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Yes, Racism Is Rooted in Economic Inequality


Yes, Racism Is Rooted in Economic Inequality

Seth Ackerman

Hillary Clinton is an astute campaigner. In a Facebook Q&A the other day, she was asked about the Black Lives Matter protesters who interrupted Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley at the Netroots Nation conference earlier this month.


If it is all merely economic inequality, and racism is unimportant, then why is economic inequality in the USA drawn on such starkly race-based boundaries? Sure, this is a bit less true in some cities or regions by virtue of there simply being few black USAns like the Appalachian region where poverty is a bit more "equal opportunity. But when I travel to cities like Cleveland or Detroit or Baltimore, the racial boundaries of economic status are stunning - virtually every white is comfortably middle class and lives in a posh leafy neighborhood and virtually every black is poor and lives in a run-down neighborhood.


From the article:

The inquirer, a Washington Post reporter, asked her the same question those protesters had posed to her rivals: how would she “begin to dismantle structural racism in the United States”?

Her answer was deft:

Black lives matter. Everyone in this country should stand firmly behind that. We need to acknowledge some hard truths about race and justice in this country, and one of those hard truths is that that racial inequality is not merely a symptom of economic inequality. Black people across America still experience racism every day.

No Clinton’s answer was not “deft” it was entirely empty, she simply DID NOT ANSWER: How would you “begin to dismantle structural racism in the USA?” The only reason anyone could possibly call that “deft” is because she made deft use of the supine media’s unwillingness to ever say anything uncomfortable to a powerful person. Like, “Excuse me but you did not answer my question. What i want to know is…”


Less than 10 percent of what PP does has to do with abortion. PP has provided millions of women with cancer screening, birth control and healthcare. The supposed pro life people are basically pro birth, but not life. PP does not cause racism. You may not like PP, but it has helped far more black women as well as white women than hurt them.


Reduction of racial inequality to economic inequality just does not seem very satisfactory to me, especially after reading this article. I’m having trouble articulating an argument to explain why I think hat, but it probably does not matter.

It looks like Bernie is beginning to move beyond an economic inequality reductionist argument to recognize racial inequality in its own right and the complex interplay of race and class in the complexity of power relations.

Hillary will deftly articulate a message recognizing racial inequality but NOT one of economic inequality, and if she wins, will address neither.


I love Bernie. I am all the way Go Bernie. But sometimes economic despair is also the result of racism. We are in powerful cages here.


And Hillary, bless her heart, will take up anything Bernie Sanders says out of fear of losing. As if life is all about win and lose. Nevertheless, I want Bernie as president and to use his presidential privilege to make decisions!!

  1. You’re off-topic.
  2. You’ve got a very odd notion of what a “baby” is.
  3. You’re factually wrong about why Planned Parenthood serves low-income communities.
  4. You’re apparently quite confused about the powers of a presidential candidate, or of a president.
  5. You’re off-topic.
  6. i’m feeding the troll, and for that i beg forgiveness.


The class act commands center stage


When I read “deft” I figured the author probably meant “daft”.


How much present day wealth inequality is a direct result of slavery?

To get a handle on that we need to ask these two questions:
How much wealth was held by white American slave traders & owners circa 1865?
How much present day white American wealth can be ascribed to that 1865 wealth?
Without the slave and opium trade the Forbes family would be poor as the rest of us.
And the Perkins family. And how many others?

Now, for comparison, let’s ask this question:
How much wealth was held by black Americans circa 1865?


Its interesting how the media and commentators discuss Sandra Bland’s arrest but fail to ask or demand to know WHY she was put in jail. These same issues became apparent in Ferguson,and also in New York-people being held on bond for minor offenses. This is a business-making money off low income people who don’t have the means to fight back,just like this private prison system for profit.IT IS OUTRAGEOUS THAT SANDRA BLAND WAS IN JAIL FOR THREE DAYS FOR NOT USING HER TURN SIGNAL! And she had every right to remain in her car. But remember she needed $500. to get out of jail.Keep people down economically and they have no power.You cannot legislate hate away-but you can legislate for economic equality and more importantly economic freedom.And if people would think about economic freedom it becomes apparent how corrupt our system is. A justice system bent on profit and keeping people down,a healthcare system for profit,living in a world that’s like a giant commercial,a media that never stays focused on an issue,politicians bought and paid for.Economic freedom=social and political freedom.


