Eric Holder Calls Out the Rampant Subtle Racism in American Culture

Racism is everywhere

It is hardly a surprise that despite the Civil War, 14th Amendment, Civil Rights movement, and the “browning” of America’s population, there is still rampant racism plaguing this nation like metastatic cancer. Many Americans labored under the illusion that the election of the first African American President meant that, except for pockets in the former Confederacy, the Ku Klux Klan, and other white supremacist organizations like the Republican Party, racism was all but dead. However, it did not take long for Americans with a brain to comprehend that if anything, President Obama’s election signaled that racial animus was as prevalent as it ever was despite the lack of public Klan rallies, blatant racial epithets, and lynchings in the South. What has been curious, is that until the last few months few, if any, politicians were willing to expose open racism’s ascendance since President Obama took office. Americans should never delude themselves that racism, and its facilitating companion white supremacy, ever went away; it roiled beneath the surface waiting for the right conditions to rise and affect the greatest damage on the nation.

Liberal pundits and secular humanists have addressed racism’s ascendance since early days of President Obama’s first term. However, it took Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid until April 2013 to say, “It’s been obvious that they’re doing everything they can to make him (President Obama) fail. And I hope, I hope – and I say this seriously – I hope that’s based on substance and not the fact that he’s African-American.” Although Reid’s remarks fell short of accusing Republicans of being the racists he knows they are, he did identify a racial problem Attorney General Eric Holder addressed in an elegant commencement speech at Morgan State University; subtle racism. As far as why Harry Reid took such a long time to imply Republican opposition to the President was racially motivated, it has become a near-cardinal sin to address racism, blatant or subtle, without being accused of being a racist, traitor to the white race, or persecuting white people. However, it is long past time to do as First Lady Michelle Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder said to young Americans; “we must continue to take account of racial inequality, especially in its less obvious forms, and actively discuss ways to combat it.”

In Holder’s commencement speech, he noted that racially-motivated outburst from the likes of Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling were much less of a threat to equality than the more subtle, everyday racism such as what he sees in the criminal justice system. Holder warned of finding contentment because high-profile expressions of outright bigotry seem atypical and were swiftly condemned, but he counseled that “if we focus solely on these incidents, we are likely to miss the more hidden, and more troubling, reality behind the headlines.” Holder is right that racism in the criminal justice system is rampant and is not going to go away as long as there is a profit for the private prison industry and reward for racism in law enforcement policies and the judicial system. It would require a complete sterilization of racism in law enforcement as well as a top-to-bottom transformation of the criminal justice system to break the cycle of racism in the criminal justice system. Sadly, it is never going to happen as long as politicians are terrified of speaking out against blatant racism and for-profit incarceration of African Americans.

Another area the effects of subtle racism are manifest is the administration of the public school systems across America where, although segregation is not codified, it is certainly utilized and heavily promoted. As is true of everything in America, educational opportunities coincide directly with affluence and the resources available for schools in richer, whiter, neighborhoods generally far exceed those allotted to schools in poorer minority neighborhoods.
According to current and year-old research, “race, class, home communities, and schools constitute a matrix of conditions that perpetuate both privilege and disadvantage in America.” Despite overwhelming evidence that students and schools in poorer minority neighborhoods do not share equity with their richer, whiter, counterparts, politicians from President Obama to Education Secretary Arne Duncan are wont to claim that “education is the one true path out of poverty – no matter your race, ethnicity, or zip code.” It is a noble sentiment, but it is also as false as claiming there is no racism in America.

According to two reports in 2012, one from the Brookings Institute and one from the Schott Foundation for Public Education; “across the country, minority children are experiencing educational inequity in their home communities and schools. Another study published by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development concluded that young people may be “doubly disadvantaged” by growing up in poor neighborhoods and in low-income households. Richard Rothstein, a researcher with the Economic Policy Institute explained that “The schools black children attend today, in North and South, East and West, are segregated mostly because their schools are located in poorer segregated neighborhoods.

In school districts across the country, the first schools to face closure or budget cuts are those located in predominately minority neighborhoods. During so-called “education reformer” Michelle Rhee’s tenure as Washington D.C. school chancellor, when it came time to tighten education budgets, schools in poor minority communities were the first to be axed. Her successor picked up where Rhee left off and immediately targeted 15 schools in poor minority neighborhoods because of subtle racism and nothing else whatsoever. Like the solution for combatting racism in the criminal justice system, it will take complete reformation of education funding policy and cleansing of education leaders beholden to privatization advocates, coupled with robust anti-poverty programs including living-wage jobs, before there will be any change.

There are many, many other forms of subtle racism that affect people of color, and they all need to be identified and as Holder said, “actively discuss ways to combat it.” However, it is prudent to take advantage of blatant racism that does make the headlines to shift the conversation from the outrageous to subtle racism while the public is aware racists are alive and thriving. Democrats have known for five years that Republican opposition to President Obama has nothing to do with policy and everything to do with his race, but they have been mortified to address it openly. It is true that calling out racism in any form will engender accusations of being a racist or persecuting the white race, but remaining silent is not an option if this country is ever going to live up to its lofty, but false, designation as a nation of equal rights and opportunities for all its citizens.

