Maybe its because of Charlottesville. Or BLM. Lately the news is full of stories about discrimination. Even white folks trying to get into Harvard think they are being discriminated against. Jeff Sessions has their backs.
There was a piece in the LA Times today about the systematic housing discrimination in LA that begat Watts. It wasn’t all private deed restrictions. The federal government wouldn’t let public housing for blacks be located in certain places, and insisted that blacks not be allowed to live in complexes that were predominantly white. This was the New Deal federal government, the post WWII federal government. The housing segregation so established is now perpetuated through zoning regulations that limit housing density in white neighborhoods: no housing projects (for you know who) need apply.
Then there was the piece two days earlier in the New York Times about how uneven enforcement of our drug laws has locked up blacks at a much higher rate than whites. Blacks go to jail. Whites go to rehab. The numbers are alarming.
So I posted those two pieces on Facebook and noted that we whites need to face up to our history of racial discrimination and make amends. Apparently not everyone agrees.
One person suggested that the government can’t help those who don’t help themselves. Welfare creates dependency is the root of that argument.
Another said he didn’t think blacks wanted me telling them who should be their neighbors. They like being together. You know, like my southern ancestors used to say: “They be happy down on the place.”
My point in writing this is not that ever since slavery, ever since Jim Crow, even today, racial prejudice holds back blacks and other people of color, it’s that we whites have apparently become weary of admitting it. We’re not as bad as holocaust deniers; we admit that slavery was a thing; we even admit that discrimination lasted a long time. But we have taken to denying that it continues. And we have taken to denying that its pernicious effects linger, continuing to limit opportunity for blacks, who have almost as hard a time breaking out of some pockets of segregated poverty, in places like the south side of Chicago, for instance, as their slave ancestors did getting off the plantation.
I thought this debate was put to rest by the court cases and laws of the civil rights era. Not so, as it turns out.
But we have come a long way since MLK died for our sins in how we invoke the majesty of the law to insure equal justice for all: our Department of Justice has gone from defending the civil rights of blacks to insisting that blacks and Asians not take white boys’ places at Harvard.