Racism without racists

Rich Benjamin spent two years traveling through white America and discovered a country filled with kind and endearing white individuals. In his book "Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America," published by Hyperion in October, Benjamin reveals that he also found something else: a legacy of racial segregation and division resulting from habits, policies, and institutions that don't explicitly discriminate. In the following contribution, Benjamin, a senior fellow at Demos, a nonpartisan think tank, describes the nature of structural racism.

GUEST BLOGGER: Rich Benjamin

When those pop-up lists beckon you from your Web browser (America's 25 Best Places to Live!), or those snappy guidebooks flirt with you from the bookstore shelves (Retire in Style: 10 Hotspots), ever notice how white they are?

I know a little about such places. Between 2007 and 2009, I embarked on a 26,909-mile journey through the heart of white America -- some of the fastest-growing and whitest locales in our nation. I call these communities Whitopia (pronounced Why-Toh-pia).

A fascinating conundrum dogs Whitopia.

Day-to-day interaction in some of the whitest parts of America, I discovered, is quite pleasant. The majority of whites in predominantly white communities across our heartland are endearing and kind. Direct interpersonal racism is no longer acceptable.

Still, against this backdrop of improved attitudes and interpersonal interaction among the races, residential segregation is on the upswing.

Whites may not move to a place simply because it teems with other white people. Rather, a place's whiteness implies other desirable traits: comfort, cleanliness, perceived safety, and neighborliness. These seemingly race-neutral qualities are subconsciously inseparable from race and class in many whites' minds. Race is often used as a proxy for those neighborhood traits. And, if a neighborhood has those traits, many whites presume -- without giving it a thought -- that the neighborhood will be majority white.

Despite Obama's historic election, America remains a highly segregated society in which whites, Latinos, and blacks inhabit different neighborhoods and attend different schools of vastly different quality

Through most of the 20th century, racial discrimination was deliberate and intentional. Today, racial segregation and division often result from habits, policies, and institutions that are not explicitly designed to discriminate. Contrary to popular belief, discrimination or segregation do not require animus. They thrive even in the absence of any person's prejudice or ill will.

It's common to have racism without racists.

Interpersonal racism exists between people. Structural racism exists across institutions, public policy, and other important domains (education, the judiciary, real estate, etc.). The former has sharply declined. The latter has not.

Structural racism is baked into our national psyche and behavior. Nationwide, municipal governments enact suburban land-use and zoning policies to promote larger lot development, to sustain private property values, to restrict suburban rental housing, all of which limit the influx of black and Latino households.

On my long journey throughout Whitopia, examples of structural racism surfaced over and over, including how towns and neighborhoods are zoned. How chambers of commerce favor or discourage certain newcomers and businesses. How communities block public transportation from reaching their doorstep. And how political and business establishments resolve social conflict -- often in favor of powerful individuals and business interests.

Public investment over the next decade -- including the 2009 $787 billion economic stimulus package -- must not further racial inequality and segregation the way that Eisenhower's post-war housing policies and highway programs spawned segregated suburbs for decades. Eisenhower was not terribly concerned about the long-term racial impact of his domestic agenda. Obama must avoid that fate: Taxpayers should not again subsidize federal projects that perpetuate segregation and inequity.

Awash in its racial conundrum, America has delightful people who are perfectly comfortable with widening segregation and yawning socioeconomic inequality.

I want America to be a post-racial union. Truly. But we still have massive gaps in public schooling, college access, earnings, savings, homeownership -- all the benchmarks of upward mobility -- which shake out along racial lines.

As America rebuilds its economy and infrastructure -- including neighborhoods, roads, bridges, broadband access -- if now is not the time to take a fresh look at race and opportunity, then when?

This is the moment when finally we need to get it right.

