To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Observercast

Political Primer: Systemic Racism

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With elected Republican abandoning reality, it behooves others to explain points of the political dialogue that GOPQ leaders lie about or deny altogether.

Here’s what systemic racism looks like, as reported by NPR’s Jill Sheridan:

A black woman in Indianapolis wanting to refinance her home received an appraisal of $125,000 from a lender. An independent appraiser called it $187,000. So, she approached a second lender and received an appraisal of $110,000.

Undaunted, but suspicious, “When she applied for refinancing with a new lender she left her race and gender off the application. One of her friend’s husbands, who is white, agreed to stand in during the third appraisal.”

The appraisal for a home apparently owned by a white man was for $259,000. Sheridan notes, “A 2018 report by the Brookings Institution finds that adds up to $156 billion in cumulative losses for Black homeowners.”

Can’t get much more systemic than that? Well …

On June 3, Jackson Thompson of Insider reported: “The NFL agreed to stop using the practice ‘race-norming,’ which assumed Black players have a lower cognitive function than white counterparts, according to Maryclaire Dale of the Associated Press.”

Race-norming? Are we living in the 17th century?

Thompson continues: “‘Race-norming’ has prevented some retired Black players from qualifying for compensation in the NFL’s $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims. In the original settlement, the NFL used a scoring algorithm for dementia testing that assumed Black men start with lower cognitive skills before the injury.”

How can we be reading such nonsense in 2021? What else does their eugenics book say?

“Black retirees,” Thompson wrote, “would have had to score much lower than whites to qualify for a piece of the settlement.

“For example, former Pittsburgh Steelers players Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport were denied compensation for brain injuries based on their scores in the league’s cognitive test to judge mental deficiency. But they each would have qualified for compensation based on their scores if they were white.”

NFL owners fought the obvious evidence about the brain-damaging nature of their sport for years. Makes sense [well, dollars and cents] that they would keep fighting to deprive just compensation to the men who contributed to their fortunes.

And, of course, the NFL’s discrimination against black quarterbacks has a long, sorry history that still simmers beneath the surface.

Systemic racism?

Over the past few weeks, Canadian investigators have discovered nearly 1,000 unmarked graves at two Catholic mission schools in Canada where First Nation children were interned after being kidnapped from their families by the government.

Unmarked graves. Unacknowledged. Unimportant to those in charge. Obviously, the old canard from such establishments throughout Canada and the U.S. – “Kill the Indian; Save the Child” – was just a smoke screen to hide the evil afoot.

In his recent fine volume of poetry, The Death of Sitting Bear, Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday writes of attending the 100th anniversary of the closing of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, PA.

Counting himself among the descendants of those students, Momaday writes, “10,000 American Indian children were sent there to be shorn of their native identity, to be ‘civilized.’ The great experiment was a great failure. Less than one-tenth of the students graduated, many more died at the school, traumatized by disease, loneliness, and despair. Those who returned to their homes or who were dispersed into the dominant society were unable to live in either world; they were dislocated in their minds and hearts.”

Systemic racism?

In 2016 the Hamilton Report noted: “Black and white Americans sell and use drugs at similar rates, but black Americans are 2.7 times as likely to be arrested for drug-related offenses.”

Madeleine Davison of National Catholic Reporter points out: “This system disproportionately affects Black, Latino and Indigenous people. Black people are incarcerated in state prisons at about 5.1 times the rate of white people, according to the Sentencing Project. In some states, one in 10 Black men is incarcerated at any given time.”

That is the criminal justice system. And it proves itself racist.

NIMBY: “Not in My Backyard.” The cry of people looking at projects that could prove dangerous or polluting or maybe just annoying. And who has the clout to see this through? Or, more tellingly, who doesn’t?

In April Science Daily reported, “Various studies show that people of color are disproportionately exposed to air pollution in the United States.”

And this month, Inside Climate News added: “Thirteen refineries emit dangerous benzene emissions that exceed the EPA’s ‘action level,’ a study finds. In Houston and Corpus Christi, the impacted communities are predominantly Black and Latino.”

More economic racism? Turn to Joe Hernandez of NPR and you can see past governments contributing to the disparity: “The USDA has a decades-long track record of discriminating against Black farmers and other farmers of color – a history top officials in the department now acknowledge.

“‘The fact is that there was discrimination in the ’70s and ’80s and into the ’90s at USDA that made it very difficult for socially disadvantaged producers to access fully and completely the programs at USDA,’ Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told NPR in March.

“The racial division between those farmers who receive federal aid and those who don’t was evident as recently as last year, according to Vilsack.

“The USDA distributed tens of billions of dollars to farmers impacted by COVID-19 in 2020, but only 1% of the aid went to what the department calls ‘socially disadvantaged producers’ – a catchall term for farmers of color.”

Systemic racism so obvious that those running the system admit its existence.

That’s what they’re talking about when they say systemic racism – those talking about issues and not co-conspiring to collude on a coup or those trying to get the Interior Department to adjust the orbit of the moon.

Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democrats. He lives in Duncan, following a sporadic career as a small-town journalist, mostly in Texas, and as an editor of educational audio-visual materials. Some days he's a philosopher/poet, others a poet/philosopher.