What is racism?

Racism3Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, New Hampshire, commented that with the sad recent deaths of unarmed blacks in Ferguson, Chicago and Staten Island at the hands of police, the word “racism” has been tossed around like a salad bar. Every talk show rumbled on about it with little attempt to define it.  Odd since racism is such an important and emotionally loaded word.

Racism appears difficult to exactly define, since every source consulted reveals various differences and nuances.  A feature that seems common to most ‘official’ definitions invokes discrimination or prejudice, often based on stereotyping, aimed at a race or other identifiable group, and usually with a motive to gain power or control over the group.  While untidy, this definition seems one with which most people would generally agree.  The problem for me is in the application.  The Rev. Al Sharpton has no such problem, apparently, since he sprinkles every public pronouncement very liberally with the word.  He sees racism virtually everywhere he looks.  And his confidante, Barack Obama, seems to share his beliefs, though is somewhat more inhibited with his public judgments.

So, what about the three aforementioned incidents and racism?  Our president and the reverend have both proclaimed all to be examples of discrimination intentionally wrought by white cops on black citizens.  But what is the discrimination?  Are the white cops really making assumptions about blacks in general, and then predisposed to shooting or choking them to death?  I don’t know the answer to this question, but would suggest that neither does Obama or his friend Al.

Could the three incidents cited above be explained not by racism, a desire to dominate a sector of the population, but rather be explained by facts?  Much more crime of all types is committed by blacks per capita in the US than by any other race.  By far, more violent crime is fomented by blacks on blacks than by whites on blacks (which is actually exceedingly rare).  There is no doubt that black neighborhoods tend to be much more violent than equally impoverished white neighborhoods (but can poverty really be an excuse for violence?)  Given all this, are cops not to be more careful in patrolling a black neighborRacism4hood?  They would be idiots if they weren’t.  So could it be that most cops, white or black, invoke assumptions (dare I say prejudice?) about crime and likelihood of crime, in neighborhoods they enter?  Throw into this scenario the fact that more blacks are raised in fatherless families, cannot benefit from such a relationship, and is it any wonder why black youths may have less respect for law enforcement or other authority figures?

The more our nation mulls over the recent highly unfortunate events, the more it will conclude that these events were not so much, or at all, racially motivated but motivated by grim realities…realities that black America needs to formally recognize, and remedy.