By Steven E. Levingston |  November 5, 2009; 5:30 AM ET Politics , Steven Levingston
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"Structural racism is baked into our national psyche and behavior. Nationwide, municipal governments enact suburban land-use and zoning policies to promote larger lot development, to sustain private property values, to restrict suburban rental housing, all of which limit the influx of black and Latino households."

Isn't that more like 'poor-ism' than racism?

Posted by: mccxxiii | November 5, 2009 10:36 AM

I guess it is just a coincidence that so many of our "diverse" communities happen to be also hellholes of crime and government-enabled poverty?
Prince georges County used to be a "White-opia", so did Anacostia in fact. I guess the folks who moved out must be racist and ignorant.

Posted by: peabody2 | November 5, 2009 12:13 PM

Did the author also do a "control" journey across America into the black culture or latino culture? If not, all we have is one man's opinion, not a scientifc study. Here's another opinion. What I have seen is that white people have given up their tax money and their jobs. A more generous group would be hard to find. But wait. What if the minorities don't want the education, or the white neighborhoods. What if they prefer to drop out, and/or have children while they are unmarried-each child with a different father? What if they prefer their own culture and group together when any opportunity presents. What if all this new integration ideation is coming from politically motivated whites? Its such a quick way to gain power.

Posted by: drzimmern1 | November 5, 2009 12:35 PM

Im sorry I live in a White neighborhood. Can you please direct some non whites to Standish Maine please so I won't be labeled a racist?

Posted by: Krazijoe | November 5, 2009 12:46 PM

"Rather, a place's whiteness implies other desirable traits: comfort, cleanliness, perceived safety, and neighborliness. These seemingly race-neutral qualities are subconsciously inseparable from race and class in many whites' minds."

Ok, I'll point out the elephant in the corner: all one has to do is take a trip through the black part of ANY town to find that this "subconscious inseperation" is 100% justified.

In the words of one of my favorite comedians, Chris Rock: "There's a Martin Luther King Blvd in every city in America- and it's *always* a good place to get your a$$ kicked!"

Posted by: thermowax | November 5, 2009 12:51 PM

"Interpersonal racism exists between people. Structural racism exists across institutions, public policy, and other important domains (education, the judiciary, real estate, etc.). The former has sharply declined. The latter has not."

Millions of hyphenated American would disagree with the author assertion. Millions of hyphenated Americans experience interpersonal racism daily in America contrary to the author's assertion that it has sharply declined.

Posted by: Mickey2 | November 5, 2009 12:51 PM

Contrary to the author's fixation on only one corollary of racial separation in this nation, the issue of segregation is not a single factor causal equation. Race, the factor that always SHOUTS it's name, is not alone in the multitude of factors which influence people's choices. How about considering the issues that people actually report as being primary regarding their choices. Such factors would include the level and type of crime, the level of education attainment, the level of financial attainment, and the many other non-racial factors.

Oh, but I suppose that the attention seeking thrill of shouting 'RACISM' would be too sorely mourned by those who cling to that particular justification for personal inaction!

Posted by: jamesls | November 5, 2009 12:52 PM

And already, 2 of the first 3 comments are bitterly racist. Or more than that, completely missing the point of this article - Mr. Levingston is arguing that these problems are more institutional than anything else. And I think that drzimmern has at least hinted at the significance of culture in poor minority communities, which is a powerful force, although to suggest that it's because anyone might "prefer" to be poor and uneducated is moronic, and a sentiment I've only heard from older whites (my own family included) who grew up before the civil rights movement. I believe these divisions will fade over time as drzimmern's kind (raised on the cold war and nixonian paranoia) die out.

Posted by: brian_gtr | November 5, 2009 12:55 PM

What a crock.

Posted by: jhr1 | November 5, 2009 12:57 PM

I meant to say "Mr. Benjamin." Also, am I the only white guy here who's not elderly and filled with rage?

