Figures such as Trump, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, or any number of right wing personalities have preyed upon the history and isolation of rural communities by either justifying their ingrained white supremacy, or presenting racist justifications for the nation’s problems that allow a group to direct their anger from American disenfranchisement at. This manifests in figures like pushing pseudo intellectual arguments that justify why they feel white men are being ignored in BLM (absurdity), liberals and their cities are poisoning the country, or why confederate heritage should be preserved. The “news” being broadcast by Fox and other voices in the conservative sphere has centered around justifying prejudiced values, inciting outrage, and causing mass panic among their consumers rather than giving impartial facts or a picture of reality for life in America. Media preys upon our isolation and sows doubt to make people question what they can trust by either appealing to fundamentalist values, ingrained hatred, or simply through preying upon people’s ignorance and lack of outside experiences. These groups give people in small communities some answers to their disenfranchisement, such as feeling isolated, dealing with addiction, debt, or poverty, and an ideology that they can still follow as gospel to lead them to prosperity.
On the other end of the spectrum we see liberal populations display a similar lack of regard for the lifestyles of their rural counterparts, albeit with less inherent aggression and racist values underlying their positions (as a general rule, not always). In states such as California or Washington there is no attempt to legislate according to community needs outside of the big cities, and many conservative populations in the surrounding areas have been hurt by bills passing gas taxes in California or restrictive gun laws up north. Due to the fact that our two bubbles of city and country believe they are in mortal opposition on everything, there is no attempt at outreach or creating policies specific for each region. Over 10 sheriffs in Washington have come out in opposition to gun laws that the Seattle electorate passed (further adding tension to the 2nd amendment debate) while in central California many communities have been hurt by pollution taxes that are meant to make city air breathable, but only end up increasing the burden rural folks pay for fuel necessary to their daily lives. These incidents add fuel to the flames that rural populations should secede because their electoral system allows cities to dictate statewide policy, even if it is only good for a small percentage of it, and there will never be outreach to ensure legislation positively affects both groups.
This discussion was aimed at showing the reader that feelings of isolation, whether you are in the country, city, part of a minority community or a wealthy businessman, is experienced by virtually all Americans. Radicalization, hatred, and division are only further solidified when we lean into that ignorance from lack of exposure, and we must bridge the gap to try helping those who may turn towards these rabbit holes that offer them a solution instead of further solidifying the disenfranchisement a community may feel by trying to take away their guns or saddling them with higher gas taxes. Exposure to other ideas and lifestyles assuages division, and there are several groups that do a good job of this, such as the Rural Organizing Project in Oregon that works for deradicalization and integration within the state with some of the most hate crimes per capita. Politicians are exploiting our disenfranchisement within new feudalism while people die, convincing us that our neighbors are inherently against us despite the fact we are all Americans with similar experiences and underlying desires out of life.
When we are busy looking at every issue through a politicized lens, we make harmful generalizations about other groups; seeing them as nothing more than an oppositional force to what we believe is right and ignoring their humanity altogether, blinded by hate instead of trying to understand their needs or work towards a resolution. The parties have been ruthlessly effective at turning problems that will only be solved through collective action into talking points that are used to attack the other side, further growing the rift between Americans while bringing them farther from actual solutions that would help them meet their needs. Thus we have a political ethos in which people can agree on 99% of issues but be polarized by the 1% that has been distorted through propaganda. The binary labels we place on issues result in them only seen as good or bad, no in between. If someone advocates for any form of teaching outside the traditional “good” protestant/anglo-saxon lens then they are automatically labelled a dangerous commie supporting CRT, even if they were just trying to include varying perspectives on issues like slavery. Similarly, if someone is in the national guard or has a hobby of collecting guns then they must be a part of the tyrannical right and don’t care about others.
We consistently refuse to come together in times of crisis, ignoring the real human cost of the actions taken by the government because we are too busy having culture war, flash in the pan type debates. For example during the COVID-19 pandemic not a single Republican voted for the stimulus package out of pure spite for a Democratic sponsored bill, yet that package became a lifeboat for millions of Americans, right wing included. We think that any action taken by the other side is automatically wrong, and so when leaders who claim to be on the morally righteous path do harmful things, we feel we have to support them because they’re on the ‘correct’ side of the partisan divide. As we fall deeper and deeper into partisan bubbles, desperately trying to climb out of our places in new feudalism and believing that hatred is the solution due to these false idols preaching division, the farther we stray from rationality. It is tragic that we have forgotten the humanity of those across from us, viewing many of our fellow Americans as aliens within our midst.