Outside of a highly speculative libertarian anarchist concept of abolishing all property and money and equally divvied out to all, then how is Mr. Ackerman proposing to repair the deep, deep hole African Americans are in with regard to property and assets - a 100 percent still-solidly-real effect of past racism that leads to the perpetuation of racism. Wouldn’t the reparations and restoration of affirmative action that anti-racist black USAns call for be exactly this sort of redistribution, pursuant to crating an economically egalitarian society, that the left wants ? But somehow, I suspect that Mr. Ackerman would be quite opposed to such things.

And this is a shame, becasue Jacobin was supposed to be an up and coming star among leftist zines.


Here is a good rebuttal to Mr. Ackerman’s piece here:

“Two persons – one white and the other black – are playing a game of poker. The game has been in progress for some 350 years. One player – the white one – has been cheating during much of this time, but now announces: ‘from this day forward, there will be a new game with new players and no more cheating - it will be a far and equal game for all.’ Hopeful but suspicious, the black player responds, ‘that’s great. I’ve been waiting to hear you say that for 350 years. Let me ask you, what are you going to do with all those poker chips that you have stacked up on your side of the table all these years?’ ‘Well,’ said the white player, somewhat bewildered by the question, ‘they are going to stay right here, of course.’ ‘That’s unfair,’ snaps the black player. ‘The new white player will benefit from your past cheating. Where’s the equality in that?’ ‘But you can’t realistically expect me to redistribute the poker chips along racial lines when we are trying to move away from considerations of race and when the future offers no guarantees to anyone,’ insists the white player. ‘And surely,’ he continues, ‘redistributing the poker chips would punish individuals for something they did not do. Punish me, not the innocents!’

Emotionally exhausted, the black player answers, ‘but the innocents will reap a racial windfall.’”

  • anecdote originally coined by scholar Roy L. Brooks

That is, is not enjoying the benefits of past racism (black net worth is 7 cents to a dollar of white net worth) itself racism? Racism is a SYSYEM not an attitude!


The cause of racism is the need of the hegemonic class to retain its hegemony by defining the most marginalized as the other and then using racism to turn the slightly less marginalized against the most marginalized.

Yes. That is correct.

But it doesn’t go far enough. The problem with thinking that economic inequality is the cause of the racial problems in our nation is then thinking that a simple solution of less economic inequality is the only solution needed. So tax the rich, build the unions, restore the middle class. Return us to the prosperity we had in the early post-war period.

But that early post-war period was not good for the most marginalized. Because the antipathy that was created by the hegenomic class to preserve their hegenomy had become structural racism so the prosperity was not extended to Blacks, Native Americans and Latinos. Structural racism means it is inherent in our society in ways that those of us who share certain privileges with the elite rulers don’t always notice.

Why do some white folk hate Black people or fear them? Well, it is due to 400 years of racism. Yes, that whole thing began and was and is preserved to protect the hegemony of the elite. But it is so built into our structure that we can’t expect it to change by making the elite a little less elite.

We must address both issues.

How do we address structural racism? Well, one good place to start is to not allow racist cops to be cops. How do we get there? By continuing to change consciousness until we have a majority behind us in supporting such changes. We need Federal intervention, investigations like the Justice Department did with Ferguson. We need Congress to authorize the removal of such racist police, which they have the power to do based on the 14th amendment.


Disagree, on several levels.First, the “inequality” discussion by today’s Dems and libs remains a fraud because it excludes our very poor. The great majority of US poor are white. If poverty is mentioned at all, we refer to poor black people as “disadvantaged” and poor white people as “white trash”. This actually says a lot.