Posted by: brian_gtr | November 5, 2009 12:57 PM

There are a few examples in the U.S. of where careful community planning has achieved a level of social and racial integration. I live in Columbia, MD, which is a planned community that was envisioned and developed by the very influential urban developer James Rouse. His emphasis in Columbia was to create a socially, racially and economically diverse community. While I feel that much of his vision for Columbia has been lost over the decades, I can say that my neighbors are African American, Asian American, Latino and white. Because of the variety of housing available (rental apartments, condos, townhomes and single family homes) at a huge range of prices, we have people from all places of the economic spectrum living in Columbia. We have public transportation available to take you to the employment centers (Columbia is half way between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and Columbia itself is the third largest employment center in the state). If similar thought was given to communities across this nation, we could see a dramatic difference in our nation as a whole. Let's try to leave behind stereotypes and hatred and start by getting to know people as individuals, not as races.

Posted by: amybk12 | November 5, 2009 1:23 PM

These posters do not even realize they are part of the structural racism problem, where they find it acceptable to be racist in their attitudes and they believe they are OK with the choices they make, that hurt others.

The structural racism American's inflict on others do not see themselves as the rest of us see them, as racists.

I grew up in segragation and I find most White American's prefers segregation over diversity. These posters show that attitude in their posts.

The structural attitude of accepting racist attidues as hip and OK is why America tortures and has no feelings equal for all American's but make excuses for how White America treats the rest of America. Unequal and less than White American's.


Posted by: patmatthews | November 5, 2009 1:30 PM

rich has confused racial and ethnic discrimination with socio economic discrimination. like his graduate school of stanford, the discrimination is baseon economics not color. when atlantas last several (black) mayor have called for tighter zoning it is not to create whitopia it is to protect the middle class. as my wifes cousin, a small town black female mayor in the south, says she is still accused of acting white by pushing for good schools, teenage curfews, zoning, etc. likewise her children and mine were taunted for being white-as were the obamas-by the children of the lower class, too many of them black. rich is far too simplistic in his analysis.

Posted by: george32 | November 5, 2009 1:34 PM

Sigh. I'm with you, Brian. Except that I'm a white chick, not a white guy, but still not elderly or filled with rage.

First of all, I'm not even sure the author is claiming he did a "scientific" study, but the control-group-based research method is not the only valid method of inquiry. Ever heard of qualitative research?

Anyway. Race and socioeconomic status are still linked, and that's a problem. Not because "they" don't want education or a better life, but because systems resist change.

Take two equally moderately intelligent youths: one who's lazy and rich, and one who's motivated and poor. Odds are, that rich kid goes to a decent school that hates to fail people, so he graduates and goes to a college of some kind, slides on through, and gets a decent-paying desk job somewhere. Odds are, that poor kid goes straight from high school to some job that's hard work but pays poorly, because he doesn't have a college degree. Eventually the rich kid inherits his parents' money and the cycle starts over. The poor kid inherits nothing except maybe more family to support, and the cycle starts over. Rinse and repeat.

Add to this cycle the environmental factors of culture, expectations, parental education, peer pressure, and the power of money, and it's no wonder it's so hard to change ALL OF SOCIETY.

Of course, that doesn't mean we should stop trying.

Posted by: a1231 | November 5, 2009 1:35 PM

We're assuming this article was commissioned by Eric Holder. The only thing missing was an exhortation to legalize crack cocaine. Pitiful.

Posted by: chatard | November 5, 2009 1:40 PM

I fail to see how two of the first three commenters were "racist." They were simply telling the truth. If the truth is racist, well, what can you do?

As a person of pallor, I think it would be interesting to spend a couple of years traveling tens of thousands of miles through predominately or exclusively black communities and reporting on what I found. But I can't express any optimism that I'd actually come out alive.

Posted by: twasneva | November 5, 2009 1:50 PM

Structural racism is baked into our national psyche and behavior. Nationwide, municipal governments enact suburban land-use and zoning policies to promote larger lot development, to sustain private property values, to restrict suburban rental housing, all of which limit the influx of black and Latino households.