No American in their right mind can claim with a straight face this nation is not rampantly racist whether it is manifest in Republican opposition to President Obama, George Zimmerman stalking and murdering Trayvon Martin, education leaders closing poor schools in minority neighborhoods, or law enforcement racially profiling and the criminal justice system disproportionally incarcerating African American males. It is worth noting that since America’s founding racism has been encouraged and tolerated because white supremacy permeated the population, but after a Civil War, the 14th Amendment, the now-dead Voting Rights Act, desegregation and the Civil Rights movement, the time for intolerance for racism in any form is at hand. Anything less is supporting racial bigotry that came back in vogue in January 2009 and it remains popular because those who oppose it are silent.



30 Replies to “Eric Holder Calls Out the Rampant Subtle Racism in American Culture”

  1. Subtle? It’s not subtle. We’re talking out and proud white supremacism here. Due to the character limit, I can’t go into great depth in this comment section, but thankfully the comment section over at The People’s View has no such limits, so please head on over for an accounting of the not-so-subtle white supremacism deliberately being mainsteamed by the Tea Party leadership and Fox “News” and I’m not talking about Tea Party signs, racist chain emails, or talk of lazy black folk and welfare:

    My comments (including a long list of links/choose newest comment from the dropdown menu and you’ll find it in a hurry)

  2. Interesting how many of you see racism under every rock while among the average citizen it does not rank in the top ten, and even among democrats it was a 4 way tie for 5th, along with high cost of healthcare and poor education among others. Link at the bottom.

    Democrats Say Unemployment Is Top Problem, Republicans Say the Economy

    Democrats are most likely to name jobs or unemployment as the country’s most important problem, whereas Republicans’ top response is the economy more generally. Democrats, Republicans, and independents are about equally likely to cite dissatisfaction with government. The federal budget deficit is a much larger concern among Republicans (16%) than among independents (7%) and Democrats (3%).

  3. Well its true the Republicans would never name jobs. They refuse to help with jobs other then dropping taxes on the rich and insisting on top down economys that have never worked. Simple shills for the rich

  4. Interesting they should mention Washington D.C. schools.

    Census Bureau data now show DC spent a total of $29,409 per pupil (obtained by dividing total expenditures in Table 1 by enrollment in Table 15).

    I don’t think money is the problem. Many of these school systems are wasteful corrupt daycare centers that do little teaching. There is plenty of blame to go around, I cannot imagine that being a teacher under these circumstances is all that fun. Communities are a self perpetuating organism. If you look at many of the successful communities and schools you find a tremendous amount of parental involvement, usually both parents, whether it is volunteering in sports, academics, music or after school activities.

  5. Shiva,
    I am registered as an Independent. I vote for as few Democrats as I do Republicans. I by and large find most of them to by disingenuous, they will gladly say whatever they think the voters want to here in order to get elected and stay in office. I guess some prefer one form of hypocrisy over another.

  6. Dj,
    I don’t purport to know any more than the facts. As I explained to you before the DCPS left out $400 million on it’s census form and after the figures were revised this is the number the government census bureau, not my numbers. I fully understand why you would not want to trust a government agency with telling the truth, but my gut instinct tells me that the census bureau has less of an ax to grind, as it is not trying to keep its wasted funding. Please feel free to prove me wrong.

  7. DJ,
    Even of I took the number that you presented, I could only call the Washington D.C. school system what it is, a miserable failure. A 17% proficiency rate for reading by the 8th grade is hardly anything to boast about. This seems to have happened to so many progressively led inner city school systems. It is not as if it hasn’t been studied ad nauseum, but again feel free to correct me and call me names, i rather enjoy the back and forth.

  8. Now it goes from your lies on spending to competency. Keep moving the goal post. You have nothing but Reich wing talking points. Pathetic

  9. That is the subtle part DJ. He is hinting that minority kids aren’t doing as well because of a lack of parental guidance, not drastically under-funded schools. He is perpetuating an old worn-out stereotype.

    I am Caucasian but I am very much aware of the racism in this country. Anyone who says it doesn’t exist, or is not prevalent, is a liar.

  10. Eric Holder is absolutely right, and institutionalized racism is what hurts minority groups to succeed, especially the stigma one carries and preconceived notions of the majority group. Just look at the celebrations of Cinco de Mayo, it really hurt me to see many people getting drunk and wearing sombreros with mustaches in the name of the holiday that is celebrated in Puebla. The ignorance of the segments of msnbc and good morning America really show they don’t care about the history behind the date, but rather to just celebrate. When there is a community of whites that don’t include the viewpoint of the minority groups, then they form their own opinions of what is good for us, this is offensive to me. I understand that many don’t have the intention offending minority groups, but with the media stereotyping ethnic groups, they just believe what they see as the truth. I applaud the residents of the small New Hampshire town that wanted the cop to resign, but there is still a lot of wo…

  11. @bostonbob, I’m assuming you’re a caucasian, RIGHT? well if you are, what actually made you and people like YOU experts on being victims of racism? I’m not going to address your FUX NEWS talking points about the economy, because it’s painfully obvious that your pretty damn dense on that subject too. But as a caucasian republican why do YOU feel this need to tell people of color that racism is some kinda of myth?? you haven’t walked in my shoes!! who are YOU suppose to be? Next you’ll be tell us the american indians were squatters and butchering them was their faults.

