Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Subtle Residue of Racism

A column by David Brooks in Sunday's New York Times (subscription required) points out the residual racism that still permeates America. I do not mean to say the David Brooks is a racist. I respect Mr. Brooks and his opinions and in no way mean to disparage his character. But his writing points out the subtle residue of racism in America and how people view class and race.

In his column, Mr. Brooks writes that the Republican party has become the party of the middle class by pointing out that Bush won the income group of $30,000-$75,000 by 22%. What he fails to either note of just plainly fails to see is that when he talks about middle class, he is talking about only "white" middle class and fails to see that middle class is now multicultural. Kerry actually beat Bush when it comes to all Americans making between $30,000-$50,000 and between $30,000-$75,000 per year and lost to Bush by only 7%. (exit poll results)

Americans, including Mr. Brooks, still tend to view "middle class" to mean white, even though there are many minorities now that earn within that income range. If the Republican party ever wants to make inroads into the minority population, it would serve them best to view middle class as encompassing all Americans that earn a middle class wage, and not just middle class whites. As long as they view blacks and other minorities as a separate group and not just a percentage of a targeted subsection, they will remain marginalized in minority recruitment.

I do not believe the majority of Republicans are racists, but the view of minorities as not apart of the middle class is a leftover from a segregationist history.

I know that this may appear to be splitting hairs to some. But these are hairs that need to be split if we ever want to make that final leap to full eraditcation of racism.


tommy said...

The flip side of the argument is that any minority that happens to vote republican is labeled an uncle tom or some such by the dems.

both parties are doing the same thing basically, they are just using different words.

Dingo said...

I don't disagree with you on your statement. Both parties play race games, without question. Many times the Democrats even play a bigger game than Republicans on many issues (which is shameful in many occasions).

But, when you hear many liberal/progressive writers speak, they are inclusive of all Americans in the middle class. There is not a distinction between white, black and hispanic. What I see in David Brooks writings is the continued view of middle class as being distinctly white. I am not saying that Brooks is racists, but his distinctions are leftovers of racism.

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

Tommy has a point.

Further, to Mr Bush's credit, he has gone along way in addressing racism- in schools and in the neighborhoods.

That said, racism was and remains a societal problem. It is not the purview of one or another group. Where it exists, it is endemic.

Racism is alive and well in the south. Not as it once was, but no less real. For example, in certain southern states- even 'democrat' ones, segregation lives, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, albeit in other forms. It is less of a political issue than it is a social issue.

Now, as to 'middle class' America. To which Middle Class are you referring? In which regions of the country? Do you include black Middle Class communities, as you mention- now larger than ever?

In addition, churches have paroved to be at the forefront of comabatting racism- a reality not often addressed or acknowledged.

Still, no matter how it's presented, the eradication of racism is a cultural and societal matter- not a political one.

I will say I'm glad you wrote on the matter. In fact, we don't talk about the subject enough- and when we do, there are all too often unnecessary political overtones.

Good going, Dingo.

tommy said...

OK so maybe I can't read exit poll data correctly but when I look at it what I see is Kerry winning the 30 to 50K group my 50 to 49 and Bush winning the 50 to 75K by 56 to 43.

I think the point remains valid but the supporting data you used seems different than what you quoted.

Dingo said...

Sorry, I don't think I was very clear in the original post. Brooks considers $30,000 to $75,000 to be middle class. so, in the exit poll data, you have to add the 30-50 K group and the 50-75 K group together. You have to weight the 50-75 K group slightly more since they made up 23% of the voting pouplus vs. 22% for the 30-50 K group. It actually comes out to 6.8%, but I gave Bush the round up and called it 7%.

Sorry to confuse you.