This is such BULL CRAP...

Why should a community be zoned to include a bunch of apartment complexes next to Single Family Homes? People who can "AFFORD" a Single Family Home don't want their property next door to a 50 Unit Apartment Complex.

This isn't about Race, its about Affluence Mr. Levingston. I know MANY African Americans, Latinos, etc who are affluent and live in such communities. They also don't want their property next to Apartment complexes.

Don't confuse Affluence with Race, you'll be overlooking the real issue.

Posted by: AlbyVA | November 5, 2009 2:20 PM

Or better yet, the new race in America is the Color of Money, not skin.

Those with Money wish to be segregated from those without Money. And you know what I say? Call me a Segregationist then....

Posted by: AlbyVA | November 5, 2009 2:23 PM

The comments about the issue being class and money rather than race, while true, are somewhat irrelevent to the liberals, since they will (and do) argue that by wishing to disassociate yourself from those in lower economic and social strata is itself a form of racism. Everything less than a full-bellied chorus of "celebrate diversity" is, to them, racism.

I would love nothing more than for Section 8 housing to be built in Georgtown and Potomac and Great Falls. I suspect we'd see some interesting - though not remotely surprising - reactions from the bleeding hearts who live in such tony locales.

Posted by: twasneva | November 5, 2009 2:35 PM

What an idiotic drivel. Go travel to West Virginia or the Appalachian where generations of poorest whites live. Let's see if you want to move there because it is lilly white.

Racism is losing is power as the universal political tool of the Left. And they spare no effort to come up with most idiotic attempts to keep it potent and operational.

Posted by: pihto999 | November 5, 2009 2:51 PM

Rather, a place's whiteness implies other desirable traits: comfort, cleanliness, perceived safety, and neighborliness. These seemingly race-neutral qualities are subconsciously inseparable from race and class in many whites' minds."

LOL, As Uber-racist Joe Biden put it about Obama:
"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," Biden said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man"

What a surprise it was for him to find clean and articulate African-American! Never forget who real racists are, people. They are on the Left. Can I move to a black neighborhood where Ophra or Michael Jordan or Morgan Freeman or Denzel Washington live? I would like nothing else than having them as my neighbors, seriously. Well, maybe not Ophra.

Posted by: pihto999 | November 5, 2009 2:59 PM

>> Racism is losing is power as the universal political tool of the Left. And they spare no effort to come up with most idiotic attempts to keep it potent and operational.

Absolutely correct. Racism is a multi-billion dollar annual enterprise in America. A lot of people make a lot of money finding racism, writing about it, wringing their hands about it and warning others about it. Nobody wants to lose their gravy train, hence you come up with idiocies like Mr. Benjamin's to keep the train a-rollin'.

Posted by: twasneva | November 5, 2009 3:02 PM

What is evident in many of the responses to this article is that the respondents are themselves the product of structural violence and yet do not recognize it as such. The term comes from the institutional long-term effects of policies that enforce a racialized view of the world. In South Africa this lead to the White, Black and Colored labels, in the US thanks in large part to property value equations that automatically devalued property owned by African Americans it was impossible for people of color to build equity in their homes in the way that white people could. The effects of this are seen in the post WWII era where large scale home building was altered to create alternate homes and neighborhoods for Black GIs and their families so that their presence wouldn't lower property values. Keep in mind that those folks kept their homes as spotless and cared for as their white counterparts. Today we see the evident belief that blacks devalue the worth of property seen as "truth" according to some posters. Of course if you'd care to drive through some of the "Black" neighborhoods that I know of, you'd find lawyers, doctors,retired diplomats, businesspeople of all stripes who value education and keep their lawns mowed and litter free. But I gather from the earlier comments that many of the respondents would fear driving through these neighborhoods for fear of being murdered. The people I know are successful in spite of the hurdles placed before them by a society whose systems were clearly and in some cases still are set against them. Reports from the Justice Department, HHS and HUD within the past 5 years have shown that institutionalized racism still exists and yet some of my fellow posters would like to tell you it's the black people's fault. Even with all the evidence weighted to the contrary they aren't letting go of a racist belief that is clearly false.

