Dolezal’s Delusion, Americans’ Delusion

The Rachel Dolezal case is interesting for reasons other than for why most of the media is in obsessive mode. It seems that she likely has many personal issues. Going by some of the reporting, here entire family may have issues. But that wouldn’t make the story interesting or worth all the attention it is getting.

Some people would label her delusional, or worse. If she is delusional, it is merely an expression of our delusional society. Or rather such personal delusions take the form of the delusions of the society in which they take place.

Race is a social construct. There is no other example that demonstrates this so clearly. It’s not that she is lying, since race itself is a fiction. How does one lie about a fiction?

Five to ten percent of American blacks have more European genetics than African genetics. Another 5.5% of American blacks have no detectable African genetics. Also, consider that there are more white Americans than black Americans with recent African ancestry (i.e., genetics that came from within the past 6 generations, well within the historical period of modern slavery).

Most of these people have no idea about their genetics. Their social identity or labeling by others as either ‘black’ or ‘white’ has nothing to do with genetics. It’s not necessarily even cultural, as there is no single ‘black’ culture or ‘white’ culture. It’s a racial order, pure and simple.

The delusion of Rachel Dolezal is simply that, like most Americans, she has mistaken a fiction for reality. Does it matter that her interpretation of that fiction is different from the interpretation of others? It’s about as meaningful as so many theological debates.

Now, if we want to talk about the real world results and legacies of oppression, that is more than a worthy topic. In that light, we can discuss how racial categories have been used to enforce a racial order based on racial prejudices and privileges. Along with this, we should discuss why people racially passing have always been deemed as such a threat to our society, deemed as such often by people on both sides of the racial divide.

Here are some of my previous posts about this type of thing (particularly check out the first two):

Racial Perceptions and Genetic Admixtures

The Racial Line and Racial Identity

Race Realism, Social Constructs, and Genetics

Racial Reality Tunnel

Also, check out this good piece from the New York Times:

Rachel Dolezal’s Unintended Gift to America
by Allyson Hobbs, The New York Times

But Ms. Dolezal’s view of herself — however confused, or incongruent with society’s — reveals an essential truth about race: It is a fiction, a social construct based in culture and not biology. It must be “made” from what people believe and do. Race is performative. It is the memories that bind us, the stories passed down to us, the experiences that we share, the social forces that surround us. Identities are never entirely our own, but does that mean that we should lose all control in determining who we are?

In the early 19th century, Thomas Jefferson relied on elaborate mathematical equations to determine when a “mulatto” legally became a white person. Charles W. Chesnutt, a racially ambiguous writer, asked “What Is a White Man?” in an 1889 essay and poked fun at the laws that allowed a person to change his or her racial designation by walking across a state line. How was it possible, Chesnutt wondered, that the same person could be classified as black in North Carolina but white in South Carolina? Even W. E. B. Du Bois had trouble formulating a theoretically accurate account of racial identity, so he put it simply: A black man is “a person who must ride ‘Jim Crow’ in Georgia.” But his statement still leaves us with a puzzle: What would a black man be without Jim Crow to define him?

We know that race is not based on skin color, or blood, or any other factor inhering in biology. The ability of some light-skinned African-Americans to “pass” as white makes plain the unreliability of skin color in determining race. [. . . ]

The historical evidence is overwhelming, then, that the color line has always been far more porous and fragile than one might assume. In some places, it was so brittle that it could buckle and break. [ . . . ]

There is no essentialized, fixed, “true identity” waiting just below the surface. Identities are contingent, elusive and, as the cultural theorist Stuart Hall argued, “always in process.”

The racial conditions of our time — increasing numbers of interracial marriages and mixed-race children — allowed Ms. Dolezal to move across boundaries in ways that would have been far more socially unacceptable in the past.

While we cannot know how Rachel Dolezal understood her place in the world, neither her choice nor the unsavory entanglements it has wrought are unique.

As we contemplate the morality of her choice, however, we might do well to reflect on how such individual choices might relate to the larger collective goals of social justice. One can only imagine the impact they would have if a significant number of white Americans chose to identify themselves as kindred of Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, Freddie Gray, Kayla Moore, Oscar Grant, Shelly Frey and Michael Brown.

