After reading about Reconstruction and Richard Nixon the past couple months, I was of a mind to drop some righteous truths about the central role of race in American politics on you guys a few weeks before the George Zimmerman verdict came down. So I am in no mood to hear conservative white dudes insisting racism is over.
Racism is not over. Criminologist David Kennedy responds to former Nixon political operative and white nationalist Pat Buchanan’s screed on the Trayvon Martin controversy:
Gun violence is heavily concentrated in poor black communities, and violent victimization is universally committed primarily against one’s own race and ethnic group, because it is primarily committed against people one has relationships with, and most people mostly have relationships within their own group.
But this line of argument misses one vital point. African Americans are the only US group which routinely finds its members killed by law enforcement and those aping law enforcement (Zimmerman) for no good reason, which killings are subjected to close judicial review, upon which they are told that those killings are OK. And they are the only US group in which this killing, and the support of that killing by the state, is a continued playing out of a long and vile history of state-sanctioned violence and oppression.
They don’t like it.
The most profound truth I’ve found from working in and with black communities around these issues – violence, police abuse, mass incarceration, racial profiling – is that white folks look at incidents and ask, was this (stop, arrest, frisk, police shooting, instance of standing one’s ground) justified? Black folks look at history, and ask, why do you keep doing this to us? It is a very good question, and there is no good answer.