Did you know that we have a poverty crisis? Yep. The US shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s. In the real world, not everyone can work, and there aren’t jobs for all. The last I heard, we have 7 jobs for every 10 people who urgently need one. While that’s an improvement, what do you think happens to the 3 who are left out? Did you know that it has virtually been open season on our homeless for years, as they’ve been beaten, even killed, by police and citizens alike? Who cares? The majority of homeless are white. Today, in the “liberal” city of Madison, liberal Mayor Paul Soglin took a sip of his latte and declared that we have got to get rid of those unsightly homeless things on our park benches! The homeless and the pigeons have got to go!


Actually, I don’t know any white people who fear black people, except maybe black cops. I do know people (myself included) who wouldn’t walk alone down a city street at night in a high crime area, whether predominantly black or white.

Statistically, the majority of poor are women and children, and the majority of these are white. We have a generation that abhors the poor, having decided our very poor are undeserving of the most basic human rights (per the UDHR) of food and shelter. Black people don’t think white people exist. White people pretend they don’t.

Now a more complex issue: Back in the 1960s, the poor of all races united to push back. Reality is that not everyone can work (health, etc.), and there aren’t jobs for all. The poor united for the sake of their survival. Especially since the 1990s, much work has gone into pitting the poor against each other by race, ensuring that there can be no push-back this time.

What reaction do you expect to the current condemnation of all white people for evils committed by some over the past 400 years? I personally had no relatives in the US until the 1920s. Slavery was a business. Black African businessmen of the era did participate in the slave trade. Slaves were purchased and used by a number of wealthy Southern businessmen. Slavery itself is not unique to the US or to white people enslaving black people.


Do you live in the USA? Where in the USA? Because if you do, and you are not a hermit in the mountains (or suburbia?) the above statement suggests that you are in deep denial. The fear white USAns show when they find themselves walking on a sidewalk and even a few black men pass by is dead-obvious and practically universal - I see it every frigging day that I’m outside in the city. I see it inside myself - like alcoholism, all white USAns suffer from racism, including myself, and we can never exorcise it, only accept and counteract its existence through self-awareness and counteracting movements to behaviors.

And can you give me some examples of a poor and blighted (and consequently high crime) neighborhood in a US city that is “predominantly [non-Hispanic] white”?". Please… by city name and neighborhood name.

And of course a majority (but probably not a “great majority”) are white - because blacks and Hispanics still only represent 20% of the US population. But a vastly greater proportion of blacks are poor. Black household net worth, on average is only 7-8% of white net worth, and continues to plummet even as average white net worth is starting to increase increasing since the '08 recession.

There is no greater form or racism than the racism-denialism of far too-much of the “left”.


All property is theft…


Wisconsin. You should realize that the fact that someone disagrees with your perspective doesn’t mean that they’re “in denial.” Maybe you’re afraid of black people, and think everyone must be? I don’t know – that’s just a guess. On the “walking down the sidewalk” issue, yes, if I see a group of men – any color – walking toward me, and there aren’t other people around, I will turn off to avoid them. (I’m a physically small woman, and am not stupid.) I would understand the nervousness created by the currently popular hostility toward all white people.

We see urban poverty because it tends to be concentrated in specific neighborhoods. Take a drive through your city, and it is likely that you have a similarly run-down section of town, plenty of poverty, that is primarily white. (I neither have time nor interest in researching enough to provide you with specific addresses, population counts, income levels, etc.) The fact that we put much effort into ignoring white poverty (or, at most, brushing it aside as “white trash”) doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Still, the majority of poor white Americans live outside of the urban areas (and they sure as hell aren’t farmers with land and a table full of food, like the old Waltons TV show).

On the broader issue, we have a poverty crisis because of policies chosen/supported by the middle class since the 1980s. We can note that women are still overwhelmingly relegated to the lowest-paying jobs, are are the last hired/first hired. Complex issues in a sound-byte culture.