Or, at the very least, perhaps we can use Ms. Dolezal’s story, puzzling as it is, as an opportunity to have a candid, lively, long-delayed, public conversation about the knotty meanings of race and racial identity, and how it has confounded our nation’s best aspirations. Perhaps we may yet move beyond the imprisoning boxes we have made.

28 thoughts on “Dolezal’s Delusion, Americans’ Delusion

  1. True, yet I think what’s missed here is that race–which, like hardcore pornography, one knows when they see through the cultural signifiers assigned to race–holds embedded within it a certain power structure. Both race and the power structure embedded in it are fictional, but they differ in that the power structure is in some sense a “flesh-and-blood” thing with concrete real world impact. A black passing for white in the mid-20th century does so for safety; a white passing for black does so because she thinks black people are neat. When a black is caught passing, they were once at risk of being lynched; when a white is caught passing, she gets several TV interviews and a litany of people saying “Well, if Bruce Jenner can say he’s a woman…”

    • I would say it is complicated (surprise, surprise). Black people today for the most part aren’t being threatened with lynching, and the younger generations never knew Jim Crow. All of that is part of the legacy of racism, but whose legacy is it? Who has a right to claim it as part of their identity?

      If Dolezal had a DNA test and found out that she indeed did have some recent African genetics, would that really change anything? What about recent wealthy African immigrants from countries that never were part of the colonial slave trade? Do they have a right to being called ‘black’ with its specific historical implications for the descendents of slaves? What about light-skinned, light-haired, light-eyed African-Americans who easily pass as white and have experienced little if any racism? What about a European-American who was adopted by black parents and raised in a black community?

      Who decides a person is of what race? Do we have to do genetic testing on everyone? What about all those American blacks with little or no African genetics and so maybe little or no slave ancestors? Will they still be allowed to identify as ‘black’? If even genetics can’t determine race, are we to go by skin color and tone along with other features? That leaves light-skinned ‘blacks’ and dark-skinned whites in a strange position.

      Many Italian-Americans have North African genetics and they also historically experienced oppression in the US from Anglo-American whites, including sometimes being called the N word. What about them? What is their legacy? More importantly, what about the generations and even centuries of ‘blacks’ (even some of Jefferson’s children) who passed as ‘white’? How many generations of passing before a family line with African ancestry loses all rights to calling themselves ‘black’?

      Beyond the debate of race realism versus social construct, what is blackness? Is it genetics? Is it ethnicity? Is it culture? Is it history? Is it a social identity? Is it a legal category? Is it a demographic? What does blackness ultimately represent? It seems to mean many things to many people and yet it is unclear if there is any single thing that is common among all these definitions and perceptions of blackness.

      Yet none of that changes the continuing racism in our society with its deep roots. What it does make clear is that race and hence racism is built on social perception which itself is informed by a social construct that is ever shifting in its application. It is, as I say, complex. It’s that complexity that Americans aren’t prepared to deal with.

      Obviously, the issues you mention are real. But acknowledging that doesn’t lessen the confusion surrounding it all. We Americans need to admit we don’t know jack shit about what we are talking about. Then, in a state of humbled ignorance, maybe we can begin to reframe the entire debate with new eyes. Or so it seems to me, in trying to come to terms with the whole mess.

    • The kinds of questions I ask aren’t mere hypotheticals. There are various laws and funding related to racial identities. That is why many people are so upset.

      Similar problems are found with issues involving Native American tribes. Determining who belongs to a tribe determines who gets certain funds and benefits. Some of this is decided through tracing legal documents indicating parentage, but sometimes genetic testing is required to ascertain percentage of specific ancestry. With some tribes that kept slaves, the descendents of the slaves have been denied inclusion.

      This isn’t how Native Americans traditionally identified themselves. Ancestry wasn’t a limitation to tribal identity in the past for adoptions even of white people was far from uncommon, but it is different today. When money and such is involved, the whole game changes. People begin to get defensive about what is perceived as theirs. It’s understandable with groups that have experienced centuries of oppression and prejudice.

      Are racial identities heading down this road? Or is our society going in a new direction?

    • In perusing articles, I noticed many interesting comments. Some people offered their personal experience with race and mixed race. A somewhat typical comment compared the racial perception within families.

