Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A short rant about "institutional racism"

"Racism is an attitude, and institutions can't have attitudes." —Adolph Reed

When I shared that on Facebook, someone I'll call R questioned it, so I said:

If racism is an institution, where is its headquarters? Who are its employees? Who decides its policies?

“Institutional racism” is how liberals discuss the way that capitalism’s limited class mobility creates generational poverty for people of color—and how they ignore generational poverty affecting white people.

R pointed to redlining affecting black people, so I added this:

Have you done any reading about "place not race"? White people in redlined areas do not get a pass for being white. The areas are redlined because they are poor. That they are racially disproportionate is beside the fact.

Capitalism's headquarters are where the stock markets are. The terms of exploitation are regulated by the government—that's why the gender wage difference pretty much goes away when you compare pay for the same job.

R then did what Adolph Reed notes antiracists tend to do, which was to say, "Distilled, your claim seems to be, racism isn't a thing. It's misunderstood classism at best, an intellectual failure to apprehend a red herring." I replied:

The problem is your distillation. Of course racism is a thing.

But your use of classism points to the problem. When I first heard the word, I thought it referred to the way capitalism works. Then I realized that it's how liberals talk about class prejudice as though the problem is that the poor aren't treated with more respect.

And yes, you are wrong. Did King stop working on racism to fight the class war?

ETA: Thinking about this, I shared a thought on social media:

If you tell left identitarians that class matters more and identity matters less than they think, they hear you saying identity doesn't matter. They cannot imagine the class-first position, even though it was Martin Luther King's.

Yes, Adolph Reed noted this years ago.