Undercover- Racist white Americans don’t by and large see what people of color see doesn’t mean that white folks are horrible people of course; nor does it suggest that whites are all inveterate racists who don’t care about the impediments to opportunity still facing our black and brown brothers and sisters. But what it does suggest is a degree of ignorance, lack of empathy, privilege isolation and provincialism that should lead us to think twice before pontificating about a subject that we simply don’t have to know nearly as well as those who are the targets of it. When more than half of Blacks (two-thirds between 18-34) and a third of Hispanics report that they have experienced unfair treatment in public places at some point just in the last month because of their race, for whites to deny the seriousness of racism in America is to say, in effect, that folks of color are hallucinating, irrational, or ignorant about their own lived experience. It is to say that we white folks know black and brown reality better than those who live it—perhaps because we are more intelligent or level-headed (which arguments would be inherently racist of course).
Sadly, white denial of this sort has a long and ignoble pedigree. Even in the early 1960s, prior to the passage of the monumental civil rights legislation of that decade, most white Americans didn’t really see the problem. Though civil rights icons like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are venerated as heroes today by most, including by large numbers of whites, when King was alive, most white folks saw very little need for the movement of which he was such an integral part. In 1963, for instance, more than six in ten whites told Gallup pollsters that blacks were treated equally with whites in their communities, a number that grew to seventy-five percent the year before Dr. King was killed (but at which point the Fair Housing Act still hadn’t been passed). Even more tellingly, in 1962, fully eighty-five percent of whites told Gallup that black children had the same chance as white children to obtain a high quality education. #timwise #janeElliott #blacklivesmatter #iamorrin