What will it take for the US to eradicate racist ideas?


04 July 2017 | | The Guardian

“…When will the day arrive when black lives matter to Americans? It depends largely on what anti-racists do – and on the strategies they use to stamp out racist ideas. Racial reformers have customarily requested or demanded that Americans, particularly white Americans, sacrifice their own privileges for the betterment of black people.

And yet, this strategy is based on one of the oldest myths of the modern era, a myth continuously produced and reproduced by racists and anti-racists alike: that racism materially benefits the majority of white people, that white people would lose and not gain in the reconstruction of an anti-racist America.

It has been true that racist policies have benefited white people in general at the expense of black people (and others) in general. That is the story of racism, of unequal opportunity in a nutshell.

But it is also true that a society of equal opportunity, without a top 1% hoarding the wealth and power, would actually benefit the vast majority of white people much more than racism does.

Anti-racists should stop connecting selfishness to racism, and unselfishness to anti-racism. Altruism is wanted, not required. Anti-racists do not have to be altruistic. Anti-racists do not have to be selfless.

Anti-racists merely have to have intelligent self-interest, and to stop consuming those racist ideas that have engendered so much unintelligent self-interest over the years. It is in the intelligent self-interest of middle- and upper-income blacks to challenge the racism affecting the black poor, knowing they will not be free of the racism that is slowing their socio-economic rise until poor blacks are free of racism.

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