The New Face of Bias Isn’t White

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Starting from a blogger’s hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, a movement arose to boycott this year’s Academy Awards. For two years running, no black actors have been nominated; in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, this is accepted as further proof of systemic racism. But before embracing the indictment, the Economist Magazine researched the history of the awards and discovered that over the past 15 years, blacks had garnered 15% of Oscar nominations and 17% of the wins.  Since African-Americans represent 12.5% of the overall population they have actually received a bit more than “their share” of awards in recent years.

I loathe the phrase “their share” because it implies Oscars should be based on factors other than performance. Racial quotas, even de facto ones, lead down a slippery slope. The NBA is 74% black. Every year it awards the Podoloff Trophy to the Most Valuable Player and over the last 8 years, 100% of the recipients have been black. These statistics do not prove white players are victims of discrimination. I think black players are just performing better.  The US Constitution guarantees equal opportunity for all, not equal outcome, and in a society as diverse as ours, unbalanced outcomes should be no surprise.

During the Clinton and Bush eras, it seemed that race relations in the US were steadily improving. But according to a Pew poll last summer, concern about racism has spiked sharply under President Obama, reaching the highest level in 20 years. I believe racial tension has been covertly fostered by this administration, occasionally bubbling to the surface as when Eric Holder maintained during an interview with ABC News that opposition is based on “racial animus.”

Unquestionably, the Obama administration has faced a lot of hostility. So did Bush, Clinton and every president before them. Political foes used to be termed the “loyal opposition”; opponents of Obama’s policies are labeled racist or xenophobic. These charges divert attention from issues of policy and are difficult to defend because whites are considered guilty until proved innocent. “White privilege” is the new term for the sin of being born Caucasian. The NY Times opined that all whites have been stained by “our original sin of slavery”.

According to ancestry.com, 25 years is the average length of a generation.  By this calculation, American slavery ended 6 generations ago. This takes us beyond “sins of the father” to sins of the great-great-great-great-grandfather. Even so, a United Nations panel recently recommended the United States pay reparations for slavery, and many advocates feel all African-Americans deserve compensation.  By this twisted logic, even blacks like President Obama, whose ancestors were never enslaved, should get a check from me, whose ancestors never owned slaves.

Slavery was a wretched institution, but no argument will convince me that I bear responsibility for it. One side of my family lived in NY and backed the Union Army soldiers who risked their lives to end slavery. The other side came from Spain 50 years after slavery ended in the US.  Reparations represent the purest form of racism- assigning guilt and punishment to innocent individuals based solely on skin color.

Americans tend to view slavery through a narrow lens because here it was an injustice almost entirely perpetrated by white people on black people. But slavery was practiced all over the world and was an institution in Africa centuries before Europeans arrived, and continues there in pockets to this day.  Slavery also transcended racial lines, with up to 1.5 million white Europeans enslaved in Africa.

In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” But to the American left today, Dr. King’s “colorblind” sentiment is racist when expressed by a white person.  According to Psychology Today, Colorblind Ideology Is a Form of Racism” because race is “intimately tied to people’s identities and signifies culture, tradition, language, and heritage – genuine sources of pride (and not in the White Pride kind of way).” So Black pride, Hispanic pride, Muslim pride are all fine, but whites are only allowed to express shame and contrition.

Today, even flagrant racism is excused by the media so long as the offender is not white. Beyonce honored the Black Panthers at Super Bowl 50 with little mainstream push-back.  Her dancers sported black leather and berets, iconic trademarks shared by the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) today and the original Panthers from the 60’s.  The original group was responsible for its share of murder and mayhem, but had some redeeming qualities.  In contrast, the NBPP is a “hate group”, labeled as such by The Southern Poverty Law Center and described as a “virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers.”

King Samir Shabazz, head of the NBPP’s Philadelphia chapter was recorded on a National Geographic video saying “I hate white people, all of them… You want freedom? You going to have to kill some crackers! You going to have to kill some of their babies!”  This is the group whose members, dressed in black with trademark berets and brandishing a truncheon, yelled racial slurs at white voters outside a polling place in Philadelphia.

Eric Holder’s Justice Dept. shut down prosecution of this flagrant voter intimidation, over objections from the U.S. Attorneys involved. This executive-level interference was highly controversial and drew the attention of the Federal Civil Rights Commission. Holder then attempted to stifle that investigation by ordering his staff to ignore Commission subpoenas, causing one U.S. Attorney to resign in protest.  Despite these impediments, the Commission was able to report “numerous specific examples of open hostility and opposition within the Department of Justice to pursuing cases in which whites were the victims”.

The night Obama won the South Carolina primary, the audience chanted “race doesn’t matter.”  Apparently Obama wasn’t listening. While it is obvious that “Black Lives Matter” to the Obama administration, evidence is scant that they are equally concerned with “white lives”.  I do not share the opinion of some liberals that left-wing racism is somehow less unsavory than the right-wing variety.

Ironically, the Carolina Panthers football team is 74% black, so the Super Bowl included “black panthers” of a different type.  The Huffington Post celebrated the Carolina team for being “unapologetically black” and for its “powerful display of blackness”. Incongruously, they also opined that the whiteness of the Academy Awards “should bother everyone”.   As for me, I long to live in a nation where people are “not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” A nation where “all lives matter”.

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