Posted by: pippsk | November 5, 2009 3:25 PM

The major problem is not the color, but the socioeconomic class. Some socioeconomic classes often bring with them social issues that are unacceptable to other classes. This isn't about high income whites, blacks, latinos working together, or middle class, or low class. It's about mixing people who have often very different approaches to life. The left cannot understand that people often self segregate, sometimes by color, sometimes by ethnicity, by religion, and often by income. The result isn't racist, but rather finding a comfort zone with people you identify with. Is this the "new racism"? Is big brother now going to analyze zip codes for their integration? Coercing people out of their comfort zone in the name of a vague "structural racism" is a terrible thing to propose and quite authoritarian/totalitarian.
Remember what "gentrification" of a community brings....it's a code word for white people moving into a low rent district, raising the home values and taxes, then displacing people who can't afford the new taxes/rents. Works both ways.

Posted by: silvergoat1 | November 5, 2009 3:31 PM

This the second writer I've recently heard of who wants white people to feel guilty about living quiet lives in small towns where people try and be kind to each other. That's so pathetic. The people being criticized are often veterans--and their relatives are--they are rarely wealthy by metro standards, they go to church, they help their neighbors and their relatives.

And jealous racists would even take that from them. Well, screw you.

Posted by: mclovin | November 5, 2009 3:40 PM

You liberals don't get it.. America is developing into a "Class" based society, not a race based society. America is becoming so diverse, that trying to claim racism is a stretch. Its more of a Socioeconomic issue. You can go to any "clean and wealthy" neighborhood and find many non-white people. And you don't see neighbors protesting property value issues or burning crosses on their yards. Why? Because if they have the money to live there, they also have the social values that make such a neighborhood "clean and wealthy".

Now if you go and build a 50/Unit Apartment in that neighborhood, you'll see everybody and their mother protesting, included all the non-white people.

The Author of this article is a fool. Its about Class, not Race.

Posted by: AlbyVA | November 5, 2009 3:48 PM

The writer adds to the de-legitimization of Anglo culture. Today, anything that smacks of Anglo values is derided as racist--when the problems of poverty, single-mother families, and joblessness are often as prominent as they are in similar black or latino neighborhoods.

The writer's thesis is that there is No Place in America for Anglo Culture, even in well-established communities. That's racism all right, what some old-school types call "reverse racism," but is really just racism against white people.

The writer is an idiot.

Posted by: mclovin | November 5, 2009 3:56 PM

You know, at a time when the president and the attorney general are black, this "white guilt" thing is wearing a little thin.

First and foremost, you are the master of your own destiny. If you want to live in a community that has "comfort, cleanliness, perceived safety, and neighborliness", then make a few bucks and move in next to me - I don't care what color your skin is as long as you mow the lawn.

Second, if you can't make a few bucks, don't blame me. I don't feel bad about your poor choices and lack of achievement. I grew up poor and did just fine. You can too. Your lack of achievement doesn't make me racist, it makes you incompetent. People like the author who keep implying that being black means being poor or stupid are a part of the problem. Plenty of black folks do just fine; one happens to be president.

Third, don't say you want "an honest conversation about race" and then call everybody you disagree with a racist.

Fourth, don't ask me for any more money. I'm tired of paying and money isn't going to solve your problems anyway.

Here's a few hints for a sucessful life: don't drop out of high school; don't have a baby if you can't support a baby; don't develop a substance abuse problem and if you do, get help and don't blame your problem on somebody else.

Finally, if you don't like your life, change it - don't read this "stuff" and whine about it. If you do like your life, congratulate yourself and don't let anybody (like the author) make you feel bad about it.

