I found a song about inequality which expresses different view points on racism and prejudice. It is the point of view from a stereotypical redneck and stereotypical young black thug. This song talks about racism from both sides and the how the myths people are fed lead to a continued cycle of racism, hate, and inequality. The song is called “I’m Not A Racist”, it is sung by Joyner Lucas and written by Gary Lucas. The title “I Am Not A Racist” may throw you off but it is talking about the prejudice attitudes and racist behavior that white people still have because of their pre-conceived notions about blacks. Many white people think they are not racist because they have black friends yet still judge black people and consider them the cause of their own problems which is just one of the misconceptions this song approaches. The others are that black men today should not be as mad about slavery because they have never been slaves, all black men and women do is collect welfare and party, and the all too common myth that black men would rather sell drugs then get a job. Now here is the flip side view from a black man’s perspective. He basically explains that the system is set up for them to fail and that it is not as easy for them to get a job because of institutional racism. In order to put food on the table they have to resort to selling drugs. He also touches on the fact that even though they say nigga to each other it does not give whites the right to call them nigga because they feel when a white man says it that it has a derogatory hidden meaning even if it is just done in a joking manner. The crucial point that got to me is when he says “Treatin everybody how you want and any way how” which to me is a slam to the fact that whites have always gotten away with treating different cultures and races any way they wanted for quite some time.
There has been conflict between blacks and whites for some time. However there have also been many changes for the better. Why does the conflict still exist? Why are blacks or any race still being discriminated against in our country? According to conflict theory it is this way because white people do not want to lose their economic security and dominance in this world(Mooney, Understanding Social Problems,9-4b). As you could see in the song I described both of those men could not see how the system had pitted them against one another and there is definitely a conflict of opinions. There is the white man afraid to lose his dominance over the world he knows, does not feel he is a racist, is angry at another race because he feels they are taking advantage of free resources and perpetuating crime in his nation. The black man has learned to get by in a world dominated by whites, has had to resort to drug dealing or other nefarious means to make money and gets immersed in a gang lifestyle because of segregated neighborhoods(if you are poor or a minority you live in the bad part of town). Minorities are not given the same options as whites and everyday when they walk out the door they know they will most likely be judged by the color of their skin. This is something whites might never experience , which is why the loss of dominance is such a threat to some whites. There is a line in this textbook which covers this idea perfectly ” In addition, the “haves” perpetuate racial and ethnic tensions among the “have-nots” to deflect attention away from their own greed and exploitation of workers.”(Mooney, Understanding Social Problems,9-4b). In the song the white man complains about taxes and the fact that the black man collects welfare and does not have to pay any which is a tactic used by the system to redirect the peoples anger towards each other and not at the way things are set up. There are many other ways the system achieves conflict between races, let’s take a look at just a few them.
Stereotypes are an exaggeration about certain characteristics of a group(Mooney, Understanding Social Problems, 9-4c). Many think that people of Asian descent are very good at math and that Mexicans have large families. Stereotypes can be true but not always and many do not fit their stereotype but are discriminated against just the same. They can also be used as a way to pigeonholed a particular group and keep them from being seen as individuals. The stereotype of a black man who is never around to raise to his children is a typical one. Many don’t stop to think that many young black boys did not have a father because he was incarcerated, got involved in drug dealing to support his family, or died in gang violence. As long as the stereotype of a deadbeat black man is perpetuated then the world will continue to see them as such, they will see themselves as such, and the self fulfilling prophecy will continue.
The white man in the song also does not understand what it is like to be the victim of Institutional Racism(Mooney, Understanding Social Problems, 9-5) and Institutional Discrimination(Mooney, Understanding Social Problems,9-6a). Institutional racism is when power, resources, and opportunities benefit whites and not minorities(Mooney, Understanding Social Problems,9-5). Institutional Discrimination is when policies and procedures result in unequal treatment of minorities and less opportunities(Mooney, Understanding Social Problems,9-6a)For example, say you are black and you see an ad in the paper for help wanted. You see the job and have some experience doing similar work in the past. You complete the interview but the likelihood you will get a call back is not the same as if you were white. Even though people say they don’t discriminate in the workplace it still happens. White men are also more likely to get call back for a job if they have criminal record than if a black man with no criminal record were to apply(NAACP, Fair Chance Hiring Fact Sheet).