Due to these deep divisions and lack of exposure many Americans somehow believe that we live in a post racial, post oppressive society with equal opportunities for all to create a happy life. Unfortunately many Americans, especially those on the right, have cut their brains off from accepting any truth other than what is written on paper; that non white Americans have just as many opportunities as white Americans due to the Civil Rights Act and the SJW “woke” agenda just appeals to a victim complex because if you work hard enough in America anyone can be successful. Deep racial biases that exist within our country are nowhere near healed; the U.S. was built upon unequal systems and wouldn’t have become what it is without oppression in a white supremacist hierarchy.
48.5% of hate crimes committed last year were motivated by anti-black prejudices. People of color, religious minorities, LGBTQ, and Asian Americans are also facing more open racism and hate than at any time in the last decade or more. Since at least 2013 the incidents of violence towards these communities have steadily increased, and the largest scale hate crime that the FBI has on record was the white supremacist fueled, 8chan posted Walmart shooting in 2019 that killed 22 during a massacre targeting latiné. White supremacy, and thus our institutions by design, thrive on hatred and the division of the population. There are many minority communities still facing some of the worst disenfranchisement America has to offer and in my observation as the wealth gap has increased, lower class white people commit more racist actions as a means of projecting their frustrations with internal feelings of helplessness, still trying to maintain that institutionalized supremacy mindset from the 17th century. I want to put into perspective that while class disparity is undoubtedly the most imminent issue that encompasses all of this, white supremacy in the development of America has played a big role and still has its toxic tendrils firmly wrapped around the nation.
The new tactic by conservative interests to maintain our status quo has been the fierce argument over Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the fear monger tactic that has always been used to push political action in America; white people are going to have the script flipped somehow and become the oppressed group to make up for past injustices, losing financial opportunity and becoming second class citizens as an evil woke agenda by the left divides us into these groups of desirables and undesirables. Beyond having virulent reactions because white people realize all too well how historical oppression has looked and are terrified at the thought of that being turned on them, it is also a fear based reaction from isolation and lack of exposure. The most prevalent version of this reaction to a threatened status quo is the attempts by academics to create pseudo-intellectual arguments that search for statistical analysis to point at and say ‘look white people are treated just as badly, it’s the SJW agenda that makes you think there’s racism!’
Conservative reactionaries love to lament how white people are under attack, shamed for their role in history and pushed to the fringes of the new “SJW culture,” all because they are starting to be held accountable for actions that any other population would be locked up for (January 6th, anyone?). First off, of course the media has a biased agenda of their own, paid for by corporations and political entities that want a certain narrative pushed. But do you think it is purely media influence making leftists say there are racial inequities in this country? We didn’t talk about racial disparities in America for years beyond the PC panic or other reactionary periods to a threatened status quo, but with Obama’s election there was a massive resurgence of racism that has become mainstream for the right. Increasing levels of hate crimes in the last five years coinciding with the overall lowering of American crime rates is not just a mere fluke.
The right has begun to argue that we were in some period of harmony where racial progress was going along just fine, only now do we see this racial divide because white liberals are abandoning their own race in preference for POC, who many argue shouldn’t be labelled as such because it only perpetuates racism by bringing attention to physical differences in the “woke” culture. I agree that there are undoubtedly leftists who take this line of thought too far, and as I laid out previously, I don’t think that anyone should exist in a vacuum chamber without challenging their preconceived notions of the world. But refusing to acknowledge any disparities in treatment and acting like everything is fine because on paper we have progress is maintaining a status quo that upholds white power at the top. Complaining about ‘microaggressions’ and a culture perceived as ‘too sensitive’ stems from the fact that right wing reactionaries are angry they can’t say offensive things that incite hatred, projecting their own feelings onto the issue rather than taking the time to put themselves in another group’s shoes and think about how they might be harmed. Simply ignoring reality and existing “without seeing color” because you personally don’t experience racism, or anecdotally believing that America is ‘totally equal’ because one of your black friends told you they don’t feel oppressed, is not a valid argument.