Posted by: robertjonezz | November 5, 2009 4:00 PM

A very good article. Folks may pick it apart and respond in bits and pieces but on the whole it's true, in my opinion. Overt racism is on the decline but covert racism is still there and will always be there, I'm afraid.

Thanks to the author for calling a spade a spade. Yes, I know Columbia, Howard County, Maryland. A good place to live in.

Posted by: myatthwin62 | November 5, 2009 4:00 PM

It bothers me that there is total confusion between race and class. The nation is for the most part, segregated by class. People that spend very large amounts of money on their homes do not want to live next to public housing projects or low-rent rental apartments. That is true of upper-middle class blacks, whites, latinos, etc. Is that racism? Of course not.

That is a totally different issue from states or large parts of states which have very low minority percentages, such ID, ME and western MD. But those areas mostly did not have the relatively well-paying manufacturing boom that drew large numbers of blacks to the area during WWII. East coast cities and the cities of the upper midwest did have that boom and so there was a large influx of people of all races (including blacks) to those areas.

Posted by: cyberfool | November 5, 2009 4:01 PM

ho-hum. is this is what is called racism these days then guilty as charged.

i admit it, i am "racist"

Posted by: dummypants | November 5, 2009 4:23 PM

the offensiveness this to me as a white person aside, i do feel kind of sorry that this is the sort of thinking that the black community, and their black and white liberal "saviors", turn to as a solution.

very very sad. but offensive first and foremost

Posted by: dummypants | November 5, 2009 4:29 PM

I see Mr. Benjamin finds day-to-day life in 'Whiteopia' pleasant, the people friendly, endearing and kind. Why, oh why, when I visit "Darkytown" or "Beanerville" I do not normally have a similar experience? My job carries this middle-aged whiteboy into those areas (eg: Anacostia or almost any NoVa community along Rt.1) and I am frequently met with hostile stares, unpleasant-sounding phrases in a foreign, gutteral tongue and the distinct impression that I am not welcomed. What is it about 'Whiteopia' that makes the denizens there, as a rule, friendly and pleasant and the citizens of the other areas not so friendly and pleasant? Why am I called 'racist' because I would prefer to go and live to a neighborhood that is pleasant?

Would not society better be served if Mr. Benjamin and other social observers ask why a neighborhood becomes a slum once the White people move out? White people are blamed for an area becoming blighted (because they moved out and took their paychecks with them) but I do not accept this accusation. A neighborhood is not required to become a slum just because the whites move out, but it does. Why do those remaining allow the neighborhood to becomes a drug and crime infested blight? Lets be honest, black people do not want to live in a blighted neighborhood and those that can take their paychecks and get the hell out as fast as they are able.

Stop blaming the victim. Stop making excuses for improper behavior and lifestyles that create a blighted neighborhood. If 'Whiteopia' is a nice place to live, why can't predominately black and hispanic neighborhoods be as well?

Mr. benjamin is correct. There is racism practiced every day. And it is often against white people who find themselves in the "wrong" neighborhoods.

Posted by: Lee451H | November 5, 2009 4:37 PM

Is this some sort of sick joke?

Posted by: yokosuka1985 | November 5, 2009 5:01 PM

Boy, oh, boy. Reading these posts suggests to me that there is no better way to bring out racist commentary than to imply that racims exists in America. You'd think the opposite would be true, no?

Posted by: chert | November 5, 2009 5:04 PM

Indeed Chert, it's sad that people can't manage to disagree with Mr. Benjamin's thesis (which is fine) without disparaging non-white communities or simply blaming liberals for racism. Makes it hard to have an intelligent discussion of the issue.

In an attempt to get back on track, to those who claim that America is divided by class but not race, do you at least buy that minorities in America have historically faced structural disadvantages in their ability to improve their economic situation?

