A thing that dawned on me this morning as I was walking the dog and thinking about our fucked up society, in which a white kid who bombs black people is just, so sadly, troubled and a black people who get killed weren’t “angels,” as if you have to be an angel to deserve to live, is that a really fucked up thing about racist societies is that racism becomes the tool through which the dominant culture gets positive cultural change.

Like, say, white people are supposedly perfect. We don’t do anything wrong. If we’re doing it, it can’t possibly be bad. Say we beat the shit out of our kids. And everyone is starting to notice that white children are really, really fucked up by it. But you can’t say it, because it would imply that something white parents were doing was really fucked up. And yet, obviously, good people want to stop child abuse.

Well, then, we need strong child abuse laws because those black people are so violent toward their kids. Look how they treat their kids. Where are the fathers in their houses? Etc. Etc. Etc.

And then, because the social good–stopping abuse–is so great, the cost of scapegoating black people seems worth it to the non-black do-gooders.

Which then reinforces the bonds of racism.

One thought on “Progress

  1. When I was not long into legal adulthood, I was telling a friend that everyone in my family hit me a lot (I was the youngest by several years), but everyone was very clear on rules on being kind to the dog and never being mean to the dog. I counted for less than the dog, as far as that goes. She replied that that’s how laws against child cruelty started — if it’s not okay to do to an animal, why should it be okay to do to a child?

    I’ve read arguments that the temperance movement that led to Prohibition was really about domestic violence. Saloon culture and domestic violence were tied up pretty closely together — men would go to the saloons, drink away their paychecks, then go home and beat the wife and kids. It was pandemic. But you couldn’t talk about the dark secret of the domestic violence, so they talked about the evils of drink instead.

    Point to drink, point to “those other people”, point to anything but, “there is something wrong with US” — I think you nailed it.

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