While it is undeniably true that racial prejudice still exists to some extent in America today, the fact is that blacks and other groups of “people of color” have been more economically successful than one might believe, based solely upon the complaints and accusation of the “social-justice” left, as promoted by the mainstream news media.
As of 2019, seven of the top 10 American ethnic groups ranked by income — Indian, Taiwanese, Filipino, Indonesian, Persian, and Arab Lebanese Americans — were “people of color.” Indian-Americans have almost double the median white household income, earning roughly $127,000 vs. $65,902. Chinese and Japanese Americans are not far behind, Ghanaians and the Guyanese also come in well above the white median income, while Nigerians, with a typical income of $68,658, also rank as the most highly educated group in the United States.
These statistics, based upon published federal census data, pose a serious challenge to the credibility of the progressive leftist rhetoric which claims that American society is driven by systemic anti-black racism. If that were true, how do the progressives explain the success of West Indian English-speakers and second-generation Ghanaian Americans, who look and sound almost exactly like black Americans? Do progressives suggest that when a bigot meets one, he can tell the difference and put his prejudices aside? Not likely.
TOLERANCE HAS DEFEATED RACISM
There is a simple explanation for the success of minorities in America today. The Civil War and the American civil-rights movement are over, and the good guys won both.
In 1954, the Brown v. Board decision brought an end to legal de jure segregation, and the ruling was enforced by the federal government when necessary. In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which made most public forms of racial discrimination illegal. Affirmative action programs have been widely implemented across the country since the Philadelphia Plan in 1967.
More than 150 years after the end of the Civil War, and after the last 70 years of steady advances in reducing racial discrimination, having black or colored skin is no longer nearly as much of a barrier to success in today’s America as it used to be. Decades of affirmative action programs in higher education and industry have provided economic and educational opportunities that have counterbalanced much of the residual impact of past bigotry within American society.
By and large, open expressions of racial, ethnic, or religious bigotry are no longer socially acceptable to most Americans throughout the country, including the Deep South, and especially among well-educated younger people.
READING THE DATA PROPERLY
Most of the remaining measurable racial and gender performance gaps reflected in raw economic data today disappear when that data is adjusted for other characteristics such as median age and education level. Even when racial minorities do not perform as well due to the effects of prejudice, the difference is very often smaller than the impact of other factors, including social or economic class, gender, and regional origin.
The core claim of the progressive “systemic racism” critique of American society today, that blacks and other minorities are treated worse by design and intent than similarly qualified white individuals, is not sustainable when confronted by statistics which have been suitably adjusted for the other relevant variables.
For example, the $22,000 yearly income gap between American blacks and whites largely vanishes after adjustments for other variables such as aptitude test scores, median age (27 for blacks, vs. 58 for whites), region of residence, and years of education.
RACISM STILL EXISTS, BUT IS NO LONGER DOMINANT
Not only are the disadvantages due to racism almost never as large as the vendors of the “systemic racism” narrative claim, but the actual impact of racism on the success achieved by minority individuals is not much different than for other forms of bias.
For example, a Gallup poll which asked voters whether race or religion would be a deciding factor in their vote for a presidential candidate, found that only 8% of those surveyed said that they could not vote for a black presidential candidate. But the same poll found 7% of those surveyed would never vote for a Catholic candidate, 8% would never vote for a woman of any race, 9% would never vote for a Hispanic or a Jew, and 19% would never vote for a Mormon.
How large is the influence of the 8% of white people still willing to admit holding a prejudice against a black candidate on the 39% of this country’s population who are members of minority groups? The answer appears to be not much, especially when compared to other factors such as quality of education, work ethic, and social attitudes, which are more accurate predictors of future success or failure on an individual basis.
THE REALITY OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES
The economic opportunities available to blacks and members of other minority groups have expanded greatly over the past 50 years. It would be fair to say that, all other factors being equal, blacks and members of other minority groups today are on a roughly level playing field in competing with other Americans.
An ambitious young man or woman of color applying for admission to virtually any college or university, or for a job in government or at a Fortune 500 company, actually enjoys a significant advantage over an otherwise equally qualified white candidate, due to recognition of their minority status.