      One sibling might be able to pass as white while the other is more stereotypically ‘black’ in their features. This can happen even when the biological parents are the same. One person noted that the lighter-skinned family members would sometimes seem to act more overtly ‘black’, presumably as a compensation to prove that they fit in.

      I also remember a story about a black as black African family that had a biological child that was white as white. This is probably because of some white genetics from generations past that just so happened to pop again.

      We argue about Dolezal’s race, but it is true that she grew up with black siblings. Over her lifetime, she may have spent more time with her black siblings than her white parents and more time with black people in general than with white people. She married a black man and has black children. In some ways, she might be as black or more black than Obama.

      I wondered if it would make a difference if she found out she really did have some recent African genetics. Along those lines, would it have mattered if along with having black siblings she had been raised by black parents as an adopted child herself, even if her genetics were entirely European? Would it have mattered if she spent her entire life within a black community and had internalized ‘black’ culture from childhood?

      Why do people consider Obama black? He was raised by white people, not among African-Americans. He mostly grew up and went to school with white and other non-black people. His black father wasn’t even African-American and so he has no slave ancestry. If he hadn’t moved to Chicago and married a black woman, Obama could have been fairly considered more white than black, especially in terms of his Hawaian upbringing, a place that was never a part of the US during slavery.

      Obama nor any of his ancestors ever worried about lynching, at least not in America. Also, he has experienced more privilege than most white people. How can he rightly claim a black identity and the African-American legacy that goes with it? How would he, for example, be deserving of affirmative action simply because of his skin color?

      Why is all of this so important? What is it supposed to mean? When we supposedly accurately label someone, what should we do with that info?

    • I don’t think I was missing the point you make. I was just making a different point.

      In other posts, I have pointed out that “race… holds embedded within it a certain power structure.” That observation can be explained and analyzed in many ways, far beyond even what you mentioned. It is, as I like to repeat, complex. Even in this post, I acknowledged this other area of considerations:

      “Now, if we want to talk about the real world results and legacies of oppression, that is more than a worthy topic. In that light, we can discuss how racial categories have been used to enforce a racial order based on racial prejudices and privileges. Along with this, we should discuss why people racially passing have always been deemed as such a threat to our society, deemed as such often by people on both sides of the racial divide.”

      I wasn’t ignoring it, but neither was it my focus.

      In relation to the mainstream debate, I wasn’t taking sides. What I was trying to do was disentangle the issues.

      If Rachel Dolezal has personal problems, she should take care of them. If her entire family has problems, they should work it out, assuming it’s possible. If she lied, she should be challenged. If she lied on official legal documents, that should be investigated. If she lied about accusations of others, that needs to be corrected.

      Those are all various ‘ifs’. I don’t know that they are true or, if so, to what extent. Still, all of that isn’t directly relevant to race as a social construct. Also, race as a social construct itself has a strange and unclear relationship to race as a social order. Mixing it all together doesn’t seem helpful to me.

      Furthermore, like everyone else, I don’t even know that she lacks African ancestry. There are, after all, more white Americans than black Americans with recent African ancestry, which means most likely slave ancestry. That isn’t a minor detail, a fun fact to point out.

      As I stated, many dark-skinned whites also experienced similar skin tone prejudices. They were perceived as genetically and culturally inferior. They also experienced redlining, just as did blacks. Basically, if you weren’t WASP or honorary WASP (a few select ethnicities that were well assimilated), then you were redlined and experienced many other forms of prejudice. In the North, the KKK was primarily targeting ethnic Americans, not blacks, and this targeting included violence and oppression.

      Research shows that even blacks experience more prejudice with darker skin, including from other blacks. I don’t know if anyone has researched it, but I bet the same thing is found with darker-skinned whites. It’s not just that soe Italian-Americans do have North African ancestry from the Old World. Many other darker-skinned whites probably have family lines of slave ancestors who began passing at some point. The reason this skin shade racism exists is quite likely because most Americans at some level realize it is an indicator of probable African ancestry.