We know that colorblind policies were implemented years ago to do exactly what the right has been doing in their culture war; obfuscate true underlying inequities by trying to force society to accept that this is the best we can do, that if we were to strive for anymore progress it would be a massive violation of personal freedoms. This line of thought sneakily prevents true equality by arguing that since on paper black and minority communities have rights, we don’t owe them help past signing the Civil Rights Act because of ‘personal responsibility.’ Or that as many conservatives lament, black citizens are being treated inversely superior and given unfair advantages they don’t need because we’re too hyperfocused on race. Many conservatives have begun citing Ibram X Kendi in selected quotes to make his advocated philosophy of antiracism sound like it wants to specifically disadvantage white folks by taking opportunities away and giving them to black communities. The point is creating equal opportunities for all and yes, that entails taking some of the extra privileges that certain white people have from decades and decades of generational wealth and power built up; but the goal isn’t to make every industry perfectly representative or ignore merit in favor of installing a “woke” dystopia.
I am not Ibram, so I can’t speak for him, but it seems that certain folks react by trying to paint antiracism as a bad thing in any way possible, that it will take something away from their group in a zero sum world, but they are missing the point. It is about valuing human life over capital in our white supremacy influenced hierarchy; it isn’t an issue that there aren’t enough black programmers, the issue is that there aren’t enough black kids who have had the same kinds of historical advantages that white kids have and thus over generations the inaccessibility through lack of resources, neighborhoods communities have been forced into, or fear of retaliation from white supremacists when they do attempt more ingrains itself. Think about the vile reaction to Brown v. Board, the desperate attempts to tell white families that their kids would be “poisoned” if black students integrated; this is the same identity based subtext that people use now to argue against the status quo, claiming that advocacy for true equality is a false flag by the woke left to suddenly delegate white people to second class citizens. “Just look at this statistic, white liberals even say they prefer black people over their own race, what couldn’t be more indicative of a manufactured plot????” (A Tucker Carlson inspired line of questioning). When communities are starting from below the base level of wealth, resources, connections, and historical access that white people have, how can the outcome be equal in any sense besides on paper? Systemic racism does exist even if we don’t want to believe it does, and creating full equality in America demands that we address it, no matter how uncomfortable it may be to face the reality of why white people still have more opportunity.
Many opponents of “woke” culture cite extremely misleading, or fully invalid, statistics to manipulate their arguments around protecting white peoples’ feelings. For example, a study by Roland Fryer has been championed by the right as the ultimate indicator that police don’t target black people disproportionately due to “racial bias.” Aside from Fryer’s misleading setup of categorizing police shootings not by race, but if they were committed based on racial differences resulting in racial bias, the research also used an economic theory of statistical discrimination that is meant for studying traffic stops and other stop and frisk practices to determine why police are arresting who they are. These statistical discrimination models often uncover racial bias because they find that in acting for the most cost efficient arrests police often rely on discriminatroy stereotypes to more thoroughly search and more frequently stop those they believe have contraband, people of color. Fryer uses this model in relation to police shootings, mistakenly correlating some economic benefit to the police that drives their decisions in killing victims and lumping encounters into groups of people who either got shot or arrested.
Aside from these two groups having systematic differences that can’t be controlled in a statistics study, the control he does use of looking for discrepancies in police reports of shooting victims has numerous flaws. Police reports have been racially biased for years and multiple studies have found that departments disproportionately report black victims as resisting arrest or becoming violent, such as one that found paper thin criteria for “officer assault” being used in DC resulting in 90% of charges being handed out to African Americans, 75% of them male, for offenses as slight as wiggling in handcuffs or gripping the steering wheel too hard. There are hundreds of studies that have investigated racial bias in policing, and nearly all of them refute the conclusions that Fryer came to; finding greater propensity for cops of all ethnicities to shoot black civilians, lack of correlation between crime rates, their ethnic makeup and the resulting arrests/shootings, and perhaps most damning of all the excited delirium statistics I have gone over in depth.
