October 24th, 2020

Race relations in America


By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on June 6, 2020.

Racism in the

United States is different than in

other countries

It’s been a bad week in the United States: continuing protests, huge anger, rioting and looting in 50 cities, hundreds arrested or injured – but only six dead over the police murder of George Floyd. The number may have gone up by the time you read this, but it’s definitely not 1968 again.

In the last sustained series of riots about police violence against African-Americans, it was very different: 34 dead in the Watts riots in Los Angeles in 1965, 26 dead in Newark in 1967, 43 killed in the Detroit uprising later the same summer. And 46 dead after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, although police violence was not the immediate cause that time.

Does the much lower death toll in 2020 mean that things have got (slightly) better in the intervening half-century? Or does it just mean that wearing bodycams is making the police more cautious about using extreme violence? Either way, race relations in the United States are still worse than almost anywhere else.

American police are remarkably violent compared to those in other countries, of course. On average, U.S. police officers kill about 1,000 civilians a year, whereas British police kill two. The U.S. population is five times the British, but that still means that American police kill civilians at about 100 times the British rate.

More to the point, in this context, is the fact that about 30 per cent of American civilians killed by the police are African-Americans, although they are only 13 per cent of the U.S. population.

This disparity repeatedly leads to a debate in the U.S. media about whether the disparity is due to racism or just to a higher black crime rate, but it’s really quite unnecessary. All you need to know is that the proportion of those killed by the police who were unarmed is two-and-a-half times higher for blacks than for whites.

Which brings us to the nub of the matter: fear. White fear born of ancestral guilt, in turn a heritage from the centuries of slavery.

I live in a racially diverse part of inner London, and I’m familiar with similar districts in Paris, Toronto, Rome and other Western big cities. There’s one phenomenon I’ve never seen there that I have often witnessed in quite prosperous parts of American cities – the Upper West Side, say, or Berkeley – and that is a white couple crossing the street to avoid encountering young black men on the same side of the street.

This is not to be compared with the entirely rational fear of police violence that young African-American men feel, but it is a significant fact: many white Americans believe, consciously or subconsciously, that African-Americans are intrinsically dangerous. The only other place I have run into this phenomenon is Brazil.

There is a saying in Brazil: “Branco correndo? Campe‹o. Preto correndo? Ladr‹o.” If it’s a white man running, he’s a champion; a black man running is a thief. It is no coincidence at all that Brazil is the only other white-majority country where African slavery was a major domestic institution.

Slavery died out in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, although serfdom and other less oppressive institutions persisted. And the Islamic empires didn’t care what colour the slaves were: the Turks got as many white slaves from the annual raids into Russia as black slaves from the trade routes across the Sahara and up the East African coast.

This whole institution was essentially alien to the European explorers making their way down the west African coast 500 years ago, but the African kingdoms were quite happy to sell slaves to them, too.

The Europeans were equally willing to buy, because they had a use for slaves in the new plantations they were creating in the Americas. Justifying these transactions to themselves required a little psychological adjustment, however, because buying and selling other human beings had not been part of their culture for a thousand years.

They solved their dilemma by deciding that the African slaves they bought were an inferior sort of human being, and that rationalization permeated the cultures of the slave-owning societies in the Americas for the next four centuries. The last to give slavery up were the United States, in 1865, and Brazil, in 1888.

But that rationalization is still hanging around, together with the underlying knowledge that American whites had done their black fellow-citizens a great harm, and the widespread belief among whites that you must fear those whom you have wronged.

It’s a witch’s brew that blights the lives of African-Americans, and it is taking a very long time to evaporate. There is racism elsewhere, too, but most of it is fear of the unfamiliar, directed at recent immigrants, and you can expect it to go away in a generation or two. Alas, this is different.

Share this story:

20
16 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
peiganman

I’m trying to see things from the Herald Opinion writer’s point of view, but unfortunately I can’t seem to get my head that far up my rear end…

“Only six dead in riots and looting,” declares the Lethbridge Herald Opinion…. Victory! Uh, doesn’t that mean that those looting and rioting have killed more Americans, and Black Americans, than that ‘racist’ cop from Minneapolis? (I know, I know…. there’s no actual proof he’s racist, but we’ve tried him in the court of public opinion and in the media, just like we’d all want to be, so glad we’ve got that taken care of. I mean, we’ve never been wrong about the details of any other ‘racist,’ crooked cop before the facts came in, so why stop now… Naturally, if something happens to a black person it’s because they’re a black person – period). Not sure? They have…. look it up…. oops, this is awkward. But hey, it’s for social justice, whatever the crap that means (I’m pretty sure that if you put a qualifying word before justice, it pretty much fundamentally changes the meaning to something not even close to justice), so we’re good, nothing to see here… carry on with your lives – destroying the lives of others (oh I see, that’s what social justice means… destroy those you disagree with, or those that just happen to be in your way… classy!).

