A dear daughter-in-law recently responded to my post entitled “The Big Lie.” In that post I vigorously denied the oft made charge that America is systemically racist. She suggested that I check out “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,” to get a reality check. Well, I checked it out, and this is my response.
I respect Emmanuel Acho and appreciate the hard work and thought that he has invested in his podcasts and book. I believe his calm and rational approach helps foster understanding between whites and blacks. Certainly, it gives us some new perspectives. Nevertheless, I disagree with Acho on a number of points, and I believe my perspective, from an old white man’s point of view, is just as valid as Mr. Acho’s.
I agree that racism exists in America, and in some areas of the country it can be quite virulent. But it is not systemic racism, and it exists among backs as well as whites. Acho says racism is not racism unless it is accompanied by power and privilege, therefore blacks cannot be labeled as racists. I am convinced that this is an incorrect definition of racism. Racism springs from the mind and heart. One’s skin color and culture are of no consequence.
Acho says riots and destructive acts are the only way that angry blacks can get attention, and he employs this argument to explain and justify the mayhem. I say that he is wrong. We have made great progress in addressing social inequities, and riots are counterproductive. Black leaders should realize this fact and urge black people to look for peaceful ways to achieve further progress toward racial equity.
In explaining the reality of “white privilege,” Acho describes how black people were enslaved and then subjected to discriminatory laws for 350 years before being thrown into competitive American society. That gives whites a great advantage – a real head start. That is true. Wrongs were done and evils were perpetrated, but what do we do to recompense for past wrongs and create a more equitable climate? The best known and perhaps the most effective vehicle to achieve this goal has been affirmative action legislation. Whereas civil rights laws were passed in an attempt to level the playing field for all citizens, affirmative action “is the policy of favoring members of a disadvantaged group who currently suffer or historically have suffered from discrimination within a culture.” Using the tactic of affirmative action, blacks have been given preferential treatment in college admissions, jobs, etc. It is a slow and difficult process, but we have come very far in a few short years.
What more can we do right now? How do riots move us forward in advancing the black cause? Affirmative action programs have had a generally positive effect, but they create new inequities; and it was always understood that those programs will gradually fade away. When will that happen?
Acho also expressed supportive remarks about the “Black Lives Matter” movement, but how can one approve a Marxist led organization that chants “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon.” That is a cry for revolution, bloodshed and nihilistic anarchy. Does that attitude advance racial harmony and brotherhood? I view BLM and Antifa as terrorist organizations – much like the KKK and the American Nazi Party.
Along the same lines, Acho appears to accept radical propaganda asserting that the police, especially white police officers, are enemies of blacks and a mortal danger to black youth. I say that this is not true! Of course, evil police officers do exist, and some of these evil ones are racists. A few bad apples can do an immense amount of harm, and we must do our utmost to identify them and get rid of them; but most police officers are good people doing a very difficult job. There are almost 50 million blacks in the United States, and there are about 700,000 police officers. Every year there are hundreds of thousands of interactions between police and blacks. In a normal year, perhaps ten or so unarmed blacks are killed in encounters with police, and often there are extenuating circumstances. A black or Hispanic police officer is more likely than a white officer to kill an unarmed black. These are statistical facts. Do these statistics support the narrative that white police officers are waging a war against blacks?
As far as criminal justice is concerned, Acho says that the white man is not punished for his crimes, whereas the black man is. That statement is a gross exaggeration on Acho’s part. I am white. If I commit a crime, I will be punished. I agree, however, that the criminal justice system is seriously skewed, but one’s advantage or disadvantage in a court of law is dependent on the depth of one’s pockets rather than one’s ethnicity. In this area and in many others, discriminatory treatment is based more on one’s financial status rather than his or her skin color.
Acho has many other observations about race and racism. I have not heard or read them all, nor do I intend to respond in full. I hope that Acho will continue to promote conversation and understanding between whites and blacks. I trust his presentations will be balanced.
One final thought. I do believe that we have made amazing progress in racial relations over the past fifty years. My generation is less racially prejudiced than my father’s generation. My children are less prejudiced than I am, and my grandchildren appear to be totally devoid of racism. I pray for the day when our nation will be totally free of that particular evil. Remember, racism is a matter of the heart, and it can infect blacks as well as whites. That’s reality. Examine your hearts, my friends.
Love one another!