Andrew Sullivan asks a good question in this week’s New York Magazine, contemplating the Asian guy that got manhandled and hauled out of his seat by United Airlines. Was UA racist, or are they assholes who pick random people to yank around? Enquiring minds want to know ….
Andrew Sullivan used the incident to springboard to a wider discussion of race in America:
Asian-Americans, like Jews, are indeed a problem for the “social-justice” brigade. I mean, how on earth have both ethnic groups done so well in such a profoundly racist society? How have bigoted white people allowed these minorities to do so well — even to the point of earning more, on average, than whites? Asian-Americans, for example, have been subject to some of the most brutal oppression, racial hatred, and open discrimination over the years. In the late 19th century, as most worked in hard labor, they were subject to lynchings and violence across the American West and laws that prohibited their employment. They were banned from immigrating to the U.S. in 1924. Japanese-American citizens were forced into internment camps during the Second World War, and subjected to hideous, racist propaganda after Pearl Harbor. Yet, today, Asian-Americans are among the most prosperous, well-educated, and successful ethnic groups in America. What gives? It couldn’t possibly be that they maintained solid two-parent family structures, had social networks that looked after one another, placed enormous emphasis on education and hard work, and thereby turned false, negative stereotypes into true, positive ones, could it? It couldn’t be that all whites are not racists or that the American dream still lives?
I think Sullivan has some good questions. What role do two parent families play in the success of children into adulthood? What role do active social networks provide? How important is an emphasis on education? Do kids with jobs do better than kids without? These are not earth-shattering questions. Why not ask them? I find it odd that we can discuss the inverse of the questions with ease: kids with two parents are smarter! Okay. Smarter than what? Well, kids brought up with one parent. Okay then. So it’s fair to say that kids with one parent aren’t as smart. Oh, by the way, more than 70% of Black children are raised without two parents, and most Asian kids are raised with two parents.
Cue the screaming and shrieking.
Now all of a sudden, the question has become racist. I don’t think Sullivan has a pat answer any more than the typical social justice warrior has a pat answer, but thinking about why each side believes as it does led me to think about the winning conditions for this conversation. Jamelle Bouie, writing at Slate Magazine, is absolutely adamant that Black people are blameless at all times for the conditions in which they find themselves. Jamelle is an interesting writer sometimes, because he’s good at making it clear why he thinks the way he does – I often find myself reading his material thinking “I can see why you think this way”, even while concluding that he is making some fundamental errors and is quite wrong.
Give Jamelle Bouie the topic of individual responsibility, though, and he loses all semblance of rationality: Black people are never to blame for their own lives. This is a common thought paradigm for feminists, too, who find it inconceivable to hold women accountable for their own stupid, thoughtless, imbecilic choices. It’s always men’s fault, no matter what. For Bouie, it’s always the white man’s fault.
Thinking through what is at stake, psychologically, for Bouie and his ilk prompted a rather startling thought: the people with the most to gain from hapless, hopeless, helpless Black men are actually white women. White women rely on inept, docile, meek Black men for their personal income, and white women thus have a heavily vested interest in helping Black men believe nothing is ever their own fault, and they have the perfect foil to which they can deflect the more dangerous consequences of such mental trickery: white men! White women profit from submissive Black men, and white men get to bear the blame for Black men’s subjection. Well done, white ladies!
Clever little minxes.
How did I parse the data to reach this conclusion? Watch me.
The most common occupations for women in 2014 (for which we have the data) are secretary, teacher and nurse. What a long way we’ve come, baby! Women take care of the men doing the actual job, little kids and sick people. What stellar accomplishments! Why, it’s almost as if women were designed by both nature and nurture to be caregivers!
The US Gov estimates that in 2017, approximately 4.1M people (p.6) will work for the federal government alone (state and municipal governments are over and above this number). In 2015, 2,058,021 people worked for the executive branch, of which 1,168,186 were men and 888,835 were women. So 43% of the federal workforce is women.
Let’s assume that’s true for state and municipal governments, too.
What are these women doing?
Secretary, nurse, teacher. For the most part. What do women need to do these jobs for the government? Secretaries need government programs with lots of paperwork (Filing alphabetically! Answering phones! Scheduling appointments! Yay, ladies!) Teachers need students, and the needier and poorer the students, the better. Rich accomplished students can learn in big groups and parents can pay for really great, private instruction. Needy, poor students can only be managed in small groups, meaning more teachers get jobs. Nurses, of course, need sick people. Lots of sick people with chronic conditions that require little in the way of expertise and lots in the way of constant care.
A weak, hobbled Black community provides all that and more! And how do you weaken and hobble a community?
Attack the men.
It boggles my mind to read the words of men like Bouie and realize that he will throw other Black men under the bus by encouraging them to nurse a helpless sense of grievance, in service to white women exploiting those men. I can understand Jamelle and other Black men being angry, but turn a little of that anger inwards, gentlemen. Blaming others is human nature. It’s what everyone likes to do, because it’s easy.
But Black men are still men, and men don’t whine and cry and look around at who is oppressing them so they can whine and cry some more. Right now, the way I see it, it’s white women who have their feet on the throat of the Black community, and with leadership like Jamelle Bouie, that doesn’t look set to change any time soon. I’ve often noted that Black women are completely nuts to think white feminists want Black women for anything more than toilet scrubbing, but it looks like Black men are right to be equally suspicious.
Follow the money.
Someone benefits from how communities are structured, and they will fight hard to keep the status quo. When it comes to Black men, the money flows into the handbags of white women. Maya Angelou once noted that “…white women are never lonely, except in books. White men adored them. Black men desired them and Black women worked for them.” I don’t know if the ‘never lonely’ part is true, but for certain, white women have learned how to exploit white men’s adoration.
Why wouldn’t they also exploit Black men’s desire?
Something to think about.
Lots of love,