Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Whites vs. The Wrights

Scott McConnell over at @TAC (The American Conservative Blog) commented today on Rev. Jeremiah Wright's comments on race and its relevence in cultural discourse. McConnell makes the case that we, or at least white people anyway, have reached the post-racial reality that so many Obamaniacs have hoped he would bring. Citing the lack of riots since the 1990s, and the fact that immigration has made the racial issue much less bipolar in this country.

For white people, race may be a dead issue. Whites in general no longer disgrace themselves by tolerating such evilness as the Klan or violent white supremicism. In many American cities, interracial marriage is tolerated, if not accepted entirely. Affirmative action led to some egregious instances of "reverse discrimination;" but unlikely heros like Ward Connerly and the Federal courts have rolled back the worst of the excesses - leaving a feel good level playing field behind. And these days, the growth of the urban black middle class makes it easy to find at least one black friend in which a white person would share some common ground.

Add to that the reduction in crime in major cities like New York and Chicago, and New Urbanism developments in other cities like Atlanta and St. Louis, it is possible for whites to live in a cosmopolitan environment where racialism is a thing of the past.

What Scott McConnell fails, or does not care to realize is that race still matters to those who aren't urbanized whites. Blacks in particular are affected by the wealth gap rather than the income gap (which for many communities is largely closed), and being caught in a vicious tyranny of low expectations - both part of a legacy of race discrimination and lack of direction. The fact that a disproportionately high number of black men are in prison and/or poverty is a derivative problem from the ones mentioned above.

As an institution that predates McConnell's post-racial reality, the black church was one of the few institutions interested in solving those two major concerns. And given that we as a society are only two generations removed from widespread discrimination, it seems funny to expect leaders who remembered those days to assume all is well with the world.

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