That affirmative action advantage can arguably be justified, because for poor minority group children growing up in the inner cities, all other factors are rarely equal. It is an undeniable fact that most of these children do not get the same quality of education and other benefits that a child raised in a typical middle-class environment would receive, and that they therefore do deserve at least some extra help from society to equalize their opportunities to succeed as adults.
The advantages of being born rich pale in comparison to the positive effects of making sound lifestyle choices. There is plenty of evidence that personal decisions and behaviors, such as living a moral life, finishing school, being willing to work hard, avoiding trouble with the law, and remaining physically fit, also usually leads to more desirable individual outcomes.
WELCOME TO THE MELTING POT
The United States has always been known as a “melting pot” of different races, religions, and ethnic cultures. After 250 years of living together as Americans, these races and nationalities have mixed to a significant extent.
It is well known, for example, that a significant proportion of American blacks who are the descendants of former slaves in the pre-Civil War American South have at least one white slave owner in their ancestry. This was confirmed by a study published in 2015 by the National Institutes of Health. Based upon a genetic analysis of 1,300 black Americans, it found that, as a whole, 24% of their genetic makeup of consists of genes of identifiably European origin vs. 73% African and 1% Native American origin. Based upon 1,500 Hispanics who participated in the same study, their genetic makeup was 65% European compared to 18% Native American and 6% African origin.
The genetic analysis of the study’s 35,000 self-identified European-American subjects revealed more than 98% European-American genetic content. However, there is considerable variation within Europe’s national populations, ranging from the often pale, blond, and blue-eyed Scandinavians to the typically more swarthy and dark-haired people who live along the Mediterranean coast. It is simply inaccurate to ignore their significant genetic differences by characterizing everyone whose known ancestors were born in Europe with the same label — “white.”
THE MYTH OF A “WHITE” RACE
It is also grossly unfair to assign the category of “white,” meaning one whose ancestors at one time in the past oppressed blacks or other “people of color,” to anyone who has not been recognized by the liberal establishment as member of one of those victimized groups.
Why aren’t liberals willing to assign the same privileges of victimhood to others groups which have also been the targets of organized discrimination in this country in the past, including Jews, Catholics, Mormons, the descendants of Irish and Italian immigrants, or other nationalities which didn’t arrive in this country in significant number until after the Civil War, when black slavery was outlawed?
Some might answer that the other groups don’t need those privileges today because they have managed to overcome the discrimination that they suffered better than blacks, Hispanics, or other “people of color.”
But that raises another question. If, as mentioned above, many other groups of “people of color” have gone on to achieve success in this country, why blame systemic racism for the fact that American blacks are still underperforming?
Who has been holding them back? Many of the large cities across the country with large populations of blacks and Hispanics have elected mayors, members of Congress, and police chiefs of the same race. They are now in control in those jurisdictions. Why isn’t it fair to hold them accountable for the continued victimization of the minority citizens who elected them to office, instead of scapegoating others by accusing them as a group, without evidence, of “white racism”?
Progressives prefer to ignore the role of the social welfare programs introduced by President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in the 1960s in undermining the cohesiveness and economic independence of traditional American black family, as well as the incarceration, beginning in the mid-1990s, of much of that generation’s black young adults, due to a harsh federal anti-drug law written and sponsored by then-Senator Joe Biden.
IS THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM BIASED?
Progressives claim that the American criminal justice system is clearly prejudiced against blacks due to the fact that the 40% proportion of blacks arrested, convicted, and incarcerated in prisons is far larger than their roughly 12% portion of the total American population. However, considering that the amount of black victim-reported violent crime is 2.4 times the white rate, it goes a long way to help explain the higher percentage of arrested and jailed blacks without needing to resort to blanket accusations of white racial prejudice.
The biggest threat to minorities is not actual physical conflict; interracial violence involving blacks and whites represents only about 5% of all serious crime. Rather, the majority of violent deaths in this country are the result of black-on-black shootings in poorer inner-city neighborhoods. In addition, despite claims by black and progressive activists widely reported in the mainstream media, the actual number of incidents of apparently unprovoked killings by white cops of unarmed black subjects is negligible by comparison.