Posted by: AgentSunshine | November 5, 2009 5:22 PM

If it’s about class and not race then why don't more white people move to one of those upwardly-mobile black suburbs in Charles County? Why do poor white people vandalize and burn such upwardly-mobile black suburbs? Surely they can't argue that the value of their trailer parks will be diminished if upper-middle class blacks move in? No doubt, people overplay the race card, but to act as if racism in America is extinct is equally obnoxious.

Posted by: DCTofSE | November 5, 2009 5:44 PM

>> In an attempt to get back on track, to those who claim that America is divided by class but not race, do you at least buy that minorities in America have historically faced structural disadvantages in their ability to improve their economic situation?

Sure they have, in the distant past. I am 40 years old. My entire life has been spent in the post Civil Rights area. My early education stressed, mightily, how wrong "predjudice" (remember when that was the buzzword?) was. I remember forced busing, affirmative action, celebrating diversity and every other program and slogan this country has put forth as official policy my entire life. When people talk about America's history, they'd do well to remember the history of the past 50 years and ask whether maybe - just maybe - that's at least as relevant than the history of the previous 175 years.

Posted by: twasneva | November 5, 2009 6:03 PM

Racism is extremely expensive to all of us. I read a book called "oops people of color live there" and in this book you can clearly see how this Black family was discriminated against in the sale of their home. This discriminated caused all the houses in their neighborhood to be worth less. Most of the comparable homes decreased by $100,000 and racism contributed to the decrease. Oops, People of Color Live There opened my eyes to the fact that too many Americans are racists. They are absolutely against everything America is suppossed to be, "a blend of ethnic groups with equal opportunity for all, not just for Whites.

Posted by: Moley2 | November 5, 2009 6:20 PM


This is fair, and I don't think anyone would deny that we've continued to make progress on race relations in the post-civil rights era. In fact, the whole premise of the discussion at hand seems to be that (to a large degree) individuals no longer exhibit racism. This would seem to validate exactly what you are talking about, that we've learned in school that it's wrong to be "prejudiced."

But the problem is that you can't teach away institutionalized/systematic racism, at least not directly. I haven't read the Benjamin book, and so I can't comment on his conclusions, but I think at a minimum it's important to continue to evaluate where we are and make sure that things keep moving in the right direction.

People who complain that the civil rights era happened so we don't need to think about racism anymore sound to my ears like people who think we should have stuck with UNIVAC. Progress is a process.

Posted by: AgentSunshine | November 5, 2009 7:27 PM

As a white person who grew up on an integrated block where we were all poor and has frequently lived in mixed neighborhoods, I agree that most of the posts here are racist. These people (not unlike Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buccanan, etc.) make racial comments and then they and their friends say they are not racists. Of course they are. But they define a person as being a racis only if he promots lynching and everything else is OK. To me racism is claiming one group is a superior race -- whether it is done by a Hitler with all of his power or my neighbor with none. It is not just what you do but how you think.

And isn't it interesting how quickly the principles of those on the right do a 180 degree turn. When the issue is trying to some good with health care, it is "I don't want any government involvement -- let each person do his or her own thing, etc." When it is gun control, it is "a man's home is is castle. He can protect it any way he wishes." But when it is another's property, it is "let us set up zoning laws to control how another uses his property to defend my assumptions of what something does to MY property values." I will propose that zoning laws should be found unconstitutional because they infringe on one's rights. Where are the "freedom lobby" people on this.

Indeed, many zoning laws are a way for the bigot to have his way while seeming to be open minded. If you don't believe me and are white, try this. Get in a conversation with other white people who know nothing about your views. Don't react to anything they say. Frequently, they will take this as agreement. Many will then show their true feelings which are nothing but racist.

To not notice there is racism in the U.S. is like being surprised there is gambling at Rick's

Posted by: TomfromNJ1 | November 5, 2009 7:51 PM

Poor people have access to poorer schools, health care, and housing. Crime stems largely from poverty; most indicators show it is actually decreasing as a general rule in any case.