      When combined/conflated with the issue of class, a poor or working class dark-skinned ‘white’ might experience more ‘racism’ than a wealthier light-skinned ‘black’. Wealth probably has the effect of making a person be perceived as lighter and whiter. Poverty probably has the opposite effect. I’m willling to bet, as there are a disproportionate number of blacks in poverty, there is more than likely a disproportionate number of darker-skinned whites in poverty as well. This is extremely signicant as the total number of poor whites is larger than the total number of poor blacks.

      Not all supposed whites are equally ‘white’. Italians and Hispanics are the two most well known examples of this. In America, white means WASP. More ethnic Americans over time have been accepted as honorary whites, as long as they are willing to assimilate or can somehow offer benefit to dominant society, but they are never fully accepted. The experience of passing is more common than Americans like to acknowledge. It is the very heart of the Melting Pot ideal. It’s not just about blacks.

      The Dolezal case is so disconcerting because she blatantly reversed this trend of assimilation and, in doing so, inverted the hierarchy of social value. It’s not about her being right for having done so. It’s just that she entirely messed with the collective mentality of our society. She gouged her finger right into the sore spot of the American racial order.

      I don’t have to defend her or even have an opinion about what she did in order to recognize how this is an opportunity to finally open up genuinely honest debate. The point is that few Americans ask the questions I’m asking or know the data that I’m pointing to, and this is as true for the critics of Dolezal as it is for her defenders. We are amidst a shared process of learning and figuring out what all of this means… and maybe should mean.

      Maybe Dolezal is a fool, in that her actions were unjustified and generally clueless. Then again, maybe it takes a fool to force dialogue to happen out in the open. Let her be the scapegoat for our outrage and discomfort, if that must be the way it plays out. But let’s hope that the end result is a slight increase of public awareness about a complicated and difficult topic.

      • “I don’t think I was missing the point you make. I was just making a different point.”
        You’re right, I think the phrasing I used was a bit ill-advised. What I meant moreso was that I thought the point deserves a greater emphasis. I think that any sort of individual process of publicly performing another race is highly involved with the latent power structure of race.

        In particular, I think that the inversion of “passing” is even more tied to that power structure: to pass as black indeed inverts the usual order of things as you say, but not in a way that undermines the power structure itself. I would compare Dolezal to Richard Francis Burton who performed as a Muslim several times in his life due to an apparent affinity he felt with Muslims and Arabs. His travel My point is that one type of “passing” is protective, whereas this sort of inverted performance comes from a place of privilege and, in fetishizing the subject, trivializes experiences inherited by birth (appearances, of course, being inherited genetically although race is a fiction). Worship in Mecca was not a privilege Burton, a Christian European Orientalist, was owed. All the same, being oppressed by society is unfortunate but nonetheless a real part of the lived experience of blacks in America, and Dolezal had no right to join that community.

        All of your commentary on the complexities of race are excellent, of course, and I wouldn’t like to minimize that complexity. I would only like to emphasize the flesh-and-blood reality that is the result of the shifting, arbitrary abstractions of race.

      • I get what you’re saying. You are right about that.

        Even Dolezal’s passing as black was an act of privilege, however innocent and careless. There is also a history of white people passing and we should not forget that it is part of the legacy of the racial order, even when done with good intentions such as out of love. Dolezal meant no harm, but she should have known better.

        Nonetheless, it does show the sociological and psychological complexity of race. Her having been raised with black siblings, even though adopted, obviously got deep into her psyche. It does seem that blackness for her wasn’t merely a pose. She seems to genuinely believe it, whether or not one interprets that as delusion. It is sincere. She is a true believer in her own blackness, whatever that means to her.

        Her social identity as ‘black’ was so real to her that she even convinced other people of it. It wasn’t just her being delusional. The fact of the matter is that many light-skinned blacks look exactly like her. That straight up fucks with the racial order. Race is about perception, but when perception fails to justify our beliefs in race then we realize we are entering new territory. That makes many people uncomfortable.

      • I do think there is something that can be gained by comparing Dolezal’s race issue with Jenner’s gender issue. We don’t just live in a racist society, but also a sexist. Dolezal did experience white privilege, just as Jenner experienced male privilege, and both privileges offer immense advantages and benefits.

        Also, as many black people have passed for whites, many women have passed for men, and in such cases it’s complex. It brings up a lot of issues when people of privileged groups, whether whites or men, choose to take on the identity of historically oppressed groups.

        I don’t think the real complaint people have is that Dolezal sought to pass as a black woman, but that she did it in such a covert way. Jenner, on the other hand, was entirely open about the issue. People feel that Dolezal had deceived others and so is unjustified in her actions.

        That is interesting because the purpose of passing in the past was always with the intention to deceive others. The attempt to pass was a failure, if others weren’t convinced. Now, the idea of passing has become something entirely new. There is an anxiety in our society that anyone could just choose any identity. You see that even with whites worrying that Hispanics will get lumped with whites who are “Real Americans”, and it has to do with larger historical issues. Everyone is feeling defensive about these traditional boundaries, on all sides of the lines.

        It’s understandable. We are in a time of change. In some ways, these labels are losing what little meaning they ever had. Within the coming century, we will see more mixing and passing than ever before.

  2. The Charleston shooting puts it all in perspective. It sounds like it was an intentional attempt to create a race war and a civil war. The location and the date indicate the gunman knew what he was doing, as it was the 193rd anniversary of the planned slave rebellion that led to this congregation’s first church having been burned down by white supremacists.

    In light of this, it makes one wonder all the more about perceived race. The Deep South has far above national averages of whites with African genetics. It is even more likely that this racist shooter has recent African ancestry than Rachel Dolezal.

    Still, race is about perception, not genetics. But that gets to my next thought.

    If the shooter had entered that church and found a group of people who looked white or whose race was ambiguous, would he still have shot them? What if Rachel Dolezal had been there, would he have shot her as though she were black? What if a darker-skinned, dark-eyed, dark-curly-haired Italian had been there, would he even have recognized that person as white in that context and allowed him to live? How ‘black’ does someone have to be before a white supremacist will murder them or before the average racialist American will simply act with prejudice?

    When this guy shot these innocent people, what did he think he was destroying? What does it mean to kill someone for being black? Was he killing their blackness? Was he killing what blackness signifies and reminds the racist of?

    Since African genetics are spread throughout the entire American population, how would the white supremacist ever hope to eliminate it all? Since there are even cases of white supremacists and bigots finding out that they have African ancestry, how much African genetics is acceptable for a person to pass as white?

    Is the ultimate race war and civil war the one that happens within social identity itself? This shooter wasn’t just killing black people but deciding who was black in his killing them. He didn’t ask who identified as black. He simply perceived it, but like with Dolezal it is context that can determine what is perceived. The significance wasn’t just that he was shooting black people. It was about him shooting people in a black church, and it was the history of that church that defined the blackness of those people, not the other way around.

    No one is going to argue about whether all those people at that church were really black. No one is going to talk to their family and friends or ask about their ancestry. It is the ideological hatred against an ideological-tinged perception that is the issue.

    Blackness in situations like this is greater than individuals, even though it is individuals that get caught in the crossfire. Blackness takes on a life of its own. This shooter didn’t see people. He saw blackness destroying all that, in his distorted worldview, was good and right. These people, in a sense, were seen as mere carriers of this blackness, as if it were a disease that needed to be eliminated.

    He held no personal hatred for these people. That is the worst part. It is an impersonal and inhuman hatred for it is hatred of an abstraction. Too many people are willing to kill and die for abstractions. It is strange how powerful abstractions can be, when they come to seem more real than the world itself, more real than even other people. Everything gets seen through a warped and cloudy lense.

    Never underestimate something just because it is a social construct.

    • Although the overwhelming majority of white Southern people will never become mass killers, there is an alarming number of people who share his sentiment.

      What’s sad is that the wealthy are the ones really responsible for all of the problems that he has scapegoated the African American community for.

    • Growing up, I lived a short distance from where that shooting occurred. My family’s house was in Columbia, the capital of SC, where the Confederate flag still flies. I went to school with many white kids who had Confederate flags on their trucks, often along with gun racks. Most racism wasn’t overt, but race was a constant reality.

      Knowing the Deep South, that shooting incident doesn’t seem overly surprising. If anything, it’s surprising that things like that don’t happen more often. There are race problems in the Midwestern town I live in as well, but it would be extremely unusual if someone tried to start a race war here. It is hard to imagine it happening. Also, even though gun ownership rates are just as high in the Midwest as in the South, gun violence rates in the Midwest are low.

