"What do you think?"

From: "Laura" (lpeny@sunsix.infi.net)
To: "Richard Geib" (cybrgbl@deltanet.com)
Date: Fri, 12 Sep 1997 21:52:21 -0500
Subject: Am I a racist?...

At 11:12 PM 9/12/97 -0600, you wrote:

I'am I a racist? You tell me. Just the other day a white man was shot to death by 2 blacks for 100 bucks. The police have no leads, other than the 2 blacks running from the scene. What do you think?

My brother is working two jobs and going to school tring to make something out of his life. He can't get any kind of grant. But you know what, if he was the right color. He could get all kinds of help. What do you think?

The company I'm working for has to promote people by the color of there skin. Not by there perfomance. What do you think?

I tell you one thing that really sucks, I can't even turn on the damn TV without seeing all blacks. What has this country come to?

What do you think?

      Dear Laura,

      I cannot honestly tell from a handful of paragraphs whether you are a racist or not. And the label "racist" is bandied around so commonly it is in danger of becoming trite. Yet you ask me in various places, "What do you think?" I will briefly try to answer you.

      I think it is unfair that persons should be given preferential treatment in the educational or economic spheres by government because of the color of their skin. I do, however, think that allowances should be made for individuals who are struggling against poverty to "try and make something" out of their lives (as you say your brother is doing). I support the dismantling of affirmative action in my native California, for example. However, I would replace it with vigorous efforts to recruit the best and brightest from poor areas and give them the resources to try to succeed in life. I would make the basis for such support purely dependent on desire, ability, and achievement rather than ethnicity or pigment.

      I absolutely would not lower the standards to let more people into universities and jobs. Challenge people to compete with others and succeed by virtue of their own talents and efforts rather than condescendingly judge them by separate criteria; telling people that by virtue of their skin color they are supposedly inferior or need "special help" (ie. affirmative action) is the damning feature of affirmative action which need be changed, in my opinion. It is a condescension of modern liberalism towards minorities. It is profoundly "disempowering," to use the cant of our epoch. That is "what I think."

      I detect an element in your e-mail of identifying a person's skin color as their most important attribute. In this way, I think you are no different than the African-American activists who would have us think that race is the most important thing about a person.

      You say that you cannot turn on the TV without seeing black people. I would counter that if all you see is "black people", than you are not seeing what is more important or essential in that individual. That veers dangerously close to racism, in my opinion. It is an inverted form of racism that one hears so often from Black extremists, and it reminds me more than anything else of the curious phenomenon where a rally by the Klu Klux Klan brings out the most violent and extreme members of the Jewish and black communities into the streets. The extremes have more in common than not - no matter what might be their stated positions or backgrounds.

      I believe that what every person believes in their heart and soul is what is most important in an individual, not the color of their skin. Black people commit murder? Murder is in no way a purely "black" phenomenon. Do "white" people shoot others for "100 bucks." Yes. Are people killed in Asia by other Asians for "100 bucks." Of course they are. Violence (and murder) is the common currency of humanity in this failed world. It is a human phenomenon and not something isolated to certain ethnic communities.

      You say a white man was shot by two black men? Then I would say let those two feel the full force of the law. However, do not let that specious idea that all blacks are murderers creep into your mind. I have lived and worked in hyper-violent areas where black people killed each other nearly everyday for almost nothing but I never came to the conclusion that to be black meant to inevitably be a criminal - that is too easy to say and smacks of intellectual laziness and dishonest thinking. Even in the worst and most crime-infested areas, I met more decent and honest black people than I did opportunistic predators. It is too easy to generalize from certain dangerous individuals that everyone else is violent. And it is insulting to those in that community who are hard working and honorable individuals. Every single one of us must fight to live dignified and honorable lives. That is no different for black, white, yellow, or brown people. That is honestly "what I think."

      Again your argument reminds me of that of the Black nationalists. I would tell you the same thing I tell them: Stop complaining about your neighbor and put your energies into getting your own house in order. Your brother seems to be doing that in working two jobs to support himself through school (as I myself did in college). Life is hard for everyone, and excuses are easy enough to offer for failure. Get on with it and don't convert resentment into a self-indulgence. It will get you nowhere and attitude is everything.

      I hope that answers your question as to "what I think."

      Very Truly Yours,

      Richard Geib

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