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A Wake-Up Call for White Progressives


A Wake-Up Call for White Progressives

Greg Kaufmann

The night after Alton Sterling was killed by police, I got home from work late. When our three children were asleep, my wife and I finally had a moment together.

The first thing she said, as if she had been sitting on it all day, was: “I feel like we need to get a Black Lives Matter sign for our yard. I know it would be unusual in our neighborhood.”


Racism is a symptom of income and wealth inequality and no amount of effort expended toward fighting racism will make a difference as long as each month's economic stats confirm that wealth and income inequality are worse than they were the month before.

Jill Stein is the only POTUS candidate still standing who will reverse decades of growing income and wealth inequality. The others will accelerate that trend to varying degrees. Although the BLM sign undoubtedly make him feel good, Mr. Kaufman needs to plant a JILL STEIN sign on your lawn and support her campaign if you want ANY real change in the racial arena.


This is very true:

"My black friends and colleagues expressed anguish, anger, hopelessness, hope, and sheer exhaustion. But what stuck with me the most was when a black male colleague asked his white coworkers, “When will you get as angry as I am? Which killing will be the one that finally does it for you? I feel hopeless. And nothing changes in this country unless white people want it to.”

I would also add that it works the same way whether the target is a woman or girl--requiring more MEN to get it and resist the stereotypes that lead to so much rape and violence against women.

It's the same when Christians and Jews don't speak out against the prejudices projected onto the Muslim Community, or when non-Hispanics don't oppose the particular policies and prejudices that unfairly punish the Hispanic community.

No group that's colonized (one way or another) can escape the confines without allies on the outside.


There's a lot more to it than wealth and income.

There are cultural differences, obvious physical differences, food preferences, and rituals not held in common.

Those taught to fear outsiders will always show prejudice to persons with unfamiliar looks, language, and lifestyle components.

Too many here think economics define all aspects of life. They are important, but not all-inclusive or omnipotent in what they can and cannot effect.

Granted, people are happier when they can meet their needs and have a little left for luxury or indulgences. And when people are happy, they're less apt to pick up guns and shoot at target groups or harbor much in the way of hatred.

Still, casual dismissals of race and gender prop up the same White Patriarchal System that set up the castes of privilege and power in the first place.

Eradicating merely the economic component doesn't change the rest of the calculus.


Then how do you explain the very obvious racism that does exist among people of the same socioeconomic strata? No doubt economic inequality is a function of the problem, but racism also has a substantial component that is culturally induced. People are taught to hate the other, and hatred is passed along from generation to generation until the cycle of hatred is somehow addressed. To dismiss the problem as merely a manifestation of income disparity is simplistic, wrong, and only serves to propagate more racism in the future.

  1. Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and 2. the most strident advances in civil rights legislation being concurrent with the greatest income and wealth equality in US history both support the contention that economics being the hub issue in determining the degree of racism.

Although solving the economic issues alone may not solve racism, failing to solve the economic pieces of the puzzle makes certain that no headway will be made in solving racism.


If it was simply due to a sort-of colorblind wealth inequality then why are the poor in the USA overwhelmingly black then?


Wealth inequality is never colorblind. Recall the final moments in The Big Short: "Instead of jailing bankers who caused the crash, they blamed immigrants and poor people".

The art and science of blaming the victims reached new heights in the post Raygun era, concurrent with growing income /wealth inequality and growing racism.


False. Racism is encouraged and induced to keep the populace atomized, and thus therefore politically impotent. Transcending the racial barriers will culminate in greater solidarity, and with greater solidarity is derived greater political strength and power to implement the economic measures necessary to rectify economic disparity.

edit: corrected a spellcheck correction introducing the wrong word


This is not the movies, we're discussing real life. "The art and science of blaming the victims" is nothing new, long predates Ol' Dutch by millennia.
The art of misdirection is ancient and timeworn, and is cast in many forms.
Evoking racism to scapegoat responsibility is merely one of those forms.
It demonstrates or proves little with regards to the actual dynamics that create racism in the first place.


Fails to take into account the concurrent neoliberal assault upon the economy.
Civil rights legislation had hardly enough time to manifest results whereupon it once again came under assault and in at least a de facto sense repealed. At the same time, the progressive changes of the New Deal were aggressively being dismantled, destroying social safety nets and freeing capital to go on a speculative frenzy.


My contention didn't "FAIL to take into account", rather it is based on the timing of the dismantling of the New Deal that you describe which started after the last strident advances in combating racism were in place.

Jake Johnson's July 4 CD article addresses the economic/racial issue dynamic and adds the dimension of the Democrats using racism to distract us from the economic issues.

Although I can't speak for the Democrats' intentions, Jake's thesis is consistent with widely apllied bait and switch, divide and conquer strategies.


If whites really want to help blacks and end racism, help blacks achieve economic equality.


Mr Kaufman I enjoyed your article you touched on points from your heart and were in my opinion correct. Don't quite get why the comments are some what negative and demanding of what you should do. I believe if more white people not only felt and believe as you do but were to act on those beliefs it would surely help us to progress from where we are currently. I do not believe that black and brown people having more equality economically will do much if anything to change anyone's mind if they feel that someone is beneath them based on their color. Thank you for your article


Amen to that!


raydelcamino, Racism, along with patriarchy, private property, and imperialism are the structural underpinnings of Capitalism. Capitalism must be destroyed to remove its effects.


Get real it is economics-and the real issue is economic freedom----Martin L King was killed when he crossed the line---fighting for economic freedom.-----Yes the insanity of hate runs deep in so many ways. The point is to keep people divided while the elite go unnoticed.

I nominate Cornel West to run for president.

Who are the black leaders we see out there??????????Justice Sotomayor made issue that 70% of the people in Ferguson were caught up in the court system. Why does this get so little attention---this is a tool to keep people down economically. Been arrested, we can't hire you---go find some low paying job.

DN showed a video of a man being gunned down by an off duty officer-----yet the media ignore this because it is a black cop killing a black man.


From Robert Jensen:
"All systems of illegitimate authority that give some people unearned wealth and power are based on a similar pathology that tries to naturalize hierarchy and exploitation. Pull on one string, and the fabric of rationalizations for all systems of domination/subordination start to unravel."



Thank you Greg. True progress is when the majority of white people acknowledge the reality of racism in America. A "color-blind society" or "I don't see race," are just two little, trite statements white people say all the time that drive this woman of color crazy. Denial is a step backwards.


Ray, a lesson I've personally learned here many times is that an incautious statement that is indefensible should be abandoned.

"Racism is a symptom of income and wealth inequality" is actually backwards. Racism at its core is visceral, tribal, fear of the other, those that are unlike ourselves. Black people don't look like me, talk like me, dress like me, eat like me, smell like me. My many black counterparts say the same things about me. Recall all of the dehumanizing things that were said about negroes in the run up to the Civil War. That were said about blacks in the 60's as we went through that rights convolution.

My lily-white perspective of what has happened: In the struggle for acceptance and assimilation there was a fundamental bifurcation of the black community; some chose to pursue more of a path of willing assimilation and mimicry, while many others concluded the white tribal fear of blacks as insurmountable and instead chose to revive and protect their heritage. The latter is a large part of the push for acceptance of diversity. Maybe that's just generalized crap, I don't know.

I am fairly certain though that if fate had put me - the personality of the person that I am - in a black man's skin, I would surely have been killed by now.