Monday, April 27, 2009

The Myth of the Post-Racial Society Under Obama

Read the full story by Henry Giroux here.

An excerpt:
In short, the discourse of the post-racial state ignores how political and economic institutions, with their circuits of repression and disposability and their technologies of punishment, connect and condemn the fate of many impoverished youth of color in the inner cities to persisting structures of racism that "serve to keep [them] in a state of inferiority and oppression." Not surprisingly, under such circumstances, individual suffering no longer registers a social concern as all notions of injustice are assumed to be the outcome of personal failings or deficits. Signs of the pathologizing of both marginalized youth and the crucial safety nets that have provided them some hope of justice in the past can be found everywhere from the racist screeds coming out of right-wing talk radio to the mainstream media that seems to believe that the culture of black and brown youth is synonymous with the culture of crime. Poverty is now imagined to be a problem of individual character. Racism is now understood as merely an act of individual discrimination (if not discretion), and homelessness is reduced to a choice made by lazy people.


  1. Dr. J,
    So I realized a possible conspiracy theory, and I wanted to bounce it off you. It seems logical; am I missing something?

    America is funding central american governments for our proxy wars in the 70-80's by facilitating drug trade into America. The places where drugs were introduced: slums, as a ploy of white supremacy to keep the american minority in the slums. (It seems like this would also fit with Anslinger's testimony in the 30's) I found this article about the CIA's involvement in proxy wars...if its true: I am ashamed.

  2. Dr. J, I believe the substance of this article, although it is fairly radical, does a great job of describing modern racism and systematic White Privilege. Since President Obama was elected, it is not uncommon to overhear or pick up on people's belief that racial barriers have disappeared in the U.S. The common statement is "How can there be racial inequalities if our president is Black?" The truth is that Obama is biracial, half white, and did not have the typical Black experience. Sadly, President Obama, by identifying as Black and holding the presidency, may decrease White people's belief in systematic race privilege. This backs the claim by misguided Whites that racism only occurs as an act of individual discrimination and that poverty is a choice made by lazy people.

    I think the conspiracy The Clapp is describing is not too far off from being true, but is more a result of systematic racism. Minorities were originally placed in the lower class because until the middle of the 20th century they were openly discriminated against by the majority White population. Although in modern times openly expressed racism has been reduced, privilege has taken its place and has made it difficult for minorities to achieve equality. The CIA facilitated drug trade into American slums, which were comprised largely of minorities. I would agree that our government is responsible for racial inequalities that create high minority populations in poverty, and that the CIA targeted slums for drug distribution. I would not agree that the CIA targeted minorities exclusively. They would have foreseen the White population, those with money to buy drugs, would get mixed up in drugs too. High poverty communities are the only places with high concentrations of people who would be willing to sell drugs. It just so happens that our high poverty communities are mostly comprised of minorities. I'm sure the CIA was aware that facilitating drug trade to poor communities would impact minorities mostly, but it seems to be more of a side effect than a conspiracy.

    Is the U.S. government a major player in keeping minorities in poverty? Yes. Did the CIA hinder chances at racial equality by facilitating drug trade to poor communities? Yes. Did the government do this as a conspired ploy for white supremacy? Probably not. What I take from this is that a "post-racial" society is a silly idea to begin with and white privilege is still thriving. Also, our government has done little to nothing to truly eliminate race barriers. It is naïve to think that any government is without flaw and that the U.S. government always chooses morals over benefit.

  3. This is fairly off topic. But, for those curious, there is a very good, entertaining documentary called "Cocaine Cowboys" on the 80s boom of the cocaine trade that focuses upon Miami and explores the many dimensions and effects of the drug trade upon the city. If any of you are netflix subscribers, the movie is available instantly on the Netflix website.


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