There are many in our country who dream of some king of Pluralism. Pluralism is when racial and ethnic groups keep what makes them unique but respect each other while having equal access to resources(Mooney, Understanding Social Problems,9-1b). At the end of my chosen song he sings ” Can’t erase the scars with a bandage I’m hopin’ maybe we can come to an understandin’ Agree to disagree, we could have an understandin’ I’m not racist”( Joyner Lucas). To me when i heard this it made me think that this is what he meant, that one day we could all come to an understanding and agree to disagree while helping each other succeed. A country that has adopted Pluralism successfully is Switzerland(Mooney, Understanding Social Problems,91b) However the adoption of pluralism in our country is taking longer to be accepted. There are still many who choose to hang on to their racist ideologies and cling to their dominance. It could also mean problems for the government, corporations, and wars. Imagine a world where we were no longer fighting with each other over our physical differences and cultural beliefs. Imagine all the time we would have to solve world problems, end hunger, help the poor, protect our environment etc. We humans are our own biggest hindrance and our country’s system is set up to reinforce that.
It may be difficult to see how the system pits us all against each other especially when it comes to different races. I found an article by Adam Kilgore which covers some racial disparities that happened between fighters Mayweather and McGregor. I learned that boxing has used racial conflict as a marketing ploy for quite some time(Kilgore,A.2017). The fighter McGregor has even been heard making racial remarks to Mayweather and a few other rude comments(Kilgore,A.2017). It is suggested in the article that Mayweather and McGregor are knowingly stirring racial tensions to sell their fight(Kilgore,A.2017). It seems to me that Mayweather and McGregor may have cracked the system and learned how to cash in on the worlds socially constructed prejudice and racism. The article even has a direct quote that backs up this idea “” it’s a selling point,” Cooney said. “There’s a lot of ignorant people in the world. So they want to hear it. They want something to put on their back and stand up for. It’s just a small group of those people. But it sells tickets.””(Kilgore,A.2017). Take a moment and apply this thinking process to our world. Think about the people who run the system. They know racism is ignorant but they cash in on it because they keep the workers confused and tired and eager to find another group to take their anger out on so they can place blame when they can find no other outlet.
Many white people give the same argument “If you don’t want your kids to be gang bangers and drug dealers then don’t live in those areas”,” If you don’t want your children to fit the stereotype then make them finish school and keep them out of trouble”. I have heard many comments like these in discussions about racial stereotypes and their validity. Most of the time the people I am speaking to do not agree with the fact that it is not as easy as they make it seem. First of all how do you not live in a bad area when it is all you can afford? How do you get a better house when the bank won’t give you a loan because of your race? How does your son stay out of trouble if you are a single parent working two jobs, his dad is in jail, and your son is being influenced by what the media is telling him he should or will be? Most white people don’t understand these struggles because they don’t have to go through it. That is not to say that there are not white people in poverty, that are struggling, and have trouble keeping their kids out of trouble. However if your kid is getting in to trouble and there is black kid with him the black kid is more likely to look suspicious then the white kid. Even in California, a place considered highly liberal and accepting, there is a form of segregation in neighborhoods. After doing some research I learned that most neglected neighborhoods in California had many people of color(Teresa Mathew &City Lab). While collecting data on neighborhoods they apparently had not been looking at race as a factor before and were only looking at zip codes and socioeconomic status(Teresa Mathew &City Lab).
However race turned out to be the deciding factor in a neglected neighborhood(Teresa Mathew& City Lab). Neglected neighborhoods are living situations that can set the stage for ghettos to form. This is where low-income families of color get stuck because of low income, discrimination in the workplace, and segregation of their housing. If they want to get out they have to work 3x as hard to pull themselves up out of poverty.”Across California, Asian and white homeowners have almost $25,000 more of their income left after paying for housing than African Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Latinos. In San Mateo County, only 37 percent of the black, Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islander populations own the homes they live in, compared to the white population’s 67 percent home ownership rate.”(Teresa Mathew & City Lab). This is just another way that the system sets people of other race’s and cultures up to fail. So the next time you hear someone complain about someone of a different race who is struggling make sure you take the time to look at the obstacles in their way first.
With so much knowledge about discrimination, racism, and prejudice you wonder why it still continues. It is dumb for it to continue and many educated compassionate people have learned that for our world to get better all of our old concepts of race need to wash away. How do you do that though when the powerful are still using the struggling uneducated masses as a ploy in their game of greed and corruption? I think the best solution is to continue to educate people and promote diversity. If you live your life only ever around people that support your beliefs and look and act like you then that is all you will ever know.
Kilgore, A. (2017, August 23). Racial conflict sells boxing matches. Mayweather and McGregor are its latest pitchmen. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/boxing/racial-conflict-sells-boxing-matches-mayweather-and-mcgregor-are-its-latest-pitchmen/2017/08/23/780e9bb6-876b-11e7-a94f-3139abce39f5_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a0af633fbc36 Fair Chance Hiring Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.naacp.org/fairchancehiring/ Teresa Mathew @_teamat Feed Teresa Mathew, & CityLab. (2017, November 22). These Maps Show the Extent of Racial Disparity in California. Retrieved from https://www.citylab.com/equity/2017/11/mapping-racial-disparities-in-the-golden-state/546149/ Mooney, L. Understanding Social Problems. Tenth edition