Is Systemic Racism a Destructive Myth?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Writing at Quillette, Coleman Hughes considers what he calls the "racism treadmill." In the process, Hughes goes a long way towards (1) explaining why the left seems oblivious to the great progress American society has made against racism, and (2) why that obliviousness is a bad thing. The article is lengthy -- but only about 3500 words, so don't let the scroll bar scare you off! -- and I think it's a worthy complement to Shelby Steele's "Why the Left Can't Let Go of Racism."

A couple of Hughes's closing paragraphs should serve to illustrate his main points and how he approaches them:

Those who say we have made no progress might keep us from crossing the finish line. (Image via Pixabay.)
The War on Racism, though intended to be won by those prosecuting it, will, in practice, continue indefinitely. This is because the stated goals of progressives, however sincerely held, are so apocalyptic, so vague, and so total as to guarantee that they will never be met. One often hears calls to "end white supremacy," for instance. But what "ending white supremacy" would look like in a country where whites are already out-earned by several dark-skinned ethnic groups (Indian-Americans top the list by a large margin) is never explained. I would not be the first to point out the parallels between progressive goals and religious eschatology. [Ta-Nehsis] Coates, for instance, professes to be an atheist, but tweak a few details and the Rapture becomes Reparations -- which he has said will lead to a "spiritual renewal" and a "revolution of the American consciousness."14

Staying on the Racism Treadmill means denying progress and stoking ethnic tensions. It means, as Thomas Sowell once warned, moving towards a society in which "a new born baby enters the world supplied with prepackaged grievances against other babies born the same day."[15] Worse still, it means shutting down the one conversation that stands the greatest chance of improving outcomes for blacks: the conversation about culture. [notes and links in original, bold added]
If Hughes errs in his essay, it is on the side of being generous to some who appear to have ulterior motives in keeping us on that treadmill. But if so, he more than makes up for it by explaining in a way almost anyone can grasp how it is that a lack of racial progress can sound so plausible to so many.

-- CAV

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