Race Relations in the US
by gfastie on February 11, 2016 - 10:04am
It is not my place, as a privileged, white, Vermonter, to speak with any authority on race relations in the United States. Racism can be a tremendously personal issue, and I have no real personal experience with it. I can, of course, see statistics about racial disparities in arrests, in wealth, in callbacks from jobs, but I cannot speak to the experience of being black in America. Interestingly, it may have been easier for someone in my position to understand the plight of African Americans 50 years ago than it is now. Before the civil rights movements, racism was, in many parts of the country, an accepted, on the books, fact of life. It was easy to see the segregated facilities and policies, and racist ideas were generally not something to be hidden. Nowadays, codified legal racism has (all but) disappeared. The much larger issue today is racist views held by individuals, particularly when those individuals are in positions of power. I can’t, and won’t try to, speak to how it feels to be profiled as a black man, and treated with suspicion or distrust. It is clear, however, that when incarceration rates are still nearly an order of magnitude different between blacks and whites, and when the vast majority of the income and wealth in this country is held by whites, that there is a problem.