We’re told that a national debate about race relations is underway. We’re told this because, as consumers of information, reality is curated for us.
The BLM narrative is essentially that white people harbor biases they aren’t even aware of, that (among other things) this effects police decision-making under life or death circumstances (should’ve dropped the TV), and that these subconscious prejudices are confirmed by scientific studies conducted in the nation’s leading universities.
But if whites aren’t aware of their feelings, it’s because they’ve been told not to be.
For example, an article in the WaPo on Harvard’s study of the subject insists that
It is very important to note that implicit racial bias is not the same thing as conscious racism. People who harbor implicit biases may not think of themselves as prejudiced, and in fact, might consider prejudice to be abhorrent. They also may not know they even have these biases.
In other words, though in practical effect it is harmful to harbor racist thoughts (this is unfalsifiable, but alright….), there’s no moral culpability unless you’re honest about it, and not ashamed. Or unless we redefine culpability, over and over, expecting the same result each time. So although left-liberal self-flagellation treats the symptom (guilt), the underlying malady (racism) can never be pursued to the end of the worm hole, and the floggings will continue until morale improves.
The conservative counter-narrative is that this is all contrived, that black Americans, who are merely being judged by the content of their character, have been co-opted to a politicized grievance racket inflated with exquisite nonsense like Harvard studies and selective news coverage of officer-involved fatalities. Though this analysis writes the entire black experience off peremptorily, it’s obvious that a certain investment is indeed being made in black American opinion: if you think the media is concentrated in too few hands, you might be interested to know who funds the NGOs.
But venture far enough outside the mainstream, and you’ll find a darker counter-narrative that goes more like: by every measurable parameter blacks are predisposed to crimes of violence and refuse to be held accountable. Of course, holding someone accountable for behavior they’re predisposed to is a thorny proposition (they’re working on that at Harvard), but ironically, this analysis tends to agree with the speaking fee hustla-balla theorists of black grievance, with the critical distinction that the latter blame whitey for the predisposition. Thus, and in conclusion, no one in America is willing to be held accountable for anything.
Well, that’s fair enough, so long as you aren’t trying to dictate how others ought to feel, e.g., that blacks should stop perceiving whites as persecutors or that whites should cease their wariness of blacks. But there can be no Americanism or Americanness as we know it without this race relations dialectic, according to which the souls of black folk depend entirely on white perception to prevent them from vanishing. The consolidation of a more perfect union just refines this cognitive domestication of blacks, and we go from the 1968 Olympics to #OscarsSoWhite. This inseparability of enfranchisement from infantilization is so terrifyingly awkward (click the link, you’re gonna love it; it’s not a parody, either) that we prefer Harvard studies arraign every man, woman and child in this country on charges of subconscious malice. I mean, the SCLC was demanding in 1956 that white people cease mistreating blacks. BLM is demanding in 2016 that white people commence some scarcely-specified work of absolution (of a half-dozen demands, the only one that’s tangible is money) on behalf of black people, otherwise, “No perfect union for you!” This is the precipice of post-Americanism, not because blacks will check out of a system that neglects them (clearly they don’t have that option today, though they did in 1968), but because whites will check out of a system that fawns over non-whites (and poofters) for lack of any more compelling claim to moral authority.
But there’s a remedy for that: as the white patrolman says, when you can’t get respect, you settle for fear (“community relations”). So what is really being implied by implicit bias theory is that (a) what goes on inside my caucasoid noggin is a matter of national import, that (b) by the mere fact of my existence, I am contributing to grievous injuries (microinjuries?) inflicted on untold innocent blacks, and (c) that all this is grounds for intervention (reeducation, in particular) with me as one of its objects. It’s enough to make a whiteboy start taking a knee for the anthem. They couldn’t have just let the Panthers have East Oakland? At least those guys weren’t demanding to come to dinner.
The whole gag’s ridiculously Kafkaesque, Orwellian, yet the provincial rube in this country takes the bait every time. Love it or leave it? Tell it to Fred Hampton. You can check in, but you can never leave. Why is a professional football player obliged to respect national symbols? Is he a fucking four-star general?
The fact is, blacks are perfectly right to understand themselves as the Other in American civilization, in so many social settings not individuals but mere objects of pity, fear, virtue signaling and begrudging inclusion; that they are compelled on a regular basis to account for themselves as representatives of the group and repositories of outside preconceptions, and that in essence this state of affairs has persisted unchanged since emancipation.
That being acknowledged, does it really suffice to explain the gamut of racial disparity? Employment rates, test scores, credit ratings, dick size, incarceration ratios? Be honest. Will public discourse ever again entertain the suggestion of nigger culpability, in any way and to any extent? Of course not. So the Implicit Association Test wasn’t conceived in a vacuum. It’s impetus is a set of assumptions (and this is supposed to be science) about inequality’s culprits. It can’t show causation because it doesn’t need to, its designers already think they know. God knows alternate hypotheses purporting to explain racial disparity exist, they’re just disconcertingly uncompassionate, and cannot be broached at Harvard.
Tim Wise—the Dr. Phil of anti-racism—put it this way in his latest status update:
American history is basically this:
White people, getting it mostly wrong, for 240 years…and counting.
Do better. Be better. Achieve the country you claim to love, rather than loving the country you don’t even understand…
Sorry, pal—collective guilt’s a two-way street. But if that’s your game then I, for one, am a fair measure younger than 240 years, and I don’t claim to love the country because I do not love it. I don’t hate it, either, I have no feelings for it one way or another. Why would I? I have a family. I have a dog I care about more than the abstraction called the United States of America with all its whites, blacks and in betweens who’d resent stepping over me if I lay gasping in front of them on the sidewalk. As a cultural designation? Fine. But as an object of allegiance or a franchise I’m invested in voluntarily? The only people who stand to gain from raising that hackneyed specter are grifters: “Do better, be better,” let’s you and him fight. Sorry brothaman, I ain’t got time and I ain’t got bus fare. You say people shun and suspect you for no good reason, but that don’t pass Occam, and neither the chicken nor the egg are relevant to my family’s wellbeing.
So aside from certain differences of interpretation, I don’t deny the basic substance of the black point of view. Who am I to tell others what they see and experience? What I’m saying instead is that I don’t care. That your feelings mean shit to me and if you think I’m a party to them you’re literally hallucinating. That having spent twenty-eight of my thirty-two born years in America, well over 50% of my experience with American blacks is of ineptitude, extreme impressionability, violently indiscriminate hostility, emotional volatility and presumptuous entitlement. That it doesn’t matter why, because it’s not my problem and, if I can help it, it never will be. That before a pack of animals can drag me out of my car, they’re gonna be grease in my windshield wipers. And that if you think you see me in the crosshairs of your next jacking or curb stomping, I can guarantee you’ve just seen as sure a sign as ever you may that you’re about to meet your maker.
But good luck being heard. You’ve certainly got all the influential publicists on your side.