Monday, December 12, 2005

Two countries: the racial divide

Ampersand has an excellent and disturbing post up at Alas a blog cataloging the remarkable ongoing discrimination practiced against black people going about their ordinary business: they may find themselves stopped or arrested just for being black people doing what white people do everyday (the stories described and linked are pretty comprehensive). Amp concludes that white and black folks in this country are living under entirely different conditions:
As a white person, I live in the USA, land of the free and home of the slogan. But a lot of blacks in effect live in a totalitarian state "behind the iron curtain" in a cold war movie - you know, the sort of movie where police constantly stop ordinary citizens and demand to see their papers.
Too true. I am reminded of a profiling case brought against the state police in the St. Louis area when I lived there -- it has a cross-bridge commuter class not unlike Philly, and from a town not unlike Camden. One lawyer testified that he was a black guy driving a nice car (something German, I think) and would get pulled over every day by the police to check his registration. A reminder that the privilege of the majority is often the privilege not to be aware of your protective bubble.

Every day. Imagine how you'd start to feel about your government and your stake in the nation.


DelorumRex said...

it is as much a poor and rich thing. Prifiling has gotten beyond race in may areas.

I live in a lower middle class neighborhood, I have long hair adn often am scruffy (and I am white).

I own a very expencive european sports car, when I drive in my neighborhood, I get pulled over. Papers are checked, gloveboxes are searched.

We need to start looking past race and at class, where wars have always been waged, and will alwys be waged as long as the rich are in power.

Bullshit! You call.

No my friend, I go to Europe and there it is not a black white divide, but becomes mre a class divide, as Arminians are harrassed in the streets of London. Russians made to show papers in Paris, and poor middle-easterners are asked a thousand questions by the police in Brussels.

ACM said...

it's no novelty insight that discrimination runs along different lines in Europe (which has a long history of class conflict) than in the US (which feeds on a myth of equal opportunity). we have very different histories, and despite the presence of racism in Europe (anti-immigrant, mainly), it has nowhere near the depth of roots or breadth of pervasiveness that it has here. that said, part of the American race problem is definitely the overlap of racial and economic divisions, so that the fears and predjudices that they elicit become superimposed (leaving the poor inner-city black man almost unredeemable in the public eye)...