Open Your Eyes
Critical race theory is the latest bogeyman for the right wing, white supremacist politicians who think they’ve found a new anti-Democrat goldmine that they are mining and squeezing for all they can to make the longstanding theory that is respected by most social scientists, to sound like nothing more than reverse racism.
To those who ask why we (read that African Americans) won’t just move on, quit whining about slavery and racism, and pull yourselves up by your bootstraps and take advantage of the American dream. I am no expert on critical race theory but I know what I know. This is how racism works and how it reverberates like thunder while most white people, those who insist they are not racist, can’t even hear it while they reap the rewards of a system that has been carefully and cruelly crafted to benefit the white population.
I have been a journalist for most of my adult life and in my entire career, I have worked with one black reporter, no typo there, one, and his name was Tom Sullivan and he was the police reporter for the Herald News. African Americans were one huge demographic who weren’t going to compete with me for a job so from the start, I had a very, very big advantage when I picked a field that has been flagrantly, hypocritically, castigating the bad people who get in the way of equality while these smug, self-important journalistic institutions then close the doors on African Americans.
It didn’t start with my career, it started long, long ago in elementary school where there was not one African American child in my entire scholastic career. You don’t have to be a genius to understand that higher quality schools are in areas with higher income families and that the African American community has largely been in poorer areas, so they have poorer schools and one more reason why Blacks have not been competitive in many fields, like journalism. As for college, again, I was able to get student loans to attend, loans that were not made available to many African American students, often because they didn’t perform well in their under-funded schools. Most professions, including journalism, won’t even consider an applicant without a college degree and those with advance degrees stand an even better chance of clawing their way up the ladder of fame and fortune. Chalk off one more hidden advantage for young white boys like me.
I continue. It helps to be healthy and I have been fortunate to have pretty good nutrition, a healthy family life and regular, quality medical care, regular eye exams and regular dental exams, which I have always hated. It seems pretty obvious that if you are unhealthy or chronically ill or your teeth hurt or you can’t see clearly, that your chances for employment fall precipitously, like being pushed off a cliff.
In the book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson described some of the many ugly and to many, unseen, aspects of racism in our society that are outlined in critical race theory.
Wilkerson quotes Harvard sociologist David R. Williams who found that “of the 60 most common procedures reimbursed by Medicare, African Americans receive fewer procedures than white patients even though they have a higher rate of illness.” If you track the system backwards, it becomes clear how the decks were constantly stacked against African Americans. As Wilkerson said, “New Deal reforms of the 1930s, like the Social Security Act of 1935 (providing old age insurance) and the Wagner Act (protecting workers from labor abuse) excluded the vast majority of Black workers — farm laborers ad domestics- at the urging of southern white politicians.”
How’s this for more evidence of the coordinated effort to keep African Americans down on the farm, metaphorically if not literally. In families like mine, our home was an asset that continued to grow as home values increased. The value of a home could be used as collateral for a college loan, a new car, home improvements. But with my father’s salary as a truck driver and my mother a homemaker, my parents could never had afforded the house without a government-guaranteed Federal Housing Agency loan and the cascading benefits of home ownership.
Wilkerson put in this context:
“The Federal Housing Agency was created to make homeownership easier for white families by guaranteeing mortgages in white neighborhoods while specifically excluding African Americans who wished to buy homes. It did so by refusing to back mortgages in any neighborhood where black people lived, a practice known as redlining and by encouraging or even requiring restrictive covenants that barred black citizens from buying homes in white neighborhoods.”
This refusal to provide loans to African Americans shut them out of “the trillions of dollars of wealth accumulated through the appreciation of housing assets secured by federal insured loans between 1932 and 1962.” My parents get a house through a federal loan, I get college loans based on my parents’ collateral, I then get a job in journalism and voila, years later, I have my own house and family. It’s all because of the amount of melanin in my skin. And then there is one of the most pernicious effects of a society that has always locked down African Americans to the lowest levels, describing them as uneducated, lazy and absent of moral values. Wilkerson cites researchers who have found that “as much as 80 percent of white Americans hold unconscious bias against black Americans.”
And hold on to your white fedoras for this.
The messaging is so pervasive that a third of black Americans hold anti-black bias against themselves.”
If you don’t think you have the stuff to succeed you probably won’t, even in a country where anyone can grow up to be president, or so they say. So there you go and if this doesn’t turn the light on the devastation that has been and continues to be wrought by racism, then, my friends, you are blind and dumb. I don’t say this to create guilt but some healthy anger would help to right wrongs that have been a landmark of the nation since the first African was seized and marched into slavery.
(Photo/Chris Montgomery)This piece first appeared in Medium.
Editor's note: Phil Garber has been a Journalist for 40 years and has won the journalist of the year award twice from the New Jersey Press Association. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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