According to the Washington Post, in 2019, there were a total of only 13 reported deaths of unarmed black citizens at the hands of police nationwide. By contrast, according to the Chicago Tribune, there were 797 murders reported in the city of Chicago alone during 2021, 87% of whose victims were black, 15% Hispanic, and only 3% white.
But that is not the overall impression conveyed by news reports in the mainstream media. They tend to focus on interracial incidents of criminal violence, while largely ignoring the wholesale ongoing slaughter of mostly black and Hispanic victims in the nation’s crime-ridden poor inner-city neighborhoods.
The result is a false public impression of the percentage of criminal suspects shot by police who happen to be black. Polls say that liberals estimate the number of black suspects shot to be around 60%, while moderates put it at 46% and conservatives at 38%, while, according to a Washington Post tally based upon available crime reports, the actual incidence is only 25%.
DEFUNDING THE POLICE HAS LED TO A NATIONWIDE CRIME WAVE
The cruel death 18 months ago of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis cop, and other reported incidents of racially motivated police brutality against blacks, sparked a progressive-led outcry which resulted in the defunding of many police departments across the country, as well as a growing reluctance by district attorneys in progressive bastions to prosecute those arrested for non-violent crimes.
That, in turn, has led to nationwide upsurge in violent crimes, epitomized by the fact that at least 12 major cities across the United States broke their annual homicide records in 2021. They include Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Indianapolis, Indiana; St. Paul, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; Tucson, Arizona; Toledo, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Austin, Texas; Rochester, New York; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
It would be safe to conclude that the additional number of black and Hispanic people murdered in those cities alone last year far exceeds any lives that may have been saved by the Black Lives Matter-inspired progressive crackdown on “racist white cops” who unfairly target criminal suspects who are members of minority groups.
Undermining public trust in this country’s institutions of law and order was only the first stage of the current progressive cultural takeover. The impact of what progressives like to call “race-conscious policy” now extends far beyond the relatively constrained affirmative action programs which have been widely practiced in college admissions, government contracting, and corporate hiring for the past 30 years.
REDEFINING CIVIL RIGHTS
One of the goals of the original Civil Rights movement was to end segregation and other forms of racial discrimination in American public life by instituting “colorblind standards” of impartial treatment, which would allow individuals to be judged solely on the basis of their abilities and job performance. But that is no longer acceptable to progressives. They now claim that judging any person on the basis of their individual merit is a form of “white supremacy.”
Progressives have discarded the goal of seeking “racial equality of opportunity,” as espoused by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., and substituted a demand for “racial equity,” which means a guarantee of the same outcomes for everyone, regardless of their relative merit or ability. It also goes far beyond the principles of the Declaration of Independence, which calls only for the recognition of the individual’s rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and does not suggest that every individual’s pursuit must, in all cases, succeed equally.
THE BENEFITS OF VICTIMHOOD
For the progressives, individual merit or accomplishment has become irrelevant as a justification for success. A person’s racial or other preferred group identity is now all that matters. It defines Western culture as a complex matrix of interlocking oppressions against various self-defined groups of victims, and claims to seek justice by granting those recognized victims preferred status and moral superiority over their alleged “white racist” former oppressors.
It calls for rigorous enforcement of an ever-growing set of mandates regulating free speech and thought, as well as newly invented kinds of social crimes, such as micro-aggressions. All named suspects are immediately assumed guilty, even if they can produce proof of their innocence. There is no due process or a right to appeal. Edicts are immediately enforced by the vigilantes of the “cancel culture” through social media. Penalties typically begin with public condemnation, followed ostracism by your friends and colleagues, culminating with firing from your job. These measures are so effective at creating self-censorship that a recent poll found that 62% of the Americans surveyed are afraid to share their political opinions, even with their family friends.
This new liberal ideology of intimidation goes by many names, including “anti-racism,” “social justice,” “critical studies,” “Cultural Marxism,” “political correctness,” “post-structuralism,” “deconstructionism,” “post-colonialism,” and “gender theory.”
It was able to grow in recent years from a niche left-wing cultural belief to gain widespread left-wing acceptance, by feeding on the extreme liberal Democrat reaction to President Trump’s populist message promoting traditional American cultural and historical values.