  12. One huge aspect of racism is when black folks are called racists for discussing very real instances of how racial bigotry rears its ugly head. That’s a blatant attempt to derail any honest discussion, which is necessary in order to address it. That’s the mindset of people who are unwilling to admit that they are using their white privilege to try dictating to non-white folks–especially black people–how we should feel by discounting experiences other than their own personal ones. I agree totally that the Donald Sterlings and the Robert Copelands can easily be distractions from the insidiousness of institutionalized racism. It’s about more than using the n word because it’s about policies that clearly work to the disadvantage of those who are not white, and especially not wealthy white males. For those of us who recognize racism when we see it, it’s not subtle. It probably is, though, for those whose race insulates them from a lot.

  13. I have to laugh every time you use Reich wing because all I can think of is Robert Reich who I would see occasionally when he worked and I believe lived in Cambridge back in the early 1990’s when I worked up the street from Harvard square.

  14. DJ, I do not believe I am moving the goal posts at all. I am just pointing out two facts that are so often tied to each other and yet have proven time and again not to be heavily correlated. It is much like the spending on pollution mitigation you can achieve excellent results with reasonable spending, but if you are looking for 100% compliance the cost becomes prohibitive and the project or product is no longer viable. Inner city school systems are no longer a viable means of teaching our children, they have become little more than indoctrination/day care centers. My last child has just graduated high school and my wife is a special education teacher so I am quite familiar with what goes on in the school systems. I am not saying there are not good outcomes, It is just that fewer and fewer are being well served by and overly expensive system.

  15. Anne,
    I would never purport to know how someone feels with regard to their racism, but I see many in minority communities to cry racism at any and all failings. While racism may be a component of many of these outcomes, there are other factors that are not being faced because so many of the young are encouraged and allowed to cry racism at so many poor decisions and outcomes. I cry for the reported 73% of the black children born out of wedlock. They, without any consent on their own part, they are immediately stuck with a handicap that makes success so much harder to achieve. I blame much of the white political establishment for doing this. Whether on purpose or out of benign neglect, but a young man would not responsibly impregnate a young women knowing she had no means to support and feed his child.Yet it happens time and again. These are poor choices that are made between two consenting adults that affect lives generationally. It will continue to have bad outcomes, regardless ofrac…

  16. @bob, is talking out of his ASS!! I’m actually a person of color and this utter nonsense this about minorities using racism as a crutch for a possible personal failing is hilarious! @bob, you’re a FOOL and a liar!! I very rarely do I hear black people in my community blaming caucasians for all their problems!! But since your ALL KNOWING- ALL SEEING republican white guy, YOU would know all about how the black community feels!! RIGHT? you’re a sad pathetic JOKE!! I think it would behove YOU to concentrate on WHY the GOP uses ignorant, freighted, white folks to vote against they’re OWN best interests!! work on that one mr. WIZARD. See @bob, this is exactly why your party is made up of 90% caucasians!! keep it up!! shoot for 95%

  17. But the DC school district and other primarily African American school districts deserve more money because it’s much more difficult to teach non-white/Asians/white Hispanic students. Come on.

  18. Knight,
    Try reading for comprehension, I clearly stated that I do not purport to know how someone feels. Certainly not a whole community. I only state what I see as I watch people such as Al Sharpton and Reverend Jackson constantly harp on racism for the blame of many bad outcomes. I stated that “many” in minority communities holler racism whether appropriate or not, again how I see it. I am certainly not Republican although I find it disingenuous that you seem to think you know how everyone in the Republican party “feels”. How would you know what color I or any of my family is since I have not stated it in any of my comments. I think thou doth protest too much.

  19. @bostonbob, I strongly suggest YOU try using reading comprehension, I NEVER said all republicans were racist and if you ever read my previous post here over the last year, I’ve stated it quite often. See @bostonbob, what makes you look foolish is your accusing me of labeling an entire group while YOUR doing the same thing!! Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson don’t necessarily represent black america, their speaking their minds. It’s hilarious how you conveniently only see precieved racism through Sharpton and Jackson, but can’t see it blatantly through ALL of conservative media. why don’t you stick to subjects that you actually have a clue about.

  20. Knight,
    Again failing to read for comprehension. Where did I say you had stated that all republicans were racist and where did I label a whole group. I was giving you my observations. While it may well be true “Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson don’t necessarily represent black America”, many if not most embrace what they have to say in the public forum. You can deny that many in the black community do not cry racism over very real or perceived injustices, and that may well be your perception. I see many people getting tired the racist beat down du jour such as “white privilege.” That is why you continue to see a segment of society as racist when it may be that they just do not care. The constant thumping of the racism drum has caused them turn a deaf ear,again my perception. Thinking they are hearing someone cry wolf again.

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