Were African Americans not poor, the structural discrimination identified by the author would not exist. Jim Crow is dead. Minority persons can become Presidents and Supreme Court justices. Correcting this problem simply requires increased taxes on those of us with more money.

Posted by: Martial | November 5, 2009 9:23 PM

Down here at my other house in a one stoplight town called Floral City, Florida, we live in what the author of this hack article would call 'Whiteopia'. We open the doors for our females, we greet each other politely, we help our neighbors without thought of ripping them off. There are few drug dealers, and burglars and thieves are shot on sight. And you never heard of this little town, There are hundreds just like us. We are flyover country. And we are armed-most of us. Some of us quite heavily. And this is a beautiful place to live! Quite unlike your lefty ;multi-cultural' and 'diverse' paradises called Detroit and Chicago. And we like it this way. Yet all are welcome here if you can live like a civilized person. Please come to visit- you would like it enough to buy property here. We would love to have you. But leave the city behind.

Posted by: Dionysis | November 5, 2009 9:35 PM

Sorry, Dionysis, a place where people are "heavily armed" is hardly a "beautiful place to live." There is probably a reason it is "flyover country." Although I am not from there, there is a reason 8,000,000 people (many of whom could afford to live anywhere) choose to live in New York City with all of its diversity and culture(and gun control -- NYC does not even make the list of the top 100 cities by murder rate). My idea of a good life is not spending it polishing guns and living in fear of anyone different.

Posted by: TomfromNJ1 | November 5, 2009 11:06 PM

TomfromNJ1 -- You'd do well to remember that most rich, city people don't venture outside their wealthy enclaves--and usually those areas are heavily patrolled by heavily armed police. They associate with no one outside their exclusive circles.

Beverly Hills, Upper East Side, Potomac, Georgetown, the list goes on...

Posted by: mclovin | November 6, 2009 7:48 PM

I found TomfromNJ1's statement that New York City wasn't in the top 100 cities by murder rate somewhat hard to believe, so I looked it up. Sure enough, he's quite right.


But let's have a glance at some of the cities that do make the list. The top five, in order are:

1) Compton, Calif.
2) Gary, Ind.
3) Birmingham, Ala.
4) Youngstown, Ohio
5) Richmond, Va.

Also included in the top 100 are Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Newark, N.J., Milwaukee, Atlanta and so forth. Take a look at the top 100 and try to ascertain how many of the locales lack diversity, and by this I do not mean an absence of people of color. If people of any color choose not to live in these hellholes, is it really racism?

Posted by: twasneva | November 7, 2009 12:40 PM

It amazes me that the blatant hypocrisy of other racial/ethnic groups is so easily elided while whites are held up to ridicule and abasement for doing the same thing...i.e., living in a homogeneous community.

LA has a Chinatown as does San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia and other cities. Does anyone rail against them for living in a community that shares their melanin and culture? No! There is also a Koreatown in LA; the same dichotomy exists.

Further, there are "traditional Black colleges" that are celebrated while "traditional White colleges" are in immediate need of desegregation. There is an NAACP that is praised while an NAAWP is defiled as "racist". There is a Congressional Black Delegation with no problem, but, a White Congressional Delegation is evil! Bull!

Finally, only white people are described as simply "Americans" while people of color are described as "African-Americans", "Mexican-Americans", et al. It seems that, given the order of the nomenclature, they see their ancestry as more imnportant than their current country.

As a White person...excuse me: a Euro-American...I object to the blatant hypocrisy of groups who cluster together in racial or ethnic communities and who are praised while Whites who choose to live in communities alongside others who share their values are demonized.

That is pure B.S. and most likely why Whites are the only racial/ethnic group that can be denigrated with impugnity. It is unacceptable and only deepens the divisions between groups.

Posted by: AnaHadWolves1 | November 11, 2009 5:23 AM

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