Did you know that there’s a group of Americans that make up almost half of the population and that this same group also make up 96% of the people killed by police officers? This has led me to the conclusion that this group is unfairly targeted by law enforcement because of rampant, unaddressed, institutionalized sexism! What else could it be?! Man, those numbers are staggering and undeniable! There is going to be hell to pay! (Isn’t it good to know that no one takes statistics and uses them out of context to create a false narrative – like ‘police are hunting black men’?) This is a heck of a way to treat the people that run into burning towers when everyone else is running out. Or, the people that respond to school shootings, or home invasions, or terrorist attacks, or horrific traffic accidents, or any number of other high stress, high danger situations, keeping our communities safe and helping us to heal after tragedy strikes. I mean, defund these pigs now… what are we waiting for?!

Like statistics? Here’s a few more… Over 50 million people in the US have interactions with the cops every year and many have multiple interactions, as you might imagine. Last year 10 unarmed black men were killed by police (and 19 unarmed white dudes, ’cause I know you like to be fair). Of those ten cases many of the suspects charged at the police and attacked them with a vehicle, other items, or reached for the cop’s gun (witnesses and/or body cam footage corroborated these instances) and the police were not charged in these deaths. In two of the ten cases mentioned above the cops were charged. Seems to me that the VAST majority of these men and women in blue go above and beyond and in the cases that they don’t they face the justice system (not the social justice system – I’m looking at you, Antifa, BLM, and all the other wanna be lackeys), just like the rest of us that screw up.

I certainly don’t hang out in all the swanky places this opinion writer does, but I’ve spent more than my fair share of time ‘south of the 49th’ and I’ve never witnessed what they describe. I think this opinion writer has succumbed to the human flaw of embellishment, that we all do sometimes, and crossed the street themselves because of whatever inner assumptions/prejudices they might have, or saw someone cross a street and assigned racist intentions to them, however unfairly. I mean, if a person crosses the street when there’s a black man on the same side… well, we know the REAL reason they crossed (wink, wink). We are amazingly lucky to have such a clairvoyant opinion writer to tell us what blacks and whites are thinking and feeling (because naturally, they all think and feel as monolithic blocks – definitely not as individuals) . I’m glad he included such strong evidence in his opinion piece. Taking opinion to another level! Super classy!

But hey, “All you need to know is…” RACISM! Ya, don’t worry, don’t question anything and definitely don’t think for yourself, or weigh the evidence, the Herald Opinion Team will tell you all you need to know along with all of it’s social justice apologist commenters.

Now, I’m a person of colour, so any argument with what I have said here is racist.

buckwheat

Well said.

biff

we are each a person of colour, except, i suppose, those people that we can see through.

peiganman

Haha! Right on, biff! We all need to check with the ‘gods of intersectionality’ to see who the bigger victim is and thereby, who’s opinion matters most. Gotta be a sucky way to live… They’ll eventually all eat their own. Keep smilin’!

Citi Zen

As a white person, born and raised in Canada, I have been a victim of racism coming from native women, right in downtown Lethbridge. This door swings both ways! The natives absolutely hate the whites in Lethbridge.

johnny57

So very true Citi Zen! Being from here born and raised as a white person you learn in a hurry that they do indeed hate us whites! You also learn to kind-of trust them from time to time but NEVER blindly!

Seth Anthony

Citi Zen said,

————————–
The natives absolutely hate the whites in Lethbridge.
———————

For the most part, this is exactly correct. I’ve got first hand knowledge that Aboriginal kids in this area are being taught hatred towards white people. The inevitable result of teaching any kids any kind of hatred, is deep psychological damage.

Ever wonder why the Blood Reserve looks like a third world country and has an extraordinarily high amount of addicts and alcoholics? Ever wonder why other reserves look like a first world country and have a low amount of drug addicts and alcoholics? Well, it’s not because of poverty, the Conservatives, the monetary system, etc. Let’s delve further:

Approximately 40% of the babies born on the Blood Reserve are born addicted to narcotics. If that wasn’t astonishing enough, note that that number does not include the amount born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

What happens when kids aren’t parented? What happens when the mother, father, or both, abandon their kids? What happens when the kids are taught hatred? What happens when the parents blame their own actions on the “white man”? What happens is the kids are taught shame, fear, hatred, and anger. All of those characteristics lead to escapism via drugs and alcohol, and that’s why they have an extraordinarily high drug and alcohol addiction rate.

No political party can cure poor parenting. No political party can help people who continuously blame the past. No political party can help those who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions.