I’m a liberal who actually wants more women and people of color in power to reflect the constituency of our country. But I also think you’re making some solid points about how the extremity of identity politics doesn’t achieve those goals, always. It alienates potential allies and creates a backlash, because rather than creating bridges it sets up road blocks.
Below is an excerpt from my first Medium Post I wrote because I got fed up with pockets of the left distilling everything into a pre-ordained thesis of “racism” when the reality is much more complicated. Some people simply don’t recognize the double-standards and mental gymnastics they use to make an argument or upload a click-bait story (“magical thinking” I write below).
The Think Progress Post that Doesn’t Think
(And the Far Left that Isn’t Thinking Much Anymore, Either, Because of Righteous Indignation)
Honestly, I don’t know if many people know what the fuck you’re talking about with “White Privilege” because when you’re white and poor you indeed don’t feel privilege. You can blend in more places when nearly nearly two-thirds of your country is Caucasian, sure. You probably won’t be followed around the occasional store. If you’re black, you’ll receive 10% (and up to 20 %) longer penitentiary sentences. But one may not feel that privilege when you’re 40% of the food stamp recipients (13% unknown), by far the majority recipient. “Oh, but of course, you’re 63% of the population.” That’s true. Race and poverty are intertwined, and on a per capita basis, whites are still ahead in this country. On average as an aggregate, your life outcomes are better than black lives. No one should argue differently. Yet some conservatives make nuanced arguments that split the difference from the 1980s race-blind mantras to today’s heavily race-focused perspectives.
But you know what absolutely fascinates me, and highlights “magical thinking” in terms of how people construct arguments: The demographic breakdown for receiving aid for food AND being shot by a police are almost EXACTLY the same. But the headline to the 2015 Huffington Post article I Googled says dramatically, “Who Gets Food Stamps? White People, Mostly.” Take 15 seconds and think about that in the context of #blacklivesmatter.
(1, 2, 3 … Okay, 15 seconds.)
If you clicked the link, you’d see it says 40.2% are White, 10.3% are Hispanic, 25.7% are Black, 2.1% are Asian, 1.2% are Native American, and 12.8% are race unknown. This could be construed as an indicator of poverty, and the numbers nearly match the % of police killings in 2015 total in The Guardian, or the Washington Post. When we talk about who’s incarcerated it’s mostly minorities, which is true. Ironically, the “Who Gets Food Stamps? White People, Mostly” headline is a standard liberal argument going back for decades when so-called racist (often Republican) politicians scream “Welfare queens of Harlem” who are disproportionately “abusing” the system and the counterpoint is often, “No, it’s mostly white people.” Point is: When’s the last time anywhere outside a conservative source focused on the majority white lives lost in the police killings at the hands of police debate? Are we paying attention to the mental gymnastics advocates make to erase, or conversely highlight, a particular race to make an ideological point?
How come the white militia supporters scream “murder by law enforcement”regarding the shooting death outside Burns, Oregon, January 26, 2016, yet are silent in Ferguson? And the #blacklivesmatter supporters have “Hands up, don’t shoot” as the mantra against illegitimate government-sanctioned killings in Missouri, but are mum about Oregon, if not outright outright derisive. Except for this Antiwar.com writer who points out the identity politics involved and calls both state-sponsored “executions.” I disagree with such cynical, conspiracy fueled thinking — but appreciate pointing out the double-standards in our polarized politics.