    • I was just now talking to my brother. He told me that this gunman went to the same school district I went to, although not the same school. I looked it up and it’s true. I noticed that he was born in Columbia in 1994, the year I graduated from high school. So, the world he grew up in is the same basic world I spent part of my own youth.

    • All of this is opening up debate. There were all the police shootings of blacks. Then the Dolezal issue and now the shooting with manifesto that resonates with some other recent racially motivated killings. The Asian angle just opens the debate further. All the ugliness is coming to the surface and Americans are being forced to face it.


    “To assume that the state can provide for the safety and security of the most subjugated classes in America without addressing the fact of their subjugation is to assume away the last half-century of political experience. If anything, the discourse of safety and security has made those classes less secure, less safe: not merely from freelance killers like Dylann Roof or George Zimmerman, who claim to be acting on behalf of their own safety and that of white society, but also from the police. As [David] Cole writes, the proliferation of criminal laws and quality-of-life regulations that are supposed to make poor and black communities safer often serve as a pretext for the most intrusive and coercive modes of policing in those communities.”


    [–]svsm 8 points 21 hours ago
    They’re longing for the ‘good old days’, despite the fact there were always many rural, poor, working class whites. Never stopped them from finding someone to blame though.
    permalinksaveparentreportgive goldreply
    [–]asiantemp 12 points 20 hours ago
    They’re longing for the ‘good old days’, despite the fact there were always many rural, poor, working class whites.
    No way, man. If it were the good old days, they’d all be John Wayne with a thriving plantation.
    Just like how when people romanticize, say, the Victorian Era or the Middle Ages, they’re always in the tiny percentile of wealthy nobles and never the scullery maid or subsistence farmer.
    permalinksaveparentreportgive goldreply
    [–]chinglishese 6 points 18 hours ago
    I always found this hilarious about the fantasy genre. Why would anyone want to live in the Middle Ages with no modern science, hospitals, vaccinations, and fiefdom? Just cause almost everybody’s white won’t help you when you live and die on a farm and roving bands of bandits/armies can rob and kill you on a whim.
    permalinksaveparentreportgive goldreply
    [–]svsm 2 points 14 hours ago
    Because ‘the good old days’ were when everyone was white, men were men, and women knew their place. Without immigrants to take my job or uppity women, it only goes to follow I would be a king, minimum a knight or something, right?
    Honest to God, if people devolved back to an all white country, they would just start hating the Irish, Scots, French, English, Italian, yes, Jews again. Segregation would just happen more specifically. I think visible minorities are the best thing to ever happen to white people. They should thank us for creating a larger, more unified definition of ‘white’.
    permalinksaveparentreportgive goldreply
    [–]PopePaulFarmerperpetual foreigner 2 points 18 hours ago
    see, paleo diets will also help you live longer because cave peoples definitely lived long, fulfilling lives and weren’t all miserable until they died at the age of 30 something
    yeah, this mindset is ahistorical. but then again, so is most of the US public. thank your congresspeople who’ve cut funding to public ed and are still arguing about how pro-US nationalist AP US Hist courses should be

    • “Honest to God, if people devolved back to an all white country, they would just start hating the Irish, Scots, French, English, Italian, yes, Jews again. Segregation would just happen more specifically.”

      That’s the truth. There is a certain part of the population that just wants to hate, scapegoat, and oppress other people. It almost doesn’t matter who it is or the reason given. It’s just a desire to express dominance.

      Skin color created a convenient way to divide up the population, but there are a thousand other ways to do the same. Dividing people has always been one of the easiest ways to control and manipulate people and hence to maintain social orders for the benefit of the ruling elite.

      If all non-whites were to disappear from the US, the remaining whites would turn on each other in a heartbeat.

