Racism and Society Week: The Unequal Opportunity Race

This past year saw a warranted wave of anger at white oppression, as the people of Ferguson, Missouri demanded justice for yet another unarmed black teenager murdered by police. Mike Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, and far too many others didn’t get justice last year. But I hope history records 2014 as the changing of the tide.

It won’t happen unless we take a stand.

Image is the British crown on a red background atop the words "Stand up and fight racism."

We can’t go along anymore pretending we live in a post-racial society, acting as if nothing’s wrong, while people of color are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement, when an African American-sounding name decreases a person’s chances of getting a job interview, when even off-duty NYPD officers of color are subjected to unwarranted stops by police, when the President of the United States and his family are constantly subjected to racist attacks, we can’t say we’ve conquered racism. We’re not even close.

This week, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I’m going to be highlighting many excellent posts on the subject of racism. I’m going to ask my white readers to confront their privileges, prejudices, and lack of awareness. It probably won’t be comfortable. It isn’t meant to be. If we want a better society, though, it has to start with us being willing to take a hard, unflinching look at reality. We have to be willing to be better allies. And we must be willing to apologize when we get it wrong.

We can do this.

I’m going to begin the week with a video that beautifully illustrates the concept of unequal opportunity. It helps to understand that, although your own race seems pretty difficult to run, other people have hurdles thrown in their way that we don’t. I’ve found it an excellent tool in helping me understand how different my challenges are from people who share less privilege than I do. I hope it helps you, too.

Racism and Society Week: The Unequal Opportunity Race

3 thoughts on “Racism and Society Week: The Unequal Opportunity Race

  1. 1

    I hope some of the posts will look at strategies for overcoming these problems temporarily or permanently. For example, what happens when we anonymize all or part of the application process, and why don’t we, given how easy it would be? Do some police forces do better than others and if so, why? Do black/Hispanic police do better than white police? If so, can we capitalize on that? What social factors are associated with racial prejudice and under what circumstances are they diminished? It would be nice to start taking the sociological research more seriously – we might even end up with better sociological research!

  2. 3

    NPR did a piece this weekend about the NYPD “work stoppage”. The cops tried to scare the city into giving them more support by only arresting people “when absolutely necessary” (i.e., letting all those black criminals run riot – the polar opposite of the previous “stop and frisk” policy they used to have under Mayor Bloomberg). Turns out there wasn’t a rampant crime spree. Go figure.

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