Friday, October 31, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

What if there’s no such thing as post-racial?

By
May 06, 2014 |

It usually makes me uncomfortable when people suffer bad consequences for actions or statements, no matter how repugnant, that they have every right to assume are private.

So perhaps you share a few qualms with me over the fate of Donald Sterling, the owner of the L.A. Clippers, who recently was banned for life from the NBA for making racist remarks during a phone conversation with his girlfriend.

But if we have any qualms, let’s get over them, and quickly. Free speech is a justly esteemed hallmark of what it means to be an American. But the Constitution doesn’t guarantee any of us the right to own a basketball team.

Commentators have thoroughly rebuked Sterling. And the same for Cliven Bundy, the renegade rancher who was, briefly, a right-wing, anti-government hero until his clueless racism expressed itself in suggestions that maybe, after all, blacks were better off as slaves.

In their ignorance and backwardness, old-timers like Sterling and Bundy deserve whatever condemnation we bother to heap on them, but in some respects their remarks represent racism’s lowest-hanging fruit.

Columnists with the credentials to know what they’re talking about – Eugene Robinson, Leonard Pitts, Colbert King, among others – have noted that racism’s real power doesn’t express itself in the mutterings of old men.

No, these writers are more concerned about racism’s less blatant manifestations, like racial profiling and the disproportionate incarceration of blacks for crimes that blacks commit no more often than whites. For example, Robinson reports that blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for illegal drug use, a crime that blacks commit at about the same rate as whites.

Further, Robinson refers to a report from the Institute on Assets and Social Policy, which documents a tripling of the “wealth gap” between African-American and white families between 1984 and 2009.

In our culture, distinctions that have a racial component are many, from home ownership to health to educational outcomes to executions to levels of representation in the offices of real power and influence. Some of the discrimination is intentional, some subconscious. In fact, more than one study has demonstrated that identical applications for employment and other benefits are regularly rejected or accepted based solely on the presumed race of the applicant.

Some of this is the legacy of slavery. Some of it comes from a post-slavery century of Jim Crow, during which blacks were systematically – and often legally – excluded from full participation in mainstream American life.

But my concern is that, despite our best aspirations, there’s no such thing as a truly post-racial world. Our sense of “the other” is primal or tribal. Our instincts urge us to defend and promote people that resemble us. And the human inclination to discriminate and reject people that are different is evident in our history and throughout the current world.

From Donald Sterling to voter I.D. laws intended to disenfranchise minorities to the vilest expressions of racial hatred that result from the shallowest trolling of the Internet, differentiation by race is still a powerful force in our country.

Except when we pretend that it isn’t. The Supreme Court’s recent decision that permits Michigan to outlaw college admissions based on the consideration of race undercuts affirmative action, our country’s conscious effort to compensate for our failure to eliminate racial discrimination. Despite considerable evidence to the contrary, the court depends on the unproven notion that our culture has gotten beyond racism and reached the happy land of universal tolerance and goodwill.

The remarkable distance our country has come since the mid-’60s is worth celebrating. But the blithe assumption that racism is dead because we have a black president harbors an inherent contradiction and paradox. We protest too much. Racism won’t really be dead until we get past noticing and pointing out the fact that the president, or anyone else, is any particular color, at all. We’re not there yet.

John M. Crisp, an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune, teaches in the English Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. Readers may send him email at jcrisp@delmar.edu.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 6 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Rick WoodMay 06, 2014 - 2:03 am

    One of our biggest problems, which Crisp hints at, is we don't have different words for the different manifestations or types of racism. So we have to find the right adjectives. For my own thinking, I've come up with "rational racism," "ignorant racism," and "virulent racism." We should all accept that racism is normal, maybe even healthy, and we should stop taking offense at merely being labeled racist unless we know what type is meant. We often assume when someone says "racist" he means either virulent or at least ignorant racist, but let's give each other the benefit of the doubt and try to find out before we react. Profiling is usually based on rational racism, but it switches over to something else if it persists in light of more data about the person being profiled. Both the profiled and the profiler should cut each other some slack until they learn about each other a bit more than what is evident from an initial encounter. Trayvon Martin would be alive today in all likelihood if he had learned that lesson before that fateful night George Zimmerman shot him.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PornacMay 06, 2014 - 6:53 am

    What racism? I just don't like Obama cause he's black.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • S KMay 06, 2014 - 7:28 am