  5. I honestly think the real reason for the silence, is that there is ZERO excuse for what happened.
    (1) it wasn’t heat of the moment kind of crime. Those guys chased Chin down into an alley and murdered him.
    (2) it wasn’t fair fight. 1 guy with his bare hands, against several with baseball bat. Was it honorable?
    (3) It wasn’t even the right ethnicity. They taunted him and killed him because of mistaken ethnicity. It wasn’t just racism, it’s the stupidest kind of racism.
    (4) It wasn’t some crime ridden neighborhood. No police brutality. No Yellow-yellow crime stats.
    (5) It wasn’t he bumped into some “bad people”. he was killed by couple of “average” people.
    All of that shows, that the “average” American can be brutal racist killers, for no apparent good reasons.
    and the “average” American simply can’t accept the thought of that. And the media and the politicians don’t want to have to talk about that.
    The thing is, we have all been searching for some “meaning” for Chin’s death. Some way of explaining why it happened. Some way for closure by making sense of it. If we can explain it, we might think we can fix it.
    And there is simply NONE, ZERO. No racist policies, no abnormal psychological conditions of the killers. Nothing.
    With Rodney King, the “average” American can at least say, “well, that’s not me, or that’s not most of us, that’s just some racist cop doing racist stuff.”
    But with Chin’s killers, the line of the “racist” blurs into the “average”.
    The ONLY conclusion then is, again, that the “average” American can be brutal racist killers, for no apparent good reasons.
    And people can’t accept that, and people can’t excuse/defend it either.
    So the silence is basically ignoring it, hoping that it will eventually go away and be forgotten.

    • Many Americans, even among those on the political left, have a hard time acknowledging how common and normal is bigotry in our society. I’ve talked with many political moderates who’d like to believe that racism and such are isolated problems. Yet when you talk with these people, you realize that they often hold many prejudiced views or are unwilling to challenge too strongly the endemic biases all around them.

      It’s the reality of it being so commonplace that makes the acts of hate crime possible. Individual minorities experience prejudice on a daily basis. When that is the environment one lives in, it is bound to erupt into violence on occasion. Then the predictable shocked reactions come from all the good white people, but only temporarily and then quickly forgotten, unless protests and rioting follows.

    • It’s sadly amusing.

      “The website — its home page is a collection of links, often to accounts of crimes against whites by blacks — stands in contrast to the group’s depiction of itself as a more genteel guardian of the true right, “a standard conservatism that dates back to the Taft era,” said the group’s spokesman, Jared Taylor.”

      Taft was not a particularly inspiring politician. He lacked strong support across the political spectrum, because he lacked a charismatic personality. There was nothing special about him.

      He held standard views for an upper class white man of his day. He was both a racist and an imperialist. He certainly wasn’t in favor of democracy, freedom, and suffrage for all. He didn’t even support greater freedom for working class whites, as he opposed labor organizing and helped pass one of the most oppressive laws against labor unions.

      I guess that is what Jared Taylor means by “standard conservatism.”

      “President Taft, a Republican elected in 1908, publicly endorsed the idea that blacks should not participate in politics, and perpetuated the racist party line of his predecessor.”

      “Taft was also the US head in the Philippines during the early years of the occupation there. There is no excuse for the horrid behavior of American troops in that conflict, nor for the fact that the US was even there. There’s no excuse for Taft’s actions either.”

    • I’ve seen data about that before. It’s sad, but unsurprising.

      Still, it does show a clear decline of racism, even if a slow decline. Yet once the Silents die and the Boomers retire, that will leave the rest of the white population with less than a third of strong racists. That is quite an improvement in just a few generations.

      One commenter offered this useful insight:

      “The sins of the father until the third generation.
      Racism was strong in WW2 so it follows the grandchildren & even great-grandchildren would be racist.”

      Legalized racism was practiced well within living memory. When that living memory is gone, then and only then will society be able to more fully grapple with such issues. It’s still too close and personal right now. The people who enforced and benefited from Jim Crow are still alive and in many cases still have power and influence. That shapes the entire sense of social reality and public debate.

      According to Strauss and Howe, it takes a cycle of four generations to bring a society to the point of crisis that demands new answers. They theorize that we are just now coming to that point. However, there might be a delay in how it plays out because, unlike in the past, the older generations are living longer and so maintaining the legacies of the old system.

      Even so, the older generations can’t live forever. They will eventually die and with them will die the living memory of the Golden Age of legalized racism.

Please read Comment Policy before commenting.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s