In their quest for absolute political hegemony in
the United States, some elements of the Right now dare to claim
to share with blacks - if not common cause - common conclusions
about the state of race relations in America. In a January 8,
2006 piece weighted with the full freight of centuries of white
supremacist delusions, Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto
claimed that BC's January 5, 2006 Cover
Story, "Katrina Study: Black Consensus, White Dispute,"
showed that BC and the WSJ agree that African
Americans and whites see the world quite differently.
The BC story was based on a small
slice of an important, soon to be released study by University
of Chicago political scientist Michael Dawson. Dr. Dawson's team's
study shows what every conscious Black person already knows: there
is a yawning chasm between white and black perceptions of life,
politics and opportunity in 21st Century America.
The United States has created wildly different realities
for its black and white citizens. From the unequal availability
of prenatal care and early childhood education, through ubiquitous
and continuing racially segregated
education and racially selective policies of crime control and
imprisonment, through generations of housing and employment
discrimination resulting in huge gaps
in the accumulation of wealth between black and white families,
to early graves occasioned by differential access to medical care
for African Americans, it is clear that for centuries blacks and
whites have lived in the same country but in different worlds.
Perhaps we should be grateful that the esteemed editor of the
Wall Street Journal's opinion page has deigned to acknowledge
this fact. Or maybe not.
The WSJ's Taranto begins his January 8, 2005 OpinionJournal.com
"BlackCommentator.com, which describes itself
as a source of 'commentary, analysis and investigations on issues
affecting African Americans' and has a harshly left-wing outlook,
has an analysis of a poll on racial attitudes in the wake of Hurricane
Katrina. BC.com's analysis is remarkably similar
to our analysis, back in September, of a similar poll:"
Taranto goes on to quote BC at
"Hurricane Katrina may mark a watershed in
Black perceptions of the African American presence and prospects
in the United States. 'It could very well shape this generation
of young people in the same way that the assassinations of Malcolm
X and Martin Luther King shaped our generation,' said Prof.
Michael Dawson, of the University of Chicago whose team conducted
a survey of Black and white reactions to the disaster between
October 28 and November 17, 2005. 'It suggested to Blacks the
utter lack of the liberal possibility in the United States,'
said Dawson, the nation's premier Black social demographer.
"Huge majorities of Blacks agreed that the
federal government's response would have been faster if the
victims of Katrina in New Orleans had been white (84 percent),
and that the Katrina experience shows there is a lesson to be
learned about continued racial inequality (90 percent).
"But only 20 percent of whites believe that
the federal government's failure to respond had anything to
do with race, and only 38 percent think there is something to
be learned about racial inequality from the Katrina disaster.
. . .
"A Grand Canyon looms between the way African
Americans and white people view the world, despite the fact
that both groups are privy to the same information and images.
Same planet. Different worlds. Unintentionally,
Taranto manages to prove both his and our point by misstating
small area of agreement with us harsh leftists at BC.
he cites does indeed illuminate the same gulf between black and
white views of the Katrina disaster as last week's BC
cover story reported. What the Wall Street Journal agrees with
BC about, and then only implicitly, is the existence
of what we call the Black
Consensus. But what Taranto offers by way of "analysis"
is the very embodiment of racist arrogance. He writes:
"The truth about race that Katrina illuminates,
then, is that, at least when it comes to matters involving race,
black Americans are extreme political outliers. This is why attempts
to play the race card are politically futile: They have to appeal
not just to blacks, but to a substantial minority of whites. The
Gallup poll results make clear that the current racial appeals
are not resonating with whites."
Here we find exposed the delusional heart of whiteness.
Taranto would dismiss African American opinions on race wholesale
as "extreme," "outlying," and "playing
the race card." For the Wall Street Journal and the chunk
of America's ruling elite and wannabes it speaks for and to, black
opinion fails the fundamental test of legitimacy simply because
it differs from white opinion. Taranto goes on to supersize his
"Why do blacks and whites have such divergent
views on racial matters? We would argue that it is because of
the course that racial policies have taken over the past 40 years…"
For Taranto, the difference between black and white
views on race owes nothing to centuries of slavery, nothing to
generations of de
jure and de
facto segregation. It has nothing to do with the criminalization
of a generation of black youth by a racially selective crime control
and prison industry, and is completely unrelated to the fact that
African Americans pay more for the same services, are compensated
less for the same education and job performance, live shorter
lives with less medical care and are much more likely to experience
poverty, especially as elders or children. For Taranto, nearly
four hundred years and counting of black experience in America
that often differs substantially from that of our white neighbors,
is irrelevant. Instead, it all stems from white resentment at
being "discriminated" against by affirmative action,
and black sour grapes at not achieving "equality of results"
in the imagined meritocracy that is the Wall Street Journal's
America. The solution recommended by the editor of WSJ's opinion
page is for white America to stay the course and wait out the
Black Consensus until it's replaced by what he calls "more
nuanced ideas about race" in a decade or two.
We suspect Mr. Taranto is in for a much longer wait
than he expects. The Black Consensus that he would de-legitimize,
wait out or wish away, and the distance between it and white opinion
is an outcome of white supremacy as practiced by America's ruling
circles and actively or passively endorsed by most of its white
citizens. The gap between white and black opinion will only narrow
if and to the extent that American whites learn to stop thinking
like white people so that progress can be made toward equality
of opportunity for everybody, a goal which Taranto also dismisses
as impractical and unworthy.
In a sane, democratic and educated society, whose
citizens are acquainted with their own history and served by a
press and broadcast media which equips them with the information
necessary to the exercise of responsible citizenship, septic nonsense
like Taranto's would be swiftly laughed out of the public space.
But this is 21st century America, where unelected pirates rule,
the public airwaves are private property and the press is only
free for those who own it.
Black public opinion does not have to be legitimized
by whites. The Black Consensus is not the voice of extremists
and outliers. It is the prophetic voice that calls all of us,
of whatever color, class and creed to responsible citizenship
and real humanity. African Americans knew, presumably with near
unanimity that slavery was wrong before most of white America
would admit it. Our black grandparents and great grandparents
were certain that convict leasing, Jim Crow and lynching were
abominations at the same time the Supreme Court and white public
opinion ignored or endorsed these practices. Were our forbears
right all along? Or only when whites agreed with them?
Today black public opinion opposes the war in Iraq
by more than two to one. African Americans overwhelmingly favor
full and equal funding for public education, ending the so-called
drug war, mandating the right to organize and join unions, health
care as a human right, and impeachment of the president. Are
we extremists? Outliers? Or prophets? Time will tell.
We take this opportunity to acknowledge a debt of
gratitude to Dr. Michael Dawson, the nation's foremost black demographer,
for his pioneering research into black public opinion, black political
thought, and the Black Consensus. The three questions in last
week's BC cover
story were lifted from a larger study of the state of public
opinion in America's black communities that will be published
very soon. Look out for it. If Taranto and the Wall Street Journal
admire Dr. Dawson's science and BC's logical
analysis, we find that interesting. But being "harsh leftists,"
we are not flattered.
Please send your correspondence to BC
Associate Editor Bruce A. Dixon at Bruce.Dixon@blackcommentator.com.
Your comments are always welcome.
Visit the Contact
Us page to send e-Mail or Feedback
here to send e-Mail to Publisher@BlackCommentator.com
If you send us an e-Mail message
we may publish all or part of it, unless you tell us it
is not for publication. You may also request that we withhold
Thank you very much for your readership.