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If you've been following the course of this series of thinkposts re: racism, then you have seen how varied, creative, challenging and difficult the excuses in why we haven't dealt with the simple problem of treating all of our citizens equally and fairly has been. Detour-Spotting, Jona Olsson's essay, which has been the template for this series, lays out all these excuses and challenges us to do better. Here's today's topic.

25) The Accountant

We keep a tally sheet. If we perform some “feat of anti-racism,” we expect reciprocity from an individual or group of color, usually with some prestige or power that can serve our interests.


Reality Check and Consequence

“I scratch your back, you scratch mine is NOT justice seeking nor ally behavior. It serves only to reduce justice work to some kind of power brokering currency.


The problems we have when dealing with race in America stem primarily from the fact that this system is already working to support white people and oppress minorities. So, to have any white person who claims to want to help balance this ledger suggesting that there has to be some sort of return favor for them as a part of their work only adds to the legacy of injustice we have seen throughout the centuries of this issue.

The point that Ms. Olsson is making here is clearly that Quid Pro Quo is a no-go, and rightly so. Things are already so far skewed to the benefit of white people that anything expected back, short of a thank you for not being racist, really is asking too much.

Now, the problem we must consider here are the thoughts and feelings of the group that feels completely overlooked throughout all of this discussion: lower and middle class white people.

So, we have black people who are, no matter what their stature, their status, their success or income, likely to experience some form of racism which may range from being an inconvenience to being something that ends their life. That's no exaggeration. People like Oprah Winfrey, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Even The President of The United States has dealt with issues of racism in a personal way. No minority person is immune to suffering through racist behaviors.

But if you are poor and white in America, what do you do? You can't claim the system is working against you. And you probably don't want to think that you just aren't good enough to achieve.

The answer is clear! Blame the brown people!

Here's where racism is perpetuated to the highest extent and a serious reason why we can't completely root it out. If minorities are the cause of the problem, then there is a scapegoat, there is a reason why not all white people have reached the one percent! So hate groups can be formed, minorities can be killed, any number of atrocities can be done and it's accepted because that is punishment for all of the wrong.

If we could somehow get those same people, interested in trying to destroy any minorities in our society, to understand that working with them, not against them would benefit everyone (even those in the one percent, actually), maybe we could make some progress.

But is that realistic? Is that even possible?



Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist
19. Day 19 - Blackwards
20. Day 20 - Teach Me
21. Day 21 - White on White
22. Day 22 - Smoke and Mirrors
23. Day 23 - Personal Work
24. Day 24 - Whites Only

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