A GROWING PUSHBACK
This dangerous ideology is in the process of being rolled out as official policy across a range of institutions, including K-12 public and private schools. It has begun to transform children’s educations and the quality of law enforcement in ways that are deeply disturbing to many parents and other citizens who have become increasingly concerned about their personal safety and their constitutional rights.
The fast-spreading influence of these radical progressive ideas is beginning to have serious national political consequences. Angry parent opposition to the modification of school curriculums intended to indoctrinate their schoolchildren with a broad range of radical progressive ideas on race, gender, and American history was a major factor in the upset victory of the Republican candidate in November’s gubernatorial election in Virginia.
Many Democratic congressional incumbents running for reelection in the upcoming midterms are now desperately seeking to distance themselves from the progressive defund the police rhetoric in the last national election cycle, which has led to a severe public backlash in response to the current nationwide crime wave of murders and organized gang robberies.
DO TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT?
The new liberal ideology espoused by intellectual leaders such as Ibram X. Kendi claims that “the only remedy of past discrimination is present discrimination.” It turns common sense on its head by effectively asserting that it takes two wrongs to make things right. Nevertheless, its acceptance has quickly moved from the isolated world of liberal academia to the boardrooms of corporate America and has now been explicitly endorsed by the federal government.
One of Joe Biden’s first acts as president last year was to issue an executive order that extends the progressive demand for racial equity into every aspect of American life, including the provision of medical services by race, as well as in any other areas where there may be statistical disparities in outcomes which can be attributed to race.
RACE-BASED GOVERNMENT POLICIES
The effects of Biden’s executive order are already apparent. For example, New York City’s Department of Health published new official guidance on December 20 stating that it will take into account a patient’s race when distributing potentially lifesaving Covid treatments because of “longstanding systemic health and social inequities” which, it claims, are responsible for a higher Covid death rate for members of the city’s minority populations.
In a separate statement, the department said it “is committed to improving health outcomes for all New Yorkers by explicitly advancing racial equity and social justice. Racial equity does not mean simply treating everyone equally, but rather, allocating resources and services in such a way that explicitly addresses barriers imposed by structural racism (i.e., policies and institutional practices that perpetuate racial inequity) and white privilege.”
The guidance applies to both the distribution of monoclonal antibodies, which have proven to be successful in treating patients infected with Covid, and the newly approved oral antiviral tablets like Paxlovid and Molnupiravir.
It has already taken practical effect. A Staten Island doctor told the New York Post that when he submitted prescriptions last week for two of his Covid patients for Paxlovid, he was asked by the pharmacist, following the new health department guidance, to disclose the race of his patients before the treatment was authorized. Both of his patients were white, and the prescriptions were ultimately filled anyway, but the doctor was still outraged by the possibility that they could have been denied lifesaving treatment by the government based upon their race alone.
“In my 30 years of being a physician, I have never been asked that question when I have prescribed any treatment,” the doctor, who requested anonymity, told the Post. “The mere fact of having to ask this question is a slippery slope.”
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident.
The federal Small Business Administration has prioritized the granting of its emergency Covid grants to restaurants on the basis of the race of their owners. The Department of Agriculture has prioritized federal funding to black farmers. Vermont granted early access to the Covid vaccine only to its BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) residents. San Francisco introduced a pilot public/private partnership program offering monthly cash payments reserved exclusively for black and Pacific Islander women.
The country can probably expect more of the same — not only from federal, state, and local governments run by progressives committed to “racial equity,” but also from corporate leaders who fear that if they do not eagerly comply with these demands, their products are likely to be boycotted and their personal reputations attacked and ruined.
There are those who believe that growing voter disapproval of President Biden’s policies will halt the momentum of the progressive movement and delay the implementation of its race-based agenda for remaking American society. Voters in November’s midterm elections are widely expected to put an end to the current Democrat control over both houses of Congress, making it unlikely that any new major pieces of progressive legislation will be passed.
But President Biden is scheduled to remain in office for at least the next three years, and during that time he will be urged by progressive leaders to implement their divisive and disruptive race-based policy proposals through executive orders. Let us pray that he will finally heed the wishes of the voters instead, and just say “no.”