    Back in College (Laney College in Oakland, back in 1971), during an English class discussion, I said that all this stuff would end once the races have been totally all mixed up together and that the only race will be one big mixed race. That must have impressed this very gorgeous looking black chick, with her then stylish afro, who after class asked me if I would like to go for coffee. I was so flabbergasted and taken by surprise, cause she was so BEAUTIFUL and I was just, Well>>>>ME. Plus I was at that time already going with my now Wife (42 yrs. in June :-) )). Anyway, I still feel bad about about that, turning her down. She may have thought that I was a hypocrite, even though I had brought my then girlfriend, now Wife, to class on occasion. But oh thinking back, me and that beautiful woman could have begun the NEW RACE>>LOL LOL :-)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The MisterMay 06, 2014 - 7:28 am

    Of course there will never be such a thing as "post-racial"... not as long as those in control can create conflict and crisis to further their goal of more power and control. Examples are the government who pits racial groups against one another with quotas and preferences; Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson who blackmail vulnerable corporations with the threat of a negative media campaign; and any number of politicians who undermine assimilation in favor of Balkanization (you know, like "press 2 for English" and "amnesty"). Of course their schemes, and thus their power, only survives because we, the people, allow it. Thus, it's your fault for doing nothing. "All it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing." (Attributed to Edmund Burke)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895May 06, 2014 - 8:12 am

    "But my concern is that, despite our best aspirations, there’s no such thing as a truly post-racial world" is an interesting statement. Maybe a "truly post-racial world" isn't something we should aspire to, especial if you agree that tribalism, or racism, is natural. Our focus should be on understanding and acceptance rather than to re-engineer the human genome--use the brains God gave us; don't try to stamp out human nature in a way that can only lead to frustration and conflict.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • StaceyMay 06, 2014 - 2:36 pm

    Gosh, I love every person. And that's how I choose to be. I just wish more people would too

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Real estate agent pens, produces movie

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
 
Neighborhood candy hunts of the past

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Vintage Fair on tap at McBride Senior Center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Candy from sky highlights North Texas Street event

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Oct. 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
.

US / World

California eyes $500 billion in water spending

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Judge approves Stockton’s bankruptcy plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Marine wants new charges in Iraq war crime tossed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Roseville officer accused of criminal threats

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

Man charged with murder in SWAT officer shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Teen arrested in threat at Sacramento school

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Police make arrest in slaying of Oakland mom

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Retrial in assault case over stray cat feeding

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

Missing California hunter roasted bugs, lizards

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Pilot identified in California jet crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Poll: Democrats leading in all statewide races

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Lawsuit: Surgical gowns let diseases pass through

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Fearing Ebola? Doctors say get a flu shot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Questions, answers about California’s Ebola policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Maine in standoff with nurse over Ebola safeguards

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Relatives suspected poisoning in family’s deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Pair convicted in secret $1.6 M Navy silencer deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Guard troops sent to site of Hawaii lava flow

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Terminally ill woman may postpone taking her life

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Man’s own dog helps police bust him on drug charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Fearing uprising, Iraq militants hunt ex-police

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Vatican admits Sistine Chapel frescoes ‘whitened’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Israel closes Jerusalem holy site after shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Death penalty sought for trooper ambush suspect

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

 
Editorial Cartoons: Oct. 31, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
 
Man’s prosecution unwarranted

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 5 Comments

Are we safe now?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 18 Comments

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Oct. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Oct. 31, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

My husband sends texts filled with ‘dirty talk’ to an old flame

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 31, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Jorge Garcia makes the most of ‘Hawaii Five-O’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1, 1 Comment

 
Week in preview Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Monica Potter wants to save her show ‘Parenthood’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Review: Jake Gyllenhaal, tightly coiled and creepy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Exhibit on Paul Simon’s life to debut at Rock Hall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
PBS touts 2013-14 ratings growth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Reality TV show ‘Big Brother’ to debut in China

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
‘The View’ now under ABC News as further revamping

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Review: ‘Sleep’ a decidedly average psych thriller

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment calendar Oct. 31, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B4

Winter’s wife has blues listening to his new album

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Galway Kinnell dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

 
Benicia fends off Vanden, 35-21

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
New dynasty: Giants capture 3rd title in 5 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Warriors exercise options on Barnes, Ezeli

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Mack making impact for Raiders even without sacks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Bye week helps 49ers Vernon Davis’ recovery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Sonoma Raceway to host IndyCar Series finale in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
This date in sports history for Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Prep football capsules: Week 9

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

.

Business

Not so sweet: Chocolate prices are set to rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Apple CEO publicly acknowledges that he’s gay

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment | Gallery

FTC accuses Gerber of false claim on baby formula

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

Robert Louis Wright

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Oscar Lee Vezeau

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9