Make jokes that hurt? Throw Black-face parties? Reinforce White supremacy and erase the history of discrimination and violence against PoC? Be better, Millennials, and challenge the racist status quo. You can start here.

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