Of course police shouldn’t be killing anyone and there are dozens of examples where white people have been murdered, several of which I’ve discussed in No. 90, but there are infinite studies containing solid science that show a clear correlation between white supremacy in law enforcement and the resulting disproportionate impact it has on minority communities. My point is; research painting a misleading picture of reality, especially when it only comes from one source and has dozens of counter articles lambasting its poor science, is the most common “academic” justification pushed by right wing personalities yet never questioned by their audience, who uses these white supremacy affirming studies to maintain the status quo that is harmful for everyone inducing the average conservative.
Right wingers have been loving to use statistics about different ethnicities’ income per capita, such as Nigerians or certain Asian groups, to say that since these ethnic communities have higher income per household than the average white family that there couldn’t possibly be racial discrimination in America. Additionally, comparing the disparities among white ethnic groups has served the same purpose; look, racism doesn’t exist because 50% of Russians have college degrees compared to 17% of Polish, while the difference between white and black education attainment is only 27% to 16%! We can easily disprove these misleading conclusions with a closer look.
People can make nearly anything look how they want when wording statistics correctly, there are 62 ethnic groups that have higher average income per capita than white households do so by that logic, Indian Americans should be dominating the country right? No, think about the trivialization and racism they still endure, not to mention a whole separate discussion of the “model minority” cultural mindset reinforced by America that pushes their families into higher pressure, higher achieving environments such as skill based immigration policies like H-1B Visas. From 2001 – 2015 Indian nationals received nearly a million Visas from this program, over 50% of all immigrants in it, and 90% of the occupations applied for with H-1B were in STEM fields, statistically higher paying jobs.
When you have a program that selectively filters through to find immigration candidates for higher paying jobs, of course the ethnic communities benefiting from this will have skewed incomes compared to the rest of the immigrant pool; the highest income inequality in the U.S. exists within the Asian American demographic. From 1970 to 2016 the incomes of Asians in the 90th percentile (top 10% of earners) grew 96%, compared to an 11% growth for the rest of the group in the same period. When you have a smaller sample size with more disparities between the highest highs and the lowest lows, of course the average is going to be higher than a group 13x the size (whites) with more people concentrated at the bottom by nature of how the American market is.
Further, looking at the actual income of groups that are in the top of their ethnicity, such as Nigerians, compared to the top of the ‘white’ group shows vast disparity; black people in 90th percentile of that ethnic group still made 68% less than whites in the 90th percentile of their group. The same goes for college education; 72% of Indian immigrants have bachelor’s degrees while only 9% of Bhutanese do, and poverty rates among the latter group is 33%. And despite Asians being one of the largest groups of foreign born immigrants, so are Latiné, yet nearly 50% of this population don’t have education past high school because they aren’t among the “desirable” group that have come over in programs like H-1B, further are restricted by an immigration system that criminalizes and throws families into concentration camps. Just because the status quo is churning along doesn’t mean that issues weren’t festering beneath the surface. The pseudo intellectual jargon used to maintain our systems of inequality glosses over reality similarly to how when police assume black people are committing crimes and thus looking at them more, of course they’ll see those results.
While this discussion was by no means all encompassing I hope it somewhat elucidated the resistance to any equality coming from the right, even in the way we are taught history. When you position your entire identity and existence as ‘my group against that bad group’ then everything you do becomes an attack on them to justify why you have harmed others or are feeling dissatisfied in life. The idea of identity within our country has become so all encompassing because it is what we actually have some control over; where our interests and loyalties lie. Americans must realize that by dividing themselves into these distinct ‘us vs. them’ segments of population that our crises will only worsen as each side tries to out do the other, spiraling us down this status quo in which the bipartisan establishment is able to consolidate control over everything while the people are at each other’s throats. Until we shed binary labels, see people for who they actually are and not surface appearances or lies through media, and realize we are all one people trying to achieve similar things in life, there will never be full equality of opportunity in this country.
- “Roland Fryer is wrong; there is racial bias in shootings by police,” Feldman, Justin, 2016.
- “In DC, wiggling while in handcuffs counts as assaulting an officer,” Davidson, Christina & Madden, Patrick. 2015.
- U.S. Census Bureau.
- “Key Facts about the U.S. H-1B Visa program,” Pew research, Ruiz, Neil. 2017.
- “Key Findings on the rise in income inequality within America’s racial and ethnic groups,” Kochhar, Rakesh & Cilluffo, Anthony, 2018.