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David Grenier: Writer. Bowler. Revolutionary.
David tells an interesting story to illustrate a very important point. People no longer have to be openly racist, they can simply lean on institutional discrimination and wipe their hands of personal responsibility.
That kind of “blame this vague mass of ‘consumers’ for my personal decisions” is the same story we get fed by CEOs who close down factories to ship production overseas, it’s the same story we get fed by mass media that gives us car crashes, fires, and screaming-head “pundits” instead of actual news. It’s the same story we hear every time someone wants to avoid taking responsibility for their own decisions and finds a convenient scapegoat in the spectral “invisible hand of the marketplace.”
Its so true. Its a institutional trap of poverty that many minorities find themselves enmeshed. In David's story a DJ stops playing Hip Hop or Latin Reggae because the club wanted a crowd of cute white girls to attract the rich white guys, and the music was attracting the "wrong crowd".
Whether you see the market as being "fair" depends radically on how much the market caters to your wants or whether the market creates obstacles to your success. Some of the political distance on such issues as "private accounts" for Social Security depend on how people see Wall Street; either as an agent of financial well being or as a predatory system that cleans out your pockets while you're working your ass off.
Its incredibly difficult to discuss this issue with people because nobody ever wants to feel culpable for actions that we think are normal and rational. But much of our economic system is designed to take advantage of institutional prejudices. Its in the way we fund our schools, and in the standards we accept as "clean" or "moral" or even "friendly". Its in the roles that we designate for people based on the social norms. So its why we hardly ever (if never) see the cute blonde girl in the kitchen working the dishwasher while we find the older hispanic guy out front seating the tables. The restaraunt manager knows, even without ever having to admit it, that people expect to see cute girls out front seating and serving people and that he might lose business if his establishment doesn't cater to that norm.
Am I guilty? Yes. Sex sells beer too.
Our subconscience plays a more important role in our actions than I think we like to admit. So while consciously we might think we've gotten beyond the old habits of the past, we still act on the same impulses without giving them the same names. Its not enough to hide behind the economics and build a rationale for why other people "won't" or "can't". We have to recognize where there is an unjust system and work to make it better. Its what we have done in the past. Of course the people benefitting from the advantages of an unequal system are going to make excuses for why things should stay the what they are. I'm sure the fuedal lords and landowners of old could give a thousand reasons why it was better for people to be serfs and slaves too, but it wasn't better for the serfs, it was better for the landowners.
Once again though, we find that issues of race and class become entangled, with too much emphasis placed on this being a problem of race, (i.e white people), even though its true that in America the majority of wealth is owned by white people, through a long history of real institutional racism.
(note I'm still not pleased by what I've come up with here. This is an extremely difficult issue to sort out. I'm not feeling particularly eloquent so feel free to criticize at will... ;-)
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Dissolve into Evergreens