Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Black And White

One of the strangely enduring facets of the black community in the United States is an endless argument over who is more racist - white liberals or white conservatives.

It's a heated topic, mainly because black people tend to be very keen on casting those among themselves that they don't like as "confused." Now, this term has a few different meanings. The important thing is that none of them are compliments. For this particular dispute, the label "confused" is simply a shorthand way of saying "pawn of racist white folks." This topic occurs to me because of David Weigel's piece on Slate, which reminded me of many fruitless debates. Not only could no-one ever win them, but they proved impossible to diffuse. Contrary to what you might expect, they didn't cause much in the way of hard feelings, given the level of animosity between the sides to begin with, making them dislike each other any more would have been a rare feat.

What's odd is the inability to realize that no matter which side of the debate one might argue, it's pretty much the same argument - white people are the source of the black community's problems. Either it's conservative whites who are caricatured as longing for the days of Jim Crow, when they ruled the roost and had dibs on the front of the bus, or it's liberal whites, parodied as the latest group to pick up the White Man's Burden of looking out for poor, stupid Negroes (and, while they're at it, making sure that said Negroes are always, poor, stupid and reliably Democratic voters). In either case, the solution is for Black America to kick these guys to the curb, and vote with the other guys - who have only their best interests at heart, and don't see skin color. I think you can see now why this never goes away.

And it's unlikely to, unless and until there is a general sentiment of "we don't need these guys - at least not any more than they need us." Now, I don't know that this will ever come to pass. For the time being, too much of what it means to be Black in America is linked to the nature of the relationship with White America. Which simply fuels the debate over which part of white America can be trusted.

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